Some deviant walked into the airport in Juarez, Mexico with a black suitcase in his hand, but instead of checking the bag, he carried it straight to one of the rooms in emigration set aside to search for contraband. Even before security caught up with him he was unzipping the case.
“Here’s the….” The man, a gringo by look and the fact he spoke English, stared at the ordinary contents as if amazed. “Huh. It’s nothing but clothes.” He moved a few items around, then exclaimed, “They’re MY clothes!”
“What were you expecting?” Jorge asked as he put a hand out to stop the guards. If he was right, this was the man he was expecting. If not, he could still handle it on his own. At his nod, the guards left.
The man sat down heavily, ran a hand through his hair, and sighed. In his jeans, his sandy-brown hair a shade long, he didn’t look like an FBI agent. But then he’d said on the phone that he wouldn’t.
“Must have gotten the bags switched again,” the man muttered. Then he stood and reached into his pocket.
Jorge slipped his fingers around the handle of his gun, but the man didn’t pull a weapon. He pulled out a badge. It looked real.
“I’m Agent Andrew Banks.” He put his hand out to shake. “Are you Jorge Hernandez?”
“Yes. Why didn’t you check in out front?”
“Ah, here they are now. So much for giving them the slip.”
Two men burst in, and Jorge groaned. He should have known. It was Juan and Carlos.
“Uncle Jorge,” Juan exclaimed in Spanish. He looked from Jorge to Agent Banks to the open suitcase. “Oh.”
Jorge was pretty sure he hadn’t meant to say “Oh”. The slip might seem trivial, but it told him that his nephew was up to his red ears in what ever was going down here. Jorge pulled up a chair, and waved the others in the room to find places to sit.
“All right, tell me everything. What happened?”
“This crazy gringo!” Juan waved at Agent Banks. “I don’t know if he’s trying to save us or kill us.”
Carlos nodded enthusiastically, eyes wide. He rubbed the side of his face where a bruise was already raising.
At a minuscule gesture from Jorge, Carlos started spilling his guts.
“First he lured us from the alley just in time for a rocket to go past, then he found the drop, then he El Décor just in time…”
“Stop.” Juan held up a hand, and gave Carlos a dirty look. “He will think the wrong thing. We were only there to observe. Only that. Honest. It was Los Guerreros del Perro’s drop. Not ours.”
Jorge nodded as if he agreed when he really suspected he might have to arrest his nephew. Still, he hoped that wouldn’t be necessary.
Juan explained that this man, whom they apparently didn’t know was an FBI agent, had been standing outside a bakery. They went to investigate, and having stepped out of the alley saved their lives. They hid in the run down husk of a department store. When they went to guide Agent Banks to a bridge so he could go home, they found a suitcase that looked just like his. In it was the pay off.
“We took the suitcase – to turn in, of course.” Juan held his hands out, pleading for understanding. He glanced at Agent Banks as if for support, but the agent was slumped against the wall with his eyes closed. “But we didn’t get far. Those low-lifes, Los Guerreros del Perro, they were waiting in the alley in back.”
“But they weren’t expecting us,” Carlos put in. “They had Drew’s suitcase.” Carlos pointed to Agent Banks. He looked to the bench where the suitcase sat open. “Yeah. This one. I recognize that tie.”
“It’s true. They were standing around this suitcase. They were saying how the bag must have gotten mixed up with another one at the bridge coming in. They were yelling about it with another gang, but I didn’t recognize them, so I don’t know which.”
“So then what happened?”
“Drew said something,” Carlos said.
“He said it was his,” Juan interrupted. “And he walks right up to it like he expects them to just hand it over.”
“And then… and then…” Carlos shook his head in wonder. “It was like a Jackie Chan movie.”
Juan nodded, eyes wide. “He bent over to zip it up just as one of Los Guerreros del Perro swung his fist. And this idiot, Carlos…”
“I was trying to save him. He was our good luck charm.”
“He got hit right in the face.”
Carlos put his hand to his battered face and nodded.
“I thought it knocked him out. He fell over backward right into the building. I almost got hit myself. Dropped the bag of money and tripped over Carlos’ feet and fell. But I saw everything. Drew,” Juan pointed to Agent Banks, “zipped up the bag and stood up with it in his hands. He used it to block some punches, and then he did some karate kicks.”
“He can bend like you wouldn’t believe. He was right in the middle of it, but didn’t get hit once. He’d move, and the punch would hit someone else.”
“And then some other guys come driving up in a Jeep. They had the other suitcase, the one full of … um… white powder.” Juan gave Jorge that look that said he was holding something back. As if Jorge couldn’t figure it out on his own. “And the bag got opened, and the bag of money too…”
“I saw him unzip the bag of money,” Carlos said.
“No, no. I saw him zipping it. You know, right after the shooting started.”
“Well, he unzipped it before that. Remember, right after the shooting started we stole the Jeep.”
Juan hissed, making repressive movements with his hands and looking at Jorge like he wouldn’t already know what was going on. “Borrowed. We borrowed the Jeep.”
“And then some idiot shot at us with a rocket launcher. If not for my driving we’d be dead.”
“That and the way Drew dumped something out the back to slow them down.”
“But I’m the one who took the corner on two wheels just as the rocket went by.” Carlos beamed proudly, as if this were a great accomplishment.
“And then at the next set of lights, Drew got out of the car, grabbed his suitcase, and walked off.”
“He took at taxi. We followed him here.” Again Carlos grinned.
Neither man admitted that they’d chased the agent, thinking he had the case with money. Assuming any part of this story was to be believed.
“That guy is crazy,” Juan hocked a thumb toward Agent Banks. “The whole time he’s got his cell phone in his hand. Who could he have called in the middle of all that?”
“Is that right?” Jorge turned to Agent Banks for confirmation.
Agent Banks didn’t respond. Come to think of it, he had spoken English at the beginning. He probably didn’t speak Spanish. “Mr. Banks, did you take any pictures on your cell phone?”
“Uh?” Agent Banks lifted his head. “Yes, that’s right. Evidence.” Agent Banks took the phone out of his pocket and handed it over. “I’m sorry that’s all I could come up with.”
Jorge thumbed through the images. There were several with open suitcases showing white powder or money. There were at least three showing various gang members shooting others. And there was one from the back of a jeep showing a rocket being launched right at the camera. The launcher was in the hands of one of the most notorious of Los Guerreros del Perro’s members. With this they could finally shut that gang down.
“Boys, I’m putting you in protective custody until the trial is over. Agent Banks, I’d like to ask you to go into custody, too. That, or you should leave quickly. Los Guerreros del Perro has a history of killing witnesses.”
“Well, I’m at an airport, and here’s my luggage. Might as well catch a plane.” He stood up and collected his belongings. “You can keep the phone. I’m going home.”
If you enjoy Suzie’s House and would like to see more, please leave a comment. Suzie’s House is powered by its readers.