Raven Series Part #13 | Jump to Raven # 1
Don Pedro and I zip-tied the unconscious Bonetta to the angle iron supporting the compressor frame. The walls were double thick, but to be sure nobody could hear him, I fired up the compressor.
It wouldn’t hurt to top off the high-pressure air reservoir. There’d be SCUBA tanks to fill in the morning.
Before locking the door to the compressor room, I slipped the sound-reducing earmuffs over Bonetta’s head.
Don Pedro gave me a funny look.
“We’re going to want to ask him some questions,” I said. “He needs to be able to hear them.”
Don Pedro and I stood in the narrow walkway between the dive shop and the concrete wall separating the shop from the hostel. The smell of wet neoprene from wetsuits drying on the racks mingled with the usual smells of Tulum—flowers, chilis, jungle.
“When did you know?” I asked him.
“It was suspicious that he drank two beers at dinner. Your government doesn’t like that sort of thing.” He began to pace back and forth in the narrow space, tapping the tip of the machete against his pant leg.
“It’s true,” I said. “We disapprove of it in public, then go overboard behind closed doors.”
“It’s because you were colonized by Protestants instead of Catholics,” Don Pedro said, making the sign of the cross with his free hand and grinning wickedly. “But never mind that. The second clue was when I commented about Gringolandia invading Mexico. Most Americans either don’t know that or get defensive when we Mexicans are bold enough to bring it up. But he ignored me totally. No CIA agent would do that.”
“And then, of course, the smoothies,” I said.
Don Pedro laughed. “Yes. That girl wouldn’t even look at a strawberry if she thought there was a mango within 100 miles.”
“He must have seen on our faces that he’d screwed up,” I said. “Trying to run me over was the only chance he had, and he took it.”
Don Pedro nodded.
“Do you think the narcos have her?” I asked.
Don Pedro shook his head. “It is too risky. Kidnapping and killing Mexicans is one thing. Killing a pretty young gringa is another. Your Republicans would go crazy about how Mexicans are rapists and murderers. Your Democrats would be afraid to look soft. They’d ramp up patrols on the border. Even worse, the tourists would go somewhere else. The narcos launder their drug money with big tourist hotels, so they will want to avoid that.”
“So what do you think is going on? Was that not El Cangrejo? I try to stay as far away from all that as I can.” I rubbed the knot on my head. “And now I’ve got a damn narco locked up in my compressor room.”
Don Pedro shrugged his shoulders. “Life has its plans for us all, my friend. That man is El Cangrejo, and he works for the narcos. This is certain. That ID is either fake or stolen.”
“So what’s going on?”
“You know the word güero, yes?”
“Of course,” I said. “Blonde or light-skinned, but not necessarily a gringo.”
“El Cangrejo is a güero,” Don Pedro said. “His job with the cartel is to use his white face to make the gringos and the europeos who are nervous around brown Mexican faces comfortable. They sent him to the U.S. to polish his English. He makes contacts, brokers deals, performs deliveries where a brown face would stand out.”
“But what does that have to do with Raven? And this whole blackmarket oil deal? We still haven’t looked on those USB drives.”
Don Pedro made a dismissive gesture with his hand. He liked computers even less than I did.
“I think if Raven had truly wrecked a deal involving oil and guns and millions of dollars, you would both be dead by now,” he said. “She must have found something. We will find out what when we find her.”
Don Pedro stopped pacing and turned to me. “I think this is a personal matter. I think El Cangrejo kidnapped Raven as a favor for a friend.”
“Who would want to do that?” I asked.
“Someone who is very angry with you, Don Cuervo. What have you done?”