07 Oct

Spoiler Alert: The Hands

“Spoiler Alert” is a serialized short story, coming in 13 parts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. “The Hands” is part twelve. It’s best if you know the end first, so go to part one if you haven’t read it yet.

The grand-daughters were fussing over David when I appeared, but they immediately turned their attention to me, gasping and chirping in Spanish.

“What? What did I do?” I asked.

“You closed the door,” David said. He looked like he had a hangover. “Apparently, you just locked their grandfather inside.”

The women rattled the door and said “aye” a lot. Did they know what I’d left behind? “We’ve got to get them out of here, David.”

“You gave him my gun, didn’t you?”

If someone told you you’d break a man out of a Salvadorian prison . . . .

“Let’s go.” David stood up and put a hand to his forehead.

“What about the women?”

“Don’t worry, they’ll follow us to the door. They’ll feel it necessary to see us out.”

He was right. They did follow us to the door. Back through that labyrinthine house we went until we were uttering our awkward goodbyes at the doorway. That’s when we heard the gunshot.

They must have known we were to blame for it. Hell, they may even have known it was coming. But that didn’t make their cries any quieter or any less passionate.

“We can’t stay and help them,” David said.

“I know.”

It felt shitty to leave them there, sobbing on each other’s shoulders, the awful work of cleaning out a bloodstained room left looming over them. But where there’s a death like Abuelo’s, there would be police, and we weren’t in Guatemala yet.

“I think I understand a little more, David. I think I understand how you feel. It’s this sort of helplessness, isn’t it?”

He didn’t answer immediately. In fact, he didn’t speak much for the next hour or so. He only gave the occasional directions — “Let’s go left here,” or “This way.” But when we finally hitched a ride on a camioneta headed north, he spoke up. “I wasn’t helpless, you know. I just believed I was.”

It felt reassuring to be in the back of that truck, nodding at each other once again.

“If the old man told me lies, that means there’s hope.” He clasped his hands together as though in prayer. They were my own hands, in a sense. I’d seen them from the unique perspective of their owner.

He smiled. “When we get to Jutiapa, let’s catch a bus to Belize.”

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