Continuation from previous post
In the quiet of the office, I managed to put in a couple of hours into next week’s proposals. I purposely ignored my phone, pretending not to care if I got a response from the 2am caller. At 7:45 pm, my stomach took over and began demanding attention. I packed up and decided I was not going to be held hostage by this matter that could very well be a case of mistaken identity.
I stopped at the corner mart and picked up a couple of munchies. Friday’s dinners were either libation accompanied by tapas shared with friends or spent at home with whatever junk food I wanted to cheat with and the missed episodes of my favorite sitcoms. I had begged out of our group’s favorite wine stop on this occasion, saying that I had had a rough week and needed to recharge. My excuse wasn’t too far from the truth.
The register flashed $14.16 for my flavored popcorn, candy and 4-pack of wine coolers. As I dug in my purse in hopes of finding sixteen cents, my phone resting on the checkout counter started to vibrate and make a racket. I rushed to grab it and dropped the change that I had just scooped up from the bottom of my bag. Coins went everywhere. I quickly glanced at my phone and it was a number I did not recognize. I decided to answer while I got down on my hands and knees to pick up the lost change. The woman behind me looked quite annoyed at the delay I was causing.
“Hello, Hello, this is Sylvia,” I said.
A deep raspy voice responded, “Hey”
I stood up suddenly and felt woozy from the combination of the quick rise and the blood draining from my face. I gave the cashier the $20 bill and forgot about the change on the floor. I needed to get out of there.
“Who is this?” I said.
I heard him exhale. He took a quick breath as if he was about to speak, but then remained silent.
“Are you the person who texted me today?” Then I caught myself. Remembering that the text was in Spanish, I rephrased.
“Usted es la persona que me envio el text y la foto?” I repeated.
“Soy el coyote.”
I took a moment to process this. Was he saying what I thought he was saying? Was he one of those people who get paid to smuggle relatives across the border to the United States?
“Usted es un coyote? I said, realizing how dumb I sounded.
“El niño. Ya esta aquí.” The boy is here.
He was clearly mistaken. I had no connections to coyotes or to anyone who would use one. I felt some relief to know that he didn’t know me at all. This was clearly a mistake. I began to explain this as best I could, stumbling over my 3rd grade Spanish.
I was in the middle of my explanation when he yelled into my ear.
“Escucheme!” Listen to me, he yelled. “Tiene dos dias, me entiende?! Dos dias para tener el dinero, ni un minute mas.”
He hung up.
I felt my anger rise to my face and make my ears hot. I was now in the lobby of my apartment. I rode the elevator to my floor as I considered my next steps to deal with this guy. He had given me a deadline of two days to come up with money that I guess was supposed to pay for the boy’s border crossing. But, I was the wrong person! How could this guy be so stupid? As soon as I entered my apartment I started dialing. There was no answer and this made me even more mad.
“Esta equivocado, yo no soy la persona que usted cree.” My text message explained that I was not the person he thought I was.
No response. I sent a couple more messages that essentially repeated my stance. I ate nervously while I scanned the channels and repeatedly checked my phone. What would happen if I reported this to the police? They would investigate the matter, hopefully arrest this guy and return the boy to his family. Making the decision to bring this crazy situation to an end by handing it off to the police made me feel a whole lot better. I thought it was better to go to the police in the morning when I had had a full night’s rest.
I settled on a reality show and dozed off on the couch. Something woke me but I didn’t know what. I assumed it was the applause on the infomercial but I didn’t feel that was it. I looked around at my dark apartment and everything seemed in order. I turned on the lights and went to the bathroom to get ready for bed returning to the couch to pick up candy wrappers and stale popcorn. As I walked to the kitchen I froze at the envelope that laid there about a foot from the door. I now realized what I had heard.
The envelope was blank and was not sealed, only folded close to keep the contents inside. I opened the flap and found the photo inside. It was a picture of a boy curled up on a dirt floor. By the clothes I recognized the boy from the earlier photos but I could not really see his face as he was turned away from the camera. I didn’t know if he was sleeping or dead. On the back of the photo was scribbled, “2 dias.” Two days.