He was sure they were getting close. Craig had called him a half hour earlier when the group passed his ranch.
“Several young guys, three women,” Craig had told Gabe. “A couple little kids are riding together on a donkey. Moving steadily along. You should see them soon. Okay, Gabe?”
“Okay, I’ll get ready. Thanks, Craig.”
Gabe lowered his truck’s tail gate. He lifted out the canvass tarp and spread it on the cold desert sand. Then he unloaded the stuff he’d brought this trip: blankets, jackets and clothing, shoes, flashlights and batteries, water, energy drinks, granola bars, cookies, disposable cell phones, moist wipes, lip gloss, skin cream, aspirin, toddler diapers, Neosporin, Q-tips, dental floss, toothbrushes, toothpaste, light back packs, zip lock bags, and maps. He put everything in neat piles on the tarp so the travelers could quickly find what they needed.
Let’s see if the food stayed warm, he thought. He hoisted a cooler out of the truck’s cab and opened the lid. He looked inside a couple of the Styrofoam boxes. The tamales, rice and beans gave out a spicy fragrance.
Still warm, that’s a relief. Mmmm. Smells like home. We got some good cooks in our church group, that’s for sure. And where’s the plates, folks, napkins? Oh yeah, in this box, next to the trash bags. Got to clean up every bit of trash or someone’s gonna know we were here.
Let’s see, have I forgotten anything? Yep, I almost forgot the water and feed for the donkey. He got out two large containers of fresh water and sacks of grain from Charley’s store. One for the folks to wash off the dust, and one for the donkey. Wonder where they got it? Guess their coyote sold it to them. For twice what it was worth, of course.
He rustled up several folding chairs from the truck bed and set them up around the fringes of the tarp. Then he sat down in one of the chairs and looked up at the night sky. So many stars, real bright out here away from city lights. There’s the North Star. Reminds me of when the folks brought us to Tia Juanita’s house in Escondido. We were so tired and cold. And so scared of gettin’ caught. Hard times back then.
Gabe turned up the collar of his jacket as a night breeze picked up.
And it’s even tougher now for illegals. Some say we shouldn’t be helpin’ people who break the law. Yeah, those rotten drug smugglers SHOULD be caught, but people who just wanna work hard, and make a little money up here are different. Who else is gonna pick the crops and do the dirty jobs for minimum bucks? Nobody, that’s who. Anyhow, like I keep tellin’ people at church, it’s our Christian duty to help ’em get outta this desert alive. And, damn it, we NEED new Americans. I don’t care about what some idiots in Washington are sayin’.
He heard a clip-clop. It’s showtime, Gabe thought.
Katherine Highcove is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys writing flash fiction. She is the editor of The Valley Scribe, a newsletter for the San Fernando Valley branch of the widespread California Writers Club, and a member or the Internet Writers Workshop.
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