Raven Series Part #18 | Jump to Raven # 1
I sat on the river bank watching Raven swim in the slow, clear river. She’d wanted to decompress after the confrontation at Cenote Cardenas, and this was one of her favorite spots.
It was one of the rare places the water flowing through the cenotes appeared above ground before winding its way into the Caribbean.
Pato and Don Pedro waited by the vehicles, Pato no doubt smoking and regaling Don Pedro with another of his endless business ideas.
Raven surfaced, took in a huge breath, and dove again, her black hair streaming behind her as she kicked her way toward the jumble of boulders marking the exact location the water left the cenote.
Santa Sofía sat down next to me, the snake still coiled around her wrist.
I scooted over a few inches and asked her, “How do you know it won’t bite you?”
“This isn’t a coral snake,” she said. “It’s a milk snake.” She raised her arm to show me. “See how the red doesn’t touch the yellow? They aren’t poisonous and they don’t bite.” She put her hand down close to the ground and the snake uncoiled itself and slithered away into the underbrush. “Did you see how it coiled itself around Don Hidalgo’s neck?”
I nodded, processing that she’d crept up on a man holding a pistol and bluffed him with a snake that didn’t bite.
“A coral snake wouldn’t do that. Milk snakes are constrictors, but as small as they are they could never eat anything as large as a man.”
“Did you have a hunch Hidalgo would try something?” I asked.
Sofía laughed. “I didn’t read any signs in the clouds, if that’s what you’re asking. Pato and I have known Don Hidalgo for a long time. We thought he would be upset to be beaten by a gringo and insulted to trade his son for a daughter. And neither of us trust him.”
“I can’t thank you enough,” I said.
Sofía smiled. “You aren’t the only one who loves Raven.”
“Dad, can I get my towel?”
“Sure, kid.” I stood up and shook out the beach towel I’d been sitting on and tossed it to her. Raven dried off and wrapped the towel around her waist. I pulled her into a hug. “It’s good to have you back, Kiddo.”
“Dad,” she said, “You’re going to squeeze me to death with all the hugs.”
“I’ll try to ease up,” I said. “You ready to head home?”
Raven nodded. The three of us followed the sandy path toward the vehicles. True to form, Pato was sitting on the tailgate, smoking. Don Pedro was laughing at something he had said.
Pato stubbed out his cigarette when we got close.
“Thank you, my friend,” I said to him.
“Thank me by coming diving with me,” he said. “It’s been too long.”
Pato gave Raven a quick hug. “You, too, Cuervita,” he said. “I have some new caves to show you.”
“I think I’ll spend a few days outside first,” Raven said. She climbed into the backseat of the Blazer, leaving the front for Don Pedro. I went around to the other side and got us headed toward town.
After a few minutes of watching the ocean and palm trees go by, Raven tapped me on the shoulder.
“What’s that, Kid?”
“Do you think we could stop for a smoothie before we go home?”