This is the third issue in Volume 3 of A Long Road to Fortune. It is titled Cat.
The lights had perished, leaving everything pitch black. Ashton had managed to to tilt to the odds to his favor. Francisco decided to shoot twice, aiming at Ashton's direction before the lights had died. Anticipating this, the boy dropped to the floor.
"Look, you're not getting out of this room in one piece. There are still two of us and only one of you. A bullet or two are bound to hit you," Francisco said in an attempt to threaten Ashton.
Yuri was shaking in fear but at the same time, kept her gun aimed high. She knew she couldn't afford to choke now.
"I have no intention of shooting you. In fact I can leave now if that is what you want...but it is not. You can't afford to shoot me either. You NEED me alive to get into the marketplace," Ashton replied. He was maneuvering his way around the room as silently as he could.
"Yeah, right. Don't think I don't know who you are. You're Ashton. The marketplace people wouldn't give us a peso for you. They might actually appreciate it if we killed you ourselves," Yuri said, clearly re-affirming Francisco's threat. She was trying to hear exactly where Ashton could be, but really no intention of shooting either. Neither of them did. They needed Ashton alive, as if he were their act of desperation.
"I suppose you're right. I guess I should toss my gun and walk quietly right to you. Then you can kill me anyway you wish," Ashton replied. He could sense he was being lied to.
"Yeah, how about you do that. We'll even do you the favor of shooting you in the head, so you don't turn into a maldito," Francisco replied.
"Malditos? Is that what you are calling them? I thought I was supposed the cold hearted bloke, not you. These are people you used to know," Ashton replied, with a calm tone of voice. It was almost as if he knew he would be alright.
"You are asking for us to shoot you," Yuri replied. Her right pointer finger was firmly on the trigger. The slightest spasm could send the bullet right off.
"Then do it. Instead of threatening me, act on me. Because if you don't, sooner or later I WILL escape," Ashton replied. He was leaning against the wall and could feel glass. "Maybe the window...," he thought to himself.
"Alright then. You leave us no option but to come after you," Francisco said. He whispered to Yuri and told her to stay guarding the door. "There was no need for this to happen. If you hadn't shot up that light, you'd still have a chance to live," Francisco threatened Ashton yet again. They reeked of desperation.
Back at the marketplace, Mendoza was having a chat with his troops. "Gustavo Texta is not to be taken lightly. The puto possesses enough military training and experience to give me a run for my money. In fact, expect all of his troops to be well trained. And always be on the lookout for any surprises; I'm talking snipers, grenades, anything that they might posses we don't,"
"Shouldn't we be waking the others up too? I mean, sir, there are only 10 able bodies here," Juarez asked. Pepe was confused by his fellow soldier's wording, so he decided to talk too.
"What my friend here is trying to say is, we're outgunned and you're only going by these strategies with us and not with everyone we feel should be here as well,"
Mendoza looked pleased to be asked that question. "You may be the only ones who could actually follow suit with my plans...Joaquin, he's a loose cannon. Daniel, he's loyal but his shooting skills are mediocre. Mario, he's got kids to babysit when it all goes down. And Jose, well, he'd choke under the pressure of a real gun battle, as good as his shooting skills are,"
Pepe looked annoyed at Mendoza's response. "Sounds like you have everyone figured out. So what then? The 6 of us will go out of there and get shot up while the rest just watch everything go down from the "safety behind the walls?" Pepe replied.
"I am not putting weapons on just anybody. They're not toys, nor are they tools. They are weapons and nothing more! Weapons do not belong on just anybody's hands!" Mendoza replied.
"If you're really worried about putting guns in the wrong hands, then we're going to die out there. Give Murrieta a gun, give Jose a gun, give Mario a gun, and find something for Daniel to do!"
Mendoza looked stressed. "Fine. I guess I just didn't want to risk losing anyone I felt we didn't have to,"
"Thank you for understanding, sir". Pepe replied. He kept a respectful tone with that response, to let his superior know he meant no disrespect.
"But, we'd still be overwhelmed. Are there any other people that know how to shoot?" Manuel asked.
"...Valdez," Jaime replied. "Liza too," Aguila added.
"No. They're just kids!" Mendoza said. He put his metaphorical foot down. "Groseros are one thing, but live people? I'm not going to have them out on the line of fire...I know just what to do with them..." he added.
The hunt for Ashton was on in the storage room. Ashton waited for Francisco to pass him so he could rush Yuri and leave the storage room. During their chat earlier, Ashton had tied some rope to a nail he felt when he dropped to the ground. So he did and pulled it from opposite side of the nail and waited for Francisco to trip.
"Where is he?" Francisco thought to himself. But like Ashton had planned, his foot met the rope and caused Francisco to trip. He began to move quicker and quicker until he made his way to the front wall. He kicked some cardboard boxes out of his way to make some noise for Yuri so she'd shoot. She panicked and eventually did. Ashton followed the sound of the gun and ran straight for Yuri. Before she could react, Ashton had tackled her down, opening the door behind them.
"Eh..." Ashton was blushing, because, well, both of his hands were on Yuri's breasts. "That wasn't part of my plan, sorry ma'am!" Ashton said, as he ran off. Yuri was angry and embarrassed. "Francisco! He got away!"
"What? No way! Shit! We had him!" he reacted.
Mr. Chet was planning something of his own. He contemplated leaving after Ashton but knew he would be needed in tomorrow's more than likely gun fight. "I can't let him down. He risked his life for me and here I am not going back after him to repay the favor!" he thought to himself. But he knew that if Gustavo had him, he'd bring him back just for him. He had a cause. Motivation. That goes both ways. His plan had to work, for Ashton's sake. Just then, a knock was heard on Mr. Chet's makeshift "door", which was really just a wooden plank covering an opening.
"Come in," Mr. Chet yelled. It was none other than Valdez. "Come on man, you don't have to knock. This is your room too after all," Mr. Chet said to the boy.
"Yeah I know...anyway, Liza told me to tell you to go see her," Valdez said.
Mr. Chet looked amused. "And you don't have to keep playing messenger for Liza either," Mr. Chet said.
"Hahaha...guess not," Valdez replied, a little embarrassed.
Mr. Chet walked to Liza's tent on the intersection between the southern and the northern parts of the marketplace. She was outside waiting for him. "Are you going after him?" Liza asked.
Mr. Chet chose to be direct with her. "No Liza, I'm not. It would be wiser to stay and get him back tomorrow,"
"I guess that's one difference between you two. You think before you act" Liza responded. She was still visibly upset by Ashton's decision. "He was betting on you leaving after him right away...at least that's what he said to me before he left, the idiot...,"
"Well, I was very close to doing so. That would only make things even more complicated. I could get lost out there now that it is pitch black. I mean, we can barely see around here even with the candles," Mr. Chet replied.
"True..," Liza responded. After a bit, she looked back up to Mr. Chet. "I think I know now...the reason you told Ashton what you did," Liza added.
Mr. Chet looked amused by Liza's tenacity. "Speak away,"
"You told Ashton the marketplace needed him because he's just like you. And the marketplace obviously needs you. Plus, there are other traits you two share. You think quickly, you stay calm under pressure, and you both have a sense of right and justice that some others don't...I guess that's the reason why I'll never get Ashton," Liza said.
"I didn't mean that when I told Ashton what I did. Ashton needs a cause. Once he finds it, he'll know and do everything for it," Mr. Chet said. "He has to find his fortune..."
"A cause...like your daughter," Liza said.
"Exactly. Now, try to get some rest. We only have a few hours until dawn," Mr. Chet said.
|A Long Road to Fortune Volume 3|
|Previous Volume - Issue 13 - Issue 14 - Issue 15 - Issue 16 - Issue 17 - Issue 18 - Next Volume|