08 February 2014
The prompts are:
1. Please postpone my martyrdom
2. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time
3. This is not what we set out to do.
I could see, I mean actually see, the bullet leave the muzzle of his handgun and begin traveling towards me, breaking through the puff of smoke that had preceded it from the barrel. This is not what’s supposed to happen. This is not how I am meant to die. The gypsy woman had been clear; I was to perish in an accident at sea. That’s the reason I had moved to Arizona. I didn’t want to die this way. This is not what I set out to do. I set out to do good. How the hell did I get here?
It had seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Sign on to offer humanitarian aid by filling water containers in the desert. Filling water containers strategically placed to aid travelers was humane, right? I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about borders. I just want to help people.
Death by dehydration is nasty. I’ve seen it before, in Iraq. It’s not pretty. Let others worry about your papers, your passports, your visas. I just want to do what I can to help keep you alive.
It was a day like any other day in the Sonora Desert . I was working with Ricky. He and I were filling a twenty-five gallon tank, situated on a rocky mesa about thirty miles northeast of Nogales when it happened. Ricky was laughing and telling me a story about his daughter’s birthday party the previous weekend. He went quiet mid sentence and then the back of his head turned to a cloud of pink mist. He sank slowly to the ground. Then I heard the crack. No mistaking that sound, I had heard it before. A high powered sniper rifle, at least a mile away.
I dropped and as I did, the plastic tank we had been filling burst. By the time the sound of that shot reached me I was scrambling towards the brush. I dropped into a shallow wash.
There were the others. They were waiting for me. I put my hands up in a show of surrender. Vigilantes combed this desert looking for travelers. They must have been frustrated today. Ricky and I were just water bearers but they targeted us anyway.
“Adios, motherfucker,” the guy with the black hat said as he leveled his piece and squeezed the trigger. I saw the smoke. I saw the bullet.
The second to last thing to go through my head was, “Damn, that gypsy woman had lied.”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.