Last week, I told you about a story I wrote for my friends Ken and Melissa as a wedding present. They’ve kindly given me permission to share the story with you. Fittingly, this post also comes on the occasion of my own wedding anniversary. Without further ado, here is part 1.
About a year ago, my one-time college roommate and dear friend Ken got engaged to a lovely woman named Melissa. This is the story of Ken’s proposal. You should know that Ken and Melissa both believe in social justice and volunteering their time to help others in need. In fact, they met volunteering at a food repackaging facility.
About a year ago, Ken got a call from a group he’d worked with that sends aid packages down to Central America. They asked if he would be willing to deliver a package of food and medical supplies to a small village up the Rio de la Pasión, a short ways from Sayaxché in Guatemala. Given Ken’s feelings for Melissa and given their mutual interests, he thought it was time for a trip down the Passion River of Guatemala. Afterwards, they’d go out to St. Lucia in the Caribbean for a little relaxation and Ken thought they might discuss the possibility of marriage.
Well, the day of the trip to Guatemala came along and Ken and Melissa went to Sea-Tac to catch their flight. Each of them had had difficult weeks at work, but they were looking forward to a journey where they wouldn’t just relax, they’d have the opportunity to help others. The problem is, they were on a tight timetable and the plane was delayed for about two hours.
Finally they took off and nine hours later, they arrived in Guatemala City. They caught a cab and went to the aid agency’s office. The aid worker told them to hurry over to the United Parcel office. “Be careful, though,” said Ken’s friend Jose. “Sometimes people pay bribes and take the food packages for themselves.”
Jose loaned them a jeep and a map to the village and they set out.
When they arrived, they discovered the man behind the counter didn’t speak English, and although Melissa’s Spanish was pretty good, it wasn’t up to the local dialect. They paid him a generous tip and finally he brought out an unlabeled package.
“What happened to the label?” asked Ken.
“Sometimes they fall off in the heat and the humidity,” said the man behind the counter.
Melissa narrowed her gaze. “This package seems a little small.”
“You know what they say, it’s not the size that matters…”
Ken thought that was a pretty good joke for a guy who didn’t seem well versed in English, but wisely chose to take a different tack. “Jose says it’s a small village. I’m sure this is fine.”
With that, they loaded the package into the jeep and set out. As it turns out, it takes about six and a half hours to drive from Guatemala to Sayaxché. By the time they got there, it was getting rather late. Melissa looked at Ken. “Do you think we ought to find some place to stay?”
“They’re supposed to give us housing in the village when we get there,” said Ken.
Melissa looked at her watch and yawned. “If they’re still awake. It’s going to be like two in the morning by the time we get there!” They proceeded up along a dirt road into the jungle.
Another hour went by, when Melissa sat up alert. “Do you hear that?” she asked.
Ken shook his head. “I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s exactly what I mean. All the jungle noises. They’ve stopped!”
Just as she said that, the road in front of them exploded in a shower of pebbles and debris. Ken swerved the wheel to avoid the crater. As he did, he went over a sharp rock and the jeep made a thump-thump-thump sound. The tire had gone flat.
As the jeep came to a stop, Ken and Melissa dove out and took cover, looking to see who was lobbing grenades at them. All was quiet in the jungle. Slowly, the drone of cicadas and the chirpings of night birds returned. The sky was clear and the stars shone brightly overhead. “I think we need to risk fixing the tire so we can move on,” said Ken.
As Ken emerged from behind the jeep, a jaguar sprang out of the jungle and pinned Ken to the ground. The cat opened its jaws wide, ready to tear out Ken’s throat. Heedless of the danger, Melissa grabbed a crowbar from the back of the jeep and swung it at the jungle cat, sending it flying.
The cat shook its head, dazed, then rose to its feet, growling dangerously.
“Stop!” A deep voice sounded from the edge of the road.
The jaguar, Melissa, and Ken looked over at the source of the sound, which proved to be a tall man dressed in black. He wore short hair, slicked back, revealing a pale, almost translucent face. Ken looked over at the jaguar. It lay down. Its paws became hands and feet. Its sleek, feline body became that of a lithe, Latino woman, dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans. The cat’s yellow eyes grew dark brown. As all of her teeth retracted, except for two canine fangs, she gave a husky growl. “What do you mean, stop! These people are clearly the couriers we were sent to stop!”
“Now, now,” said the tall man dressed in black. “These people don’t look like members of the Equis Cartel.”
“Yeah, but I smell the cocaine.” The woman rose to her feet. A bruise on her forehead soon disappeared.
Who have Ken and Melissa stumbled upon? Do they really have cocaine rather than an aid package? How did they survive this encounter in order to get married? Be sure to come back next week to read the exciting conclusion to “The Proposal”!