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Elizabeth Montoya De Sarria

He shook the black and white photo of the Latina out of the envelope and studied her again like a lover, searing her face into his mind like a brand. He projected onto the image for the thousandth time, the soft olive tan of her skin and the rich amber intensity of almond shaped eyes that dominated the picture, lashes kissed with mascara and lids shadowed with the slightest wisp of amethyst, applied to invoke sexual desire and powerful enough to overcome the boundaries of the monochromatic film.

He ran a calloused fingertip down the curve of her jaw, and then over the underside of her lower lip with casual admiration, not rushing from one to the next, but savoring each as though rolling a fine whiskey over his palate.

The photo depicted seductive femininity in a relaxed state, hair cascading over bare shoulders and framing her face with silky raven contrast. A generous bust with alluring cleavage displayed just beneath the curtain of midnight, swaddled in a sleek bustier as she leaned to one side of a high-backed chair. Her faint smile, the corners of her mouth offering the smallest degree of an upward curve, denoted a graceful, tender elegance and he imagined how her voice would sound and how those lips would move around her words when they met.

He slipped the picture back into the apricot-colored sleeve and tossed the whole packet back into the sleeper berth next to his duffel bag that had been packed for the next three work weeks.

Another forty-five minutes and he would be on the clock.

He lowered the air-ride driver's seat of the red Kenworth so only the top of his head would be visible through the window to anyone passing by in the parking lot of the large truck stop. Folding his arms, he let his chin rest against his chest as he closed his eyes against the bright afternoon sunlight that reflected off the hood and warmed the cab of the big truck while outside the window a frosty mid-winter's breeze swept through the Salt Lake Valley.

He was a long haul truck driver just like his daddy was before the old man got put away for what happened in Tucson, and he always thought about him before going to work. He never visited his father in prison, really had no desire to, but he thought about him every time none the less.

He usually ran Pony Luck to Albuquerque, Dexter to Los Angeles, then Chino to Salt Lake City and back to Pony Luck. A good six days run would yield a thousand bucks easy. If he loaded heavy and dodged the scales he could rake in fifteen hundred a week.

Dodging scales wasn’t something you just did on a whim though, it was an art, a science that you had to master, borderlining a fanatic religion. You had to know the back roads, the speed traps, the way your load would ride on the trailer. You had to know the people who were loading you, if they would rat you out or not. You had to be a weatherman and predict the way the storms would break around you. You had to study the maps when you weren't driving, study the maps of the places you weren’t going, study the maps of the places you would never go. You had to know the limitations of your engine and the distance you were willing to go to make that extra buck. Become one with the road and the truck and the countryside. Completely balanced. Fucking Zen.

On a short run from Roswell to Phoenix you could take 380 up to I-25 through Socorro then Highway 60 to the port of entry at Springerville where they'll only check your license because they don't have any scales. But to get there you had to come down out of the White Mountains at a steep grade and cross the Salt River Canyon bridge between Show Low and Globe. Hitting that narrow little suspension bridge was like bobsledding down the face of a cliff to cross a tightrope with 95,000 pounds of freight strapped to your ass and pushing you all the way. His daddy said that if your brakes burned up and you drove over the edge, or off the side, you could say the Lord's Prayer nine times before you hit the bottom. He was always saying crazy shit like that, but it was a long way down.

Dodging the scales loaded heavy and washing down handfuls of cross-tops with gallons of black coffee, running three logbooks at a time and driving on the edge with his wheels three inches over weren't the only things that made Danny Welling's youngest son a truck driver like himself. To them driving truck had just provided the uniformed disguise of a blue-collar worker, tax records, and enough authenticity to continue their chosen professions undetected and free from suspicion. It was a cover, passed down from father to son.

What happened to the old man always served as a reminder that shit happens when you least expect it, and it would behoove you to be prepared to handle the situation properly.


Bogotá Colombian President Ernesto Samper's credibility
continues to plummet as evidence mounts that he has close
ties to drug traffickers, that they financed his 1994 campaign
with their contributions and has repeatedly misled the public.

The latest danger to Samper's survival is a tape
recording released Tuesday by local media of his
flirtatious conversation in March 1994 with a woman
called "Elizabeth." She is believed to be Elizabeth de
Sarria, the beautiful wife of a wanted Cali Cartel
cocaine trafficker, who has her own arrest record for drug

The tape discusses setting up a meeting, which Samper's
office insists was about a trade matter. A communiqué
from the presidency denounced the release of the tape
-- which was submitted to the media by a retired intelligence official --
as intended "to create a climate of moral intimidation."

The communiqué also described as "a montage" a second tape
in which a man believed to be Santiago Medina, Samper's now-
jailed campaign treasurer, talks to "Elizabeth" about under-
the-counter contributions. Medina, who is under arrest, has
testified that the president knew his campaign accepted
$6.1 million from the Cali Cartel, the world's largest
supplier of cocaine.

The president's office said that de Sarria and her husband,
Jesus, were not under investigation for any illegal
activity and that any claims of a friendly relationship
between her and Samper are "completely absurd."

The latter claim is badly undercut by the taped
conversation's repetitions of "my love," "you know how
much I love you" and other amorous phrases.

-The San Francisco Chronicle Friday, August 11, 1995

Welling looked at the diving watch on his wrist and nodded to himself as he licked his lips, stretched his arms over his head, and gathered up the duffel and envelope. The taxi that would drive him the six or seven miles to the Salt Lake City International Airport would be arriving pretty soon. He climbed down out of the cab of the truck, locked the door, and started to walk in circles to shake off the weariness in his legs.

The parking lot of the truck stop was expansive and was a pit stop for over a thousand big rigs at any given time with the exception of Christmas, Easter, and Super Bowl Sunday. The Kenworth would be able to sit here undetected amongst the sea of other similar vehicles forever. He had been parking in the same spot, on the west side of the lot for nearly two and a half years, and had no doubt that it would be fine for the three weeks projected in the mission order from the Cali man.

Standing in-between the empty, ice-laced flat-bed trailers, he flipped the collar of his heavy jacket up as he relieved himself and then dug through the packet again, double-checking its contents. The photo, the number, the tickets, and the map of the Colombian capitol city were all there. He tucked it into the black canvas bag and then slung the pack over his left shoulder and started out towards Redwood Road, where he hoped Chester would be waiting in his blue and white checkered cab.


He always used Chester because the old man was quiet and reliable. Chester wasn't quiet in the sense that he wouldn't speak at all, in fact he never seemed to stop speaking. But he was quiet in the sense that he wouldn't mention the truck driver or his destination to anyone who ever happened to ask. Over the course of their acquaintence Welling knew the cabbie had come to expect his frequent calls and would come in on days that he had been scheduled not to work to oblige his biggest tipping fare.

On their trips to the airport the lonely cabbie would dominate the conversation with stories of his life, many that Welling had heard three or four times. His stories would usually begin with his teenaged grand-daughter and light of his life, who lived with him and cooked his TV dinners at his apartment home in West Jordan then progress to his worthless piece of shit, druggie son and his trollop, druggie wife who had taken turns abandoning the poor girl when she was still in grammar school. From there to his deceased wife, may she rest in peace, who had urged him to file for custody of the girl after she had been dropped off on their doorstep, (not that they needed to file anything because he hadn't seen either one of her parents since) and then had succumb to the Down-Winder's Syndrome caused by the fall-out of the nuclear testing way out there in the deserts that had chosen Beaver County as permanent residence, as well as Lydia's poor old lungs.

After a few minutes of tearful nostalgia his stories would branch to his time spent in the Merchant Marine, highlights of driving a taxi for 32 years, or how much he appreciated Welling's contributions to his grand-daughter's BYU tuition fund. Chester always told him how much he appreciated the money at the end of the ride, and if he had chosen to tell him before the ride was over, he told him again.

Welling had grown fond the old man and his stories, Chester reminded him of what he imagined his grand-father had been like, and made him smile when he would laugh his old man's wheezy laugh. But as he stood next to a large slushy mud puddle on the south side of the parking lot, kicking gravel in with his toe, he was finding himself irritated with Chester for being not being there. It was deffinitely not like the cabbie to be more than a minute or two over-due, but looking at the broad faced watch again, Welling saw that he was nearly fifteen minutes late. He turned completely around and narrowed his eyes against the sun, holding a hand to his forehead to block the light, trying to try to see the condition of the freeway and hoping to find it congested and backed up for forty miles. But at one o'clock on a quiet Monday the traffic was moving smoothly.

A few hundred meters from where he stood, a silver Crown Victoria that was coming onto the property, instead of turning right to go into the automobile section of the truck stop, turned left towards the much larger lot used only by big trucks and the occasional RV. He could see two occupants in the vehicle that had slow to a creeping pace, as if they were looking for something. Or someone.

With surreal clarity Welling watched as the passenger pointed a finger at him through the windshield and the car began to pick up speed, heading towards him.

Panic, preceded by nausea, climbed his whiskered cheek with scaly claws to scream insanity in his ear with one maddening initialism.


Excerpt of San Francisco Chronicle:

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