Crazy Enough: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

"Alex, this is Ivan," Corkie introduced her soldier boy to a toothy, wrinkled old man with only a wisp of hair on his brown head. "Ivan, this is my friend, Alex. I hope we're not too late to secure a few seats in your van."

Ivan studied Alex intensely, and with a clipped accent, said, "U.S. Army." Then he spit on the ground at Alex's feet and turned to Corkie. "No."

"Aw, Ivan," she cooed. "He's harmless."

"No."

Ivan turned and walked back into his auto repair shop without another word. Alex asked, "Do I want to know why he has a problem with the United States Army?"

"Well...it's not just the Army."

"Corkie," he said in a warning tone. "Who is that guy?"

She licked her lips, thinking of how to put this delicately. "Ivan is...um, well...let's just say, he's familiar with the Border Patrol."

He muttered something under his breath and then hissed, "He's a coyote? Jesus, Corkie, how do you meet these people?"

"Hey!" she huffed and turned to him. "Ivan isn't a bad person. He's just trying to make a living, like everyone else in this world, and he does it by helping poor Mexican citizens achieve a higher standard of living in the U.S."

"It's against the law! You're a colonel's daughter!"

"That doesn't make me less sympathetic," she returned hotly. "Now, I'm not saying it's right or legal, or that I even agree with it. But take a look around, Alex. Many of these people live in poverty! Their children starve, Alex. At least in the U.S., they can get a fairly decent job and send money to their families."

"Illegal immigration is one of the biggest problems in our country," he argued, "and you're asking me to contribute to it!"

"There's problems on both sides of the fence, Alex," she said crisply, intolerant of his narrow-minded attitude about this. She was over her earlier tiff with Alex after she finally ate, blaming her attitude on hunger pains, since everyone knew folks get crazy when they're hungry, and in Corkie's case, crazy breeded crazy if her tummy rumbled. But now...right back to that à la carte, pissy state.

"America isn't perfect either, you know," she went on. "Our country has a eighteen-trillion-dollar national debt, there are nutcases walking into our schools with semi-automatic rifles, we can't get a single law passed without the Senate going to war with each other, and my brother and his husband can't adopt children because their state does not recognize their marriage!"

Alex frowned and tilted his head back a fraction. "Your brother is gay?"

Corkie stuck her fists on her hips. "Yes, Doug, the youngest. You got a problem with that?"

"No, of course not...it just took me by surprise," he said quickly. "The colonel has a gay son?"

She felt hot irritation boiling inside herself. "Not really exonerating yourself here, lieutenant."

He made a cursory gesture. "It doesn't matter. Our problem right now is getting out of Chihuahua without being seen. We'll just have to find a car."

"We can't do that," she said. "If Espinoza is looking for me, then he'll have all the major roadways watched. Ivan knows every back road from Cuidad Juarez to Tapachula. He's the only chance of us getting to the border undetected."

"But Ivan refused to give us a lift," he reminded her sharply.

"Then we'll have to talk him into it," she said, walking toward Ivan's shop.

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