Army Intelligence Detachment A
LTC Spence’s Mission, Over-Eye
The Big Bend, Brewster County, Texas
1200 hours Sierra
Comment of the Moment: He said, “You will be beheaded tomorrow morning.”
Cruz said, “This is the pick-up point. We shouldn’t have to wait long.”
Harvey asked, “If we have our own transportation, why are we supposed to wait?”
“That’s what I was talking about when I said my uncle’s response was cryptic. No explanation. Of course, we do have bandits in this area. There were times when I was younger that we visited, and Tio Manuelito had to send some armed relatives to give us safe passage.”
“No, Mexico can be a strange place, sometimes.”
“Look down there. It looks like a flatbed truck with armed people in the back coming this way.”
Cruz shrugged, “Like I said,”
The oncoming truck slid to a stop in a cloud of dust. The men in the cargo area jumped out with their rifles pointed at the three Americans. They shouted in Spanish, “Hands up. Get your hands up.”
Stunned, Spence, Harvey and Cruz raised their hands.
Spence and Harvey stood with hands and eyebrows raised. They looked questioningly at Cruz. Cruz had his arms raised as well.
He complained, “I don’t know what the hell is going on.”
One of the armed men shouted, “¡Callete! ¡Entrar en a parte trasera del camion!”
Cruz translated, “They want us to get in the back of the truck.”
The armed man shouted again, “¡Dame las llaves!”
Cruz took the pickup keys to the pickup out of his pocket and gave them to the man.
The three soldiers climbed into the back of the Mexican truck.
The armed man shouted, “¡Silencio!”
The three sat in the cargo area with three rifles pointed at them.
One of the armed men climbed into their empty pickup and started its engine.
Spence looked at Harvey and Cruz. He guessed what they were thinking. He whispered, “Don’t do it. Let’s see how this plays out.”
The armed man shouted, “¡Silencio!” and aimed his rifle at Spence’s forehead.
The driver of the Mexican truck backed up and turned around. As fast as the torturous road allowed, His truck roared off in a cloud of dust. The three Americans grabbed onto the side rails of the truck. They endured the jolting ride.
In town, the truck slid to a stop in front of a building with a sign that simply said, “Cárcel.”
Cruz griped, “Oh man. You’ve got to be joking!”
Spence asked, “What?”
Cruz mumbled, “Jailhouse.”
They were forced roughly out of the truck and into a room. There they were ordered to empty their pockets and drop their back packs. Then they were pushed into a cell.
The man who went through their wallets said, “Hmm, Un soldado.”
Then, “Hmm, dos soldados.”
Then, “¡Hijola, tres soldados!”
He turned to an assistant and said, “Ve por el Jefe de los changos.”
Cruz offered, “Maybe that’s someone we can talk to.”
Spence asked,” Who would that be?”
“They’re sending for the Jefe, the boss. Maybe we can talk to him. They called him Jefe de los changos. Literally translated it means the boss of the monkeys. But it actually means the one who brings the weight of the hammer.”
Harvey said, “That sounds ominous. But I guess anything will be better than this.”
Spence asked, “Remember where all of those calls Huachuca recorded were made to? Some were in Arabic. Many were to the Middle Eastern Theater. I would be careful what I wished for. I’d rather keep my head attached to my body.”
“Aw crap. What the hell is going on here?”
They heard a car door slam outside. They watched the armed men and the man who had examined their wallets congregate at the front door. A smallish older man in a western hat, blue plaid shirt, pressed jeans and shiny boots walked in. Amid the man’s smiles and hugs for each of the men at the front of the jail, Cruz said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Spence and Harvey both asked at the same time, “What?”
Cruz answered, “That’s my uncle. Maybe we can get out of here.”
He stuck his arm through the bars, waved and shouted, “Tio Manuelito. It’s me.”
The smallish man left the other men and walked directly to the jail cell. He violently grabbed Cruz by the collars of his shirt, jerked him against the bars, and shouted in Spanish, “Do not call me Uncle.”
He shook Cruz.
“I do not know you. You are not related to me. You’re just another gringo. Like these two.”
He shook Cruz again.
He said, “You will be beheaded tomorrow morning.”
He put his hands on Cruz’s chest and shoved him across the cell. He turned back to the small crowd of men in the room. He pointed over his shoulder with a contemptuous thumb and said, “Bastardos!”
The small crowd laughed. One of the men produced a bottle of Tequila from a desk drawer. The bottle pa...