Dribbling to a shocked halt

It took Milo, Lenore, and Molina two hours to get the van to the FARC scouts' bivouac, even though it was only about 300 yards farther along. Behind them, their a swath of broken branches and tire tracks appeared sometimes to jump creeks, even deep gorges. Lenore was exhausted when she finally turned off the key again.

Capitán Jauregui regarded the van's arrival into camp, checked the late afternoon sun, then turned his attention back to them. He scratched his head and strode out of sight.

A faint curl of smoke still rose from the ashes of the scouts' morning fire. In rough semicircle around it were three small tents swathed in insect netting. A soldier was piling firewood to last through the darkness. Capitán Jauregui had told Molina their rations were dangerously low, with no way of replenishing them until they could contact sympathetic campesinos on the other side of the Darién. Molina listened with a show of grave seriousness, then told the appalled Capitán of the gunfire the night before.

"This changes everything," Jauregui said grimly.

He brightened a little when Milo handed him a beer. They decided to pool what resources they had. Lenore and Milo offered beans and rice, two of Jauregui's men volunteered to hunt for meat, and within the hour returned with a small peccary they prepared for pit roasting. Molina produced a large bottle of oily-looking tequila. Before long, a party atmosphere descended on the little camp. The sun was well down before the pig was roasted, but even badly drunk, the FARC scouts managed to eat the best meal they'd had in months.

Milo felt grateful to be among them. He and Lenore seemed to be among friends, and it looked like they would be seeing more southern hospitality, Colombian style, once they reached less feral surrounds. Which the Capitán assured him were only two weeks of steady walking away.

So they continued to drink, frequently toasting one thing or other, bringing their bottles together sharply, with shouts of "¡Desea vivo la revolución!", "¡Desea Fidel vivo!" and "¡Para Che!"

When Milo's beer box was empty, Molina somehow produced a couple more bottles of the same motor-oil-amber tequila. Nasty, but it did the job. Eventually everyone wandered off to bed except Capitán Jauregui, who sat next to the dying embers, rocking and silently clutching an empty tequila bottle. Lenore and Milo sneaked off to the laundry van with the pretext of checking on Armand, despite Alejandro's drink-feebled protests for them to stay .

On the way they passed FARC's corner-worn military tents. In the pale flare of a flashlight inside one of them, they saw grotesque shapes thrown onto the tent walls and roof in, a burlesque parody of a filthy shadow puppet show. It seemed a little surreal, and Milo turned to Lenore.

"Were they doing what I thought they were doing?"

Lenore barely glanced at the tent, then gave him a bemused nod. When they climbed tiredly into the van, they had no will to match the previous night's jello-stained debauch, and instead fell straight asleep.

The morning found them on the futon again. It was definitely beginning to smell a tad musky. Milo opened his eyes, looking around for Furlonger. Carl was nowhere in sight. He sighed with relief and stepped naked onto the ground for a pee.

As he looked around, he realized that the tents were gone. So were Capitán Jauregui and his squad. Milo's relaxing pee dribbled to a shocked halt, his dick feeling suddenly cold in his hand.

"Ah, shit."