She watched him but didn’t ignore the rest of the crowd, especially the steady trickle of others coming in from the side streets. When she glanced back, he was closer. She watched him longer this time as he talked to a short man with a full beard, both men laughing at something he said. Anda liked the way the ponytailed man carried himself, the way he looked. If he was a coyote, she would ask him to take her across, but she didn’t think he was one who smuggled people. She looked away again to study three men coming toward the station plaza from an alley. When she was satisfied they were not looking for her, she turned back. He was very close.
A thread of unease prickled the hairs on her neck. He was talking to two other men now, both of them slapping him on the back and shaking his hand. It looked like nothing, but she’d trusted her feelings for a long time and they had saved her life. Only three people were between them. Anda watched the man out of the corner of her eye, and when he turned his head to call to someone else, she moved away, around the crowd, putting more people and distance between them. By bending slightly, Anda was shorter than most people’s shoulders and she stayed that way for twenty paces before stopping behind two tall men and peering around them to see the ponytailed man.
He was still with th
e two men, but had taken a step past them so he faced the crowd. He was still smiling and talking to them, but he looked at the crowd in quick glances, then back to the men.
She watched him for a full minute before the man moved again, this time away from her, back the other way for several strides to stop and buy a soda from a vendor pushing a small yellow cart. Anda relaxed a little and turned her attention to other people coming to the plaza. She saw a man in a military uniform and he had her full attention until he smiled and held out his arms as a woman and child came to him with their small suitcases. She watched them leave together, walking up a narrow side street until they were out of sight.
Anda turned around and saw the ponytailed man had closed half the distance between them. He appeared to be looking past her, trying to catch someone’s eye, walking fast.
She bent low and raced behind the crowd looking for an escape. An alley opened to her left and she raced into it, not straightening until the walls cut off her view of the bus station plaza.
Bobby Mata thought he was going to reach the little Indian before she discovered him, and the next thing he noticed, she had disappeared. He hurried around the crowd and caught a glance of her as she raced into the alley like a frightened deer. He hurried into the alley and she was already out the far end, turning right and disappearing again. Bobby kicked it up to full speed.
The street he turned onto was narrow, with buckets, stools, trash, dogs, chickens and children in the path. Anda moved through them, dodging and flitting without slowing down. Bobby slid and jumped and staggered through them, falling further behind. He yelled in English for Anda to stop but she didn’t slow down. He was twenty-five yards behind her and losing ground fast. She flew down the street, lengthening her stride and pulling away, floating over every obstacle and gliding around every barrier.
Bobby yelled at her again, this time in Spanish, and in response she cut around another corner. Bobby cursed and stayed after her. He was getting winded, and running in boots wasn’t all that easy. They approached the last houses before the streets ended and there was nothing but rugged desert for a hundred miles after that. Bobby knew that if she made it out of town, he would never find her, of that he was sure. He put on a last burst of speed and closed the distance a little. Just as she was going around another corner Bobby yelled at her again, this time in Tarahumara, saying he was a friend, he had come to help her.
When he came around the corner, she was standing at the far end of the block, facing him. Bobby stopped and leaned one hand against the adobe wall as he tried to catch his breath. She watched him, but man, she was ready, like a nervous animal. He talked to her in Tarahumara, “Don’t run, I am a friend.” She needed more than that, he could tell. Bobby said, “The woman agent from Texas was worried about you. I told her I would find you and help you.”
Anda cocked her head and said, “Kincaid? The woman Kincaid?”
Bobby said, “Yes. Hunter Kincaid.”
“How do you know Tarahumara?” She asked.
“My mother was of The People.”
“Where are her people to be found?”
“Barranca Del Cobre, Copper Canyon.”
“Ahh,” said Anda, “The big canyon.”
“Yes, and you are from…?”
“Barranca Quebrada, The Broken Canyon.”
“That is far from anyplace.”
“Yes,” she said, and then asked, “Of what clan was your mother?”
“Fox Clan, and you?”
Bobby nodded. That was a powerful totem. He said, “I will help you, if you let me.”
Anda thought about it for a moment, then made up her mind. She walked to Bobby and asked in Spanish, “How are you called?”
Bobby thought, Christ, she’s so young. He told her his name. She held out her hand and he shook it, very aware of how small it was.
As if it were settled, Anda said, “Will you take me someplace safe where we can talk? Bad men are after me.”
Bobby said he would and Anda held his hand as they walked away.