“You mean that guy walking with the big dog is our security?” Rosa peered out the window.
“Best I could do on short notice. He’ll be here 'til daylight.” Kip took Rosa’s hand. “Probably unnecessary, but without our security system installed I thought it best.”
Rosa hugged Kip. “Okay.”
They stood in a hug for several moments before Kip led her to the bedroom. “We need to get some rest.” However, rest was not to be. Rosa and Kip spent their wedding night huddled in fear. Neither slept. The security guard raised more paranoia than protection. Additionally, a security company car came up their lane every two hours. The search light on the car reflected off of the ceilings.
Finally, at dawn they decided to get out of bed.
“I pick Sam up at noon, what are you going to be doing?” Rosa pulled on a robe and started to open the door.
“Without my computer, not much. So, I’ll just clean for awhile, put stuff away, and see how much damage was done.”
There was a loud knock on the door, so Kip slipped on trousers and walked out into the hallway. He could see two men in summer police attire standing on the porch.
“Who is it?” Rosa called.
“Looks like my escort.” Kip figured it was only a matter of time until the police followed the trail of fingerprints. He pulled a sleeveless sweatshirt over his head and slipped on a pair of loafers, and then walked to the door and opened it.
“Mr. Waller,” one of the men asked dryly and in English.
“Come with us.” The other man directed.
Kip turned to Rosa. “Call the American Embassy in Panama City, ask for Giles. Use my birth name when you get an interview. That will cause a reaction, but when they say I’m dead, just say you have the bones. Giles will listen to you then; explain absolutely everything including the jump drive, but not where, okay. Oh, and nobody but Giles. Get some cash from the Scotia Bank account.”
“Kip,” she pled.
One of men took his arm, turned him around and then cuffed him before pulling him toward their waiting van.
The ride to Florencia was uneventful. A judge of sorts was waiting as was an interpreter. An attorney Kip guessed read the charge, it was interpreted for him as a charge for the investigation of the murder of one Ce Ce Santo of San Jose.
“The bank clerk?” Kip thought it was for his non matching fingerprints, then he remembered. “Costa Rica does not share the same data base.” He was being held for the murder of Jorge’s clerk.
The judge said something to one of the attorneys. Then turned to Kip in English. “Your print is on the knife.” He waved his hand and two men who had handcuffed Kip started to lead him away. The lawyer who stated the charges stopped them. “You aren’t under arrest, but under investigation. But, the judge has determined you might be a flight risk. Under Costa Rica law you can be held during the investigation.”
“I’m married, and have a home here.” Kip’s words were lost as he was led away.
Kip’s pockets were emptied and he was strip searched and finally handed a dirty orange jump suit pants and a t-shirt plus a pair of leather flip flops. He got dressed and again the handcuffs were placed on his wrists and a rolled up foam mat placed in his hands and then he was led away down a long corridor.
He was placed in a cell with eleven other men who largely stared at him while he was un-cuffed.
“Hola,” he said meekly. Most of the men simply turned away except for one older man who walked away from the fixed chair table.
“Gringo,” he said. “What you here for?”
Kip looked over the disheveled man. “They think I killed someone, a bank clerk; I’m being investigated. At least that’s what a lawyer, I think, told me.”
The old man laughed and then pointed at a corner of the concrete floor at the foot of a bunk
“Your corner,” he said. “You get a mat. Bunks for long term people.” He squatted down and patted the lowest bunk next to the corner. “My bunk, don’t touch. Man sleeping under my bunk, his space. Don’t touch.”
Kip moved to his corner as directed, dropped the mat and slid down the wall to sit on the floor. It was hard and rough but not cold. He could do nothing more from this point but wait.
The old man pointed to a glass globe on the ceiling. “No funny stuff, light always on and cell always on camera even toilet.”
Kip hadn’t noticed the steel toilet at the opposite corner from where he sat. “Thanks. It’s good to know.”
The end of the mat could be rolled to a tight tube, which allowed Kip some neck support although his buttocks hung off the mat when he reclined. Two days later Kip could barely stand and elected to try sleeping standing up braced against the wall. Although boring, doing squats and limited exercises not only saved his body, but gave him something to concentrate upon. The third day they were escorted by fives to the showers, which were nothing more than water hoses, but they were not given fresh jump suits or t-shirts.
“I guess that’s how I wash my clothes too.” Two meals per day consisted of a rice or grain soup, sometimes a piece of fruit, and hard bread. “It’s worse at the main prison,” the old man said. “Sometimes they only get fed every third day and twenty men to a cell.”
“Good to know, I suppose.” Other than a daily walk into the humidity and heat, the routine remained the same nearly every day.
The morning of the three hundredth day was scheduled for visitation for Kip. He thought maybe Rosa would come, but instead he was sent to a room and met Linda and another attorney. He was placed in a chair with leg shackles attached to hooks on the floor and handcuffs to rings on the permanently affixed table.
“Kip,” Linda pointed to the young man. “This is Juan, he will handle your case from now on, he is experienced in criminal law. I will assist where I can.”
Kip looked across the table at the young man. He looked like he just stepped out of Law School. “Hey.”
The young man grinned. “Our intention is to get you freed before trial. Hopefully in the next couple of months.”
“I didn’t know about a trial.” Kip tried to remain calm.
Linda interceded. “There’s always a trial, not the same as you Americans, but none the less, every criminal has a day in court.”
“Have I been accused of anything?”
Juan looked at his notebook. “Your print was found on the knife?”
“The one that killed the woman.”
“First of all, I wasn’t at the house from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. I have many witnesses to that fact. In fact one of my attorneys,” he nodded to Linda. “Was witness to my whereabouts.”
Juan shook his head. “You finger prints were on the knife.”
Kip flopped back in his chair. “How?”
He flipped through some pages. “We don’t know. But, it is the evidence the prosecutor will use.”
“You mean the fact that I wasn’t there has no bearing?”
Juan shook his head. “Not much, unless you can prove it isn’t your fingerprint.”
“What kind of knife? I don’t own anything but steak knives and they’re in the house in a drawer.”
“It is a kitchen knife.” Juan began but Linda interrupted.
“You call it a butcher knife, but with rough edges.”
Kip thought for a minute. “I remember that I cut up fruit on the cutting board in the kitchen. I did that the night before the wedding. I probably left the knife on the cutting board to use later.”
Juan smiled. “Perhaps that is the knife which was used.”
“It should have some mango acid on it.”
Linda made a note. “I’ll check with the lab, but mostly the report now just says blood and your prints. And, the evidence is nearly a year old.”
“So what happens now?”
Juan looked down at his notes. “Well, in a few days you may be formally charged, that’s why we were invited here today; unless I can speak to the other attorney and convince him that the evidence is flawed. It’s not the same court procedure as the States. When I studied at Tulane, procedure rules were the most important. Here the emphasis is on getting criminals off the street, not necessarily guaranteeing any rights of the innocent.”
The interview room door opened suddenly and two uniform guards came in, unfastened Kip’s leg chains and wrist attachments and grasped the arms of Kip and pulled him out of the chair.
Juan and Linda stood up. In Spanish Juan said, “The prisoner has a right to counsel. We were sent in to speak with this man privately.” Kip was being handled by two large men so he elected not to get into their discussion.
Linda picked up her cell phone and started to call but one of the guards motioned to her and simply shook his head.
“Sientate,’” which he knew meant ‘sit down.” The other guard pulled Kip through the door. Kip still had hand and ankle cuffs and chains nearly fell as he was scooted along, but a strong arm was holding him up. Instead of going back to the cell he was forced through a steel door, down a long hallway to a room with a drain. The ankle cuffs were released and his pants pulled to his ankles, the t-shirt was cut off. A man put Kip’s hands on a bar and released one cuff and fastened a totally naked Kip to an iron rail. A minute later a stream of cold water covered Kip and soaked him front and back. He stood there dripping for several minutes, and then a guard came in, his handcuffs were released and he was handed a clean t-shirt and work pants. Kip dressed and one of the guards pointed to Kips hands. The other guards had automatic weapons trained on Kip. He held out his hands and the cuffs were re-applied. At the same time ankle cuffs were snapped into place. Next he was led to a loading ramp of sorts where a cloth bag was placed over his head and then he was led into the back of a truck which he guessed had two opposing wooden bench seats and a canvas cover because when he sat and leaned back the wall of the truck was soft and he could hear voices opposite of him. The two guards and at least two other guards got into the bed of the truck with Kip and the motor started, as soon as the truck began moving the tailgate was slammed shut. A large box was placed in Kip’s hands and a rope loosely tied around his chest. He guessed it was a seat belt of sorts, the road ahead would probably be bumpy.
“I think I’m being carried to my own execution.”
“Silencio,” was barked back at him.
They rode for over an hour before the truck stopped. The guards got out of the truck, and then the box was removed from his hands and a bottle of water was thrust onto his lap with a chuck of bread. Kip had to lift his hood with his handcuffed hands and at the same time raise the bottle of water or chunk of bread. Ten minutes later the guards remounted the truck and the bumpy road process began again. About an hour after the bread and water break the truck stopped again. The tailgate flopped down and he believed that the flap was pulled back. The box was taken from him and he was pulled to the edge of the truck bed and two men helped him jump off. Actually, he had little choice as the two men took his arms and pulled him off of the truck.
“Bano.” One of the men said. Kip was led to the side of a road. Still wearing the hood he hand no idea who was watching or where they were. A few minutes later he was pulled from the side of the road and was hoisted back into the truck. Kip guessed he rode or bumped along for about another two hours before the truck stopped, seemed to turn around and he was lifted out of the truck again. He was pulled off of the truck and his handcuffs and ankle bracelets were unlocked. His coveralls were untied and he felt the fabric pulled from his shoulders. Someone lifted his knee and he stepped out of the uniform. Finally the t-shirt and hood was snatched from his head, but a man held his face and pointed it up a hill. The men scampered back into the truck and drove off. Kip was left standing in a field totally naked and holding a box.
“Get dressed,” He heard a voice approaching. Kip was squinting into the sun. “Your clothes are in the box,” said the voice.
Kip dropped the box on the ground and began pulling out all of the clothes in which he had entered the jail. The man stood about twenty feet away with his back to the sun so Kip couldn’t tell if he had a weapon trained on him or not. “Well, who do I thank for springing me?”
“Don’t be so happy yet,” he said. “You’re just being relocated.”
The man laughed. “Probably.”
Kip tried to see him but the man kept standing above Kip and in the sunlight. Finally, he slipped on his loafers. “Now what?”
“Not my call. Follow the road. Walk all the way to the bottom of the hill, you’ll cross a low fence on the way. There’s two crossing roads just after the fence. Step over the fence and continue on the primary rode, do not go off on the path. Just follow this road and at the bottom of the hill the dirt road crosses a wide paved road. Where the roads cross you are to wait. It’s probably three or four kilometers past the fence. Cross the paved road. There’s a big rock to sit on right side. Wait there. You’ll learn more later. No questions. Go on now, don’t try to look back.”
Kip started down the hill, shuffling and stumbling on the rough terrain; and when he passed a curve he turned to look back, but the man was no longer there. A minute later he heard a helicopter take off then fade away. Kip cautiously proceeded to walk down the winding mountain dirt road, a kilometer of so later he crossed the low fence, and eventually came to the mentioned wide paved road. He found what he believed was the appointed rock at the crossroads. He plopped down, his ankles and shoes were covered in road dust. “Well, here I am, now what?” Kip asked an interested Parrot.
The light of day was beginning to fade before a man leading a mule and cart eventually came up the dirt road and crossed over the pavement. The cart driver stopped, turned his cart around in front of Kip, and looked into the cart and then at Kip and then at the cart again. Kip got up and went to the cart.
The flap in back pulled back and He looked into the face of a gleefully smiling Rosa.
“Welcome to Nicaragua,” she said.
To be continued ....