Mrs. Sofia Alverez met her grandchildren’s plane as it arrived at Aeropuerto de Mexico Benito Juarez in Mexico City all the while wondering why her daughter had decided, at the last minute, not to accompany the children on the flight home.
She had prepared for this day by washing and pressing the only decent dress she owned that was suitable for Mexico City. With it, she wore the faded yellow hat and shoes that she saved for Sunday Mass, and she carried a brightly colored hand woven basket filled with food for the journey home, a two hour bus ride into Mexico’s interior.
When she saw the children, she burst into a wide toothless grin and threw her arms around the bewildered little twosome as they stepped from the arrival gate. She had questions, so many questions, but they could wait. For now, she was going to enjoy having her grandchildren home.
After they had boarded the rickety old bus for home, Christina pulled and envelope from her backpack and handed it to her grandmother.
“MaMe said to give this to you, Tete.”
“What is it mehoe?”
“I don’t know. MaMe made me swear not to lose it and not to open it. She said it is very important that you have it.”
Sofia Alverez was puzzled by the large brown envelope that must have weighed at least two – maybe even three pounds.
The package reminded her of a drug envelope. With so much drugs smuggling going on in Mexico, she was tempted to throw it away. But who smuggles drugs into Mexico. No one, that’s who. The package had to contain another substance. Her sun browned hands gently caressed the package’s outer surface hoping to gain some insight as to its inner contents. As she caressed the package, two sets of brown eyes met hers and their hearts, she could tell, were heavy with fear. Where was Maria? And what did this package contain? And why was it so important?
“Christina, what else did your mother say when she gave you the package?”
“Not much, Tete. She was crying and she kept yelling, “Get on the plane, Get on the plane, now!”
“Where did your mother go?”
“She went with the man. The same man that came to the apartment and drove us to the airport in his truck.”
Juan, Maria’s son, who had been so quiet and still, leaned forward and patted his grandmother’s knee to get her attention. When she leaned her face close to his, he whispered, “Tete, he had a pistol.”
Her wrinkled eyes were immediately filled with concern. “Did you know this man, Christina?”
Sofia comforted her grandchildren as the old bus jerked its way up the winding road to the little village of Merida that would be their new home. Neither child had ever lived in Mexico.
This was not like Maria to abandon the children. Something was wrong but Sofia did not want to worry the children anymore than she already had. She had to pretend, at least for now that everything was alright. In the morning, she would walk over to the little clinic and ask the doctor there to make the phone call to Maria in New York.
Slowly, she pealed open the brown envelope and stacks of green American dollars were inside.
Two weeks later, Dr. Henry Sorisosen, MD, PhD of Pathology called Mr. Lin and reported that the body found on runway 22E was not that of a forty year old woman of German descent, but rather that of a thirty something female of Hispanic descent, who had given birth to at least two children. And that she had not died of a fall from a plane nor had she been run over by a plane. She had been strangled.
Mr. Lin faxed over Maria Alvarez’s medical records. He decided to wait until he had confirmation that the body was that of Maria before he phoned the tiny clinic in Merida, Mexico.
But first, he needed to call Agents Sanchez and Roberts an inform them of Dr. Sorisosen’s findings.