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I saw two very large, Mexican guards. One of them dressed in plain clothes, but still holstered a gun, while the other had on all the typical garb of a Mexican policeman. They had been questioning for the last few hours, though never laying a hand on me. The guns they used as a threat, to try and scare me into confessing. They sat at a table in the far corner of the prison basement; one eye on me and the other on their plates of rice and beans. I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying, as it was all in Spanish. I did however understand that the plain clothed man complained of a “gripe”. The room smelled like a thousand mothballs and (as I imagined) how a few decaying corpses might smell. I could faintly hear a humming sound, like that of a radiator or television set, but the door was well sealed and I couldn’t quite make out the source of the noise. The rough stone walls were cold and villainous looking, with a few traces of red splatter on them. The splatter, I assumed, had once run through the veins of those ghosts who once inhabited this very same room. A dirt floor was all that kept the walls up and hundreds of bugs crawled around it. Of course there were no windows, no light source at all aside from the dimly glowing kerosene lanterns scattered around the cellar. However even the lamps were fading quickly--they had been lit for countless hours. My jaw ached and my mouth tasted like blood. I couldn’t remember a thing, had I killed him, had I killed the Mexican President? I couldn’t remember a thing that had happened after I drank that last bottle of tequila at the hotel bar the night before. I admitted to myself that had I been given the chance I probably would have killed him. I had read many articles about him in the newspaper, and his face was all over the television after the incident in Tampico. I quickly made the connection between the 23 dead college students and the corrupt Mexican government. 23 spring breakers just don’t blow themselves up; the Mexicans had something to do with it. However my own personal opinions were futile now, I had been suspected of assassinating the president of Mexico and the only defense was my own drunken recollection of the past night. Soon the guards finished their meal and made it apparent that they were going to beat the confession out of me. One of them accidentally crushed a cockroach under his boot, and looked repulsed by the sound. “Ew, those things are disgusting” the plain clothed officer exclaimed, his nose obviously plugged due to his illness. “They aren’t that bad, you learn to live with them” replied the uniformed man. “If you can ignore the smell” “I can’t smell, or taste a thing, thanks to this cold” He replied.
It was at this point that I realized how “American”, even familiar looking the first man was. If I hadn’t heard his Spanish earlier I would have thought he was from the U.S. But he spoke with an accent, in a dialect that only Hispanics and a handful of scholars would know. I also realized that I had not been adequately searched; in my back pocket I could feel the outline of a stick of gum. I remembered purchasing a pack before my little immoral escapades the night earlier. I also felt something in the other pocket, but because my memory was still very cloudy, I couldn’t figure what it was. The guards resumed the interrogation, fortunately my premonition of physical abuse had been incorrect--perhaps they had been ordered not to harm me. At this idea I became much less frightened, and even a little cocky. They never touched me. Once I had realized that they weren’t going to kill or even harm me I became less panicked, I began to think a little bit more clearly, even considering how I might get out of this situation. I quickly ruled out fighting, the two men were obviously my physical superiors and besides that--they had guns. There were no windows to break through, and it was clear that the brick walls weren’t going to budge. I decided that first I needed to free myself from the ropes that bound my hands behind me, I knew exactly how to do this but I knew it would hurt. I asked the American-looking guard for a couple cigarettes--I had observed his habit earlier. He reluctantly gave me his last two and offered his lighter. Immediately he realized that my hands were tied behind the chair, and took the lighter back in. “Ha, you silly American; you thought I would untie you so that you could smoke” he scoffed, “what do you think that I am stupid?” His accent now seemed forced and he whispered something to his comrade. I didn’t hear what he said, but the officially dressed guard immediately left the room, accidentally leaving the door unlocked in his haste. “Here, I will light it for you” So the guard lit my cigarette and thinking that he had spoiled my plan, turned egotistically away and said, “Now don’t try tricking me again”. At this he also left the room, I knew it was only for a moment. At this I set my plan into motion--I turned my head back and “accidentally” dropped the lit cigarette onto the flat of the chair. The cherry of the burning cigarette quickly ignited the parched, poorly braided rope. The small flame singed right through the cord. Now I began part two of my device. The officers lighter had reminded me, quite advantageously, of what was in my other pocket. Yesterday was Cinqo de Mayo and my friends and I had been igniting fireworks. Mexico is by far the best place to do this, as almost all types are still legal. The object in my pocket was a firecracker and would prove inevitably to be very useful. I
meticulously emptied out the other cigarette of all its tobacco and began filling it with the gunpowder from the small explosive device. First I poured in a bit of powder and then I stuffed in a bit of tobacco and so on until the cigarette had virtually become a layered stick of pyrotechnic powder and Mexican tobacco. As soon as I had topped off my creation with a small bit of powder to ensure ignition, the American guard returned to the room. I palmed the cigarette and quickly re-positioned my hands in their original place. “Would you mind?” I said, “My mouth tastes horrible from that cigarette, could you untie me so I can get the piece of gum from my pocket?” “You think I am crazy? You think I will untie you?” He seemed perturbed at my confidence, but also a bit guilty over my plight “What pocket is it in?” he asked. “The back one, on the right” As he leaned in to retrieve the chewing gum from my pocket I carefully dropped the tainted cigarette into his pocket. “Thanks” I whispered under my breath He placed the stick of gum into my mouth and tossed the wrapper on the ground, the cockroaches flocked to it, mistaking it for food. He backed away from them quickly and crushed a few as he fled to the other side of the room. “Disgusting” He whined, and reached for his cigarettes. “I hate this job” “What--policia?” Before responding he grabbed for the only cigarette in his pocket. I bit my tongue to prevent myself from shouting, “Hurry up and light it”. He slowly placed it in his mouth and fished for his lighter. “Damn, where is it?” He asked himself, referring to the missing lighter. “Oh here we go. Ya know kid; you have been a really good sport through all this” Now I knew that he was American, his accent had vanished entirely. But I wondered why was an American working in a Mexican prison? He raised the lighter to his face. “Listen kid” he said, almost like he was prepared to reason with me. “This wasn’t my idea; your wife set you up.” “What are you talking about, my wife?”
“Just promise to be surprised when you come out of the room, ok?” At that moment he flicked the flint of the lighter, creating at first a small flame, followed by a small explosion. I fell back onto the ground, not from the blast, but from surprise--I hadn’t realized the magnitude of the gunpowder. I ferociously untied my feet and stumbled over to the disfigured guard, his lips and nose blown away from the charge. I grabbed his gun and ran out the door expecting to face the rest of the Mexican police, now that I was armed. But I couldn’t fathom what I saw instead. The lights of the cameras blinded me, through the wires and people I could see my wife and there was a look of utter horror on her face. I saw and heard the spotlights, positioned on the ground, they hummed like a radiator or television set might. I also heard police sirens in the distance, and firemen and paramedics rushed into the room that I had just escaped from. “Honey?” My wife called to me, “Honey what happened in there?” “They were interrogating me; they said that I killed the president. I finally managed to trick the guard and escape” I caught my breath and my realization. “What are you doing here?” “Don’t you remember?” she asked, confusedly. “Last year you agreed to be on a reality television show?” “What?” I asked “You forgot? OH MY GOD, did you kill that man?” “I thought it was real, I had to escape, I…I…” “Oh my God” My head became very blurry “Perdóneme? Señor? Soy policía mexicana. Venga por favor conmigo” (Pardon me? Sir? I am the Mexican police. Please come with me)