Win a $20 Amazon gift card just for reading a story in six days…three winners!
Hello, readers! This is the fourth installment! I am serializing my 9,000 word short story, “Nightfire!”, for a fun way to read a story over six days. On the seventh day, I am going to ask a question about the story, and the first three persons who e-mail me the correct answer will receive a $20 Amazon gift card. If you missed the first three episodes, don’t worry: There are links to them just below this paragraph. “Nightfire!” is a prequel to the novel, Corvette Nightfire, and like the novel, it is full of love, heartbreak, crime, danger and heroism. Have fun with this, and I hope it whets your appetite to read the novel!
The stolen vehicle shop was several kilometers north of the border at a small Texas settlement known as Presidio, where several hundred residents lived. Día and Luna often took vehicles from Presidio across the Rio Grande River into Ojinaga, Mexico by pulling a two-vehicle trailer behind a heavy-duty pickup truck. They had false papers identifying them as employees of a wholesale dealer who bought used vehicles in the United States for dealers and customers in Mexico. Several of the agents at the Presidio crossing were receiving money from the cartels not to look closely at the vehicles and not to worry about Día and Luna. The Mexican cartel hombres hungered for the big American cars, especially Chevrolet, Cadillac and Ford. Día sometimes unloaded the vehicles in Ojinaga, and sometimes he took them all the way to the principle city with the same name as the state: Chihuahua.
While Día and Luna lived in Texas, as they heard rumors of Rarámuri lands being seized by the Sinaloa cartel in the Copper Canyon, as they learned about the deaths of Rarámuri people being murdered for resistance to the drug-running or for failures in the eyes of the cartel, Día increasingly considered plans for their escape from the dangerous life into which he and Luna had fallen. He saw the stolen cars as a way out. He dreamed that while he had the trust of the cartel, he and Luna might escape in one of the stolen cars that they were delivering to Mexico. There, he and Luna might find a place to build a secret life somewhere. He knew that the cartel would try to find him, so he and Luna would have to abandon any ideas of returning to their families. He would not lead the cartel to them! So whenever he was on the road to Chihuahua, he kept his eyes peeled for road signs that might give him ideas about where to go. At road stops, he conversed with strangers to learn where they were from and what their home communities were like. He sought a hiding place where he and Luna might begin a family.
But fate put into motion events leading to a different destiny.
One afternoon, Día was with Luna in a small community grocery in Presidio, when Luna grabbed her stomach and doubled over in pain. She fell to her knees on the floor. As Día ran to her, he saw a white woman rush to her aid. The woman was asking what was wrong in English, but Luna was answering in Spanish. Día heard Luna’s distressful cry of “Bebe! Bebe!” The woman understood enough Spanish words to get the gist of Luna’s responses, and with Día’s help, she got Luna to her feet, and they took her to a bathroom in the back of the market.
This was another time when Día did not know that Luna was pregnant. He found out later in the afternoon that Luna had only spotted blood. After a long time in the bathroom, the woman consulted her husband at the door, who had come into the store, and then they decided to find Luna some medical help. They got Día to understand to follow them. After putting Luna in the back seat of their car, a cavernous white 1960 Oldsmobile 98 sedan, the couple drove to a house outside Presidio, where a general practitioner had set up his office, and he examined Luna. Finding her to be okay, but stressed, he ordered bed rest for her. The older couple collected Luna and drove to their ranch several kilometers north. Día followed. He smelled the onions and cantaloupes being grown on the farm as they approached their ranch house. He could smell their fragrances even inside the home as that afternoon and evening wore on.
Despite the scare that Luna had lost another baby, this day became for Día one that claimed a sweet corner in his heart. For years he remembered the gratitude on Luna’s face and her bond with the Texas woman, who had come to her aid like a doting mother. Día turned to this memory often later, whenever he was feeling desperate and missing Luna more than he thought he could stand.
The baby did survive in Luna’s belly. Día could see the trust developing between Luna and the kind rancher woman even that first night. The woman struggled to communicate with words of Spanish, and Luna, seeing the woman’s comfort with English, began to learn and repeat English words that very evening. Luna’s facility with languages and her cleverness were things that made Día yearn for her. He had always been in awe of her intelligence and quickness in learning. He often remembered watching Luna with the woman that night and recalling the heat that he had felt for Luna in his body. He had wished that he could be alone with Luna in the ranch house. It made him smile to remember that.
Very quickly, by the next afternoon as Día recalled, it became settled among him, Luna, the woman and her husband, that Día and Luna would move from the small apartment that they had inside a rooming house in Presidio to a vacant wooden bungalow in the back quarter of the farm. The ranchers offered that Luna could help the woman with the farm and household duties, and the woman would be able to care for Luna as her pregnancy came to term. The ranchers believed (as Día and Luna had told them) that Día worked on cars and occasionally sold some, which he delivered to Mexico. Hearing that, the woman asserted that it would be much safer for Luna and the baby not to travel with Día, as she had been doing. Luna would assist her as compensation for their new living quarters, she said.
The arrangement produced a brief period of stability, at least for Luna, and the sense that they might have a family after all. As Luna’s belly grew in the months that followed, she and the older woman strengthened in their friendship. The baby was born in 1961. They considered Rarámuri names. Luna and the rancher woman exhausted many conversations discussing possibilities. Luna saw that the Rarámuri names were difficult for the rancher woman, whom she had come to love. The woman kept returning to the English name, Roger, but the Spanish name for Roger, Rogelio, sounded similar to a Rarámuri name that Día liked. So the baby was named Rogelio. He came out of Luna flailing and kicking, a beautiful boy in graceful motion, like he was dancing. The boy loved to dance as he grew. Día saw in the next couple years that no one could look at Rogelio without falling instantly in love.
Día let himself become lulled into calmness by feeling the domesticity of life on the ranch when he was at home. But the work taking cars into Mexico became increasingly risky. There was constant turnover in the cartel, and Día found himself repeatedly dealing with people whom he didn’t know. Certainly, none of them were men to be trusted. He knew their homicidal natures. And every new man appearing in his shop already knew a lot about Día, where he lived, where he came from, his skills, and that Luna worked with him. They mentioned this information to him with painted smiles and murderous eyes. None had mentioned the baby yet, but as Rogelio grew and Día loved him more and more, he became increasingly apprehensive about his baby’s future. At night in bed, Luna also whispered her anxieties to him that Rogelio was endangered by the lives of his own parents! She told Día that always she felt the presence of cold, invisible eyes.