Puerto Rico - Part I

 

Suddenly, I found myself standing alone, luggage belt stopped and empty, everyone else had collected there luggage and walked away. So I walked over to the customer service desk, and after a bit of research they informed me that my bag had been held in Miami for additional screening and that it should arrive on the next flight in thirty minutes or so. I decided to go wait outside, I wanted to check out the scenery, I had finally made it to the Carribean, I was ecstatic and ready to bask in paradise. 

The automatic doors opened wide and the hot tropical air slammed into my face. To the left, a huge sign read Bienvenidos! All around in the distance, rolling mountains, though slightly obscured by a smog of dense humidity. But I could still make out the jagged palms and I was infused with the dank essence of the tropics. The sensation gave me goosebumps just as I was lifted off the ground, a huge surge of adrenaline overcame me and I flung my head back and forth in a shock trying to see the man under each arm, carrying me backward, my heels sliding on the pavement.

I yelled the choice words, "What the fuck?" Not once, but more like twenty times.

The tight grip under each arm sent chills up my spine, I had no idea what was going on, and then I had the delayed realization I was being kidnapped. That's when I really freaked out and tried to fight back, screaming and flailing trying to break free. I had been twenty steps into Puerto Rico, and already I was being kidnapped.

But, in there oversized starched grey suits, thick mustaches, and mirrored aviators, they held on, pulling me in through a grey metal door. That's when I saw her. The lady with the super long beautiful legs sitting on top of a grey metal desk in a tiny candy apple red miniskirt just inside the door to the right. I was silenced by awe and confusion.

"Wait a minute," I thought, as they turned me around straight and let me walk on my own two feet through a maze of fluorescent hallways, and then out of a grey metal door into an alleyway damp with the condensation of dozens of violently humming air conditioning units, where they pushed me towards another grey metal door. They opened it with a key and without a word, they shoved me and shut it behind me. The room was small, windowless, only a couple of grey metal folding chairs, a grey metal desk, and a ticking clock that read 2:23 pm. 

I slammed my fists into the door and yelled "Let me the fuck out of here" until one of the men came into the room and said “You’re under arrest for smuggling drugs into our country.” as he took off his mirrored aviators tossing them on the desk. "Have a seat"

I did.

After a moment of him staring me into the eyes, he said, "You are going away for a long time my friend.” 

That's when I felt lost to the world. I see fee the damp dark cage and smell the dank prison stank, I could hear the leaking pipe of desolation drop by drop, and the squeaky mice, and I could feel them chewing on my soles, and I could feel the torture, 3rd world torture.

Then he told me they knew who I was and that they had been anticipating my capture. He accused me of being a dealer who ran an infamous San Juan crack house. I felt slightly obliged. 

Non the less, I responded “Lucky for me, I am not a drug dealer, nor am I a smuggler, I am not that stupid. And you can't just lock me up without any proof of your accusations, I am an American citizen and I have rights...this is bullshit, let me out of here! I just fucking got here! Fuck are you kidding me?”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

In a thickening accent, he leaned in close to spit on me as he said, “You are guilty, and if you do not confess, we will prove you’re guilty anyway, so do not waste your time. I assure you that you will go to jail…a long time, along time my...”

“But I just got here ten fucking...”

Interrupting me he continued “You left and came back with marijuana, we watched you, and then we saw you make a deal, drug deal, right in front of us…TRUST me…for a long time my friend, a long time, and you go to Puerto Rican jail. 

His frown turned into a grin.

I don't know what you are talking about" I responded.

Then he kindly patted me on the shoulder. “Then why do you look this way? Huh? Why do you look like a drug dealer?" 

I was speechless.

Then the other guy came in and together like happy partners they dumped my carry on bag out and scattered my things out on the grey metal desk.

"Come on give it up, the dogs are coming anyway."

I snapped back saying, “Even if I do smoke pot, it is none of your damn business, I am not a drug dealer, and I'm not stupid enough to bring it across a border with me” when to my surprise the long-legged woman in candy apple walked in through the grey metal door. My rage, all I had left to my name, was taken from me again, and the void within me filled with untimely lust. I was happy to see her, but, she carried in her candy apple painted claws a large zip-locked baggie of what appeared to be full of marijuana. Still, I could not hate her, so I directed my hate at the two mustaches that sat upon there smiles, proud of their selves for pulling a bag of weed out of their asses and saying, “This here is your marijuana, my friend."

“That's not mine, you just brought it in from outside, you didn't find that in my things.” 

"We found it in your luggage!" He said now swabbing the inside of my canteen. He was a dick. A lying dick. The other guy was quiet and relaxed, but this guy was a dick. He kept fucking waving the baggy around in my face, and in my now fucked up mind, everything began to slow down, and that baggie began to look like a flag symbolizing his personal conquest into my life and the complete annihilation of my freedom and free will as a human being. I was a prisoner already and it was fucked. 

"That's bullshit," I said, about to start yelling, but I didn't want to act a fool in front of the lady. I tried to catch her eye and just as I caught her eye for a split second, with a half smile she left me behind gently shutting the grey metal door behind her, but the latch had a severe "CLICK", a click that pruned all hope by the root.  

 “You are going away for a long time, you are going away for a long time", someone said over and over, either me or the voice in my head, I wasn't sure anymore, it had been hours of them coming in and out, touching and testing my stuff, touching me, searching me over and over, i began to think all they wanted was me against the wall, hands on my thighs. And the buzzing fluorescent lights and ticking clock didn't help.

“This is your marijuana!” The mustache said as he poked the finger of his right hand into the table, baggy sway between the thumb and finger of his left, making the head that held my wide open eyes bobble slightly back and forth. I began to slightly consider my guilt and thought what if…what if I am in deep denial.

"Yes it was my marijuana, yes I would be locked up in a cage, yes for a long-long time, yes my friend, far-far away from home." I began to believe.

The clock now struck 2 am, and we were all still here. Still playing this game.

"The dogs will be here soon", a mustache said, again and again. 

The dogs never did show up. But a third man did arrive, in a police uniform. He opened up a bag he carried and pulled out a chemistry kit. Then he opened the baggie and dropped a piece of marijuana and dropped it into a vial with some sort of solution.

"If it is marijuana it will turn blue," He said as he shook it vigorously. 

All four of us stared at the vial anxiously, the cop held between his fingers. My heart raced and I flew through my mind suddenly seeing the entire day flash before my eyes. Back at the Miami International Airport, early this morning, I had been sitting in the food court just after I checked my backpack before getting in the security line. I was eating a taco, as a small squad of five or six men in black swat team type gear surrounded me and questioned me about who I was, where I was going, why, and so on. Then the lead dude told me I should check out the southwest side of the island, that the sea glows at night or some shit, it was hard to pay attention. Then after a few more security delays, I had to run to catch my plane.

During the two-hour flight to the island, I dreamt about the paradise I would find in Puerto Rico. I planned to hitchhike and camp out in the El Yunque National Forest, I had long dreamed of climbing its peak. El Yunque was a rainforested mountain and I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I was thrilled, as I looked out the window at the tops of the clouds.

A shot of adrenaline and the sense of doom on the horizon brought me back to the present, as the cop gave the vial one more last good shake. I knew I was fucked. I knew I was going to jail, they had caught me red handed. I was their fucking fish, and they were not about to throw me back, after all, I could be great bargaining material or a lucky gringo they can poke and prod like a fucking voodoo doll to manipulate the United States. And then I got a good clear vision of what it was going to be like in jail here and then I thought of rape, "Jesus Christ, what the fuck, what the fuck was I doing here?" I thought. "What the fuck was I thinking smuggling drugs? How did my life get to this point?

"Negative, It is not marijuana." the cop said. 

We all four looked at each other silently, puzzled and awkward, then I snapped out of it and said, “Let me the fuck out of here, NOW!”

“Collect your things.” the defeated and muffled mustache muttered. 

Without hesitation I shoved my things back into my carry on bag, then he led me out of the grey metal door back into the damp alley with all the humming airconditioning units. He took me down the alley away, to another grey metal door. As he opened it the air conditioning slammed me in the face, a jolting return to civilization, and a fresh sense of freedom. In the middle of the floor of the empty luggage claim under what seemed a spotlight, alone sat my backpack. I heard a familiar "CLICK", and I turned around to see no one. I was free.

I walked over to my wayward bag and threw it on my back and waltzed toward the automatic doors. I spot a payphone and drop in a few coins.

"Hello baby, I'm sorry to wake you," I said.

"It's ok, I was worried, you never called. Did you make it? Everything is ok?"

"Yes I made it," I answered her.

"I hope you have a good time and please be safe, and please call me every chance you get."

"I will," I said.

"Oh, and did you get the bag of herbs you stuck in my backpack? If you burn them at night they will keep the mosquitos away." She asked.

"I did. Thank you, baby." I said.

"I love you" She said.

"I love you just too" I said and then I hung up the phone as the operator was asking for another coin.

Then the automatic doors opened wide, and I walked out of the San Juan International Airport and into the dark rainy Puerto Rican night. The hot tropical air lit up with thunder before my eyes. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, electrified and I climbed onto a bus that read Old San Juan. I had finally arrived.