Divide & Conquer (5 page)

***

Miguel dragged the screaming mother back into the house and slammed the door closed. He had glanced across at the Federales and was dumbfounded by their inaction. They just sat there as though nothing had happened. They had seen him shooting at the Mustang and witnessed a boy being kidnapped. One thing was certain, they weren’t Federales.

The woman needed two slaps before her screaming became a whimper.

As her screaming died down, the police sirens came to life.

“Shit!” Miguel ran upstairs to check on Hector. “Hector, what the fuck are you doing?” he screamed.

Hector failed to answer, infuriating him even more. “Hector!” he shouted as he entered the loft area.

Hector waved at him wildly, his finger to his lips.

“I assure you everything is fine, we don’t need anybody here.” Hector was saying into his phone. “Don’t be ridiculous, nobody has been kidnapped, the boy’s uncle picked him up.”

Hector listened for a few seconds before his tone changed. “I don’t care how you stand them down, just fucking do it! That’s what we pay you for!” and put the phone down.

A few seconds passed before the sirens died. Their man in the force had just earned himself a large bonus and saved his family’s life.

“Fixed!” he announced. His calm composure had returned after his earlier panic.

Miguel didn’t bother responding as he headed back to the mother. Someone was reaching out to get to her and it may well have been the breakthrough El Jefe was waiting for.

Miguel grabbed her and took her into the living room. El Jefe needed to be updated.

Miguel dialed the emergency number and waited to receive the call back. Five minutes passed before El Jefe’s menacing voice was on the phone. Miguel knew he was to be careful on the phone line.

“We’ve had a visitor!”

“Where from?”

“Out of town I think!”

“What did they say?”

“Nothing, they didn’t stop, they just took the small package and left.”

“They were local, not visitors.”

Miguel thanked God he hadn’t shot at the van. El Jefe had just told him he had sent the men to get the boy.

“And our friends?” asked El Jefe, meaning the Federales.

“They just drove off, as though nothing had happened.”

“Interesting.” the line went dead. El Jefe was finished.

Miguel considered calling back. He hadn’t told him about Hector’s vision of the guy in the sports car. He’d have to go through the same procedure again, calling the emergency number and waiting.

“We have your son.”

Miguel relayed the information in the hope it would give the woman some comfort and shut her up but to no avail. In fact, her whimpering increased.

“You just need to help us establish links to your husband’s contacts and we’ll be gone!” he reiterated for the fiftieth time.

“I don’t know what or who you are talking about. I promise I don’t know what contacts you are talking about!” she blubbered in response as she had every time previously.

The frustration for Miguel, which made this assignment all the more difficult, was that he genuinely believed her. He retreated back to the loft area; the whimpering was really beginning to gnaw at him.

***

Sean was struggling to hide himself amongst the traffic. It seemed the closer they got to Mexico the more cars decided against it. Every exit resulted in another swathe of cars exiting but nobody entered. There was certainly no shortage of vehicles coming the other way. Truck after truck lined the road. He knew the US was more appealing than Mexico but this was ludicrous. He was the only car heading to Mexico along with a handful of trucks.

They were definitely taking the boy to Mexico. The final cut-off to remain in the US flashed past as they continued towards the border. Sean unbuckled his belt and sped up. As soon as the van stopped, he wanted to be out and alerting the border staff to the kidnap. As the road spread into a wide number of lanes, Sean stayed directly behind the van as it selected a central lane and approached the barrier. Both slowed down as the barrier blocked their way. Sean’s hand was on the door handle. As soon as they stopped, he would be on them, screaming towards the building four lanes to his right that he was sure would house armed officers.

Sean was now tight behind the van offering them no escape from the barrier ahead. They continued to slow down. As Sean began to pop the door, the van sped up, the barrier lifted automatically, no checks were going to be made on the van.

Sean slammed the door and sped forward. The barrier dropped and Sean waited for it to lift and allow him to continue the pursuit. The barrier remained down. A boy’s life was in Sean’s hands. He blasted his horn in frustration. The van was pulling away from the border area and entering Mexico. Sean was in a sport’s car with no storage. They had a van and could have any kind of contraband in the back but he was the one being held back!

As the van disappeared from view, Sean banged his horn in frustration. An officious looking border officer cut across the lanes and headed towards his car. Sean jumped out of the car.

“Lift the barrier, they’ve kidnapped a boy!” Sean pointed desperately at the empty road ahead.

“I’m sorry, Sir. This is for commercial vehicles only,” she said ignoring what he had just said.

“Didn’t you hear me?! They’ve kidnapped a boy, open this fucking barrier!!!”

The officer looked at him with some disdain. “Sir, you wouldn’t believe the stories we get in an attempt to allow unauthorized vehicles through this commercial crossing.”

Sean took all his strength not to hit the supercilious bitch.

“Open the barrier, NOW!” demanded Sean.

The woman removed the walkie-talkie from her belt much to Sean’s relief and as she hit the talk button, Sean climbed back into the car, ready for the barrier to rise.

“I need back-up please, I’ve got an aggressive driver here!” she said backing away from Sean carefully.

Sean looked at the road ahead in despair. The bridge off in the distance crossed the Rio Grande, which offered a natural line to delineate between the two countries. A speck in the distance had just passed through the Mexican border crossing without stopping. The boy was gone. Sean was in no mood for bullshit.

“Call the police and the Mexican authorities and give them this registration,” Sean said, stepping out of his car, holding out a piece of paper to the woman. “A young boy is in that van!”

The woman backed away further. Sean stepped forward and grabbed her hand squeezing the paper into it.

“Do it now!” he commanded.

“Step back, Sir!”

Sean ignored the request from behind. He had heard the car approach but saving the boy was all that was on his mind.

“Call it in!” he demanded of the female officer.

As Sean released the female officer’s hand, two sharp stings hit him in the back. Sean dropped to the ground and despite the 50,000 volts surging through him managed to regret for about the tenth time that day, not going to the beach.

Chapter 10

Pyotr had seen many things in his life but what he had just witnessed pretty much stood above them all.

“We can’t just sit here and do nothing!” exclaimed Alexa having watched the boy being bundled into the van.

“You’re right, we can’t!” offered Pytor, matter of factly. Internally, however, he was as outraged as Alexa. “Let’s get out of here!”

“What about the boy?”

“Our orders are to observe. We can’t get involved!”

“We have to do something! We should at least call the police.”

Pyotr was a father himself. “Perhaps.”

Alexa did not need any more encouragement and dialed 911 immediately, relaying the address and what had just transpired.

As Pyotr pulled away, he caught sight of the Latino man grabbing the woman in the drive. He eyeballed him, wishing he could do more but his orders were simple. Just observe. As they exited the estate, police sirens cut through the air confirming they had taken Alexa’s call seriously. The death of those same sirens just a few seconds later left Pyotr wondering just what the hell he had become involved in and beginning to wish he had been busy when the call requesting his services in sunny Texas had come in.

“What do we do now?” asked Alexa as silence reigned again.

“I have absolutely no idea,” replied Pytor, shaking his head in frustration.

***

It wasn’t the first time Sean had been tasered but it certainly was the first time he had been tasered in anger. As the volt surge passed, much to the surprise of the border officers, Sean was able to stand up almost immediately, ruining their plans to have him in cuffs before he recovered. Three officers had rushed to back up the female officer. Sean knew he was an imposing figure, tall, wide-chested, muscular and, thanks to six months in the wilds, in great shape. The officers dropped their tasers as he stood up and went for their side-arms.

Sean raised his arms slowly in surrender, hoping their trigger happiness was left for their tasers.

“Whoa guys, I’m on your side,” he said calmly.

“On the ground, hands behind your back!” commanded one of the officers. His name badge said he was 'V. Suarez’.

Sean reluctantly got back down on the ground. Once he was in cuffs, they’d relax and listen to him. The boy was still his priority.

As he got on the ground, the female officer moved quickly and forced her knee with some conviction into his back while securing him in handcuffs.

Whilst the first officer covered him, the other two male officers grabbed an arm each and helped Sean back to his feet.

“A boy has been kidnapped.” Sean nodded his head towards the Mexican side of the river. “Can someone please tell the Mexican authorities?!”

Suarez looked firstly at Sean and then at the female officer. Sean’s revelation of a kidnap was not what he had expected to be his first words.

The female officer stood firm. Sean could see the look of defiance on her face and for the first time, he read her name badge, filing it away for future, 'S. Martinez’. Sean prayed she had some gender issues and would one day go through the surgery to become a man. That day would be the day he could hit the stupid bitch for what she had done. Sean’s mother had raised him well. He just couldn’t lift a finger to hurt a woman, unless of course she was a terrorist but then as far as Sean were concerned, terrorists weren’t human, let alone female.

“It’s bullshit! He just wanted to get through the barrier and as I explained, this is for commercial vehicles only,” explained Martinez with conviction and some swagger.

Sean thanked God he was cuffed. His mother’s memory was close to being disrespected as Martinez pushed him to the edge.

Suarez looked with some disdain at his female colleague before turning back to Sean. “What vehicle were they in?” he asked.

“A white E series, license number…”

“Uncuff him,” ordered Suarez, interrupting Sean.

“But the license? You’ll need it to alert the Mexicans,” argued Sean as his hands were released.

“You’re not from around here, Mr…?”

“Fox, Sean Fox,” replied Sean automatically. “ But what’s that got to do with a kidnapped child, what if it were your child?”

Suarez waved his colleagues away and taking Sean by the arm, led him back to his car. Directing him to take a seat behind the wheel.

“It has everything to do with that kidnapped child. That van you were following is a Los Zetas van.”

The blank expression on Sean’s face told Suarez he really wasn’t from the area, or anywhere near at all.

“All we can do for that boy is pray that the Zetas get whatever it is they want!”

Sean was incensed. The guy was a law enforcement officer and he had just told Sean he was going to do nothing about a kidnapped American boy. He tried to exit the car.

Suarez pushed back against Sean’s door and placed his other hand on his pistol. The message was clear. The conversation was over. Sean had outstayed his welcome. Sean looked into Suarez’ eyes and, much to his surprise, saw nothing but fear.

“Are you going to lift this barrier?” asked Sean, resigning himself to the fact that nobody was going to help and it was down to him.

“I’m sorry, Sir, you’ll have to turn back. This is for commercial vehicles only,” replied Suarez deadpan.

“You are fucking kidding me?” Sean stared into Suarez’ eyes. Again the look in his eyes was not a man being stubborn about the rules; the guy was genuinely terrified.

“I’m saving both our lives!” replied Suarez sincerely, before walking back to his office.

Sean waited a few seconds to see if they were just playing with him but the barrier stayed down. He was not getting through. He thought about the boy now almost certainly miles from the border, deep in Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican side of Laredo. A metropolitan area that spanned the two countries, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo was home to almost a million people. That was unfortunately the extent of Sean’s knowledge and that had been garnered from the local map left in the rental car. He really wasn’t from around there and had no idea what Los Zetas was. In fact, in the last ten/fifteen years, he wasn’t even really from America; eighty to ninety percent of the time, he had been on other continents.

Shot at, tasered, cuffed and witness to a kidnap. Not even his worst days in Afghanistan had been as dangerous as what had just happened. He wasn’t even taking account of the detention at the airport, DNA test and transcontinental flight. All because he didn’t go to the beach.

He started the car, selected reverse and did what he should have done to begin with, find out what exactly he was up against. Gung ho had failed miserably. First though, he needed to make a call and for that, he needed a phone. A plain simple phone.

Chapter 11

Sean replaced the handset and listened as his dimes fell and echoed inside the empty metal box. Nobody used public phones anymore and it was the only one for miles. He would have been quicker buying a cell but he didn’t know he’d take so long to find a phone, one that worked. The dimes were lost forever, as was the boy as far as the Mexicans were concerned. The operator had half heartedly taken the details but Sean knew it was a waste of time and money. He inserted a few more quarters and dialed the operator again, this time asking for the local FBI office. He had to do something and had a feeling the local police would be as useless as the border officers and Mexicans.

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