Camillo Garcia tossed the logbook into a metal can and struck a match. Holding the tiny blaze in front of him, he watched the hungry flame eat its way up the stem.
Confess your sins to each other. The words of the scripture swept through his head like a whisper, gripped his lungs and constricted his airways. The little flame reached his fingertips and he dropped the match to the concrete floor and snuffed it out with his boot.
He couldn’t destroy the evidence. But hiding it? Maybe that would buy him the time he needed.
Camillo spun around and faced the stall of the most valuable horse in the stable. Perfect. He stepped inside, gave the stallion a pat, then using a hoof pick pried a section of paneling from the front corner. The plank bent away from the framework just enough to drop the logbook inside the wall. Camillo slipped it between the studs then allowed the sheet of paneling to snap back into position.
Satisfied, Camillo strode back to his office at a nervous pace. Leaning over his desk, he composed a note. The pen trembled in his hand. When he finished, he centered the note on his desk and placed his keys next to it.
With one last look around, he slung the strap of his duffle bag over his shoulder and hurried through the facility—the state-of-the-art stable where he’d worked as groom and exerciser for four years. Regret and shame slowed his steps. Despite the cold, Camillo wiped heavy beads of sweat from his brow. He thought of his mother and younger brothers in Mexico, depending on his income. He didn’t want to leave. He had to. And he had no one to blame for that but himself.
A hoof clapped against a stall and echoed through the quiet stable. The sharp sound urged him on, helping to slough away his heavy emotions. Camillo exited the stable and set out down a dark path between the fields. Then cutting through the woods, he reached the edge of the estate in less than ten minutes. From there, the bus station would be an hour’s walk and then three days on the bus to California. He prayed he would make it.
Bits of asphalt crunched under his feet as he walked along the highway stretched before him like an abyss. A pair of headlights flicked on, illuminating the ground around him. Panic prickled through him. His heart thumped against his chest. He stopped and turned into the bright lights. The car rolled beside him. It’s fancy engine purred low. The passenger in the back waved a pistol at his chest. The driver ordered him to get in.
Camillo slid into the familiar car, knowing why they’d come for him. They wanted the logbook. As he prayed for his mother, the cold metal of the gun pressed into his neck and the car accelerated into the night.