Jo had only a faint idea of what Che Guevara had actually done. She knew he’d been a revolutionary tied to the socialist uprisings of the early 20th century in Central or South American countries—she couldn’t recall which. She knew he’d helped train indigenous people to rise up against their banana republics. But it wasn’t clear to her what role he’d played, specifically, or what had ultimately become of him. Mostly, he was just a facsimile seen throughout the counterculture she was surrounded by in LA. He was a name, a spirit of resistance, and that rugged, handsome face. A face that seemed at once to hide and boast its youth. When Micah had first told her who they’d be capturing—she’d already agreed to her part—she’d felt betrayed in a way that surprised her. This was no ordinary outlaw. Yet how could this strange, vague figure mean so much to her? It was as though his significance had snuck up on her, found a back door into her brain.
Jo’s thoughts felt brittle in the heat, and broke off easily as she heard the low rumble of an engine. She stood to watch a long white car approach slowly. There was no road, and its tires pressed their patterns in the earth like scars. If the idea was to be sneaky, thought Jo, it didn’t seem like they were trying very hard. Maybe they didn’t have to. Micah waited until the car had stopped before standing, then walked over as the driver, his face obscured by glare on the windshield, rolled down the window. Micah said something to the man, then stood back and took another look at the car, shaking his head. Micah called Jo over, and a man in the passenger seat reached around and opened the back door from the inside.
The burst of conditioned air made Jo’s skin tighten, and as she descended onto the cool plastic bench seat she gasped. Looking back at her from the driver’s seat with his permanent smile was Paco—a man she hadn’t seen since he’d driven her to Tucson five years before.
“Buenos Dias,” he said.
It had been the easiest way to leave without alerting anyone, since no one spoke to him unless it was absolutely necessary. Looking at him now, wearing the grin he wore the entire hour-long drive to the bus depot, she had a rush of the same anxiety she’d felt that day. She’d been fearful that he’d take advantage of her, though she hadn’t quite been able to articulate how.
“Jesus,” she said.
Paco laughed, and his head bent back so Jo could see up his nose. Could her feelings on that drive have been a premonition of this very moment? She looked over at Micah, who was smiling a big, goofy smile. He was proud of himself. He’d expected her to find the situation amusing. The third man held his hand over the back seat, and Jo took it not because she enjoyed meeting him, but because his seriousness felt like a lifeboat.
“I’m Reginald Ash,” the man said. He was white, very white, and his dark blue suit made him seem either senior or junior to Paco. As Jo soon learned, however, he was neither. He didn’t even work for the law. Reginald pumped her hand twice, then quickly released it, so that there was full contact and suddenly none. “I’m here representing the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,” he said. Jo’s hand fell.
“Great,” she said, turning in her seat. Micah was no longer smiling with his mouth, but his eyes still sparkled. “So you already knew Jack’s story,” she said.
Something about this small detail riled her, and she threw the door open and got back out of the car. Jack was the last person on earth she wanted to look foolish. Her cheeks burned for him now, thinking of Jack’s unlikely pride when telling of his failed trip. For it was a failed trip, wasn’t it? She looked northwest across the scabby earth, and for a moment she felt as though she’d just freed herself from whatever was behind her.
She heard a door open, but kept her focus on Baboquivari’s distant peak.
“What’s changed, Jo?” asked Micah. “I’ll tell you what’s changed: nothing. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Paco, but come on. Of course we need the Feds involved. Once we capture Che we’ll be handing him over. It’s not like we can just keep him. And Ash? He’s just here to monitor the whole thing, make sure we don’t fuck up the land.”
She felt a hand on her arm.
“You’re not going to walk away, so get your ass back to the car so we can sort this out.”
If the Tohono O’odham people poured from that place, would they ever return to it? And if they did, would it accept them?
“This will all be over soon,” Micah said, and gave her arm a squeeze.
She returned with him to the car, back into the cold, stale air. Paco and Reginald were looking over a map of Border Run! It designated all the areas she was familiar with, but it had others she’d never seen.
“He’ll be traveling down this central tunnel,” Reginald said, tracing his finger along a red line in the center of the field. “You can see how it splinters off to either side, but those passages are walled off and unmarked, so unless he’s really lucky he’s going to pass right by them.”
“This man,” said Paco, “is not lucky.”
“Is there a way we can lock them?” Micah was taking no chances.
“Not without going down there.”
Micah turned to Jo. “Does anyone watch the place at night?”
“I don’t think so. I mean, not when I was here.”
“What about the bitch?” asked Paco.
“Watch your mouth,” said Micah.
“He’s talking about Rockette,” Jo said. “I don’t know, Paco. She’s not an inside dog, if that’s what you mean.”
“Let’s move on,” Micah said. “I’ll think about the tunnel issue.”
“Have those been there long?” Jo asked, pointing at the red lines.
The car was quiet as Paco and Micah looked at the man from ACHP. Even if they feel perfectly justified, people don’t like to admit they’ve been party to deception.
Reginald looked out the window and nodded. The tree they’d sat under looked, from this angle, like a crack in the side of the hill. He tapped his finger on the glass.
“I find it hard to believe,” Jo said, “that no one could have known about this.”
Micah grabbed the map from Reginald and brought it further into the back seat.
“Who said no one knows?”
“I sure didn’t know,” Paco said. He held up his hands.
“I mean someone at the Run.”
“There are three possible exits for him at that point,” Reginald continued. “Here, here and here. The actors, if I’m not mistaken, make their decision based on where they’re pushed by the trucks.”
“Unless they’re caught.”
“I saw the show today,” Micah said, “and that seems like an unlikely option for someone as highly trained as Che.”
“Well I wouldn’t know how efficient this particular team is,” said Reginald.
Jo felt defensive. “It’s participatory,” she said. “The visitors are supposed to, are told to…”
Just then movement caught her eye, and she looked out the window to find the Navajo man’s Aussie standing midway up the small hill, looking down at them. Its head was cocked to the side, its ears were perked, and the dog’s intelligent, white face was almost one of comprehension. Brown hair crept down one side of its face like an eye patch—the only way Jo knew it wasn’t Rockette—and it snapped at a small white moth that flittered too close to its face.
“We have a visitor,” Jo said.
As she said this, however, the animal bounded back over the crest of the hill, and in its absence she suddenly felt that it was a secret she should keep. The two men in the front seat turned too slowly and, having missed it, looked back at her expectantly, frowning.
“What was it?” asked Paco.
“Javelina,” she said. “Jack was just telling Micah last night about the time Javelina’s took our house captive our first year here.”
Paco smiled, having heard the story, and Reginald looked at her quizzically. He probably didn’t know what a Javelina was, but he wasn’t going to ask. When she turned to Micah, however, she was met with a flat stare.
“We need to get our timing straight,” he said coolly.
Micah assigned Paco to one of the exits, himself to another, and said that his men would cover the third gate. Che was set to emerge during the second run of the day, during the Busk Ceremony. Micah explained that because people would be distracted by the festival, they’d probably be able to pick the man up and move him out without drawing much attention. His vision was for a smooth, clandestine action, and with Jack’s cooperation, he said, there was no reason for it to be otherwise. When Micah went into tactical details his face changed—she had seen it before they’d left LA, but he’d been mostly casual since they’d arrived—and Jo wondered which personality was closer to his true self, if either of them were. Maybe she’d never seen the real Micah. Maybe Micah wasn’t his real name. He knew Spanish; he knew Navajo; he knew the history of the Seminole people, but was he really even Seminole? He was ImPass, she told herself, and perhaps that was the only part of the man that held any truth. It was the only part that truly mattered to her, anyway; it was the part of him that was going to help her son.
They agreed on a rendezvous for the next day, then Micah and Jo climbed back out into the desert heat. Paco threw the idling car into reverse and began to back out the way they’d come, and Reginald rolled down his window.
“Oh, and Jo,” he said grimly. “Mr. Wolf sends his regards.”