The police Chief walked through the room and examined everything very closely. The man who stayed in this room was very thorough. He had picked up all his trash, he hadn’t used any towels or washcloths and he had slept on top of the covers of the bed. The Chief opened all the drawers but knew he wouldn’t find anything. This man was not going to make it easy to find out who he is. The Chief went back into the small bathroom again to see if he had missed anything. It looked as if the room had not been rented at all. On his way out, he checked the bed area once more and noticed that there were ashes, probably from cigarettes, on the floor beside the bed. Well, that was something, he thought. All he knew about this man was that he had checked in under the name of Juan Valdez, he was tall and sometimes wore a hat and sunglasses, and that he smoked in bed. Not very much to go on, the Chief thought.
He stepped out of the room and pulled the door shut. He returned to the registration desk to question the clerk further. After a few minutes, he knew that the man he had seen in the truck as he was coming to the hotel must have been the one. He had never seen this man before. Using the name of Juan Valdez must have been a poor attempt at Colombian humor. But now, at least, he had something to go on, he thought. He was driving a muddy but relatively new four-wheel-drive truck. That might help a little, but only a little. He needed more information.
This man was probably involved in the murders and who knows what else. When he could think of nothing more to ask or do about his investigation, he walked back to his small office and sat in the worn-out desk chair. He put his feet up on the desk and went over the facts he had managed to uncover. Not much, he thought. Anything as complicated as this must be related to the guerilla activity he’d heard about up in the mountains. But what did it have to do with the crash site out in the jungle? The thought that it may have something to do with the pile of stones never occurred to him. There were piles of stones all over his country. This one just happened to have a crash of an American helicopter nearby. These thoughts drifted through his mind and he fell asleep in the old desk chair once again.
The fat man was drinking heavily. There was a nearly empty bottle of the local tequila on the table and a dirty glass. He filled it again to the brim and emptied the bottle. The faces of the two men he had shot were still fresh in his mind and their brains were visible and dripping blood and pinkish flesh on their clothes. He kept seeing that same image over and over. Sometimes in slow motion and sometimes quickly. He chugged down half of the glass and suddenly realized he would have to have another bottle. He bumped the table as he staggered to his feet, spilling the glass’s contents on the table. The glass rolled off and fell to the wooden floor of his room. It didn’t break., but he was only dimly aware of that. He staggered to the door and went out. The stairs were the next obstacle he overcame.
When he got downstairs, he went into the open door to the saloon that was a part of the hotel. He and the bartender were the only ones there.The bartender grunted out a greeting and asked him what he wanted. The fat man pulled out a wad of bills and told the bartender he needed another bottle of tequila. The bartender reached under the bar and took out a bottle of the cheap stuff that he bottled himself. It was drinkable, but just barely. Anyway, he took a handfull of the bills on the bartop and stuffed the rest of them back into the fat man’s pockets. He knew that the fat man would remember giving him money, so he didn’t want any trouble. But he had just made a handsome profit.
The fat man stumbled and staggered back up the stairs to his room. When he had closed and locked the door, he went back to the table by the bed where he had been drinking. He kicked the glass he had been using. He looked down and reached for the glass. When his fingers had closed on it, he passed out on the floor.
Chapter14 John had been talking to Sarah during their short break. He had learned that her name was Sarah Mayfield. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, and she was 29 years old. She, in turn, had learned that John was an ex-soldier who had to retire from combat injuries. He couldn’t seem to stop working for his government, though. He had taken a job with a company that worked closely with the government. They recovered bodies of the soldiers who were killed in places that were too sensitive for the government to safely enter. The company kept a low profile because they worked with the Diplomatic Corps. They had many deep connections with the U.S. Government, but no military ties except for the many veterans who worked for them. They had a Carte Blanche arrangement with the US government. It was the U.S. Government’s way of contributing to the Company who did such dangerous work for them.
Sarah had been raised on a horse farm. That was how she thought of it. Their family had about thirty horses and kept them on a hundred-fifty acre estate. It was small for that many horses and their family had an ongoing debate about whether they should reduce the number of horses. Currently, they had decided to keep the ones they had but they sold any foals as soon as possible to avoid having too many. She was on the side of reducing the numbers. Horses had made a deep impression on her for most of her life, and they were noble creatures, she believed. But she reached a point of her life where she needed more than a happy, secure life where she would be married off to a local man and become the next generation of horse farmers at her home. A college education had given her a yen for more of the world than she had seen so far. She had wanted to travel. So, now, here she was! It had happened quicker than she thought it would, but here she was, in a foreign country. That was how she thought of where she was, a foreign country.
John asked her if she was married. She looked at him in a different way. This was a different John from the one she had known. He was starting to show an interest in her. He had moved closer to her and told her that he had been married, once. His wife, her name was Anita, had been killed in an incident in Nicaragua. She was visiting her family when she got in the way of a vicious attack on a Sandinista street patrol. Sarah thought that was sad. She asked John to tell her about it.
It was a different time, John said. They had only been married for eight months when Anita got a letter from her brother, telling her that their mother was ill and maybe not expected to live. She had insisted on going to see her Mother and John agreed to it. When she was just down the street from her mother’s house in Managua, a Sandinista street patrol was driving down the street. There was a Contra ambush set up on the second floor of a house just a few doors down from her mother’s house. Just as they passed by, she was killed in the crossfire between the ambushing rebels and the Sandinistas. It had happened so fast, she didn’t even have a chance to run for cover.
John was heart-broken, and it seemed that a piece of him had died with her. He had grieved for over a year when, one day, Ken had showed up and talked him into taking a job with a company that worked for the U.S. Diplomatic Corps. He was to go into sensitive areas and recover the bodies of soldiers. It was nasty work but it helped him to cope with the death of his wife. John took Sarah’s hand and held it for a while and said nothing. Sarah had just smiled.
Just then, Ken came back down the stone steps and loudly announced that dinner would be ready in an hour. Meanwhile, they should get back to work. As Brian got up to resume the rubble and stone removal, he noticed that there was a small opening exposed at the top of the pile. He climbed to the top, gingerly, with a flashlight and looked down into the dark. He shone his light around for a minute and then stopped at one spot. He stared for a while, then called Ken over to take a look.
Ken scrambled up the pile of stones and took the flashlight from Brian. As he swept the beam back and forth, he also stopped at the spot that had intrigued Brian. It took him a moment to comprehend what he was seeing. Once he knew what it was, he began a careful estimate of what he was seeing. After a minute of examination, he swept the area with the flashlight. He thought he saw a wire from a boobytrap. If they had kept on, they might have had a stone fall forward and trip the wire. He called everyone together to explain what he had seen. He told them they had to stop and wait for an expert to be brought in from the airport. Brian wasn’t talking and everyone was curious about what Ken had seen. They balked at his explanation.
Ken finally decided to tell them about the great pile of ammunition and explosives, rockets and grenades he had seen at the lower level. When he explained that the whole thing had been boobytrapped, and could have exploded if they had kept on with their excavation, they realized he was right and they couldn’t wait to leave the hole until it could be cleared by an explosive ordinance disposal team. Everyone knew they had to get out.
The tall thin man had donned his camoflaged suit. He was almost at the place where he had shot the three men before. It was a perfect spot. He could see the entire clearing and the road from here. The slight rise in the ground level gave him a good down angle for shooting. He settled in and decided to wait to see where everyone was located. He needed to count heads to be sure he killed everyone. The trajectory would be the same as before and the range would also be the same. It would be easy, he thought. The hard part was how he was going to cover it up this time. Well, he was working on that. He would think of something.
As he watched, the cook was preparing the dinner meal. He was setting the table for five people. That was good to know. As he watched, the cook went back and checked the food to see if it was ready. The smell drifted over to the tall man. They were having chicken, he knew. He liked this spot also because it was downwind of the clearing. It was a part of his sniper training to be downwind, because sometimes, people could smell you. The tall man was nothing if not cautious. But he didn’t notice that the birds and wildlife had left the area. The cook had noticed but gave no sign that he had. He kept himself busy stirring the pot that smelled so good.
Three people came up out of the hole, talking excitedly among themselves. The sniper swept the area between the cook tent and the pile of rocks with the opening. It would be difficult to get all five unless they were out of the hole and on open ground. He waited for the fifth man to come out. The others went to get cleaned up for dinner. The sniper waited. As he did so, his thoughts once again returned to the woman. She was pretty and slim. He would have much fun with her, he thought.
As he was fantasizing, the cook picked up a phone from somewhere, and made a call. He said a few words and hung up. The people started to arrive at the table for dinner. The cook told them to wait for a couple of minutes. Ken would be up out of the hole in a minute or two. He said that he wanted to check around for other boobytraps. The others settled down to wait for him. The sniper couln’t hear what they were saying but he guessed that the man in the hole was about to come up. He double and triple-checked his semi-automatic rifle. Everything was in order and he was ready to kill them all.
He once again wondered what was keeping the man in the hole. The cook had moved over to the spot where he had placed a small bag and had knelt down to unzip it. As he unzipped it, a noise and a puff of smoke came up from the hole. It was almost as if a smoke grenade had gone off, the sniper thought. Just then, the the man in the hole stuck his head up out of the hole a little bit and looked around in his direction. The sniper had a bad feeling about that. It was almost as if they knew he was out there.
As he swung the scope back to the cooking area. He saw that the cook had a small device in his left hand and a small automatic weapon in his right hand. By the time the sniper’s eyes had widened, he heard a small click behind him and he felt a great heat and pressure as the claymore mine exploded and perforated his body in nine places with ball bearings moving at express speed. A loud bang and a puff of white smoke gave away his position. The rifle was knocked over and away. The bipod bent and the stock bloodied, it tumbled into the underbrush in the jungle. Part of the camoflage suit had been torn off exposing the man’s wounds and bloodied clothes. He had died instantly.
John, Brian and Sarah jumped up from the table. They were shocked to see Raul standing there with an Uzi and a detonator, a determined and intense look on his face. He was staring at the spot where the mine had gone off. If there had been any movement, he would have sprayed the area with the Uzi. But Raul knew that the chances that the sniper would survive the blast were slim. The claymore mine sprayed a wide area when it explodes. But he knew he should be careful until he was sure the sniper was dead.
He started out to the spot when Ken came out of the hole. Ken moved to the other side of the clearing and they both advanced on the spot from different sides. When they got there, Raul covered the scene with his Uzi while Ken approached and turned the body over. It was clear that the pellets and the blast had ripped open the sniper’s back and legs. A piece of the camoflage suit was hooked on a bush a few feet from the man. It looked like an old ghillie, Ken thought. He signaled to the cook that the sniper was dead and he could stand down. Raul visibly relaxed and turned to go back to the astounded people at the cook tent. Ken searched the body for identification but knew he wouldn’t find any. This man was a professional. He secured the sniper’s weapon and walked back to the cook tent.
After sitting down with everyone and explaining what had happened, Ken was besieged with questions about what happened. They wanted to know why he didn’t tell them about the sniper. Ken asked Raul to call the Chief of police and tell him to make the long drive tomorrow morning. It was almost dark now and there was no use attempting a trip like that at night. After Raul made the call, he smelled something burning and looked over at the burned mess in the cookpot. He shook his head at the loss of such a good cookpot. Well, he thought, I’d better get started making some sandwiches. When the excitement wears off, everyone will be hungry.
Ken, John and Brian sat together and discussed what to do next.They had to notify their company of the discovery of the weapons cache. That involved the government of Venezuela. They had to tell the government about the archaeological find, another complication. An EOD team had to come here and clear the weapons cache out of the little room beside the stairway landing. The Police Chief had to come and make a further investigation. There was nothing more to do but wait.
They ate a hasty dinner of sandwiches and sodas from the cooler. The ice was gone now, but no one seemed to mind.After dinner, everyone went to their tents for the night. Ken had noticed that John’s tent was unoccupied. As he thought about it, he knew where John might be. He shook his head and went into his own tent. It had been a long day and he still had to call the company to get the EOD team here right away. He’d call the Venezuelan Government contact man in the morning.
Brian couldn’t sleep. He tossed and turned for an hour or so, then got up from his cot and went to the small folding table at the other side of the tent. He opened the laptop after turning on a battery-powered lamp. There was an e-mail message from the company. It said that there was a picture of the stone that John had removed from the site. They got a local archaeologist who worked at a nearby University to examine the stone. He had carefully cleaned the mud and blood from the stone. The script was clearly visible. Unbelievably, there was a dual message on the stone. The original script was accompanied by a translation in Mayan pictographs. The stone was turning out to be another Rosetta stone. Brian was stunned. He read on to learn that the local archaeologist was not schooled in the Mayan language. He was only able to give a brief but educated guess as to the meaning. It was some kind of description of what the entranceway was. Entranceway! To what, Brian wondered. The local archaeologist also thought the message talked of other “entranceways” but couldn’t be sure. Brian was now too excited to sleep. The photo was included as an attachment to the e-mail. He extracted it from the e-mail and installed it on the matrix of his collage of pictures of the big slab. He could already see correlations and repetitions between the two.
He stopped and went outside to find Raul wandering around and talking on a satellite phone. When he saw Brian, he quickly hung up and put it away. Too late, he thought. Brian had seen it. He would explain to Brian later. He asked Brian what he wanted. Brian asked if Raul would make up a pot of coffee for him. It looked as if he would be up all night. Raul agreed and asked him about what was up. Brian explained about the e-mail and the picture of the missing stone. He knew he would not be able to sleep until he had made as much of a translation as he could. He was one of a few archaeologists who could translate Mayan pictographs. That was why the company had hired him to investigate the site.
There was a good possibility that the Mayan culture had an influence here. The Mayans were mostly further North and West in Central America, but there was a good chance of there being some proof that it went further south than was known or commonly expected. Raul seemed to understand, and agreed to make the coffee.
Brian returned to his tent. He prepared to spend all night at the little table. He had forgotten about seeing Raul talking on a satellite phone.
Raul watched and waited for a few minutes. When he was sure that Brian had settled back into his tent, He went over to the cook tent and quickly prepared a pot of Colombian coffee. While he was waiting for it to brew, he took out the satellite phone and called back the party he was talking to when he was interrupted by Brian’s request. He explained the interruption and told the other party that he didn’t think Brian would even remember that he had seen him on the satellite phone. Their security was still good. The other party expressed skepticism and concern that their presence would become known. Raul said that there was nothing that they could do now but wait and see. He hung up. The coffee was finished brewing. He removed the grounds and brought the pot into Brian’s tent. He asked Brian if he would need an insulated jug for the coffee. Brian said no. He had been drinking cold coffee ever since he had become an archeologist. Brian thanked him and Raul left.
Brian went right back to work on the beginning of a translation. The new translating software began to piece together parts of the message of the large slab. It was slow, plodding work. Any decent archaeologist would have given up many sleepless nights to have a chance at the discovery of a new language and a new culture. Brian wondered, as he worked, about this strange people and their need to dig deep down into the earth. He wondered if there was any connection between these people and the disappearance of the Mayan People.
There were many coincidences here and the answers seemed to be getting closer. The Mayans disappeared practically overnight and some people said that they went underground. That was mostly conjecture, but it was worthy of consideration as he studied the picture of the big slab while waiting for the program to make connections and guesses.
Brian returned to the picture of the stone that John had found near the slab. Curiously, it was made by a different scribe than the one who made the large slab. The Mayan pictographs loosely translated into a description of three other sites that were available to be used in the event of another calamity like the one that this one had been made for. The steps led to a shelter deep below the earth where the people would be safe.
Wow, thought Brian. What calamity? What people was the stone meant to inform? How many? A family or two? Perhaps a whole village or town. What could be so dangerous that the only safe place to be was deep underground? The questions just kept coming. Brian stopped to drink some of the coffee. It was already starting to get cold.
The fat man gradually came back to conciousness and groaned. He had puked up a lot of something nasty on the floor by his face. He struggled to his feet and headed to the bathroom to wash his face and wash out his mouth. The water coming out of the faucet was a brownish color but the fat man didn’t notice or care. He cleaned himself up as best he could. He looked at himself in the cracked mirror. He was a mess. He needed a shave and his clothes were dirty and covered with the slimy stuff he had puked up. He decided to throw away the clothes and wear some new ones he had brought with him from the last job at the oil fields. The shirt and pants were khaki-colored and wrinkled from the cheap suitcase he carried. He didn’t bother changing into new underwear or socks. He just wanted to get out of there before the tall man decided to kill him too. He was the tall man’s local connection but he had no delusions about his being unreplaceable. He threw his clothes into the trash container, packed his few belongings,including the full bottle of tequila, and went downstairs to check out.
He paid his bill and walked out to the old truck that was parked out in the back of the hotel. The hat of the local man he recruited was still in the back of the old truck. He grabbed it and tossed it to the ground at the rear of the building and got in the old truck. After twenty seconds of cranking and cursing, the old truck fired up. He revved the old engine and backed out of the spot where he had parked. As he drove away, he swore that he would never come back to this town. The tall man wouldn’t like it but he would have to get someone else to do his dirty work. He took the road away from town and didn’t look back. The sky was starting to lighten and sunrise would not be too far away.
At first light, Raul went over to the landing pad with a smoke canister and waited for the chopper bringing the EOD team, some Venezuelan officials and the supplies that he had ordered. When he heard the approaching chopper, he started the smoke canister and moved away from the landing pad. He had been in touch with the co-pilot by phone and had told him which way the wind was blowing. It was different from the last time. The morning winds were different for some reason. The pilot swung around the clearing checking for obstacles and then swooped down in a way that reminded Raul he used to ride in choppers like this one, but that was the past and he had other things to occupy his time these days.
The door of the chopper slammed open and three very military-looking men dressed in civilian clothes jumped out. At the touchdown, Ken walked over to the pad and greeted the three men. They unloaded some duffle bags and worked together to unload the last item, a heavy crate. When everything was unloaded, Ken called everyone over to the cook tent. After the introductions, Ken explained to the team that they were to stay away from the hole until the EOD team gave the OK.
The Leader of the three-man team then stood and spoke a few words about safety and what was going to happen. Ken excused himself and walked over to the chopper. He spoke to the pilot for a few minutes and then reached into his pocket and handed him a piece of paper with a list of items they needed. The food, some liquid items, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and even a new cook pot for Raul. He made a last-minute addition to the list. He requisitioned a body bag for the dead sniper. The Police Chief might bring his own but Ken didn’t want to keep the body here in the event that he hadn’t brought one with him.
After Raul came over with a thermos of coffee for the pilot and co-pilot, he said a few words in spanish, gave a quick laugh and slid the door shut on the chopper. The pilot started it up and lifted away. He circled the site once and swung off to the Company staging area back at Maracaibo.
Ken and Raul walked back to the cook tent and joined the group of EOD men at the cook tent. They had pulled the heavy crate over and were unpacking a large variety of equipment from it. There was an elaborite monitoring system, a small robotic vehicle, all kinds of detection equipment, chemical sniffers and even a small decontamination chamber, in case they ran into something of a chemical or biological hazard. These men were well-trained and from the look of it, they had recent training or experience in the use of all this equipment. Ken had heard that the men had been borrowed from Guantanamo bay in Cuba. The Marines, he thought, when you care enough to send the very best! They knew their stuff. He left them to their jobs and looked for Raul. He found him on the perimeter of the site checking his sensors again. He walked over to him and told him about the new cook pot. Raul smiled at first and then laughed. He asked Ken if he remembered to order more ice with the rest of the supplies. Ken laughed and told him he had because the Marines had insisted on having cold beer. They both laughed at that and walked back to the cook tent. Ken noticed that John and Sarah were not anywhere to be seen.
Ken decided to go to the archeologist’s tent. He knocked on the tent pole and stepped inside the tent. Brian had rolled up the sides of his tent and was busy typing on the keyboard of his laptop. He stopped when Ken came and turned the screen around so that Ken could see the picture of the big stone slab that he had composed from the collage of photos. The program was almost finished with filling in the blanks of the missing pieces. Remarkably, very little of the text was destroyed by the blast. Brian had concluded that whoever had set the blast that cracked the big slab into pieces was not trying to eliminate the script from being read. They were trying to hide the hole underneath. When he told his theory to Ken, Ken agreed. He said that the sniper was probably the one, and he was probably involved with the people who had cached the explosives and ammo in the hole. Local terroristas or revolutionaries, Ken ventured.
Brian next showed the picture of the stone that John had taken. He explained to Ken about the double language key on the stone and what it meant to the translation of the script on the big slab. Brian explained that he would probably have a near-complete translation some time today! His face shone with an intensity that impressed Ken. Ken told him that was great. He was making real progress. He said that congratulations were in order. If he had known, he would have ordered a bottle of champagne along with the beer. Brian assured him that beer would do nicely, instead. Ken laughed and stayed just long enough to tell Brian that the Local Police Chief would be here sometime this morning.
Ken went back to the cook tent where Raul was looking through the food stocks to see what they could expect for lunch. He had traded beer for some MRE’s (Meals Ready To Eat) from the Marine EOD team. They seemed more than happy to trade for the beer and Raul had gotten a large pile of individual meal packages from them. He sorted through his pile of “booty” and picked several for lunch. He seemed happy, somehow.
The fat man’s name was Luis Mendosa. He had been an oil worker most of his adult life. In the last few years since his accident, he hadn’t been able to work at the oil fields. He had lost a thumb and a finger when a piece of heavy chain was thrown from a spinning drill tube. He had kept from being killed by throwing his hands up to protect his face. The chain had ripped off his thumb and swung around and knocked him unconcious. As he waited for the medical team to arrive from another site, his finger had become infected and had to be amputated also.
The memory brought back the bitterness he felt when the Oil Company had laid him off with just a small settlement for his injuries. He would not be able to work for any of the oil companies any more. His life had just undergone a major change. The chances of making a living like he had before were gone, and his fiance’ had dumped him within a week. His plans of retiring after twenty or so years to a small rancho were gone. His bitterness was discovered at the Cantina where he spent most of his time and most of his settlement. Two men had sat at his table and bought round after round until he had been too drunk to understand what they wanted from him. They wanted to know if he knew the local men in a town not too far from the oil fields. He told them that he did.
The small town of Brocada had been his home for a few months when he was just a boy and his father had worked the oil fields. When his father was killed in an oil fire incident, his mother had packed him and all of his brothers and sisters together and left the small town. All of the friends he had made were sad to learn he was leaving. He swore to them he would be back some day. When he finally made it back there, most of his friends were either dead or in jail. There were not many opportunities for them in the town and they were not suited for work at the oil fields. They too were bitter and had become thieves and worse. Still, they were his friends and he could not forget them. He maintained a distant relationship with them over the years.
The two men at his table were willing to pay good money for people of the right calibre. They would be called upon to do things from time to time. Luis understood that what they wanted was not legal, but as long as he and his friends didn’t have to handle or smuggle drugs, he could be convinced to find someone for them. The two men assured Luis that there would be no drugs of any kind involved. They were not involved with the drug cartels. They all reached an agreement that gave Luis a large sum of cash and he didn’t even have to do any serious work. He would have to be in charge of his people. Only he would be talking to these two men. No one else would be involved. Luis liked this arrangement. When he made his deal, he knew that his life as a legitimate worker was over. That didn’t seem to bother him too greatly, though.
All these thoughts went through his mind as he was driving the old truck through the mountains south of the town he just left. He stopped once to take a leak and when he went back to the truck, he opened his suitcase and took out the bottle of cheap tequila he had gotten from the bartender at the hotel. He took a long pull on the bottle and cranked up the old truck and went on through the small winding roads in the mountains. He passed a few buses and heavy trucks on the road, but he didn’t notice that his driving was becoming more and more erratic.
When he finished the bottle, he threw it out the window and kept on driving. After a few minutes, he rounded a sharp hairpin turn to find a large truck had had a flat tire and blocked both sides of the road. He swerved to avoid it and went through the flimsy wood railing on the edge of the six hundred foot cliff. By the time he realized what he had done, he could see the bottom of the ravine below coming up fast. He saw his two friends faces once more as the bullets had torn open their heads. He knew he would be seeing them again very soon.
Then his truck struck the side of the bottom of the ravine and crushed into a pile of junk and sheet metal. The gasoline from the tank had spread out and caught fire in a sheet of flame but he didn’t feel the flames as they roasted his body into an unrecognizable lump of burned flesh.
The truckdriver on the road above looked down to see the wreck of the old truck. He knew that he was at fault. He went into the cab of his truck and got out a set of road flares and put one on either side of the hairpin turn on the road. He hadn’t done so before because he hadn’t seen anyone on the road for a good while. Now he would have to explain why someone had driven off the road because of him. He knew there was no one alive in the wreck below, so he went back to changing the big truck tire before someone else came along. When he had finished, he turned on his CB radio and tried once again to call the police and an ambulance. This time he got a faint signal from someone operating a base station at a small village about thirty miles away. He told them about the accident, the fatality, and asked them to send the police. They agreed and suggested that he move his truck away from the curved hairpin turn before someone else came along. He said he would and told them that he would wait for the police.
Every time he began to feel sorry for himself, he caught a whiff of the burning flesh from the wreck below. He went back into the cab of his truck and cranked it up and drove around the hairpin curve to a spot about a hundred meters past the curve. He shut down the engine to wait for the police to arrive. He could still smell the burning flesh. He would never forget that smell.
The Police Chief got a call as soon as he had arrived at his office. He picked up the phone to see who would be disturbing him so early in the morning. He hadn’t even had time to make a pot of coffee. When he heard that there had been a killing at the clearing site, again, he was angry, upset, hungry, and extremely curious. An American named Kenneth Porter told him that someone had tried to shoot them at the site and had been killed.
They had been expecting trouble ever since the death of the first guard at the site. Ken briefly explained about the explosives found and that there was a team on its way to clean it up. Ken reassured the Police Chief that the proper officials of the Venezuelan Government had been notified and they would be on site in a couple of hours. Ken suggested that the Chief get on the road now and get to the site for a briefing before they arrive. He told the Chief about the body bag he had ordered and suggested he get there soon to make an investigation into the killing. That way he would have something to report to the Venezuelan officials.
The Chief thanked him for the advance warning and told him he would be there in an hour or less. He hung up the phone and grabbed his hat and raincoat, just in case. As the Chief went outside to go, an old truck drove by him at what he thought was an excessive speed. He looked at the driver and saw a fat man that he had noticed around his small town a few times. He is lucky, the Chief thought. At any other time he would have chased him down and written out a speeding ticket for going so fast in his town. There were children playing in the streets here.