The Swamp (Part Seven)

"Please. I am not going to hurt you. I need...food....water." Hendricks voice was harsh and low, almost indecipherable.

Luz looked into his deep set eyes and handsome face and took immediate pity on the man. She sat down next to him and pulled a plastic bottle of water out of the cloth bag tied at her hip. Luz tilted the water carefully into Hendrick's mouth. He sucked greedily but she pulled it away.

'Not too much. Not yet. Patience." she reprimanded him in Spanish. Hendricks closed his eyes and lay back on the forest floor. The water helped him right away. He could feel the brutal headache abating for the first time in days.

"I know a leetle English too. I learn from turistas. Here, eat these, slowly, slowly." She put a handful of berries on his mouth, which he ate quickly without even chewing until he choked and sat up, coughing and sputtering.

"I told you to take it easy. Here have some more, but chew first. There, that's it. That's right. Good gringo. Very good." she talked soothingly while he ate in silence. He drank a bit more water then lay back, eyes closed.

Luz looked down at him and her young heart skipped a beat. This wild man with his long hair looked somewhat thin and beat up, but she could see he had a lean, muscular body beneath the ragged, filthy clothes he wore. His face was beautiful, she thought, like the stars of the telenovelas that she watched every night at her friend Neti's house in the village.

Hendricks opened his weary eyes. He looked at her and realized how strikingly beautiful she was, with her waist length black hair and huge, feline eyes.

"Tienes ojos verdes. You have green eyes." He flattered her, "Very beautiful. What is your name?"

"My name is Luz. I was just...gathering berries for supper. But then I....I chased, how you say, mariposa, uh, butterfly, and, and then I get lost..." she broke down sobbing.

Hendricks put an arm aound her, trying to comfort the girl. "Don't cry. I just need a little time to get stronger and I will get you out of here, I promise. You say your village is close to here?"

"Yes, I was only away for a few minutes. I was near the river---"

"River, you say? Which way?" he demanded, sensing hope now.

"Over that way I think. I am not sure. Yes, maybe, yes, that way I think." She got up and pointed.

"Give me your hand please. Help me up." She pulled him up. He stretched and groaned, feeling every muscle in his body protesting with pain. But his mind was bright and alert now with the water and food. He looked around.

"What are you doing, gringo?"

"Just looking for something. Ahhh, there it is. Good" Hendricks found his tree markings. Moving back to where he fell, he picked up his the sharp rock again. He moved to a nearby tree and carved some symbols in it.

"What is that? Why are you marking the trees?" She wondered aloud.

"It is just to help us keep track of where we are going and where we have been. An old trick that I learned in the Marines." he added.

"You are from United States? California?" Luz asked, stumbling to keep up with him as he pushed through the jungle.

"Oklahoma. You know Oklahoma? Lots of cows." he laughed.

"Cowboys, yes? Vaqueros." she laughed.

"Good, yes. Very good."

"Maybe you Henrique are real life U.S. cowboy, yes?" she teased.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that. I branded my fair share of cattle growing up so I guess that makes me a real cowboy. Wait. Shhhh. What's that?" Hendricks pulled up fast, pulling them down. He could hear the hum of moving water nearby....and voices.

"Yay! That is the river. We are near the village now, come on. I'll take you to my house. You can stay there, we have lots of room." She stood up but Hendricks pulled her down roughly. "Owww. You are hurting me!"

"Shhhhh. Be quiet." he looked at her and decided to take a chance. "Luz, you know I am not a bad man. I could have done anything to you....and...well, you know I did not hurt you and I would never hurt you. Do you understand?"

She nodded, looking up at him. "I am going to hide here, but you can't tell anyone that I am here. Do you understand? No one."

"But why? If you come to my house you can eat and get cleaned up. I am sure my father has some clothes that might fit you, though he is much shorter than you, and not so big..." she blushed.

"Thank you, Luz, but I am an escaped prisoner and I don't want to get you and your family in any trouble. Please go and I will try and make it from here on my own. Please, you must go."

"No, Henrique. You saved my life today by leading me out of the forest. God put you in my path and I cannot just abandon you. Here, take this water and food and stay right here. I will come back tonight with food and clothes. Then you can go if you want." She had an intense look in her eyes.

"Alright. Alright. I will wait here." Hendricks sighed as she got up to leave, he grabbed her again. "Wait. Tell me, where are we? What is this place called?"

"My village is called Rauna, near Santa Catalina." she replied.

"What? Santa Catalina? Then this must be...."

"Yes. We are on the island of Coiba. Where did you think you were?" she asked.

But Hendricks did not hear, he put his head in his hands and closed his eyes.

"Go," he urged her softly, "Go and I shall wait for you here. And---" he stopped her one last time, "Thank you." He put her hand up to his face, feeling the warmth of it. He kissed her fingers.

She pulled her trembling hand away, blushing and nervous, then turned and ran in the direction of the river.

to be continued

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2 comments

valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Ah ha, little potential love scene here. But I am not certain of the significance of her town, city, whatever. Perhaps you mentioned it somewhere earlier in the writing, or my geography is just so bad I don't know something I should know. Oh, well, maykbe I'll catch the significance later. (: v


bludstream profile image

bludstream 6 years ago Author

Love is a strange thing, and you never know when you will encounter it, but I think Hendricks has too much on his mind right now to worry about that. Next episode explains his remarks about Coiba.

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