One Wrong Move by Elaine Smith

Alan Meyer drove and drove following Coronado’s commands. The Mexican Mafia General had him complexly under his control with fear and drugs. Alan found himself on a dirt road and believed they were near Lake Texoma. J.R., who had prepared the site earlier in the day, instructed Alan to pull the Cadillac into a driveway and stop near the gate. Tall grass in the lane scraped the undercarriage of the big car. The night was pitch black after the head lights were extinguished. Alan exited the car, struggling against a mountain of dread. He didn’t try to help the woman and little boy. He, too, saw Coronado execute a man in their house. Alan should have run away, he should have done something to save them, but he didn’t.

 J.R. picked little Randy up and carried the boy on his shoulders as if they were going to play in the park. He held the three- year-old in place with one large hand and walked along with a flashlight in the other. Coronado led Randy’s mother, Aretha, into the night.

Hanging back, Alan followed about twenty feet behind the others. J.R. cursed as he changed directions; irritated he couldn’t find the path he had made earlier. “Over here,” he called, finally finding what he was looking for. Sounds of feet rustling about and a loud thump disrupted the quiet of the night. Suddenly, bright flashes preceded cracking sounds of gunfire. Alan ran forward.

Jenson Rhodes, Jr. aimed the pistol into the hole at Randy and fired again. He then turned toward Aretha, firing several times. She collapsed on the ground near the large hole. Alan watched Coronado remove the pair of slacks he had let the woman wear in the past days. The white nightshirt she had worn the morning of her abduction seemed ghostly in the meager light.

J.R. and Coronado picked Aretha’s body up by the hands and feet and threw her into the hole with Randy. She rolled, coming to rest face down on the little boy’s body, as if she were shielding him from danger. Whimpering noises were heard in the darkness—from the hole. Randy face was visible and he was still alive. Coronado was unmoved as the flashlight shown on the injured boy.

“Use the rest of the bullets on him.”

Using the light as guide, J.R. emptied the clip of .380 shells into Randy’s face. Coronado was satisfied. No further noise was heard from the hole. He nodded at J.R., signaling him to begin the next step.

J.R. shoveled soil onto Aretha’s dirty and blood-splattered nightshirt. When the bodies could no longer be seen under a thin layer of earth, he instructed Alan, who had been sitting frozen in fear on a fallen log, to fetch the bags of cat litter from the car. Robot-like, he complied, but paused to grab the stash bag and snort some of the meth dust for courage. The rush and numbness allowed him to tear open the bags so Coronado could sprinkle in an even layer before J.R. shoveled in dirt. When the cat litter was gone, Alan retreated back to his log hoping a copperhead snake would bite and kill him—wishing he, too, was at the bottom of that grave. The meth haze wavered under the extreme pressure of participating in the burial. He couldn’t believe what he’d done—it was implausible. Alan put up a barrier—not allowing any of it in. If he did, the screaming might start and never stop. He hung his head and tried to ignore his companions. But, J.R. was running out of energy so Coronado took up the shovel.

“Man, you don’t dig a shallow grave, do ya’, J.R.?” Coronado’s brow was wet with sweat in the warm, night air. The process continued until the hole was filled to ground level. Coronado instructed Alan to pull some tree limbs over the freshly turned earth and scatter leaves about to conceal the work they had done. In the process he tripped over another tool J.R. had used earlier in the day—a pickaxe.

Walking back to the Cadillac in a daze, Alan dared not do, or say, anything about the murders of Aretha and little Randy. He mechanically followed Coronado’s orders and J.R.’s directions to a boat ramp on Lake Texoma. Alan watched, as J.R. threw the tools and the semi-automatic pistol into the ink-black water. The splashes and ripples dispersed long after the car pulled away. Deep inside, Alan knew the memories of the past few days would never go away.



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