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An American escapes arrest in the jungle

Submitted:Apr 7, 2010    Reads: 46    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Road of Death
(El Camino del Muerte)
Steven Hunley
When the DEA left with the prisoners in back of the truck it was temprano en la manana-still dark. Their plan was to take them to a lock-up in the capital, La Paz where, unlike in Santa Cruz, the officials could not be bribed. It was probably a mistake. The only way there was by a single road named El Camino del Muerte that wound its way up, into the Eastern Cordillera or Cordillera Oriental of the Andes and was called that simply because it was a treacherous single-lane tract, with many switch-backs, at times steep, and many buses of Indians had gone down there and fell over its edge into the canyons, which were common, as the altitude climbed from sea-level in the yungas, or flat lands, to fourteen thousand feet near La Paz. It had a reputation for danger. On this day it would keep its reputation… in spades.
As they pulled out of town the forest began to surround the road. It was cool and still early. An hour later the dew was still on the grass, and the leaves, and the steel barrels of the AKs held by the primos (or cousins) of the two brothers in the truck. They'd secreted themselves in the forest. Hugo had seen to that. Dude knew nothing about this. He was only along for the ride. Handcuffed to the other two for crimes of hi own, they jostled and bumped along the road in the back of the truck. On the truck rolled, deeper and deeper into the gaping mouth of the forest. There would be no arrival at the capital and no turning back on this trip. Yet there would be a stop.
A tree had fallen across the road. One agent stepped down to inspect.
"We'll just use the winch and pull it aside," he told the other who remained in the cab.
"It's OK," the second one answered, "we've got all day."
But then the first one went to the trunk of the tree to take a closer look.
When the agent came to the trunk he didn't see a break or an uprooting. He saw it had been cut.
He noticed the forest gone quiet, silent quiet as a tomb.
When he considered both the quiet and cut he knew he was dead.
A shot rang out of the shadows proclaiming liberty. The other barrels grew hot and turned the dew to steam. The prisoners regained their freedom and along with the gunmen gained the safety of the forest. Their laughter was soon muffled by the leaves and the creepers and lianas, and the clearing went silent save for the drip drip dripping of scarlet death as it stained the fallen leaves.
A day later Dude left town for good, his only souvenir of the incident the cuff marks on his wrists.
"Vaya con Dios," Hugo had told him. Before when he heard it from others it only meant goodbye. From Hugo it meant, "Go with God."


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