Forbidden Fruit

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For a split second, Raoul Marti contemplated throwing himself at the mercy of the law. The thought passed as quickly as it had arisen. No sir, it wasn’t the brightest of his ideas, even considering his rather spotty track record. Besides, even if he managed to avoid being shot by some corrupt Federale, he’d end up spending the next few years in a maximum-security cell. He remembered what his brother had told him. Any plan where the best-case scenario involved a lengthy prison sentence was best buried and forgotten.

“Hell no!” Raoul told himself, before slamming the Crown Vic into Drive. Tyres squealing, the old cop car stormed its way towards the border. The Cuban grinned as the small-block V8 settled into a smooth rumble that was almost orgasmic. The big trunk was merely an added bonus. This was the life, he thought. Living his dream. The government could ban all his wares, but no, he would never give up. His family had not given in to Batista’s mercenaries, or to Castro’s crazy ideologues. No true Marti would ever bend in the face of oppression.

People wanted what he had, and if Uncle Sam wouldn’t let them have it easily, it was his duty to help out as well as he could. Passing the old bridge across the Rio Nuevo, Raoul slowed, his eyes scanning the horizon. He was quite sure no one else but Chavez knew that this dirt track led to the US. A small chink in the armour the American Homeland Security pigs had wrapped around the whole valley. But, it paid to be cautious.

Sirens filled the air, startling Raoul. A Chevy Blazer pulled out behind a rocky outcrop. The banshee-like wail emanating from the SUV somehow seemed more terrifying than the thought that there could be more cops around.

“FUCK!” he snarled. Someone had gotten old Chavez to talk. Raoul floored the accelerator. The Ford leapt forward as if hit by a bolt of lightning. For once, he was glad he’d bought the old Detroit warhorse. You just couldn’t compensate for cubic inches – 350 of them in this case, pumping out over 250 horses: wild, angry horses.

The Chevy loomed behind him, its big black hulk only slightly less menacing than the Federale chopper that seemed to materialise out of nowhere.

This was it. The final push. Him versus the fascists. And by God, if he had to go, he’d go down fighting. The Mexican whores would pay for selling their souls to the American pigs. Raoul winced as shots rang out. Two more miles, and then he’d be across the border. The car’s rear windshield suddenly shattered as a bullet punctured the cabin before burying itself in the seat barely inches from heart. The road was getting worse now. Raoul could barely see as the Crown Victoria, with its soft-as-treacle suspension, bucked like a horse. Luckily, his pursuers would now be unable to take aim at him. Then his blood ran cold. Colour drained from his face as he remembered his cargo. Damn, Damn, Damn! If anything got busted, there’d be hell to pay. Angry people who’d make even the most pissed-off Federale seem like Santa Claus.

Almost there… Gently coaxing the old car, Raoul Marti started praying. Fervently wishing he’d paid more attention in church, the Cuban promised himself that this would be his last run. No more. He’d take his share of the proceeds, move to a nice beach, and sip rum all day long. He was getting too old for this.

The sirens suddenly faded away. The chopper could no longer be heard. Raoul slowed, looking behind warily. He was clear! In the Land of the Free. He was across the border. After another mile, the Cuban pulled over and jumped out. Hands shaking, he slowly opened the massive trunk, and shoved his hands into the bundle of plastic that was so valuable. Raoul’s face creased into a smile as a small glass globule, marked ’60W Incandescent’, stared back at him.

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