The bag felt heavy in his hand. This was a great responsibility and he knew he had better not screw this up.
“Si, Jose. I can do it. Don’t worry about me.” He said with a sureness he didn’t really feel.
“I know you won’t fail me.” Was Jose’s response.
With that Arturo quickly left the room and headed towards the front door. He was acutely aware of his surroundings. The smell of the burritos and rice that was cooking, the sounds of laughter from the other room, the dimly lit hallway with little shafts of light from holes in the shades highlighting the dust motes swirling lazily in the heat.
He opened the door, glad to be away from that presence, but knowing that he had a great task ahead.
The boards creaked as he descended the stairs and he almost jumped at the noise. He was trying to blend into his surroundings, to avoid drawing attention to himself. That was his special talent. He could walk through a crowd without being noticed – that is as long as he belonged there.
He remembered trying to use his special talent over in the rich neighborhood, among the socialites. It had failed him miserably and he had drawn too much attention to himself. So much, in fact, that he caught a charge for the blunt he’d had on him that day. It was an important lesson – keep to the streets where he belonged.
That’s where he was today – where he belonged.
The only problem was that he wasn’t himself. The package he held made him nervous and that made him stand out in the crowd. His talent was failing him.
“Get ahold of yourself” he thought. “Calm down and go with the flow. This is a day like any other day. You are just cruising through from point A to Point B. Relax.”
His internal mantra was working. He was starting to relax and as he did he faded from people’s consciousness. If you had asked anyone he passed, they couldn't tell you if he was there or not.
“Three more blocks. Just three more blocks and I can be done with this mess.”
He desperately wanted to be done, to know that his mother would be OK. She didn’t even know she was in danger, but she was. That was the threat, the power Jose had over him. If he failed to deliver the package, then his mother would be hurt.
The next block was the hardest to get through. It was his old block, but now it was enemy turf. He had lived here a couple of years ago, but that was before he met Jose and started working for him. He had been so young and dumb and full of himself then.
Halfway down the block he saw her. She was just getting out of the car and had her back towards him, but he knew it was her – Angela. She had been his first major crush and they had hooked up but that was before she met Rodrigo. He had been crushed when she dumped him, but thought he was over it.
Apparently not as his heart suddenly ached for what might have been. This in turn blew his cool and started making him nervous. He might as well have started shouting and flashing lights as he stood out from his surroundings.
People started to notice him – the guy doing the yard work on the corner, the kids playing basketball halfway down the block and lastly Angela turned and saw him. She knew he was working for Jose. She knew he was the enemy. What would she do?
She gave a quick glance to the car and then turned away not saying a word as he passed.
He looked at the car and saw the reason for her glance. Sitting in the drivers seat, on his cell phone was Rodrigo. He was preoccupied with the call and not looking in Arturo’s direction. Trying to regain his calm, Arturo maintained his pace and started his mantra again, more fervently to himself.
“you can do this. No big deal. Nothing to see …”
He heard the door open he had just walked past.
“ain’t no way he’d be fool enough” he heard Rodrigo say but he stopped mid sentence. “Hey. Fool,” he shouted and grabbed Arturo’s arm.
Not expecting the touch Arturo jumped and lost his hold on the package.
He desperately tried to grab it as it fell, but all he succeeded in doing was knocking it into the street by the back of Rodrigo’s car.