SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 3, Terminal Charges

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 3, Terminal Charges

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          “We will be landing at La Aurora International Airport in a few minutes.  The weather is 27 degrees Centigrade or 82 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is cloudy and has been raining on and off this evening.  Wind is picking up out of the West.  Welcome, La Paloma Blanca Ministries, to Guatemala City.”

          A soft cheer arose.

          Esmeralda was gazing down at the lights of the city, “The air up here is making the lights waver like hot coals.”

          Into the ribbon of twilight rose four mountains.  I asked, “Are those the volcanoes you were talking about?”

          “Yes.  That one is Pacaya, the one that caused all the trouble.”

          “And that is near where we are going?”

          “Yes, near the city of La Antigua.  A village named Mudéjar.  It was once an estate granted to one of the conquistadors.”

          I had never been so attracted and so intimidated by a young woman.  During the flight she had lectured me about Guatemala.  But she was the first girl I ever actually wanted to listen to.  I didn’t care what she talked about.

          When the plane halted at the terminal everyone stood up and began to file out.  I let Esmeralda go ahead of me.  She wove away quickly through the crowded aisle without another word, to be with the other apprentice pastors.  Since I had been seated toward the rear of the plane I ended up near the end of the line entering the terminal.

          At the entrance there were several armed guards on each side of the line of La Paloma Blanca workers.  Nearest the line each guard held leashed a big Pit Bull lifting its forepaws off the ground straining to savor each passing person.  Many of the workers made brave smiles and said cute things to the dogs but it looked to me as if they might as well have said “eat me first” the way the dogs reacted.  I was determined to stare straight ahead.

          As I passed, both dogs began to growl savagely and bark at me.  My chest felt like it had suddenly filled with ice water.  A guard came over and said right into my face “Come with me.”  I looked back to see the ripple of turning faces as the rest of them heard about what was happening to me.

          Two guards took me into a room and pulled the duffle bag out of my hands.  The first one glared at me as if daring me to challenge him.  He just dumped the duffle bag contents onto a table.  I realized that the second guard was holding his gun at my stomach.  A moment later the first guard held aloft what looked like a baggie of marijuana.  I nearly fainted.

          “Explain this.”

          “It isn’t mine, I swear.”

          He gave me a cruel smile.

          I was ready to cry.  “I swear, I swear to God.  Do you think I am loco?”

          “I think you are estupido.  This is not Los Angeles.”

          I suddenly thought of Roberto and our last night of partying.  Would he have been so fucked-up that he put a baggie of dope in my duffle bag as a “going away present”?

          “Well, no matter how stupid you are you will learn how serious this is.”

          He got out his phone and spoke calmly and triumphantly while staring at me.

          “Detain the others.”

          They hassled me for a long time.  Then they brought in several of the apprentice pastors.  There were five of them, including Esmeralda who didn’t look at me.  They argued in low voices.  I gathered that all the other workers were being searched as well.

          I stared mournfully at the baggie of marijuna that the guard was brandishing.  Then a realization hit me.

          I interrupted the heated discussion.

          “Esmeralda!  I admit I partied the night before the flight.  But I did not take dope with me!  It isn’t even the same weed we were smoking.  I swear!”

          There were more hissing heated words.  I wondered without hope: was I going to jail or back home?  Finally, there seemed to be an understanding.

          “Esmeralda.  What is going on?”

          She looked over at me with disappointment, “We are going to pay a ‘fine’.  Money we can’t afford.  And a guard has to come along with us to Mudéjar.”

          I have never been so thankful and so shamed at the same time.

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