|It was about two years ago during the Shrimp Festival.
My husband and I decided to have the chicken dinner at El
Dorado's Thursday night barbecue. It was just about dusk
and we were returning home. We turned right onto Saltidos
Road and saw a military-type humbie vehicle flipped over
on the side of the road, in the ditch. Suddenly a guy in
uniform ran up to me --I happened to be driving that day
--and he points his rifle at me and tells me to stop. Of
course I stopped and my husband got out of the car to investigate
I was sitting there, not knowing what was going on, watching
my husband wade into all this confusion --I think it's
a male thing --and there were injured soldiers laying
about. My husband comes back, opens the passenger door
and pushes the seat forward. I see two soldiers carrying
someone and they place him on the back seat behind me.
I thought the guy was passed out, maybe seriously hurt.
Two guys get in the back with him and then a few more
crowd into the front with me. I'm driving a small Mustang,
so you can image.
the soldiers start shouting, "Vamanos! Vamanos!"
My husband tells me to take them to the Red Cross. So
I drove up Saltidos Road to turn around and I guess they
got the wrong idea and began hollering at me. Anyway,
I manage to turn around, went to the highway and turned
By now it's pretty dark outside. We only went a short
distance when they shouted at me to stop. I pull over
and see that one of the guys in the front seat is taking
his clothes off. I'm thinking to myself, What the hell
is this? Am I in for a gang-bang or something? I have
no idea what to do at this point.
Two of them get out. The soldiers in the back seat start
hollering at the ones who got out and they have this heated
discussion. Finally everyone gets out except one person
and the guy laying down in the back seat. He shouts at
me, "Go! Go!" So I pull out and we're back on
the highway leaving behind the ones who decided to go
That year theShrimp Festival was held at the soccer field.
When we got into town there were all those cars there
and the police. Here's this soldier in my car yelling
"Andele! Andele!" I kept asking him if he wanted
to go to the Red Cross. But when we pass the soccer field
the guy tells me to turn left. I did what he said and
we drove past several houses. We keep going until there
are no more lights and he tells me to stop the car. Then
he got out and said he would be back in a minute. "Uno
momento," he said through the window.
I'm looking in the rear-view mirror, it's pitch black,
and I'm watching this guy in uniform, which is dark green,
fade into the night. And I think to myself, OK, I've got
this hurt guy in my back seat of my car --I'm an American
woman --I don't have my papers with me --I don't speak
Spanish --and I don't know what to do. So I decided to
see what was wrong with the guy in the back.
I get out of the car and the dome light goes on. I turn
and see this man sprawled on the back seat, tongue hanging
out and his eyes are open. He is dead.
I was pissed. I got back in the car, backed up and started
honking the horn. There's no one around. I keep honking
until finally a man comes out to his front yard and me
and my Spanish, which was horrible, --I try to ask him
if there's a soldier in his house. And of course there
I turned the car around and drove like a bat-out-of-hell
back to where I picked him up, back to Saltido Road. Well,
by the time I got back, there was the military, there
was the police, there was an ambulance, there were neighbors
of mine, there was my husband there.
I drove up and I was so frightened, so angry, my whole
body was shaking. I was scared. And I couldn't get my
car door open, I was shaking so bad. So someone comes
and gets me and I step out and there was my husband and
I said, "Get this goddamn dead man outta my car!
And I want to home!"
He said we couldn't move him until some other offical
comes. At that point some neighbors of mine walk over
and they offer to take me home. I said yes.
They took me home and there were a couple of reasons
why that was good at the time. It gave me my first opportunity
to explain what had happened. They both wanted to know
When we get to my place I turn on the heaters. It was
a cool night plus when I get really frightened, I get
very cold. Then I put on my heaviest pajamas and I crawl
into bed. I sat there reflecting on what happened and
then a friend of mine came over and she knocks on the
door. She came in and said, "I heard all about it."
So I tell her the whole thing.
About eleven or twelve at night my husband comes into
the bedroom and he said he was getting ready to meet with
the head of the police or somebody and they're going to
talk about this. Finally, about two in the morning, they
come. Another friend of ours, who's incredibly fluent
in Spanish, met them.
I felt very vulnerable at that point. I didn't want to
go anywhere. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't
want to do anything.
The next day, about five o'clock, near dusk, I'm out
watering my palm trees. I'm still real cold and vulnerable
and suddenly one of those military humbies pulls up into
my yard, filled with soldiers. At that point I've pretty
much lost my voice and I had to go get my husband. I was
What they wanted was --their head attorney was with them
--they wanted a deposition. So we went to our friend's
house --the one who spoke the fluent Spanish --and four
of us sat at a table and they got their deposition.
When I got my car back there was evidence that there
had been people in there --you know, that were hurt. And
the guy that took off his uniform. They all went AWOL.
The lawyer said if they were found they would go to prison.
I had dinner with a neighbor who said she heard a vehcile
that night roaring up Saltido Road and she said she heard
the crash. So evidently they were going much faster than
they should have been on that road.
I must say that the whole incident has tainted my and
to this day --I'm sorry, but I won't pick anybody up on
the road. Especially if they point a gun at me!