Four dusty miles from the US border in the beer town of Tecate, Panama pulled over again. He waited thirty-some minutes for night. No one else was on the road. He opened the side door to the van and pushed aside four carved wooden rustic Mexican dining chairs. Behind them was a small wooden sideboard. He opened the cabinet doors and told Aggie to get inside.
“The road’s gonna get bumpy.” He told her. “Inside there, you won’t get sick.”
Aggie got inside. Panama rolled up his jacket to make a pillow for her then gave her another churro.
“Keep really quiet. Maybe even try and go to sleep. I’ll check on you in an hour.”
Aggie took the churro. “Unless Rhea comes before.”
He closed the cabinet, sprayed some more air freshener, closed the van doors, got in the front and drove on, into Tecate.
Except for the brewery, Tecate was a small-building, low lying town. Panama drove down streets of tiny houses and markets and beauty salons and car repair shops, criss-crossed with railroad tracks. He followed the signs to the border. As he pulled up to the crossing, he noticed Aggie’s pink sunglasses were lying on the front seat.
There were two guards at the gate. The bigger one, a strawberry blond twenty-five-year old named Donnelly, walked around Panama’s blue van with a sniffer dog, Yodel. Inside, Panama tried to look calm and sober despite the little pink sunglasses he’d stuck on his head, using them to hold back his long hair. He watched Donnelly and Yodel in the rear view. When they looked done, he stuck his head out of the window.
“We bueno, dude?”
Donnelly approached the window, looked at Panama. “Quirky.” He thought to himself. “Young. Tired.”
“The road’s pretty wind-ey ‘til you get to the eight. If you get tired, you should pull over.” he warned Panama. “Guy last week fell asleep two miles in and went off a cliff–”
“I’ll be OK.” Panama told him as he shoved the sunglasses back down on his head – they were small and kept popping up, “In three hours, I’m home–”
He started the van, waved at Donnelly and drove across the border. And into the blackness of the hills.
About an hour after he’d let Panama through the border, the phone in Donnelly’s booth rang.