Home, Finally Home

From my imagination, any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental. Thanks to Karen B for her help.

*****

Fate is a cruel bitch. It is mindless, heartless, and it just happens to you. You can't stop it from happening. You don't even know it is going to happen until it is over and done. Sometimes it takes years to happen. Looking back you understand how it happened and when it happened, but you are clueless at the time it is happening. After it has happened, the only thing you can do is try to keep it from destroying you.

I was sitting in a little café in Big Lake, Texas. I think the coffee I was drinking had acid in it. It was so strong I thought I could use it as fuel in my old pickup setting outside. I really didn't care as I was just doing my time in hell on earth.

I looked like a bum, but I wasn't. I had a couple of million in a bank in the Cayman Islands. I had on clothes that I bought at Goodwill. My jeans were ragged and dirty looking. I had on a western shirt with snaps instead of buttons that was well worn on the cuffs, sleeves, and the collar. Some of the snaps were missing. I had a worn coat that came down just above my knees. My boots were new but looked well-worn on purpose. I had on a crushed cowboy hat that had lost its shape on top of a head full of long hair down to my shoulders and a ragged, unkempt beard. My hair was purposely grayish to disguise my age. I used makeup to make my eyes look like dark bags were under them. A makeup pencil made the lines on my face look deeper. I was 31 and probably looked 60. My clothes were about 3 sizes too big to make me look skinny and hungry. I had a .357 magnum in a shoulder holster under my left arm. I had a Glock 26 in my large right coat pocket. I had a ragged billfold with about $30 dollars in it for show when I paid for stuff. I had a little over $20,000 in zip lock bags around the element in my air cleaner under the hood of my truck. I had about a $2000 in small bills under the floor mat under the back seat in my truck. I had my real ID and all my important papers double bagged underneath my truck battery, which was bolted down.

There were people after me, but they weren't law enforcement. They were worse. A certain corporate big wig wanted me gone, as in forever. He and I used to be besties, but he took my wife and my daughter. I took the corporation's future when I left with all the plans, blueprints and documentation of future products and my patents of the past. We started out after college as a team, and we were going to get rich. He was the marketing, salesman, PR man, and I was the research and product development guy. We went gangbusters for eight years. We were both rolling in the green, but then he wanted it all. I found out nearly too late. He already had my wife and daughter under his influence, and nearly had the company when I woke up and gutted the R&D department and closed all my bank accounts and my corporate accounts and disappeared. All my money was in accounts in the Cayman Islands. All the paperwork was buried on a ranch south of Sonora, Texas.

The ranch was owned by Roberto Valencia. He was just Val to me. We had become friends when I was in college and had car trouble in the wrong area of town. I got treed by some bad boys, and Val showed up and bailed me out. I never forgot him or him me. He was just a good guy that never had a break. I kept in touch with him. When I started rolling in the dough, I tried to remember my friends. I gave/loaned him the money to buy the ranch he always wanted. He didn't want to raise his kids in the barrio. There was no connection between him and me that anyone knew. He was the first one I thought of when I needed a hiding place for my R&D documentation. He called the ranch Val-Hom. Most people thought it referred to Valencia home. But it was short for Valencia-Hombre. He insisted I was half owner even though nothing was on paper or legal.

I paid my tab and left the restaurant walking toward my old truck. It was like me, disguised. It looked like it hadn't been washed in years, and it hadn't. The tires were dirty but if you looked close, you could tell they were new. One front fender was damaged. It had tinted windows, but the glass was dirty on the outside. It was hard to see inside. The inside was immaculate, and the running gear was in perfect shape. But it just looked like a dogged out old pickup owned by some bum.

A gust of cold wind hit me. It cut me to the bone. There was nothing between me and the arctic north but a few barbwire fences in the Texas panhandle, western Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. That is an exaggeration, but it felt like that with the wind chill probably at zero. I got in my truck, started it up and turned on the heater. I shivered in my coat, glad that I had one. I could remember when I didn't.

Nobody paid attention to me unless I did something stupid that brought attention to me. I never sat very long in one place. Sometimes I would park in a Walmart parking lot behind some RV so it would look like my pickup was a runaround Junker for the RV owners, and I would spend the night and move on early the next morning.

I was going to south Texas and hang out a while. So I called Val to tell him I was going through Sonora later today. I never went to his ranch after putting my stuff there. I took no chances that I might tip off where the documents were. I never knew how close my pursuers were. Six months ago, they shot up a motel room I had recently vacated in Hobbs, NM. I always parked my vehicle away from where I actually was. I got this uneasy feeling as I was about to go to bed. I got my stuff and went out the back. I walked to my pickup, drove to a truck stop, and parked among the trucks for the night. The next morning it was all over the local news how unknown assailants had shot up a motel room. I never figured out how they found me. I camped in a national park near Carlsbad, NM for a month. I staked my truck out away from where I camped, but no one ever paid attention to it.

Laura answered the phone. "Hey lady, is that bandito around?"

"Teddy, he is out back working with a horse. Hang on. I'll send one of the kids to get him."

I heard her calling one of the kids and giving them instructions.

"How have you been?"

"OK. I'm going to go through Sonora this afternoon or tonight. I thought he might meet me."

"Amigo, you can always come by. I know how you like my cooking."

"You have no idea how much I want to Laura, but it is too risky."

I heard noise of Val coming in the house and Laura giving him the phone.

"Hey Hombre, are you calling me?"

He always mimicked the Mexican in an old Paul Newman movie we both liked.

"Amigo, I'm coming through Sonora later and thought we might meet. I haven't seen you in a while. It will be quick. I got hackles on my neck. When I get them, I have to keep moving."

I heard Laura talking to him about something.

"Laura is making some tamales for you. How many you want?"

"Tell her I love her and two dozen if possible. Has she got a sister? One of these days I'm going to be looking for a good woman that can make tamales."

"Yes, she has a beautiful sister that was going to college at Hardin-Simmons, but she is in Mexico right now taking care of the abuelos. She will be back in school in January. Hang on a sec. Laura wants to talk to you."

"Teddy, I love you to death. You have done so much for Bobby and me, but I don't want you around my little sister until you got all this stuff behind you."

"Laura, I was just kidding. Your sister would run the other way if she ever saw me. You have nothing to worry about."

"You're a good man Teddy. I would have no objections when all of this is over. Isabel is a beautiful girl, but she is only 20. How old are you Teddy?"

"I'm 31 Laura, but I was really kidding. I wouldn't want any decent woman around me. I'm in the wind right now and no telling what could happen or when this will be over."

Val got the phone, "Hold up gringo, I don't know if I want to be kin to you anyway." He laughed.

"No worries Val. I'll meet you at that cafe we always meet at."

I headed out going to Ozona. I got to Ozona and I-10 and headed east to Sonora. The scenery was as lonesome looking as I felt. The desolate land looked like it went on forever.

I got to Sonora and sent Val a Text. I went to a friend of his that owned a service station and got my truck serviced, oil and filter change, lubed and all the levels checked. Of course I took off my air filter and checked it myself. I always got a new element and deformed it so as to fit my emergency funds in it. Val got there, and I followed him to the barbeque place.

"How have you been Teddy?"

"I'm just trying to enjoy the simpler things in life. I don't stay anywhere too long."

"You could come by, and I can hide your truck. You could stay until you got tired of Laura ordering you around." He laughed.

"How long is her honey-do list?"

"It is endless amigo. Something always needs done. That's why I like to have you around. She sees new skills she can exploit." Laughter.

"Where are you headed?"

"I think down on the Gulf coast. I want to do some deep sea fishing and be by the ocean for a while. I sleep well with the sounds of the waves coming in to shore."

"How are things up around Dallas?"

I don't know how he still has the doors open. I have no idea where he is getting his money. He is a big spender, and he isn't selling much product."

"What about your wife and daughter?

She won't divorce me because she thinks she will get all my money when I take a dirt nap, which she won't, but she doesn't know that. I don't know about my daughter. She is just 10."

"How did all that happen?"

"I think she and Rodney were having an affair, and they figured out how to get rid of me and have it all. I overheard a conversation that they had when I was supposed to be somewhere else. Instead of getting mad, I got even and got gone. Their plan was for me to commit suicide by jumping off the company building. I was to find out about their affair and be so devastated that I took my own life. I would have liked to have seen their faces when they checked the bank accounts after they realized I was gone. Rod spent his money as fast as he made it. Ellen would have also if I hadn't kept most of it hid. I rolled a lot of my money back into the corporate accounts to hide it. Rod usually had the entire advertising and promotions budget down to bare bones. When I took my money, the corporation was nearly broke. I wonder what they did to keep things rolling."

We ate and talked a little more. He always had to tell me how the ranch was doing; how he was plowing all the profit after expenses back into the ranch; how one day we would be making money.

"Val, there is no we. It is just you. It's your ranch. If there is money you think is mine, then use it to put your girls through college. I've got all I will ever need or want. You paid for that ranch when you came out of that old junky pickup with that shotgun and backed down some bad dudes that were about to put me in the hospital or worse. I had given up hope when you came up in that smoking piece of shit. It covered everybody up then you appeared out of the smoke with that old shotgun."

"That wasn't smoke that was Mexican camouflage. That was my sneak attack. I saved your gringo ass, didn't I?"

"Amigo, you definitely did, and I have never forgotten it. I figure my life is worth a lot more than that ranch so I came out a lot to the good in that deal. So can you quit acting like you owe me something? If you do, I'll take it in Laura's tamales."

We went out to his truck. The tamales smelled wonderful. I got them, put them in my truck, we said our byes, and I hauled out.

I headed toward San Antonio. I had some daylight left so I could make it a long way toward there before nightfall. But for some reason, my 6th sense was telling me to get off I-10 and look for a place to camp. I always pay attention to my instincts. They had helped me a lot in my life. I usually followed them. Sometimes I followed them and nothing significant happened, but maybe they led me away from and kept something from happening to me that would have, had I not followed them.

When I got past Junction, Texas, I started looking for an exit to get off I-10. I went past a few exits. Then as I came upon one that felt right, I got off. I ended up on a gravel road that seemed to be headed toward a river. What I was looking for was an arroyo that went away from the road so that I could hide my truck in it and spend a quiet night. It was just getting dark and colder when I saw one to my left. I stopped and backed into it. I was going to back a ways into it and use some sagebrush to hide my truck, and I could sleep in my truck or put up my tent. I could decide that after I looked the place over.

I got my truck in the position I wanted, and I got out. I looked around and saw something lying in the arroyo about 15 yards further in. I went to see what it was, and it was a body that was a woman nearly naked with a bag over her head held by a cord around her neck. She looked like she was dead. The body was badly beaten. As I got closer, I was shocked at how badly she had been beaten. It looked as if she had been raped and molested. I got to her and took off the bag. Her face didn't even look human.

She roused, "water."

I ran to my truck and got a canteen and came back. I raised her head up and put the canteen to her mouth. She guzzled the water as fast as I let her drink. I got afraid she would get sick and stopped giving it to her.

She tried to look at me, but I wasn't sure she could see me as her eyes were swollen shut.

"You didn't do this to me, did you?"

I was shocked she could think or talk, she was so badly beaten.

"No sweetheart. I just found you."

"I'm going to pass out again. You need to get us out of here. They are coming back."

I didn't even question her. I picked her up and carried her to my truck. She was very cold. I put a blanket over my back seat, put a pillow there, laid her down, and covered her. I started the truck and turned the heater on full blast. I shut the back door and walked back to where I had found her and picked up everything around where she had been. It was all clean, and I brushed the area with a leafed limb hoping they would think this wasn't the right arroyo so they would look elsewhere. I put it all in a garbage bag, got in my truck, and drove out of the arroyo. I got back to I-10 and decided to go west instead of toward San Antonio. I drove past one town and on to Junction. I got a motel room on the back side away from the highway.

I parked and checked on her. She was still passed out. I opened the door, took her from the truck, and carried her into the room. I went back to the pickup and got my first aid kit and my bag with my essentials. I locked my truck and carried the stuff in and set it all down. I went to her, and she was breathing well and had a good pulse. She was bleeding from numerous places, but it was minimal. I decided to bathe her so I could tell if she was shot or stabbed anywhere.

She had a shirt partially on her and her panties hanging off her leg. I ran her a warm bath and started taking off the rags she had on. She tried to fight me when I took off her panties, but she was so weak it didn't matter. I carried her into the bathroom and eased her into the warm water. She screamed. Apparently the warm water irritated her skin. I talked to her, and she calmed down. I started washing her hair and face and neck. She had bite marks on her neck and breasts and stomach. I tried my best to wash her as easily as I could. I think she awoke and passed out again. I could tell she had been raped and sodomized. I did my best to wash her vagina and her butt. I just patted her vagina as I could tell it had been badly abused. She had bite marks on the cheeks of her butt, and her legs were really scratched. Her feet looked like raw meat. She must have gotten away from her abuser running without shoes. When I finished washing her, the water was red with her blood. I stood her up and rinsed her off with the shower. I held her up and toweled her off by just patting her with the towel so not to hurt her more.

I carried her and put her on the bed. I opened my first aid kit and got the antibiotic cream and started putting it all on her wounds. She had one deep bite mark on her butt. I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide. I also did that to some other deep scrapes. Then I put antibiotic cream on them real thickly. I started feeling of her face to see if I could feel any fractures. I checked her arms and legs. Her feet were so swollen, I decided to check them later. One of her nipples had been bitten really badly so I used hydrogen peroxide on it. I put some salve on her face.

I wanted to take her to a hospital, but I was afraid if someone was after her that might not be a smart move. I needed a drink. I had some Lagavulin 16 year old Scotch in my pickup. I could nearly taste that smokey flavor just thinking about it. I didn't drink much, but when I did I wanted what I thought was the best and at 75 dollars a bottle, I thought it was. I went out to my pickup and got the Scotch. I looked around for anything suspicious going on.

But it was quiet with only one car on the road going by. I went back in, and she was moving her head around like she was looking, but I couldn't tell because her eyes were swollen shut.

She turned her head toward me. "Where are we?"

"We are in a motel in Junction, Texas."

"I guess you found me, and we got away. Damn, I hurt so badly!"

I opened the Scotch and got one of those wrapped plastic glasses and poured about a couple of shots in it. I moved over to her. "Sweetheart, I don't have anything for pain except this Scotch." I bent over to her, and she raised her head to take a drink. She drank it all down.

I think she tried to smile, "That is good stuff, buddy. I like a man that knows his Scotch."

The girl was tough as rawhide. I think if I had been through what she had, I'd be on life support somewhere.

"It feels like you cleaned me up."

"I bathed you honey. I hate to tell you, but somebody sexually mistreated you."

"No shit Sherlock, I was awake during a lot of it. There were three of the bastards. One day I will cut their nuts off and make them eat them. That is after I have raped them with an axe handle."

She looked at me, "I guess I don't have any secrets from you, do I?"

"They are safe with me. I was afraid to take you to a hospital because you said they were hunting you."

"Good thinking, cowboy. I can tell I'm going to pass out again. Take care of me, will you?"

I leaned over her and kissed her forehead, "Just sleep honey, you are safe with me."

"Thanks buddy" and she was out.

I had the television low and watched some shows. She started talking in her sleep. She was saying, "Alright asshole, you're under arrest. I'm FBI special agent Jill Jefferson, and you're going to jail." Then she would be quiet for a while, and she was cussing them and telling them what she was going to do to them when she got loose. Then she talked about her brother who must have also been an agent. Then things ran together, and I couldn't understand all of it.

I must have gone to sleep. She screamed and woke me up. I ran over to her as she came awake. I think she was looking at me. She reached for me, and I took her in my arms and hugged her. She was crying and shaking. In a few minutes she calmed down. She looked at me.

"I hate to act like a pussy in front of you. Please don't tell anybody you saw me do this."

"Miss Jill Jefferson, putting this in masculine terms, you got more balls that 99% of the men I know. So you don't have to be superwoman in front of me. I'm a fan already."

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