I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers, but I suppose there’s times when you have to do stuff you don’t like. (In my case, that’s at least every other day.)
Sunday, April 5, 2015
High-Stakes Hide & Seek (part 2)
Synopsis: Having been warned about a Pat-Riot group wanting to round up Guillermo’s family, we decided to make it as difficult as possible for them. They weren’t ready for my claim that their quarry had left back in October. One of the 'Riots let slip a clue about an informant.
After some back-and-forth, and Kim barely managing to keep our dog from attacking them, I agreed to show them my own proof of citizenship then escort them through the manor…
I came back out with my birth certificate, driver’s license, and a video camera.
“Hey!” Bad Riot barked, which got the dog barking as well. “You can put that fuckin’ thing away. You ain’t takin’ no video.” Good Riot didn’t look pleased, either.
“Why?” I said to Bad Riot. “If you ain’t got nothin’ to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Right?”
They squirmed. I love hanging belligerent idiots on their own words. “Dammit, Bobby,” Good Riot finally said, “let him take his video. It ain’t gonna do him any good.”
“Well, let’s get going, then,” I said. And just to tweak them a little more: “Bienvenidos a mi casa.” Good Riot snorted and returned my birth certificate, and we went in the house. I led them to the guest bedroom, with Mrs. Fetched right behind. “Here’s where they slept.”
I pointed the camera and they poked around, pulling boxes out from under the bed and asking “whose are these?” about a zillion times. The closet was full of Mrs. Fetched’s old clothes, stuff she never wears anymore. The desk sported an old Mac and the network boxes, with backup batteries underneath.
“Did they use this computer?” Good Riot asked.
“Yeah, it’s the guest system,” I said. “I wiped their accounts after they left, though.”
“Why’d you do that?” Bad Riot rolled his eyes.
“It’s an old computer. I needed the hard drive space.”
“What’s that room at the end of the hall?”
“I don’t want you in there,” Mrs. Fetched said. “I haven’t cleaned it up.”
“We just need to check the closets,” Good Riot said. “And maybe look under the bed.”
“Fine. Do whatever you need to so you can get the hell out of my house!” she snapped and stomped away.
They went in the bedroom and looked around. “This ain’t so bad,” Good Riot assured me, “you oughtta see my bedroom.” He chuckled and looked under the bed, pulling out a box to make sure there wasn’t anyone behind it.
“Jeez,” Bad Riot said, coming back in the bedroom door, “the bathroom goes around to the hall. Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t think about it. Anyway, the kids’ rooms are upstairs. Do you want to check those too?”
“We got to,” Bad Riot said, beginning to drop his belligerent attitude. “Let’s get it done.” He sighed, as if he was resigning himself to bagging no Latinos on this outing.
They checked out The Boy’s old room, which was now Kim’s and Rene’s. “Lots of books up here,” Good Riot said. “Your kids read a lot?”
“It was my library before Kim and Serena came around,” I said. “You heard about that, right? People were dropping off their kids last winter? They’re some of those.”
“That was bad,” Good Riot said. “Least we got a government that protects those kids now.”
I said nothing… maybe that was payback for the Spanish welcome downstairs. We moved to the girls’ room, and they finally found something to pique their interest.
“Hey,” said Bad Riot, trying to dig his way through the closet. “Where does that hatch go?”
“Behind the bedrooms to the attic above the garage.”
“C’mon, Mike. We gotta check this out.” Bad Riot started tossing stuff aside until I cleared my throat and pointed at the camera, then he got a bit more careful, muttering under his breath. Mike, aka Good Riot, crowded in and they finally managed to clear a path through Daughter Dearest’s old toys and treasures. They opened the hatch and Bad Riot looked in. “Damn, it’s dark.”
“Light switch inside to your right,” I suggested.
“Um…” click “Yeah. Thanks.” He crawled in.
“Hey! Be careful. You’ll put a foot through the ceilings downstairs if you get off the wood!” I yelled.
“OK!” Bad Riot crawled in, followed by Good Riot. I figured I’d better follow, to minimize damage if nothing else. Good Riot had a wind-up flashlight, and he put it to use as we got past the light.
I heard a thumping noise in front of me, and Bad Riot yelped. “Mike! Gimme the flashlight! Someone’s up here!” Bad Riot reached back, grabbed the light, and scuttled forward. I heard a rasping noise and more thumping, and we joined Bad Riot in the attic. He played his flashlight around, and swooped back as a pair of lights winked back. A squirrel thrashed its tail and chattered at the light, then leaped for a corner.
“You found him, guys!” I laughed. “If you can get that Mexican squirrel outta my attic and deport him, I’d owe you one!”
Both of the Riots just shook their heads. “C’mon, Bobby,” Good Riot said. “They’re gone, just like he said.”
We made our way back to the hatch, then back outside. I helped them get the Dummer turned around, and they drove off. I waited for the engine noise to fade, then pulled out my phone. Meeting in 10 minutes, I texted.
Ten minutes passed — I wanted to make sure the 'Riots weren’t going to pull a head-fake — then I went back to the girls’ room, opened the hatch in the closet, and rapped on the false wall covering the hidey-hole. Guillermo pulled the pins holding the false wall in place, and they came out. Group hug! then downstairs. (“Mexican squirrel?” Rene gave me a look. “That was baaaad.”)
“You heard that?” I said. We all laughed.
We came downstairs, and Christina ran to Kim and hugged him hard, whispering something I couldn’t hear. Kim gave her an awkward hug and me a deer-in-the-headlights look.
Guillermo cocked his head at the two, then looked at me. I just shrugged and suggested, “Just relieved, I guess.” But Christina wouldn’t unwrap until her dad cleared his throat, then she let him go and sulked away while Kim just stared. Maria gathered her up and took her back upstairs to bring their things back out (and perhaps a few words of motherly advice on the side).
Meanwhile, Rene trotted over to Serena. “You’ve got to put this in your play,” he said. “A magic squirrel who can hide people.”
“Sounds nutty to me,” she retorted, and they laughed.
We’ll need to be careful for a while. I’d hate to have Guillermo’s family more or less prisoner here, but I guess it’s a better place than where the 'Riots would send them.