Killing sarai, p.1
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       Killing Sarai, p.1

           J. A. Redmerski
Killing Sarai





  This book is a work of fiction. Any references to real people, events, or locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, persons living or deceased, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2013 J.A. Redmerski

  All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part and in any form.

  Cover photo by Michelle Monique Photography

  Cover model: Nicole Whittaker

  Table of Contents











































  Somewhere in Mexico

  It’s been nine years since I saw the last American here. Nine years. I was beginning to think Javier killed them all.

  “Who is he?” my only friend, Lydia, asks as she pushes herself further into view. “How do you know he’s American?”

  I press my index finger against my lips and Lydia lowers her whisper, knowing as well as I do that Javier, or that God-awful sister of his will hear us and punish us for eavesdropping. Always paranoid. Always assuming the worst. Always approaching everything with caution and weapons, and rightfully so. Such is the way of life filled with drugs and murder and slavery.

  I peer through the sliver in the door, letting my vision focus on the tall, lean white man who looks as though he was born with the inability to smile.

  “I don’t know,” I whisper softly. “I can just tell.”

  Lydia squints her eyes as though it might help her to hear better. I can feel the heat from her breath warming the skin on my throat as she presses harder against me. We watch the man from the shadow of the tiny room that we have shared since they brought her here a year ago. One door. One window. One bed. Four dingy walls and a bookshelf with a few books in the English language which I have read more times than I can count. But we aren’t locked in and have never been. Javier knows that if we ever try to escape that we won’t get far. I don’t even know where in Mexico I am. But I know that wherever it is it wouldn’t be easy for a young woman like me to find her way back into the United States alone. The second I walk out that door and make my way down that dark, dusty road alone is the second I choose suicide as my path.

  The American, wearing a long, black trench coat over black clothes sits on the wooden chair in the living room, his back straight, and his gaze expertly filtering every motion within the room. But no one seems to notice this but me. Something tells me that even though Lydia and I are completely hidden inside our room in a dark hallway which barely allows us to see the living room that this man knows we’re watching. He knows everything that is going on around him: one of Javier’s men standing in the shadow of the opposite hall with his gun hidden at the ready. The six men standing in wait outside on the porch. The two men directly behind him with assault rifles cemented to their hands. These two haven’t taken their eyes off the American’s back, but I think the American, although not facing them, sees more of them than they do of him. And then there are the more obvious people in the room: Javier, a dangerous Mexican drug lord who sits directly in front of the American. Smiling and confident and completely unafraid. And then there is Javier’s sister, wearing her usual whorish dress so short that she doesn’t need to bend over for everyone in the room to see that she doesn’t wear panties. She wants the American. She wants anyone who she can sexually abuse, but this man…there’s something more obsessive in her eyes when it comes to him. And the American knows this, too.

  “I only agreed to meet with you,” the American says in fluent Spanish, “because I was assured that you would not waste my time.” He glances at Javier’s sister briefly. She licks her lips. He is unfazed. “I do business only with you. Get rid of the whore or we have nothing to discuss.” His unmoving expression never falters.

  Javier’s sister, Izel, looks like someone just slapped her across the face. She starts to speak, but Javier hushes her with only a look and then jerks his head back slightly to demand she leave the room. She does as she’s told, but as usual not without a string of curses that follow her out the front door.

  Javier smirks at the American and raises a mug of coffee to his lips. After taking a sip he says, “My offer is three million, American.” He sets the mug on the table that separates the two of them and then leans casually back against the chair, one leg crossed over the other. “I understand that your price was two million?” Javier turns his chin at an angle, looking to the American for recognition of his generous offer.

  The American doesn’t give him any.

  “I still don’t know how you can you understand what they’re saying so easily,” Lydia whispers quietly.

  I want to hush her so that I can hear everything between Javier and the American, but I don’t.

  “Live among only Spanish-speaking people for years and you learn to understand it,” I say, but I never take my eyes off of them. “In time, you’ll be as fluent as I am.”

  I sense Lydia’s body tense up. She wants to go home as much as I did when I was brought here at fourteen. But she knows as well as I did that she might be here forever and the heavy weight of that reality is what ultimately makes her quiet again.

  “The only reason a man such as yourself,” the American begins, “would offer over the going rate would be to secure some kind of hold over me.” He lets out a small, aggravated breath and leans his back against the chair, letting his hands slide away from his knees. “Either that, or you’re desperate, which leads me to believe that my mark, the one you want me to kill, would be willing to pay me more to kill you.”

  Javier’s confident grin disappears from his face. He swallows hard and straightens his back awkwardly, but tries to retain some confidence over the situation. For all he knows, that might be exactly why the American is here right now.

  “My reasons are not important,” Javier says.

  He takes another sip from the mug to hide his discomfort.

  “You’re right,” the American says so calmly. “The only important thing here is that you tell Guillermo back there to lower the gun from behind me and that if he doesn’t within three seconds he will be dead.”

  Javier and one of the men standing behind the American lock eyes. But three seconds goes by too quickly and I hear a near-silent shot resound and a pop! as a splatter of blood sprays the other man standing beside him. ‘Guillermo’ hits t
he floor, dead. No one, not even me, seems to know how the American pulled that shot off. He hasn’t even moved. The man standing next to the dead man freezes in his spot, his black eyes wide beneath his oily black hair. Javier purses his lips and swallows again, having a harder time hiding that discomfort of his every unnerving second that passes. His men outnumber the American, but it’s obvious that Javier doesn’t want him dead. Not right now. He raises a hand palm up to order the others to lower their weapons.

  The American pulls his hand from inside his trench coat and places his gun on his leg for all to see. His finger remains on the trigger. Javier glances down nervously at the gun once.

  Lydia is digging her fingernails into my ribs. I reach down carefully and move her hands away, feeling her body relax now that she realizes what she’s doing. Her breathing is rapid. I drape my arm around her shoulder and pull her into my chest. She’s not used to seeing people die. Not yet. But one day she will be. Cupping one side of her head within my hand, I press my lips against her hair to calm her.

  Javier gestures with the dismissing wave of two fingers and says, “Clean this mess up,” to the other gunman standing behind the American. The gunman seems more than happy to oblige, not wanting to end up like his comrade. Every eye in the room is on the American. Not that they weren’t before, but now they are more obvious, much more observant.

  “You’ve made your point,” Javier says.

  “I wasn’t trying to make one,” the American corrects him.

  Javier nods in acknowledgment.

  “Three million American dollars,” Javier says. “Do you accept the offer?”

  It’s obvious that the American has done more than take Javier down a few notches. He may not be running away in fear or cowering in the corner, but it’s clear that he’s been put in his place. And this is not easy to do. It worries me what Javier might do in retaliation when he feels he has the opportunity. It worries me only because I need that American to get me out of here.

  “What are they saying?” Lydia asks, frustrated that she has a long way to go before she will be able to decipher anything said around this place.

  I don’t answer, but I squeeze her shoulder once to indicate that I need her to stop talking.

  “Three and a half is my price,” the American says.

  Javier’s face falls and I think his nostrils just flared. He’s not used to being second best.

  “But you said—”

  “The price went up,” the American says, leaning his back against the chair again and tapping the butt of his gun softly against his black pants. He offers no more explanation and doesn’t need to. Javier already seems accepting.

  Javier nods. “Sí. Sí. Three and a half million. Can you have it done in one week?”

  The American stands up, his long black coat falling about his body. He is tall and intimidating with short brown hair buzzed around the back and slightly longer and spiky on top.

  I pull Lydia away from the door and shut it softly.

  “What are you doing?” she asks as I rush over to the rickety chest of drawers that holds all of the clothes that she and I share.

  “We’re leaving,” I say as I shove whatever I can down inside a pillowcase. “Get your shoes on.”


  “Lydia, we don’t have time for this. Just get your shoes. We can make it out of here with the American.”

  I stuff the pillowcase half-full and move to help her since she’s slow to understand what exactly is going on. I grab her by the arm and push her against the bed.

  “I’ll help you,” I say as I kneel in front of her and go to slip her bare feet into her shoes.

  But she stops me.

  “No…Sarai, I-I can’t leave.”

  I let out a heavy breath. We don’t have time for this but I need to make time long enough to convince her that she needs to leave with me. I look up into her eyes. “We will be safe. We can get out of here—Lydia, he is the first American I’ve seen in years. He’s our only chance.”

  “He’s a killer.”

  “You’re surrounded by killers. Now come on!”

  “No! I’m afraid!”

  I shoot up from my kneeling position and thrust my hand over her mouth. “Shhh! Lydia, please listen to me—”

  She places her fingers over mine and peels my hand from her lips.

  Tears stream from her eyes and she shakes her head rapidly. “I won’t go. We’ll get caught and Javier will beat us. Or worse, Izel will torture and kill us. I’m staying here.”

  I know that I can’t change her mind. She has that look in her eyes. The one that says she’s been broken and she will probably always be broken. I put my hands on her shoulders and look at her.

  “Get under the covers and pretend that you’ve been asleep,” I say. “Stay like that until someone comes in and finds you. If they know you knew about me leaving and didn’t tell anyone, they will kill you.”

  Lydia nods in a nervous jerking motion.

  “I will come back for you.” I shake her by the shoulders, hoping she’ll believe me. “I promise. The first thing I’ll do when I get over the border is go to the police.”

  “But how will you find me?”

  Tears choke her voice.

  “I don’t know,” I admit. “But the American will know. He will help me.”

  That look in her eyes, it’s hopeless. She doesn’t believe for a second that this insane plan of mine is going to work. And I probably wouldn’t have either nine years ago, but desperation makes a person do crazy things. Lydia’s face hardens and she reaches up to wipe the tears from her cheeks. It’s as if she knows this is the last time she will ever see me.

  I kiss her hard on the forehead.

  “I will come back for you.”

  She nods slowly and I push my way through the tiny room with the pillowcase slung over my back.

  “Get under the covers,” I hiss at her as I push open the window.

  As Lydia hides under the blanket, I climb my way out the window and into the mild October heat. I crouch low behind the house and make my way around the side and through the hole in the fence surrounding the south side of the compound. Javier has gunmen everywhere, but I’ve always found them rather dense and lacking in the guard-the-compound-from-escapees area because rarely does anyone try to escape. Mostly the guards all stand around talking and smoking cigarettes and making vulgar gestures to the other girls who are enslaved here. The one standing at the entrance to the armory is the one who tried to rape me six weeks ago. The only reason Javier didn’t kill him is because that one is his brother.

  But brother or not, he is now a eunuch.

  Weaving my way in-between small buildings, I make it to the tree-line and stop in the shadows cast by the nearby house. I stand up straight and press my back against the stucco and make my way carefully around to the front where the twelve-foot barbwire fence starts at the front gate. Outsiders are always made to park their vehicles just beyond it where they are escorted into the compound on foot.

  The American would not have been allowed in any differently. I’m sure of it. I hope.

  A large swath of light from the post covers the space between me and the area of the gate that I need to get to. There is one guard posted there, but he’s younger and I think I can take him. I’ve had plenty of time to work these things out. All of my teenage life. I stole a handgun from Izel’s room last year and have kept it hidden under a floorboard in mine and Lydia’s room ever since. The second I saw the American enter the house I had pulled back the floorboard to retrieve it and shoved it in the back of my shorts. I knew I’d need it tonight.

  I inhale a deep breath and dash across the light in the wide open and just hope that no one spots me. I run hard and fast with the pillowcase beating against my back and the gun gripped in my hand so tight it hurts the bones in my fingers. I make it to the fence and breathe a sigh of relief when I find another shadow to hide within. Shadows move at a distance, coming from the house
I just left. I feel sick to my stomach and could actually vomit if I didn’t know I had more important things to do and fast. My heart is hammering against my ribcage. I spot the guard out ahead standing near the front gate and leaning against a tree. The hot amber of a cigarette glows around his copper-colored face and then fades as he pulls his lips away from the filter. The silhouette of his assault rifle gives the impression that he has the gun strap tossed over one shoulder. Thankfully he isn’t holding it at the ready. I walk quickly along the edge of the fence, trying to stay hidden in the shadow cast by the trees on the other side of it. My worn out flip-flops move over the soft sand making no sound at all. The guard is so close that I can smell the funk of his body odor and see the oil glistening in his unwashed air.

  I creep up closer, hoping my movement doesn’t attract him. I’m right behind him now and I’m about to pee myself. My legs are shaking and my throat has closed up almost to the point that I can hardly breathe. Carefully and as quietly as possible, I pull my gun back and hit him over the head with the butt as hard as I can. A loud whack! and a crunch! turns my stomach. He falls over unconscious and the burning cigarette hits the sand beside his knees. I grab his gun, practically having to tear it off his arm because of the heavy weight of his body, and then I take off running through the cracked gate and outside the compound.

  Just as I had hoped there is only one vehicle parked out front: a slick black car that is probably the most out-of-place object in this area for miles. Nothing here but slums and filth. This is an expensive city car with shiny rims and an attitude.

  One more hurdle. But upon seeing the car my confidence in the American having left the doors unlocked are diminishing. Surely he wouldn’t in these parts. I place my hand on the back passenger’s side door and I hold my breath. The door pops open. I don’t have time to be relieved when I hear voices coming through the front gate and I catch a glimpse of a moving shadow from the corner of my eye. I crawl in the back floorboard and shut the door quickly before those approaching are close enough to hear it shut.

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Comments 1

Svetlana Ruleva 23 May 2020 00:35
I liked the book very much. While reading the second book in the series, but both parts are very fascinating. I wonder if books will be published in Russia??? Maybe someone knows something about it.
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