Cambia - Chapter 1

March 7, 2008
By Meredith Rutland, Miami Shores, FL

Running down his brother’s ornately decorated hallways, Ramon Perez reaches a pair of doors. Pausing a moment to compose himself he enters to take his place at his older brother’s deathbed. A combination of grief and ambition fills Ramon’s brain with undesired ecstasy. He leans down to take Carlos’ shaking hand, straining to replace the gleam in his eye with tears. “Ramon,” whispers Carlos in a raspy voice, “Cambia is yours now. Carry on my legacy. Keep control.” Without another word, the feared and respected leader of Cambia releases his fragile hold on life.

The grieving family exits the room with their bodyguards, leaving a middle-aged lawyer alone with Ramon. He holds a folder with considerable bulk. “There is no time to be lost Mr. Perez. Cambia must have a president.” Ramon remains silent, his heart beating out of his chest with anticipation. “The last page is all we should concern ourselves with today.” The paper reads: “I, the undersigned, willingly accept the position of undisputed leader of Cambia and all the rights and responsibilities this entails.” Ramon maliciously smirks with the thought of the unconditional power this simple paper grants to its signer. The lawyer presents Ramon with a pen.

Before the ink could hit paper a gunshot rang out and the document becomes spotted with blood. The limb body of the lawyer slumps to the ground. The supplier of the gunshot springs out from behind the oversized draperies, his cohorts coming out of the woodwork. Every one of them is filthy and slightly pale, evidence of an extensive stakeout. One of the more robust men restrains Ramon in a chokehold.

The lawyer’s shooter approaches the struggling Ramon. “Hello Mr. Perez.” The man raises a pistol he had concealed within his cloak. “Let’s cut the negotiations and get right down to business.” Grinning a yellow tar-stained smile, he positions the barrel of the gun in front of Ramon’s eye, as if to let him stare down a dark hallway of inevitability. “Give Cambia back to its people.” Ramon’s responds with dialect as cold as a snake’s underbelly with the scorpion’s sting: “Never”.
The man lets out a guttural laugh in hearing this anticipated answer. His laugh is piercing, yet not quite loud enough to drown out the quick blast that shatters Ramon’s skull. Stepping over the recent victim the man picks up the document from Ramon’s cold clutch. Signing the paper, he turns to his followers.

“My friends,” he announces, “the rebellion has begun.”

As he pockets the article a weak ray from the setting sun illuminates his fresh signature: Javier Gonzalez.

“Perez es muerto! Perez es muerto! Cambia es libre! Viva Cambia!” These constant cheers rejoicing the newly gained peace have been playing on a living room radio for hours. Margo’s father adjusts the knob to phase out some of the static that inhibits him from hearing more about the current situation.

Eager to escape the confusion, she logs onto her computer to check her mail. The profile page cheerfully reads: Hello, Margo. The greeting makes Margo laugh half-heartedly. The computer is the only cheerful one today. Hesitantly she glances at the recent messages. One reads: “Have you seen him?”

Instinctively glancing at the date she realizes the message is only two days old. Her mind tells her not to click on it, after all no news is good news, but her body disobeys and clicks the letter open. “Please, if you see this boy IM me or call me right away. He has been missing ever since the uprising. I think he might be dead. I…I tried to stop him. I didn’t want him to leave. I’m so worried… I should keep this simple. If there is any information, please tell me ASAP” -Maria. Attached is a familiar picture of a Latino youth staring into nothingness, oblivious he is the photo’s subject.

Suppressed tears rise up. Soon, Margo is weeping, the warm droplets of water spilling across her mahogany desk. How could this have happened? Was freedom really worth the lives of so many innocents? The radicals certainly seemed to think so.

Margo’s thoughts return to Maria’s bulletin. Maria and Julio have been dating for nearly a year. I find it odd that he would leave her, but at the same time nationalist’s blood flows through his veins. Julio disappeared shortly after the rebellion had broken into full swing. My only guess at his whereabouts is that he is in Cambia’s capital, Amer, joining his fellow young rebels, or on a cheap fishing boat to some similar destination.

She sighs. He always was that type, the one who would pick up and leave when adventure called. A mental picture forms. Julio, the minute he found out about the NR, throws what little clothes he owns into his tattered school bag - with bike chains and old combination locks attached - and catches the first fishing boat out, ninety miles south, to the chaotic center of the uprising. The fishers were the first to sail out of the harbor, past the docked cruse ships, under the seven mile bridge, and well beyond all signs of Mainland territory.

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