He pulled the cork and held the bottle out to her. “I forgot glasses,” she said and he passed the bottle to her. She took a long drink swallowing it slowly then passing the bottle back to him. He almost, by instinct, wiped the neck of the bottle but did not before he drank. They finished the chicken and then ate the chunks of melon leaving the bananas for later. “We will have bananas after we swim,” she said.
His eyes followed the butterflies and then he looked at her and asked, “What do you intend to do with me?”
“I am uncertain, teacher. But know I will never hurt you.”
“Why do you do this?” he asked.
“Do what, teacher?”
“Kidnap, run a gang, steal, whatever it is you do.”
“To help my country. To protect the people from the corrupt oppressors that control our government. From the death squads. My God, teacher, are you blind.”
“I haven’t heard about any death squads in San Lucas.”
“Have you been in the north, in the countryside, with the poor?”
“No, I flew directly to San Pedro. We spent a week being oriented and then I flew to San Lucas. There were rumors but I didn’t see or talk to anyone about such things. Besides, how do I fit into this business? I’m a teacher. I got along fine with the people of San Lucas, the people with more and the poorer alike.”
“This much I will tell you and no more. The north of the country is controlled by the corrupt. Me and my men are from the south. The south is still primitive, much of it with rugged mountains and deep jungles with the Jaguar and dangerous snakes. We get no services for education, no water for our villages, no hospitals and only a few doctors who come to help us because they care. Our roads are dirt trails. We refuse to pay taxes. But there is good timber and two years ago some gold was discovered. There are some foreign persons who buy these and some have lived among us. Most are fair and have helped us. Soon we will build our own hospital for all our people and already we have begun some schools. But the leeches who control the government want to take our resources. San Lucas is a town at the border of the north and south. Most of it’s people are with us but there have been rumors that death squads have come, secret groups of army persons. Their job is to put down unrest among the poor by terror and killing. My men have been in San Lucas since you were kidnapped, spying, to see if it is true.” She had become animated then stopped. With cold eyes and her jaw set she said, “If they come to the south our people will meet them in the jungle and the mountains and they never will return. This country is for all the people. We will take it back.”
“I ask again,” he began. “What has this to do with my being kidnapped?”
“You are a gringo and it is rumored that some men of your CIA have helped train some of the army. If my men are caught I have you to bargain with.”
“Great, I came to teach, to help your people and I’m caught up in your politics. Answer one question. Are you and your people communists?”
“No! All you gringos think about is Castro spreading communism. We are for true democracy. What is now is a democracy in structure only. The corrupt are in control. There is no true justice.”
He watched her as she spoke and felt she was sincere. “When your men return what will happen to me?” he asked.
“Too many questions, always your questions, pretty teacher. Come, follow me, I know the place to swim. And bring the bottle.”
She led him a short distance over some tall boulders onto a thin ribbon of sand next to a small cove in the shoreline. She began removing her clothing. He watched the casual unabashed way she did it.
“I think I’ll go in with my clothes on,” he said. “I’ve worn them for almost two days. They need a wash.”
He removed his shoes, took a swig from the bottle, then handed it to her. When he walked into the water he went under almost at once in the close drop off. She laughed and plunged in behind him.
When they came out, she looked at him, smiled, and said, “You drip like a drowned agouti. Let me fix you.”
She unbuttoned his shirt and released his belt buckle. “Don’t be shy, pretty teacher,” she said. “Put your clothes over that big rock to dry.”
When he turned back he heard a macaw in a tree above and looked up. It’s vivid colors were brilliant in the full sun and he watched it a moment. When he dropped his eyes he saw her lying on the sand.
“Come down here with me, pretty teacher,” she ordered.
He knelt down next to her. “I can’t believe all this is happening to me,” he said.
“Have you ever done it with a woman on the sand in the sun,” she asked.
“It is a first time for me too. I like the first time for things,” she said.
The trek back up the trail was arduous. They were hot and tired when they reached the casa. “Go out to the balcony,” she said. “I’ll get us cold cervezas.” He slumpted down in the balcony chair. She came and handed him a beer and sat in the other chair. Shortly they were both asleep. They were awakened by the light chill of late afternoon. The sun was almost on top of the far mountains. They went inside and she walked lazily into the kitchen.
“I will cook some covina for us tonight,” she said. “Come, pick a wine that goes good with the fish.”
He found a nineteen eighty six Sancerre and put it in the refrigerator.
“With garlic and butter, is all right with you teacher?” she asked.
“Fine,” he answered. “If my breath from garlic will not offend you.”
She smiled at him with lazy eyes. “Go make a fire,” she ordered.
After they ate they sat by the fireplace finishing the wine as they had the night before. The food and wine combined with the exertion of the day made them languid. They watched the hypnotic play of the flames in silence. Later she got up, cat like as before and gave him the look.
“You’re kidding,” he said. “Again, here, like last night. My God!”
“No, tonight, the bed, pretty teacher, the usual place.”
He watched her walk toward the bedroom. His eyes followed up her long legs to the soft curves of her hips and to her black hair hanging loose to the middle of her back and his laziness left him.
It was still dark when he was awakened by the sound of voices. The Dragon Lady was talking to a man. A few moments later she stood in the doorway of the bedroom, fully dressed.
“Get up, teacher,” she said sharply. “We are leaving at once.”
“Why, what happened?” he asked.
“You and the questions again. Never mind. Just hurry.”
When he came back from the bedroom, the man was gone. He noticed the pistol lying on the table and the knife was in the sheath on her hip. “Turn around it is necessary to blindfold you again,” she said.
“You can’t be serious.”
“Very serious, teacher and place your hands behind to be tied.”
He did as she asked and began to worry. Maybe she would not kill him but about the man in the camouflage suit, he was less certain.
“We go now. Don’t worry I will guide you, nothing will happen to you. Now you are to stay silent until I speak to you again. It will be a while. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” he answered.
Then he heard her speak to two other voices, both men. Soon after he was led away and he sensed they were descending along a narrow path and he was certain it was the path they had followed when the men brought him. Somewhat later they stopped and she instructed him.
“We are at a vehicle, now. Step up with your right foot. I will help you get in and stay silent,” she added.
The engine started and he felt the vehicle jostle him over the rough terrain but this time he was going downward. He could feel the Dragon Lady’s presence next to him. It seemed to take longer than before. Suddenly he lurched forward as the brakes grabbed in a grinding squeal. Moments later he felt the coldness of the steel blade as the knife cut away his blindfold. He looked around. The day was at the edge of dawn and the Dragon Lady was cutting the cord loose from his wrists. The camouflaged man and another sat in the front of the battered jeep looking straight ahead. They were at a divide in a crude road.
“Get out,” she ordered. “You are free to go. Follow that trail about a quarter kilometer to the main Carretera and go left. It will be two kilometers to San Lucas. If any authorities interrogate you tell them you were blindfolded all the time and don’t know why you were set free. I trust you to do that.”
“But!” he began.
“No questions, pretty teacher, please.”
She was looking directly at him and he watched her eyes. They told him that he had been good. It was a silent thank you, a sweet goodbye, and good luck. Then she turned away and the jeep drove off. He watched it for several moments but she did not look back. Then he turned and began to walk toward San Lucas.