Raven Series #8 | Jump to Raven # 1
The whisper came from the shadows. “Don Cuervo?”
I flinched. But I recognized the voice. “Buenas noches, Ramón.” Hidden in the shadows in a narrow alley, the boy was invisible to the people passing on the street.
“Buenas noches, Don Cuervo,” Ramón said. “My father, he wants to talk to you.”
Ramón’s father, Don Pedro, had gifted me the nickname after Ramon had told him the meaning of Raven’s name in Spanish. As a result, I was known around town as Don Cuervo—and as a friend of Don Pedro, which meant I was accepted as a local.
Don Pedro’s produce market was not far from the restaurant, so Ramon and I set out on foot. We walked in silence on the quiet neighborhood streets. The murals painted on the cinderblock walls, vibrant by day, were grayscale at night.
When we reached the fruit market, we walked around back to Don Pedro’s small office. He was at his desk. Behind the desk a disorganized bookshelf held a few books and a large collection of tools and junk.
“Ah, Don Cuervo,” Don Pedro said. “Thank you for coming.” He smiled, but worry marked his face.
“My pleasure, Don Pedro. I hope you are well.” We shook hands.
Don Pedro nodded at Ramón, who left the office.
“I am afraid for you and Raven,” Don Pedro said. “The boy who spoke to you today has been seen with the narcos. I hear they call him El Cangrejo. The crab. Because he pinches people and doesn’t let go.”
“He had a message from Raven,” I said. “I haven’t seen her since yesterday morning.”
“That is bad news,” Don Pedro said. He rubbed his face. “Ramón told me you invited him to stay at your hostel.”
“He was dressed as a backpacker,” I said. “I thought he could help me find Raven.”
“If he is with the narcos, and he appeared poor, it was to fool you,” Don Pedro said. “What was the message?”
“That Raven said to hurry.”
“The last time I saw her, she gave me this envelope.” I pulled the still-unopened envelope from my pocket and laid it on Don Pedro’s desk. Then I told him what had happened in the days before Raven gave me the envelope. “She said it came from the lockers at the bus station.”
Don Pedro wrinkled his forehead. “I do not know of any lockers at the bus station.”
“I don’t either,” I said. “I was on my way there when Ramón found me.” Don Pedro nodded. I went on. “When Cangrejo came to the shop, he knew the code that Raven and I use to pass important messages. So I believed the message came from her.”
Don Pedro rubbed his face again. “If he knew your code, then he spoke with Raven. She is in serious danger.”
“Should we open the envelope?” I asked.
“If we can pinch El Cangrejo, he will tell us more than whatever is in the envelope,” Don Pedro said. “Ramón and I will watch the hostel. Check the bus station, then meet us.”
Don Pedro stood from his desk and turned to rummage on the bookshelf. When he turned back around, he had a machete in his hand. The handle was worn and battered from use, but the blade was straight and the edge sharp.
“In case we run into any rotten fruit,” he said.
I nodded and stepped into the night.