Indigenous people are being hunted and killed for money. Three adventurers are assigned to put an end to the practice. In the process, they learn more than they need to know about the situation and themselves.
Let=s Have Another Cup Of Coffee
The first body had four ragged edged dark spots across the back. When the corpse was turned over on his back, he looked to be in his middle teens. Two of the spots also appeared on the front of the frayed but otherwise clean shirt.
AThere=s two more over here,. a tall, full bearded man announced in an unmistakable Maryland slur. As he made this flat tone announcement, he leaned down and futilely brushed at the colonies of flies clustered about the dried blood stains. Annoyed the ants decided to challenge and won. ALooks like this one over here is the father and the other one=s the Momma..
AAll shot for the Yankee Dollar,. a medium sized blonde grunted. AWonder if there=s any more of their mates further on?. His Auzzie accent was becoming nearly smothered as he edged into the tangled vines and undergrowth surrounding the simple bamboo shack.
>Let=s hope there ain=t any mates of the ones who murdered these. And Arnie, it ain=t the dollar that did em in, it=s the coffee. Ain=t that so, Norris?. The oldest of the trio, the bearded, thickly set one with the many times broken nose, nodded agreement.
Coffee, at least the beans grown in these tropical highlands, bringing top dollar, was why this trio was currently tramping the Guatemala Highlands, the next to last decade of the Twentieth Century. The reason why each of them was carrying illegal Glock automatics, holstered beneath loose fitting shirts. Also the reason for the semi-automatic rifles stuffed in one side of each large cloth saddle bag each of the trio of sour smelling burro reluctantly carried.
Ten years before cotton and bananas had ben the major crops in this country.They were both grown on the coastal plain and sold to American manufacturers. Then coffee was a secondary crop, mostly for domestic consumption. Then >Juan Valdez= and his photogenic burro became the icon for the coffee grown in the cool highlands of Columbia, and also became the almost instant choice for American businessmen.
Guatemala not only had mountains to produce this type bean, but also a landed aristocracy wanting more money for shopping sprees in Miami or Madrid. However, their highlands had been inhabited by Indians who had been forced into that cold dampness by the Spanish invaders over three centuries ago. Even so, it still looked like a simple project to move in, use the judges and courts to claim the Indians were squatters, confiscate their lands, and add to their already generous fortunes.
Five Jesuit priests turned these simple plans to acquire the area on its ear.When the initial legal probes began, the quintet made extensive searches through their nearly four centuries old church archives. Lo and behold! They found the original land grants issued by the King of Spain, which gave legal title to the land to the Indians.
The landed gentry were not discouraged so easily. If they could not force the owners off by legal manipulations, they would use whatever force necessary to gain control. The murders began just a little over four months later.
At first it was a slight of hand thing. Only the tribal elders and leaders were shot, fell from steep cliffs, or were run over by wayward trucks. When this had little or no effect, the educated few joined the growing lists of corpses.When this also failed to give the gentry control of the sloping, well watered terraces, the killings spread to individual farmers, their families and workers. And when this too failed to persuade the stubborn ones, one morning two of the priests were found dead with their faces mutilated, their limbs hacked off, and each nailed to a separate palm tree.
However, most of this was kept out of the local papers. The three gringos arrived only when it was discovered that hunting permits to shoot Indians were being sold for $3,000.00 to rich Europeans and some South American millionaires.Each permit allowed three kills, which were explained by the police and military as self defense, since a few of the younger Indians had decided to fight fire with fire, and acquired some old fashioned single shot firearms.
Two weeks before Street Norris stood over the parent=s corpses, two terrified Dutch travelers had informed a member of his organization, AWhile we were having a drink at a five star hotel in the capitol, we actuallyover heard four upper-level police officers bragging about how many permits they had sold to shot Indians that week!.
Five days after this, Street met Ian Maynard Lawless, at the International Airport. Ian, who always signed as I. M. Lawless, was only too eager to get AUp in them thar hills and do some huntin on our own, pardner!.
Ian=s average size belied his incredible physical strength and endurance. Stripped, his muscles were layers like rock strata. And he also possessed a cat like balance, quickness and grace which he usually managed to conceal until it was needed. His political view was basic. >Take any Pol and dump him in a foreign land and as long as he can speak the lingo, he=ll not only be right at home, but accepting graft in less than a week..
The second member arrived later the same day Lawless showed.Arnold Whitlow Hargrove, was a fifth degree Black Belt who could really chop concrete blocks to bits and snatch flies from the air with a pair of chop sticks.But those were his basic skills.Norris once watched in rapt, amazed admiration as Arnie cleaned out a Mexican bar featuring four knife wielders.In just about the same length of time it would take to describe his moves, there were eight senseless bodies, some with multi broken bones scattered about. Arnie=s only scar was a torn sleeve on his light tan hand tailored Harris Tweed sports coat.
Once they booked a house in a very upper middle class sector, it took another two days to assemble a Ford 150 truck, and sufficiently bribe some airport office to release their armament.Then they headed into them thar hills.
ASo here we go again,. Lawless half leered, as he nosed about the edges of the beaten down grounds. AGonna be a damned nice feeling removing some old dedicated Nazis..
AIan we aren=t a humanitarian death squad..
AYeah so you always claim.And I=m ready to admit, most of the time we never start out butY,. Ian retorted, and winked at Arnold, whose greatest assetwas his emotional control always registered a constant nil on his face meter.
AWe=re up here to set up a system to move the Indians who want to go, over to Chiapas..
AWhere the corrupt Mexicans can exploit them the same as always.. Ian retorted again.
AYes, Ian, dammit.But they=re not gonna be hunted..
ASo don=t fret,. Arnie interrupted. AYou can be sure once we can clear the non- combatants out of here, the war can really get started..
ARight. And we=ll miss all the fun again! Soon as the good shit comes down, you=ll be back lecturing strung out freshmen Econ majors and Arnie will be back building sanitation plants in Oz=s Outback.. Ian grunted before adding,. I wonder what part of a human you take back to hang on your wall, Street?.
A Nice.. Norris almost let it go. More like where the hell could you hang it?. That got a chuckle, before Street added, AForget the body parts Ian. Once this is over, Ian Maynard Lawless will be get shipped back to the stunning rural loveliness of New Jersey,= Norris snorted and Arnie laughed. Street=s tone modified and got much softer, slightly deadly. AWe=ll do what we have to do, Ian. No more, no less,. and though he did not say it Norris silently appended, And you=ll be the one I can trust.Arnie=s always been the random X factor in this outfit.
AWell we have arms.. Arnie offered, his flat tone falling to the tightly packed earth like a spent cat.
AJust what we got with us..
AAny C3 to C4 coming through the pipe line, Street?.
ANo Ian. Just plenty of Gringo dollars to bribe the border boys on both sides.. That brought the Lawless sardonic screech he claimed to be laughter and a slight nod from, ATheKilling Machine.. As Street silently spoke his unlisted nick name for Arnold, he thought, I got all the complications I need already. He knew what they both had in mind as they buried the bodies beneath a slim layer of black earth and a thick one of red sand stones. He also realized that all he could do was try and limit their responses. Norris also had a tiny tinge of doubt that if and when that came, did he really wanted to limit them? Especially when Lawless flipped the ragged sheet over the young kid=s face before they began throwing the red, moist soil on it.
When they got to the Mexican Guatemalan border, Street took care of the price for each border violation. The Fine was established at $115.00 for each adult male, $75.00 for each female and $45.00 for children under 14.
While Street made the two day trip, there and back, Ian spent his time mapping three major routes through the mountains into San Cristobel de Las Cruses, the capital of the Mexican state Chiapas.
Route A was very strenuous but avoided all the hot spots on both sides. It was intended for known and active trouble makers. B route was of medium physical difficulty and also for the lesser violent avoid possible interdiction and additional >fines=, by local police. The last was for the elderly and youngsters.
When Street returned, Arnold quietly informed him he planned gathering a few militants at a time and training them to become scouts; defenders only as a last resort.AIt=s going take at least six well trained and absolutely loyal cadres of nine men each, Street.. Norris silently fretted about the time that was going to consume.
All told, this took almost ten months, or 143 more murders before they could begin transporting.After the first two dozen, five of them children and eight mothers, Street was unable and unwilling to prevent Ian and Arnie from disappearing from time to time. They never stayed more than two nights and swore to him they never crossed in Mexico. Street read the box scores in the weekly newspaper one of the local store owners kept on his counter. After eight months the score was 853 for the home team and 53 for the visitors. But the low score featured police commanders, corrupt judges and a few federal administrators.When the three remaining priest were found in the town trash heap after the local rat colonies had a overnight feast, Street joined them. The visitor=s score reached 92 and the home team stayed almost static after the federal pigs were done.
Three heavy gun shots echoed and re-echoed across the mountain valley as Lawless went prone and stared up at Arnie, perched half way up a large densely leafed tree. Arnie swung his field glasses in the direction of the shot=s birth place. After a minute or so, there was weaker single shot. Street waited while Arnie dismounted and motioned toward the east.
Fifteen minutes later he held the glasses and spat out a quiet string of anger.When he had some self control he whispered, AThere=s three of >em, Ian. One of them=s a cop. Can=t tell if he=s from here or Mexico. The other two are wearing ski masks.. He handed Arnie the glasses and continued. It was their last week and the home team was suddenly very active.
AThere=s three bodies hanging by their feet.Just like dead deer.And the fucking cop=s taking pictures.. Arnie took one short sighting and moved off. Ian followed. Street came last. They moved as silently as Jaguars. It took ten minutes to get in position for a shot.
They dropped onto their bellies, just shy of the mound=s crest. It took about fifteen seconds for Street to point out whose target was whose. He chose the cop. Arnie got the taller of the two masked hunters. Ian gave him a slight grin as he adjusted his position and sighted in. Norris was dead certain Ian didn=t have any preference. He lifted his sighting eye long enough to be sure everyone was zeroed in, before he gave the muttered command.
Three slight non-echoing coughs came half a heart beat after all three targets recoiled and fell. Norris waited a full two minutes, using the telescopic sight to monitor any movements. Then he rose and took two or three steps toward the bodies before Ian=s hand grabbed a shoulder.
ALet=s get the hell outta here, Norris..
AGo to hell, Lawless. I=m going over there..
AMe too, Ian.. Lawless gave them both a sardonic smile and led the way.
While Ian unmasked the hunters, Arnie fished for their passports. AThey=re both Russians,. he announced and handed Street the passports.
AUkraine,= Street amended. A Kiev, the capitol..He paused. AIan, get that camera. Run the whole roll. And get the fucking ski masks off before you . . ..
AStreet, the cop=s from here. Take him too?. Street nodded.
AYeah. Then we=ll send them back to their home addresses and see if any more of them want . . . ..
.Great idea,. Arnie grunted and began stripping the masks. In a week it was obvious from no further reports that the home team ceased operations again.
Once their operation was fully active, the trio cleared out and a new team of seven men and three women took charge.
Two years past and almost 12,000 Indians were moved into Mexico where their weaving talents were totally exploited. The Ricos took over the abandoned fincas and Guatemalan Coffee became a fixture in the overcharging coffee houses which suddenly began expanding into American Suburbia.
For a time the hunting permits were outrageously expensive, but then the demand ceased. The murders still went on, so two of the surviving priests who had stayed clear of the original effort to save the region, took off their religious gear, and went into the surrounding mountains to become weapons and demolition experts. Eventually when they needed funds to continue, they accepted them from the Mexican Drug Cartels who saw a double opportunity for new markets as well as increased acreage.
It was the first week in June over three years since Street had pulled out of the highlands. It was mutually agreed that Guatemala City would be his and Ian=s departure point for Peru.As always he checked into the Pension Swizzes, directly opposite to the vehicle entrance to the National Police Headquarters. He was a few days early, so he took his meals at the hotel, and for the most part stayed in his air conditioned apartment. If he did venture out, it was always late at night.
The evening of Ian=s second day past his ETA, Street started making useless and expensive long distance calls. He was about to confirm his flight for the next day and assume Ian would join him in Lima, when a quiet knock sent a current of dread through his hand as he responded.Ian was supported by the pension=s porter and an attractive woman who eagerly gave up her end of the burden. While Street helped place Ian on the other bed, she disappeared behind the bathroom door. He gave the porter a large tip, as she reappeared. She hadn=t been too successful washing his blood from her loosely fitting beige blouse. Street heard the door close as he turned his full attention to Ian=s damages.
Once he had Ian=s shirt loosened he could see that the blood was mostly coming from where four of his back teeth, two to a side, had recently been knocked out.He got a wet towel and their first aid kit. There was a small but deep gash along the chin. It was deep enough so Street saw bone as he examined it.
Norris began cleaning the wound.ANot too much!.Ian managed before the pain drowned any other words. Street gave him a pen and tablet when he motioned he wanted to speak. As Ian scribbled, used his fingers to close the gas and one by one snap four Band-Aid stitches over the wound. Lawless thrust the pad under his nose as he finished. His handwriting resembled a retarded fourth grader.
Get out of here. Know you=re here. In here! Told me we got four hours, he wrote.
AThey do this?. Lawless frowned, but took the pad back and began scribbling.
Yeah. Hammer. Decked me good. Gonna kill me look. Head pig asked how it felt.Said pretty good for a little teen age girl. Got ‘em. Laughed…threw me in the street. Thought I was mucho macho.
Then the pain won again. Ian blinked and tried not to breathe too deeply as Street gently rubbed at the caked blood. He quickly surrendered there and started in on Ian=s hands, and then he replaced the white and gold cow boy shirt with one of his own. Ian=s pain seemed to lessen.
You=re marked. Ought-ta go. Now. Screw the clothes. Get a cab, he scribbled and sat up.
Less than two hours later they were in First Class on a K.L.M. plane headed for Dallas, Texas. They had stopped long enough for a doctor to compliment Street on his efforts, then put eleven stitches in the gash and give Ian something for the pain.Now he was cleaned up and wearing Street=s shirt and slacks which looked like ill matched tents on his lean frame.
As always the Dutch asked no questions and required no ID. The captain told Street they could pay the fare once they landed and his friend had, Aproper medical attention..
After a further check at a Texas hospital, and a new prescription was issued, they caught a late evening flight for Washington, D.C. By then Ian could speak almost normally.
ASo weren=t we the successful mission? Good God damn thing we don=t work for Uncle Sam. We=d have medals for this screw up,. he offered.
AYou looked really sexy with lots of blood on you. Especially after I got you into my duds, dude..
AI=ll bet. That Dutch babe almost crapped in her Bikini underwear when I got thrown at her.=
ABut she got you off the sidewalk before someone pissed all over you. Typically a nice Dutch..
AYeah, guess so.. He paused and then before Street could prevent it, he unloaded. AThe bastard who used that hammer on me was the brother of some pig we did in, Street. Wanted to beat me to death, but the boss liked my guts. Did let the little prick tap my other cheek..
He paused, half smiled at a passing attendant. It slithered into the edges of the large bandage. AThe Indians are still being murdered. The pigs on both sides of the border probably retired on what was paid em. Nobody in Valhalla=s boycotting mountain grown Guatemalan coffee. The priests are now dealing in drugs and both you and me are Persona non Grata. That=s my third country. How many for you? Eight?.
ASame number as you. But, there=s a couple good things Ian..
AName just one..
AOnly had nine murders so far this year, and we helped 12,000 or so innocents get one whole border nearer to the Promised Land..
AYeah and let=s hope most of the teenagers we got over are already there..
AYeah. You want that super-sized?.
AEven so that=s better than, Where do you want me to shoot you first?
AOkay for Christ sake! Enough! How about letting this wounded warrior get some shut eye?. Norris nodded and turned to the window. Gentle snores filled his ears as he took in the clouds. There were some fascinating formations. One looked exactly like an applauding clown. He winked and nodded, and put his hand over to feel Ian=s pulse. Remarkably it was almost normal.
<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/88x31.png" /></a><br /><span xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" href="http://purl.org/dc/dcmitype/Text" property="dc:title" rel="dc:type">Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee</span> by <span xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" property="cc:attributionName">B. B. Riefner</span> is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/">Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License</a>.