DUST AND HOT AIR savaged the parched desert as searing winds blew fiercely across the high Sierras from the Southwest throughout the rain parched open plains. Death and decay penetrated every pore of the coarse earth. It was the sweltering month of August in Juarez on the Texas side, with every imaginable lethal creature coming up from deep below the bowels of the earth to languish in the intense heat of the sun;. Sultry black Gila monsters and deadly scorpions crawled up from their nocturnal nests, big as field mice. It was an unforgiving land without mercy or compassion, and in the end, the Gila ate the scorpion, and shortly after, a big brown rattlesnake then ate the Gila, where afterwards, the rattler was torn apart and devoured by a half-starved, wild Coyote.
This was the common, habitual life cycle in the harsh, unforgiving desert, and not all dissimilar to life on the mean streets of Ciudad Juárez, where decay and the smell of death was prevalent, penetrating all forms of humanity, sorely impervious to justice, right or wrong, and found just about everywhere on both sides of this treacherous border.
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SURROUNDED BY ALL THIS hazard and menace, Hank was waiting patiently in his car on a stake out. All agents watched attentively as Hank raised his hand signalling the DEA team, who then moved swiftly forward, using a battering ram to smash through the rusty locked door of a warehouse, and storming rapidly inside.
As usual, Hank was first in to lead, followed by his right-hand man, Scott Baylor, a clean cut, twenty-six year old kid fresh out of the D.E.A. Academy, whose father had been a F.B.I. agent killed in the line of duty when Scott was ten years old. Maybe it was the generation he was born into, all about drugs, and the U.S. fight to stem the flow with the belief that a conspiracy existed that was meant to bring this great country of ours to its knees. Whatever it was, Scott felt that he could do more good and make a difference with the D.E.A.
He was a smart, nice looking collegiate lad, who wore his black hair short, combed back over a high intelligent forehead, with quizzical eyebrows that framed bright blue eyes, fringed with long, black silky eyelashes—to die for, as women said. Scott was a looker and part of his appeal was that he didn’t seem to be aware of the impact he had on the opposite sex.
Hank took a liking to him right off, saw something special in the kid and picked him out of a long line of hopefuls that wanted to work with the great Hank Ferris, whose reputation for bravery and ‘big cajones’ preceded him. In the end Hank found the kid everything he expected, though somewhat emotionally stunted, hard to get close to. But after working together for a couple of years they found a way around this, and came to an understanding. They each filled a need in the other; Hank was the father he had been denied, and though Hank loved his daughter to distraction, Scott became the son he always wanted. Scott had no close family ties left. After his father’s death his mother became a hopeless alcoholic, drinking her sorrows away night after night, until one night they found her dead, choked on her own vomit. A sad but all too common story.
Scott married a pretty, spirited girl he’d met while at the Academy named Lana Bennett, and they seemed to be happy for awhile, until she realized that it wasn’t all that fun being married to a DEA agent, waiting endless days and nights for him to come home, not knowing where he was, or how he was. It started to eat their relationship up from the inside out. Then she just quit waiting and started to live her own life without Scott, which only pushed him further into his shell. This on again-off again relationship was of much consternation to him, threatening his otherwise controlled sensibilities.
The DEA was his only solace. All in all, he was a confirmed loner and seemed to like it that way.