hunderstruck.  Beau picked himself up from the rubble of the office complex in which he'd spent the last thirty-six hours.  He shook his head in a futile attempt to clear away some of the fog.

Although dust from the explosion cleared rather quickly, the haze through which he peered inside his head wouldn't be cleared away until well after he'd been captured.  Feeling over the ragged parts of what remained of his clothes he discovered only minor scratches with the exception of the deep wound in his side.  Felt like he had a broken rib or two to boot.  He used his handkerchief to staunch the flow of red stuff spreading out on his shirt.

He staggered over to the wall opposite of the hole blasted by the RPG (rocket propelled grenade) and saw where the informant had been decimated by the force of the explosion.  Beau had just came back after scanning the horizon from the opposite side of the bombed-out building.  His lofty perch five stories above the ground afforded him a view over the dunes and up the road almost a mile.

The last scan had netted nothing of interest, but the trip had saved his life.  Just before coming around the dividing wall into the actual room where the informant was sitting at his post, the grenade had struck, taking out everything in the room.  He sure hated to lose that Mossberg.  On it was the best scope he'd ever used, and in these days and times he might not ever get another one like it.

The sound of a small pickup truck skidding to a halt in front of the building roused him from his stupor.  He frantically looked around for a place of defense or somewhere to hide.  He had to make it quick because the guys were running up the stairs.  He found a small hole just inside an old chiffarobe.  He quickly crawled into it, sat down on the floor, and pulled the old clothes off the hangars draping them onto himself.

It wasn't much of a hiding place, but it was all he had at the moment.  Running in the hall toward the room where he was hidden came three men and either a girl or young boy.  "Probably a young boy with lots of experience" he thought to himself.  From the perspective of those in the room, it just looked like a pile of clothes.  With the largest part of his carcass sitting on the floor through the bottom of the wardrobe, the pile was much too small for anyone to be hiding under.

It was very hot.  New Mexico had summers that were brutal, and this day was no exception.  He forced himself to remain still and breathe as little as possible.  The chatter was about the informant.  He had been one of theirs but had become sickened of all the killing and brutality portrayed as 'part of their religion' by the radical moslems.  The informant although had not converted from Islam, had made well with the information he'd given.

They kicked around a little bit picking up the remainder of the ammo and throwing the rifle down in the dirt.  Within two minutes they were running back down the hall, and soon the sound of the pickup hurriedly screaming around the corner diminished.  All was quiet.  Beau barely breathed for a good five minutes, all the while carefully listening for any sound whatsoever.  He detected nothing.

"Ain't gonna hurt to wait a couple of more minutes" he thought to himself.  The braying of a mule drifted lazily up to ear, then the cluck of a hen.  A couple of light footsteps were heard in the hall just outside the room where the explosion had taken place.  It was a light, timid footstep.

Beau waited, deliberating on every sound he heard.

Then the sound of digging through the rubble, something being retrieved, the sound as if someone were blowing the dust off something.  Then, another voice.  These were children overcome by their curiosity.  First a girl of about eleven years of age.

A few minutes later two younger boys were rummaging around in the rubble.  One of the children had discovered the destroyed pelvis and legs portion of the man and was going through the pockets.  A couple of dull sounding coins and perhaps a few wadded bills.  This was big prize money to them.  Excitedly they looked around for anything else of value they could find.

The voice of a young lady, probably in her mid twenties came up from below and the children scampered out down the hall way noisily clomping down the stairs, then running around to reach the next flight of stairs down and clumping down them as well.  Excitedly and all at once, they were sharing their excursion and the good news of the newfound fortune with their mother.

Another hour passed, once the sounds of an overloaded lorry grumbled past and then a pickup full of militants screamed by firing their weapons at everything they passed on the road.  Darkness came slowly, and the urge to sleep was a bitter battle which he lost in the waning hours of the Monday evening which would be remembered as the most horrible week he ever experienced.  But it really hadn't been so bad up to these last few hours.

His life was about to change, and he would gather some scars, both mentally and physically, that would stay with him until he died.  And it would commence within an hour of him leaving his hidey hole.  He'd lasted almost five hours in that hole.  The flies were storming the remains of his informant, and now they were flying around his location.  He had to move in the darkness.

The voice came out of nowhere.  "Ah, amigo.  You stayed so long in your hole I thought you may have died . . ."

Old Mexican Peasant - Eduardo Fernández - Eduardo, son of Fernándo

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Chapter I