Gomez looked straight ahead, he focused on not shaking.
The man held steady and he was focusing on not shaking.
“What’s your name?”
Gomez looked at him quizzically. He wanted to take the things out of his pocket and just leave. His scratches started to itch with no quarter. He noticed how quiet it got.
They looked at each other in the quiet until the A/C unit kicked on, two seconds later the man’s wife peaked into the door. She wasn’t surprised so much as scared for her husband.
“What’s your name?” the man asked again and again he was met with silence.
“Que . . esta . . . nombre?” the man’s wife asked in broken Spanish.
Gomez looked at her and quietly he creaked out “Gomez”.
The husband looked at her quickly and keeping an eye on the Mexican. “Ask him what he wants.”
“I don’t know how to say that. He probably just wants food or somewhere to work.”
The man motioned to the Mexican’s pocket, “What you got in there?”
Gomez nodded toward his pocket and looked at the man, he nodded, Gomez slowly reached to his left pocket with one hand and pulled out to potato, he dropped it on the floor, then he got out the Piñon nuts from one pocket and then the other. They scattered on the floor like shells from a gun.
“See, he just wanted something to eat.” the woman said.
The man looked at Gomez and saw his shirt was tucked in, “Lift up your pants’ legs.” he said. Then he did that and motioned for Gomez to the same.
“Mason. . .” The woman began to step forward, but he motioned for her to stay where she was.
Gomez reservedly bent down and lifted his right leg, he removed a long knife and tossed it on the floor, then he lifted his left leg and tossed another knife on the floor, it was shorter than the other and had an odd bottle opener cut into the blade.
Mason lowered the gun and he stepped forward to kick the knives away, he motioned for Gomez to come with him. As they walked to the back office he spoke to his wife, “Honey, can you pick that stuff up? Just wash it and. . . Put it in a bag.” She nodded.
Mason sat down and motioned for Gomez to do the same, the seats were comfortable, especially to Gomez who had been walking for nearly three hours.
“Thirsty?” Mason asked. He walked over to the mini-fridge and removed a bottle of water. Gomez drank a long greedy, needy gulp and then wiped his mouth, “Thank you.”
“So you speak English?”
Gomez nodded and said, “Little” he squished his fingers together to drive home the point.
Mason got out a piece of paper and a pen. “I want you to write your name and where you’re from.” He made motions as he told Gomez to do this. “Do you want to work?” Gomez nodded. “If you’ll start today, I’ll give you food, a place to stay and seven bucks an hour. Does that sound fair?”
Gomez was following everything the man said, one thing he had learned as a child was to never reveal everything you know at once. He perked up at ‘seven bucks’ and he acted a little confused, when the man stopped talking he smiled and nodded, “Yes, Señor.”
They smiled at each other, Mason because he knew he would turn this man over to the authorities and Gomez because he knew that he now had a foot in the door of this town. They shook hands. Both with firm grips. The handshake lasted a little longer than either had anticipated.