Breaking the Line

“No.  I mean I didn't graduate.  Didn't turn pro either.”  I felt a little flustered.  Now I couldn't speak English fluently either.  I was running for my life.  Why was I bothering to relate my history to this stranger?  But I now felt compelled to explain my failure to graduate, to allay any negative impression she might conceive of me.  “My father fell ill in my Junior year – my third year at the university – so I dropped out to help with the business.  When he died I took over, never went back to finish my degree.”

She said nothing, looking fixedly ahead at the road. I waited for the obligatory expressions of regret.  I'd dealt with my grief long since, but she couldn't know.  But no commiseration was forthcoming.  Perhaps she considered my pain a private burden and that any statement of consolation would ring hollow, adding the sting of insincerity to the wound of grief.  Maybe not.  In any case that's what I came up with while waiting in vain for reflexive polite murmurings.

Thinking of my father's death brought back in a vivid rush of memory the more recent deaths I'd seen, especially Scott's. My sweaty hike through the back alleys of Cabo San Lucas had been numb, a near dreamlike somnambulance.  Now with the car serving as a pocket of peace I could relive the violence that had destroyed at least five lives and threatened mine.  I didn't know the other four – the unknown victim executed on the speedboat, the captain and mate of the fishing boat, the taxi-driver – so I can't say their deaths affected me greatly.  The feeling was abstract, impersonal, like accidentally leafing through the obituary section of the Sunday paper.  Scott's death, however, hit me hard, like a sneaker wave. No more of his sarcastic, playful abuse.  No more complaints that Mother Dylan needed to take care of himself on occasion, let everyone else manage unassisted for awhile.

God!  What had happened?  What had I got myself into?  I could feel a little bubble of panic begin to rise through my little sea of grief.  Then I heard Scott's sardonic voice in my head, “Try not to let this one get away from you,” and I fought down the anxiety, forcing myself to focus.

“Teresa,” I asked, “has the trouble with the drug gangs expanded to Los Cabos?'

“The government has been trying to keep it quiet, not scare away the tourists.  So it isn't reported much.  But yes, Dylan, the Narcos are here now.  Los Allegres.”





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