Tables and Chairs, Ravens and Beans

Raven Series Part # 2 (~600 words)

This story takes place after Raven and the Mango Roadtrip.

Raven steps off the night bus. I follow her out, squinting both ways into the darkness. The street is deserted.

I turn back to the driver to ask ¿La plaza central

He points a finger then closes the door.

Raven and I walk west toward the heart of Oaxaca.

Nothing moves except garbage trucks and taxicabs. After half an hour we start to see street sweepers and joggers. We pass the shuttered stalls of the central market, locked up and silent. Street dogs search through piles of trash, lifting their feet high and setting them down softly. When they find something to eat they chew slowly, suspiciously.

We enter the city’s main square from the east. The faint glow of a lightbulb runs toward us along the worn paving stones. Soaring palm trees surround the central fountain, their trunks faintly backlit.

A man who looks old enough to have witnessed the Spanish invasion sits on a park bench. Steam rises from under the lid of the ancient clay pot resting on his rickety cart.

The odor of corn flour, chocolate, and cinnamon reach us. My stomach rumbles. 

Raven walks over. “Buen día, abuelo,” she says. Good day, Grandfather.

The old man nods at her courtesy and fills two styrofoam cups with champurrado. While she pays I scan the square and the street behind us. I see no one.

Raven hands me a cup and sips her own. She lets out an involuntary sigh of appreciation. It’s the first moment of calm since we started running.

“Dad, do we have a plan besides finding breakfast and a place to sleep?”

“Not unless you want to do anything else, Kid.”

“We should probably get a plan together.”

“First we need to know who’s after you.”

Raven doesn’t say anything.

“You don’t have to tell me everything, but you’ve got to tell me something.”

“You remember that project I told you about?”

“I remember you were hired to write some accounting software.”

“It’s about that.”

“I wouldn’t figure bean counting would cause this much trouble.”

“We’re talking about a lot of beans, Padre.”

“Whose beans are we talking about?”

Raven drops her voice lower and murmurs the outlines of deals involving black market oil, illegal arms, and government kickbacks. There’s no telling who is after her.

I ask her, “So you tested your software and it worked?”

“Yeah. But I wasn’t as careful as I thought. Otherwise, we’d still be drinking smoothies in Tulum.”  

Across the plaza four or five waiters wearing white shirts and black pants under bulky sweaters arrange tables and chairs on a tiled patio lit by the morning sun.

“Looks like the breakfast problem is solving itself,” I said.

“If it doesn’t I’m going to eat this styrofoam cup.”

“I’d rather eat market dog, myself.”

“Gross.”

Two waiters are standing in front of the patio with menus in their hands. They look like they’re freezing. 

“What do you say, Kid?”

Vamos.”

We nod good-bye to the old man and make our way across the plaza.

“As long as they don’t know where the data is,” Raven says, “we can bargain with them.”

“Do you have it on you?”

Raven is no longer a teenager, but she looks at me like I’m a complete moron.

“Where is it?”

“I gave it to Pato and told him to hide it.”

“But Pato’s crazy!”

“He’s the closest thing to a random number generator I could find. There’s no telling where he put it.”

>>>>Jump to part #3, Raven and the Cenote Dream<<<<


Copyright 2020 by Jim Latham

Photo by Arturo Garcia on Unsplash