Open Pit

Open Pit by Marguerite Pigeon Read Free Book Online

Book: Open Pit by Marguerite Pigeon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marguerite Pigeon
Tags: Ebook, book
The articles never got published.”
    Danielle knows the others might be able to pick up stray words from her Spanish: guerrilla, or estudiante, or publicados . Will they guess the rest? She can feel them trying to weave together a meaning. Only Pierre really knows. He got the basics about her past, back in San Salvador, when he pressed her on why she was leading the delegation instead of Neela. Danielle was forced to confide how, back in the dinosaur age, in her last year of university, she’d applied for permission to live with one of the five guerrilla factions that were starting a war against El Salvador’s oligarchy. She instinctively left out everything else. These omissions have now morphed into a dark mystery Danielle can feel the others trying to probe as much as Pepe. She can practically hear them asking themselves who this old woman in front of them really is. Rita, who has stepped in closer to the group, is listening intently with the energy of a vulture as she, too, probes the mystery, her gun pointed.
    â€œWhere were you?” says Pepe, still addressing Danielle.
    â€œHere. In Morazán.”
    Pepe’s eyes widen ever so slightly, their steadiness shaken. Then, suddenly, he swings back towards Pierre and puts so much pressure on his neck that the boy begins to choke. “Listen to me, hijo de puta . I am going to squeeze the life out of you in front of your friends. And then I’ll leave a bullet in your skull so you understand. How much will it count for then, your devotion to El Salvador?”
    Pierre, who clearly has only the vaguest idea of what is being said to him, tries to articulate words between gasps. No one makes them out. But just as abruptly, Pepe lets go, raises his chin, pulls back his shoulders and returns to his position behind the camera. “Tell him he has thirty seconds to talk or I’ll shoot him,” he says, bending down to adjust the LCD screen. He might as well be talking about the weather. The bomb has been abruptly defused.
    Danielle numbly repeats these words. She watches Pierre pull his t-shirt collar away and rub his neck. He wobbles as he gets to his feet, looking smaller, rumpled, the cult leader dethroned. When he gets to the stump he puts down a hand, steadying himself before sitting.
    Danielle can’t stop crying. Stupid, stupid, she thinks, angry with herself for it — for everything. “ ‘I urge the government to do whatever is necessary to secure our release by Monday, April 11 th, 2005 ,’ ” she says. “ ‘Otherwise, these people will take our lives one by one.’ ”
    Repeating the statement, Pierre’s voice is a clash of squeaks and croaks.
    â€œNow something for his family,” says Pepe, not moving his eyes from the camera.
    When Danielle echoes this in English, Pierre just shakes his head. Danielle worries that another, worse explosion of anger will result — a mushroom cloud no one can survive. But Pepe mustn’t care much either way about the personal stuff because he presses a button to end the recording.
    â€œNow you,” he says to her, as Cristóbal leaves the campsite, returning with a length of rope and a blue bandana. He pulls Pierre to one side and starts tying.

    Pepe is putting the video camera back into its case.
    Cristóbal approaches. “ Listo .”
    Pepe glances back at the hostages to assess whether Pierre’s hands and mouth have been adequately bound. He gives the camera to his cousin. “Pack this away. And tell Rita to go easy on them.”
    Cristóbal tilts his hat, letting in some air. “ Sí, ” he replies, but he keeps his eyes averted. He takes the case and turns it over absently.
    â€œYour wife could be dangerous for us if she overreacts.”
    Cristóbal shakes his head. He knows Rita can put up a fuss. That’s her way. Unlike Delmi, who has no spine, who will do whatever Rita or Pepe tells her.
    â€œShe will

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