“What did he mean by ‘If we can get there’?” Chancho waited until both men had stepped out onto the small platform at the back of the general’s train car and slid the door shut behind them.
“No doubt the gold is in a car between here and there. It will be heavily guarded by the general’s most trusted men. Apparently he does not intend to instruct them to let us pass.” Ah Puch sucked his teeth and glanced back through the glass window the way they’d come. The corridor of the General’s private car was still empty.
“No matter.” Chancho breathed deep. “We just need to identify which car contains the gold. As long as we have men in position when the time comes, the plan is good to go.”
“Nothing is good to go if we don’t divert the train.”
Chancho rested his hand on Ah Puch’s shoulder. “In due time.” He steadied himself with the handhold before leaping across the gap to the next car.
“But you have no sense of time.” Ah Puch complained as they slipped into the officers’ car which had been designed much like the general’s, but less posh. On their way down the corridor they overheard Obregón asking his top men for options.
Sliding open the solid metal door to the next car, a wall of hot air and stale body odor swam over them. Packed beyond capacity, the creaking passenger car contained more than a hundred regulars, infantrymen in patchwork Constitutional uniforms. The newly conscripted wore the BEF style hat with huaraches on their feet. Some sat backwards chatting to neighbors, but most stared blankly out windows.
Upon noticing the Rurales, each soldier fell silent and stared at his lap with sudden interest. Every man, on both sides of the conflict, could tell stories of swift and brutal judgement levied by the Guardia Rural over the last several decades. The relative rarity of encountering one of the silver-braided rural police in recent years only fanned the folklore into flame.
The two men strode confidently down the aisle and out the metal door on the other end of the car without contest. Again in the swirling wind between train cars Chancho shook his head. “Any one of those men could be my brother. They’re just peons trying to feed their families.”
“They lack only initiative. Perhaps today we will give it to them.” Ah Puch gestured for them to jump to the next car.
“But what if we, what if they…” Chancho rubbed his tired eyes. “We’ve been winning, haven’t we? Since May? I mean, the revolution?”
Ah Puch nodded. “The revolution has gotten smarter with your leadership. The bleeding has stopped. If today’s plan works the tables will be turned. Carranza needs the United States, and he needs the treasure on this train to get their attention.”
“How much gold do you think there is?” Chancho glanced sideways at Ah Puch who couldn’t resist smiling at the question.
“All of it. Carranza is clever, but he’s a politician. He sees the small, targeted attacks in rural areas as the dying breath of the revolution rather than a new tactic for which he has no counter. I would bet my boots his entire treasury is onboard, everything he can spare anyway.”
Chancho nodded. “Hmmm. I could use anther pair of boots.”
“What’s wrong with the pair I made you?” Ah Puch glared at his friend.
“Nothing. It’s just,” Chancho shrugged, “a man can always use a second pair.”
“A second pair! No other pair like them exists! Yours have more features even than—”
Chancho held up his hands in surrender. “Relax before you burst a seam, my friend. Of course you are right. Now don’t you think we should get on with robbing this train?”
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