Manny crouched low and scooted through the dense shrubs. Today was unusually unpredictable. The ABIN was out in force on the trail of the crops. If they found his crops he would lose everything. He was literally “banking” on bumper crops, having sunk everything from the last sales into this one.
Suddenly Manny heard the alarm. Out stepped Paulie. He passed the word down the line to Koko to stop calling the alarm.
“You didn’t let me know you were coming, Jefe. Now you’ve got to go see Koko and let him know you’re here.”
“Koko can wait. Where’s Tommy? The ABIN is out there.. We have to be careful, Paulie. Where’s Tommy?”
“Probably with Koko. He says Koko’s been real lonely. He’s gonna ask you to get him some company.”
“What? Company? Is he crazy? I…”
“Okay, okay. I’m just the messenger, Jefe. I’m not even supposed to tell you about this. Let Tommy tell you, okay?”
Manny and Paulie ducked under the bushes and headed for the south end of plot 8 where Paulie last saw Tommy and Koko, but they weren’t there. They then quietly trudged through the secondary creek to the camouflaged tent. Koko was inside with Tommy, which annoyed the hell out of Manny.
“Tommy, what’s Koko doing inside? He has to be outside to call the alarm, especially with the ABIN nosing around.”
“That’s just the reason I pulled him in; otherwise if he hears anything at all and they’re nearby, he’ll alert them or at least cause them to check on the area.”
“Okay. What’s this about getting him some company, m’hijo?”
Tommy explained to his father that Koko was very lonely and needed a companion. Manny was concerned that Koko would not be as attentive because of the companion and perhaps, would not alert them. Manny did have to agree with his son that Koko was increasingly jittery and often alerting them for no reason. He told Tommy that he would think about it.
Once Manny and Tommy were finished talking about Koko and about the threat of the ABIN, Manny spoke with Paulie. The two of them were of the opinion that it was the ABIN agents that were spooking Koko, not loneliness. The agents might even be spooking Koko intentionally. It was this possibility that inspired Manny to make a few changes. He decided to put more men on the perimeters, temporarily pulling Koko from his sentry duties. He had been out there for several weeks and probably needed a break like anyone else.
Once the men were in place and Koko was at Manny’s, he had the opportunity to harvest the first of the crop. Tommy and cousin Paco were given the job of keeping track of the ABIN by cleverly listening in to their communications network thanks to Paco’s ingenuity. Tommy’s half-brother, Oscar, a skip chaser and bounty hunter, shadowed the ABIN agents. Finally, Manny, who had risked everything, made a killing by selling the entire first crop in less than twenty-four hours.
There were crops grown in Asia, particularly in Viet Nam, that supplied the red chili powder to those shady American businesses that could afford their inflated prices . However, none of those chili peppers were anything like the famous Kokopelli red chili, which Manny grew in the Amazon jungle of Brazil. The only issue that plagued Manny once or twice each year was the ABIN: the Brazilian Intelligence Agency. The Agency was under pressure by the USA to make some sort of effort to stop Manny from exporting the chili powder, which was only illegal in the USA, as were several other spices. Because Manny’s business was legitimate in Brazil, the agents typically “lost track” of his chili crops.
Once the first crop was sold and being processed into chili powder, Manny decided to take off a few days to spend with his lady friend, Daniela, who was staying at his house to watch over Koko. The threat of the ABIN was over, for now, and Manny had to make a decision what to do about his old friend. As soon as he arrived home, which was a short flight in his Cessna TTX, he kissed Daniela and went to the barnyard to see Koko. Recognizing Manny, Kokopelli spread his huge tail feathers and let out a shriek that only another peacock would love, and which Manny accepted as affection.
Manny pulled his flute out of his back pocket and started playing for Kokopelli, who loved the sound of his flute and performed his dance for his human friend. After several minutes, Manny stopped playing and spoke to the regal-looking, silly bird.
“So, my handsome friend, I’ve been thinking about a couple of girlfriends for you…”
Inspiration Monday: Be kind Rewrite
Prompt: Illegal Spice
Word Count : 789
Many thanks to Stephanie Orges at Be Kind Rewrite for hosting the challenge
Kokopelli: Known as a fertility god, prankster, healer and story-teller. He is a hunch-backed, traveling, flute-playing Casanova– a beloved figure to the Native Americans of the Southwest.