Herman Piakowski sat in the Mexico City airport. Crowds of tourists and locals streamed by. Herman looked at his wife, Betty Lou while she listened to two girls they saw on the plane flying down.
“So, you really use it, that cream?”
“Hell yes. Like, it hurts so bad when I put it on but I do it cause they say it keeps you from getting those wrinkles. I hate wrinkles, you know what I mean?”
“Totally. I’m so not into those lines, you know, around the eyes.”
“Yea, that’s it. I hate that shit.”
Herman and Betty Lou were dressed like twins in loose fitting khaki pants, short sleeve print shirts, and comfortable leather walking boots, just the thing for the task ahead. They were on a church trip to Oaxaca. Herman had volunteered to help drill wells and install water pumps in the villages around Oaxaca.
“You know that girl Ruth, the one with the red hair?”
“Oh my God! That bitch? That tight face of hers would crack apart if she smiled.”
“Yea, she’s a bitch and a half all right. Better look out, she uses that cream too, you know?”
“Way! I heard her talk about it just the other day. So, be careful, okay?”
“Shit. I’m done with it then. No more of that goo for me. No way do I want to look like that pattiwack.”
“Yea! What’s up with her anyway?”
The girl that didn’t use the cream had black hair. She wore black tights covered by a dress. Herman thought she wore the dress because she was ashamed to show her figure. The other one, a blond, wore faded blue jeans with rips and cuts that showed just enough skin but not too much. They both wore tennis shoes.
“Honey,” said Betty Lou to Herman, “over there by the gate. Aren’t those two old folks the ones we saw get on the plane in San Francisco?”
“Sure are, Betty Lou.”
Two elderly Mexicans, a man and his wife, sat stoically in wheelchairs waiting for assistance. The man had on khaki pants, a dark brown long sleeve shirt and a beige Stetson cowboy hat. The wife had on a purple print dress with a black shawl around her shoulders.
Suddenly the gate attendant made an announcement over the loudspeaker system.
“Did you hear what he said?” asked Betty Lou.
“No, it was too garbled. My Spanish isn’t very good. I think he said something about a gate change. All the people here are getting up and leaving. I better ask him.”
The two girls were gone and so was everyone else. Herman went up to the gate and asked the attendant. Sure enough, the gate was changed from 71 to 75B.
“Let’s go, Betty Lou, it’ll take us awhile to get there and we don’t want to be late.”
“What about those two in the wheelchairs?”
“Won’t someone come for them?”
“I don’t see anyone anywhere, do you?”
Betty Lou was concerned. Herman went up to the couple and asked them in his best Spanish if they wanted help getting to the new gate. They looked up at him lost and confused. Herman asked the gate attendant to explain to them that the gate had changed. He told them again that he and his wife would be happy to wheel them to the new gate.
The old couple spoke back and forth for a few minutes then agreed to Herman’s offer of help. Herman and Betty Lou took their positions behind the wheelchairs and off they went.
A few minutes later they found themselves surrounded by half a dozen airport security guards with threatening looks on their faces. Two very angry airport wheelchair attendants accompanied the security guards. Before they knew what happened Herman and Betty Lou found themselves in handcuffs. They were shoved rudely down a hallway by the security guards without any explanation.
“Wait!” shouted Herman. “We’ll miss our flight to Oaxaca. What is the meaning of this? Where are you taking us?”
Herman watched the wheelchair attendants push the elderly couple toward Gate 75B while he and Betty Lou walked further and further in the opposite direction. The wheelchair attendants looked back with cruel smiles on their faces.
By the time they arrived at the airport security office, Herman feared they had missed the plane.
“You see what you’ve done! You’ve caused us to miss our flight. Our luggage is on that plane.”
The chief of security for the airport sat behind his desk unfazed.
“You are caught kidnapping helpless old Mexicans. For this you will probably go to jail.”
“What?” exclaimed Herman. “We tried to get them to their gate on time. No one else helped them.”
“In this you are mistaken senor. The wheelchair attendants call us to find those people whom you are kidnapped. Do not argue or it will go worse to you.”
Herman was dumbfounded. Betty Lou began to cry.
“What is you purpose in Mexico?” The head of security had a clipboard in front of him with a questionnaire he needed to complete.
“Give your documents please.”
“We traveled to Mexico to assist with water development throughout Oaxaca, a very important purpose. We are here to help your people.”
Herman handed over their passports.
“I see,” said the head of security. “Well, passports not seem authentic. I afraid we must hold you for the police.”
Before Herman could respond in his defense, the security guards took Betty Lou and him to a cell behind the airport security office. There were two others in the cell when they arrived who were accused of pickpocketing. They were Mexicans and spoke no English. One of the men made obscene gestures to Betty Lou. Herman swung and floored him with a single punch. After that the two Mexicans retreated to the far corner of the cell and left Herman and his wife alone. The security guard watched everything from outside the cell. He just stood there, laughed and picked his teeth.
“Muy fuerte, gringo. Why you come this country?”
“I’m here with my church group to help your people, but I think I’m going straight home after this.”
Betty Lou told Herman she thought she was going to be sick.
“Hey, guard. My wife needs the bano pronto.”
The guard called a female attendant and opened the gate. The attendant escorted Betty Lou to the toilets. While Betty Lou was away another detainee arrived, a prostitute who was picked up for soliciting at the airport. She wore a very short miniskirt, spiked heels, and a revealing blouse. The two pickpockets approached her and tried to fondle her large breasts. The guard opened the cell and rushed in with the female attendant to pull the pickpockets off the prostitute. While they were distracted Herman rushed out of the cell, grabbed his wife’s hand as she exited the bathroom and split. The head of security was not at his desk. Herman saw their passports on the desk. He picked them up and the two of them rushed out toward Gate 75B.
It turns out the plane was delayed and they made the flight after all. As luck would have it they sat across from the two girls they’d seen earlier.
“So, what’s up with that?” asked the blond one.
“Like, that’s exactly what I was thinking. I mean, it was so obvious no one else picked up on it.”
“You know, the kidnapping.”
“What about the security guys?”
“You know, that crack whore with the miniskirt, all the security guys had their dicks hanging out of their mouths watching her and they didn’t even know the guys got away.”
“Jesus, how many times do I have to tell you, the kidnappers.”
“Oh my God! Really? They got away?”
“You’re hopeless. Anyways, I know this sounds blow your face off crazy, but yea, they got away.”
“I wonder where they are now?”
“Christ, don’t you ever shut-up?”
Herman laughed silently to himself. He and Betty Lou soon landed in Oaxaca where he would supervise well drilling in the villages. The villages needed lots of water. The church that sent him down was on a mission to reestablish amaranth as a food crop. Amaranth was harvested years ago as the major food crop of the area but the Spanish conquerors in their wisdom eradicated it. It seems the Indians made statues out of amaranth and honey. They ate these statues in ceremonies similar to the Catholic Holy Communion. The competition was too much for the Catholics to bear so they got rid of these false gods and banned amaranth. The locals were consigned to centuries of starvation. The church group behind Herman’s trip was Jehovah Witness. They wanted to replace the Catholics throughout Mexico.
As they left the airport in Oaxaca, Herman saw the two elderly Mexicans hugging their relatives who were there to meet them. The old man saw Herman and gave him a high five. He then walked with his wife and family out to a bus. There were no wheelchairs in sight.