Sara and I sat after lunch in the small cozy living room. It had three old comfortable wicker chairs with dark cushions, a wooden coffee table furnished the room and a book shelf. The house smelled like dried wicker and dust with a hint of dried hot wood, mud and straw from the roof.
There was a loud knock at the front door.
“Yes?” I asked as I opened the door.
“Elliot, I’m here for my money,” said the man slowly and calmly.
The man at the door was well built. Tanned skin, a long and angular face, thin, square chin, and slicked back black hair.
“Money? What money are you talking about?” I asked as I held the door open with one hand.
Sara came up behind me and pulled on my shirt,
“What’s the matter Elliot?”
As I turned to Sara, the man pushed as he came in. I fell backwards and on my way down grabbed on the book shelf. My stomach was stiff, a shiver ran from head to toes.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing!” I cried as I scrambled to my feet.
“Cut the crap Elliot, give me the money or I’ll hurt you and this bimbo!” he shouted.
“Listen Elliot, my name is Igor,” he paused,
“I don’t have a hell of a lot of patience,” he said slowly again.
“I know you brought 2.5 million dollars that you found on a street in Vancouver in a brown bag a few months ago. That money belongs to me and I want it back.” He looked straight into my eyes and grabbed me by my shirt and then pushed me. I landed me on the floor again, my heart was pumping fast and my hands were shaking.
He looked like a tiger ready to attack. For sure he was a gym guy, his agile body insinuated this underneath his crisp shirt.
“Listen Elliot, you better fuckin’ do what I say!” he turned and whistled loudly out the open front door.
“Angel, ven aca muchacho!” he shouted in perfect Spanish. Moments later the round figure of another man appeared. He came in and closed the door.
“Elliot, I want the money!” He demanded.
“Where is it?”
My jaw shook with a punch. I looked at Sara to see how she was. My mind raced thinking of a way to escape.
“I don’t have your…” my face burned with a slap, like it had been splashed with hot water.
“What the hell do you want from me?” I mumbled holding my face. Tears now ran down my cheeks.
“The money, Elliot, the money, what’s so fuckin’ hard to understand?” he said.
My head throbbed, I felt a warm metallic taste in my mouth and I was short of breath.
Across the room, Sara cried quietly as the other man held her tight by the arms in one of the wicker chairs. I met Sara in Mazatlan three Month ago in the Cafe Panama. Sara is not too tall with long brown hair and big almond eyes. We were both waiting to be seated and we started talking. She is a writer and has lived in Mazatlan for few years. She likes the weather, the people and the ocean and she is easy to get along. We became inseparable right away.
“OK, OK,” I mumbled feeling like I was about to vomit,
“I’ll tell you about the money.” I sat down in the wicker chair across from Sara and Angel, with my arms covering my head.
“Please, don’t hit me again.”
I couldn’t see him, he was behind me.
“Yes, I found a bag full of money in the street but I turned it in to my office.” I covered my head in anticipation of another whack.
“I didn’t take a penny, I can prove it, look how I live.” Tears poured from my eyes.
Something heavy landed on my head. The room turned around, my head felt hot and intense, my stomach churned and I threw up.
“I know that you brought the money inside the books asshole!” Igor yelled as he stopped in front of the book shelf, hands still in his pockets.
“Angel, check these books, our friend here carved out the pages of the books to take the money through customs.”
Angel proceeded to look inside each book and threw them on the floor. Time seemed that stopped. I could count each second.
“Nada jefe…these books have no holes!”
“I can prove it’s true,” I appealed,
“I have proof that I returned the money to my office!” Suddenly the room got dark, I could hear the voices far away, and my face was on the floor. I didn’t know what happened, I didn’t feel any pain.
“Angel, check the whole fuckin’ house. Don’t come back without the money!” He roared.
I felt Igor’s pointy boot in my stomach.
Everything was blurry. I tried to get up before the next blow, but I couldn’t. Something was holding me down. Igor’s foot was on top of me.
“Angel!” he shouted
“Did you find it?”
“Nada senor, nada!”
“Let me show you, please…” I babbled trying to find Igor’s face.
“What is it that you got?” Yelled Igor.
“Let me get up,” I begged.
“What is it?” Igor spouted,
“Let me see, give it to me!”
His face didn’t move staring at the piece of paper.
He stood up he gave me a cold look and said,
“What the fuck is this supposed to mean asshole?”
“That sir…” I stuttered,
“Is the Vancouver Sun reporting that I discovered a bag of money and that I turned it in. It was on the news, didn’t you know?”
“You are full of shit Elliot, you made this up. Don’t try to take me for a fool, asshole. Do you want more?” He said lifting his fist.
“Please don’t hit me, see… that’s the newspaper.” My thoughts moved slowly like my brain was full of sand.
“Come on Elliot, you want to convince me that you returned the money?” he paused
“What the hell are you doing here then?”
“Let me explain to you what happened.” I said as I moved beside Sara.
“I found a bag with money in the street, I didn’t know what to do. I took it home that day and the next morning before I went to work. I brought it to my station and gave it to my manager.” I said breathing quickly.
“The Vancouver Sun interviewed me that day. I was on the radio too. I’m surprised that you didn’t know about it. My colleagues made fun of me, they said nasty things to me, that’s why I decided to move here. I was done with walking in the rain and being the underdog of the office.” I looked straight into his eyes.
He stood up slowly and said,
“You want me to believe this crap? You think I was born yesterday asshole?” I felt a shudder through my body, my face got hot again and a metal taste flooded my mouth, my legs gave up, the room went silent and black. As I opened my eyes, I realized that I was on the floor again. Sara knelled above me, sobbing, with a wet cloth in her hand that she dabbed on my face in an effort to clear away the blood.
“Are you OK Elliot?” She asked giving me a hug. The room was torn apart, like we had been robbed.
I stood up slow and sat down on a chair as dizziness crept back into my head. Sara brought me a glass of cold water. My lips and throat were dry making it painful to swallow at first.
“They said that they will be back tomorrow,” Sara whispered.
I tried to cleaned up the mess left by Igor and Angel, then washed my face and hands.
“We need to call the police. We need to do something!” Said Sara.
“Let’s go for a walk on the beach to think about it” I suggested.
“Are you feeling OK? We can stay here if you want.”
“No, let’s get some fresh air and change of scenery, I want to talk to you about what happened.” I held Sara’s hand and limped out the door.
The afternoon was still warm and sunny, the soothing noise of the waves and the sound of the people, the cars and the dogs barking start to replenished my energy. I walked barefoot letting the sand seep through my toes, I needed to connect to the earth and discharge the bad vibes. The tide was coming in and the fresh water covered my feet, refreshed me. A sudden wave of happiness and anticipation ran up my body. I knew that this would happen sooner or later and I thought that it could have been a lot worst.
“Sara, this is what happened! You can choose to stay or leave to Mazatlan if you want.” Sara looked at me with curiosity, still holding my hand.
“I found a bag of money in Vancouver, it had lots of money. I thought about keeping it and running away. After much consideration I thought it was not a good idea to take the money, it was for sure, not clean money. Who leaves a bag of money in the street?” I look at Sara while we walked along the beach.
“I took the money home that night, I counted it, I was curious about how much money was in there. There was 2.5 million dollars. The next morning I took it to work and I gave it to my manager. The next day I was interviewed by The Vancouver Sun, two other newspapers and a radio station. They wanted to know what happened and why I returned the money.” I stopped and looked deep into Sara’s eyes.
“The people at work made fun of me, they told me things I don’t want to remember. After a couple of weeks I had enough and decided to quit my job and come here. Over the years I have saved money. The rest you know. I never thought that someone was going to come here for this. I thought that these people had seen the papers.” I held Sara’s hand with both of mine.
“I am sorry that you had to experience this afternoon. I didn’t even think about this, it was something that I never thought that could happen. I am not too sure what are these guys going to do to me tomorrow, but I have nothing to hide, you know me Sara, don’t you?”
“I am so afraid Elliot, I don’t get why these guys came to see you, and I know that you are not rich. What are we going to do?” Sara kissed me.
Early the next morning Igor and Angel were at the door.
“Elliot,” said Igor,
“Listen, I don’t like hurting people but I need my money back.” He looked at Angel who pushed me into a chair.
“How do you think that I could bring 2.5 million dollars from Vancouver? Check my bank accounts, look how I live. If I had 2.5 million dollars I would not be living here for sure, don’t you think?”
“Elliot, Elliot, you are underestimating me. I have been watching you since way before you found the bag of money. I know everything about you, everything!”
“If that is the case, just tell me how come you don’t know that I returned the money? If I brought the money, where would I keep it? And for what purpose I would have 2.5 millions and don’t enjoy them?” I said, shaking from top to bottom and expecting a knuckle sandwich.
“Have you noticed how I live? There are no luxuries around here. I go fishing every morning for food. I don’t have a car, just a little boat.” I looked around.
“Mmmmm, let’s go to the bank. Give me your bank card and the password. Angel, go check the bank, get me statements since he opened the accounts. I’ll stay here talking to this smart cookie.” He said.
“Tell me more of your fantasies Elliot, I’m having fun. Tell me the story from the beginning one more time to see if I understand this time,” He barked.
“As I told you already…” I repeated the story one more time with more detail and then stood up to get the piece of the newspaper for Igor.
“Did you check with the Vancouver Sun? They interviewed me.”
Close to lunch time, Igor left.
“I will be back as soon as Angel reports his findings from the bank,” Igor assured as he slammed the door.
“Let’s go for lunch?” I said to Sara.
“We need to have a plan to deal with this guy. What do you want to eat?” Sara asked shaking.
“Let’s go for tacos Don Pedro,” I said. Pedro sold tacos on the street a couple of blocks away, Pedro is a big talker.
We ate fish and shrimp tacos, they were delicious as always. After the tacos we went on the boat fishing for the afternoon. The sun was hot and the ocean was covered with shining silver pieces. We caught a Dorado, my favourite fish.
We talked about the events form that day. Sara didn’t want to leave me by myself. We went over and over how to convince Igor that I never had that money. Sara suggested we run away.
“No Sara,” I said,
“We can’t run away from something we haven’t done.”
That evening was quiet, we ate fish and drank a bottle of white wine to calm our nerves.
Igor arrived late in the afternoon the next day. He threw my bank card in my face and said.
“Elliot, are you going to tell me where the money is? Or will I have to hurt your girlfriend?” he said in a tedious tone of voice.
“Don’t do anything to Sara, she has nothing to do with this. Besides tell me what it is that you want me to tell you and I will, so that you leave us alone,” I said.
“You still think I’m an idiot Elliot?”
“Don’t get upset with me,” I said,
“But I do!” I bumbled.
“I already showed you that I returned the money in Vancouver, you have seen that I don’t have such amounts of money, not here, not in the bank. What else do you want me to do to prove to you that I don’t have your money?”
I felt the angry haze come over my body, tears rolled out of my eyes, and I felt dizzy.
“I don’t have you fucking money!” I shouted.
“How hard is it for you to get that I don’t have your fuckin’ money. Hit me as hard as you want you’re not going to make the money come from Vancouver to here just because you are such a man!” I threw a punch at him.
He punched me back and I landed on top of the coffee table with that metallic taste of blood filling my mouth again. I spit it out.
“Fuck you Igor,” I mumbled.
“Are you trying to get killed Elliot?” said Sara when I woke up late that night.
“He is gone.” Said Sara with sadness in her voice.
The next morning nobody came.
Two weeks later, I asked Sara what happened that night when Igor knocked me out.
“You don’t want to know honey.” Said Sara frowning.
“And don’t ask me again, I will tell you one day. He wouldn’t come back. You can count on that.” Sara said, she looked like she has seen a ghost.
“I’m not going to ask you about the money either Elliot, one day you’ll tell me.” Sara said holding my hand.
Sara’s proposal was fair. It was a smart idea to have returned half a million and have the press reports it. At least I had proof of my story.
The next two weeks we were busy organizing the house. One morning I went fishing on my own, early as usual. I dropped anchor in the same spot as usual. Before I began to fish, I threw my grapnel anchor a few times until she caught on to something. I pulled it up slowly making sure there was nobody close by. It took me a good hour to pull the heavy load out. Finally, a stainless steel box appeared. I tugged it on board. I unlocked the box and slowly opened it. Stacks of money, all intact and dry. I put a couple of hundred dollar bills in my pocket, locked the box and meticulously dropped it back in the water. I looked to shore and smiled after all.
At times I still wonder what happen to Igor and Angel. I have read most of Sara’s writing and I know that she has lots of imagination.