Caleb sat cross-legged at the head of the damp bed counting the rotations of the belt driven fan. Below his room, at the end of the alley, a Mariachi band played a lively tune, occasionally a hidden voice would call out a name and the band would continue, but, the music never seemed to change.
There was no use trying to sleep. The hotel had not provided a mosquito net and it was too hot to rest without the windows open. The slow moving fan provided only a slight relief in the still air. Caleb tipped his last bottle of water to his lips. Two days ago he had purchased several bottles before boarding the plane out of San Juan. By tomorrow he would be forced to either drink the local water or find a pot to boil the water claimed from a clay pot. “Lord, where is my contact?”
Somewhere in the night angry voices were followed by a gunshot. The music stopped momentarily, a soft laugh bubbled up, then the music resumed with more gusto. Caleb closed his eyes and dozed momentarily. He awakened suddenly to a pounding on his door.
“Quien es?” He shouted into the darkness.
The pounding stopped and only the street music continued.
Seconds later, a head appeared in silhouette in the window. “Senor? You come with me, now, please hurry.”
Caleb grasped his backpack to his chest. “Who's asking?” He had been recruited for a special missionary project and trained in both the Bible and in wilderness survival skills, but he hadn’t considered such a beginning.
A leg propelled itself over the windowsill and a small boy stood in Caleb’s room. “I am Miguel. I am sent to get you. You come with me now, please.”
“Out the window?” Caleb was not expecting a midnight escapade. “Where are we going?”
There was a pause, “I don’t know, but you are to come with me, it is very dangerous here.”
Every bone in Caleb’s body said, “forget it.” But, he walked to the window and watched as the young man scamper out onto the balcony. The music got louder as Caleb followed the boy.
The young man headed down a wooden ladder into a dark alleyway, and then turned and waved for Caleb to follow.
“Well, if it’s robbery, they picked a poor man, I haven’t even got the cost of soda.” Caleb grabbed the old ladder and immediately ran a splinter into his hand. “God, get me out of this and I’ll, oh phooey, I already made that deal.” He laughed to himself and climbed down to the ground. The end of the alley framed the Mariachi band like a picture; the music seemed to swell in the darkness.
Caleb followed his young leader through alleys and backstreets until they came to a cluster of small huts; in the background, the city was rocked by a series of explosions that lit the night sky.
Miguel tapped Caleb on the arm, “Your hotel.”
“Where are we, and why did you come for me?”
Miguel laughed softly and dropped to the ground. Soon, several young men and women joined Miguel, surrounding Caleb. Finally, an older man joined the group.
“Ah, Miguel was able to get you. I was afraid we would have to raid the hotel, but I don’t like to be that close to the army.”
Caleb looked around at the band of youth. He thought he must have had a dismayed look on his face.
The older man laughed and stretched his hand to Caleb. “Welcome, my friend, you have come far, we have work to do.”
“We are guerilla missionaries. The priest who taught these children was murdered, likewise all of our preachers. We have adapted the ways of the people who blew up your building. We come in small numbers, at unexpected locations, and conquer small targets, like the children.”
“Guerilla missionaries?” It finally added up to Caleb, all of the secret and intense training.
“The word of God is a pretty powerful tool.” The older man put his hand on Caleb’s shoulder.
In the background the children began singing a joyful praise song. Caleb thought back to the mariachis. “This is the sweetest music I’ve heard tonight.”
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