Cari MoraLarge Print - 2019
Twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold lies hidden beneath a mansion on the Miami Beach waterfront. Ruthless men have tracked it for years. Leading the pack is Hans-Peter Schneider. Driven by unspeakable appetites, he makes a living fleshing out the violent fantasies of other, richer men.
Cari Mora, caretaker of the house, has escaped from the violence in her native country. She stays in Miami on a wobbly Temporary Protected Status, subject to the iron whim of ICE. She works at many jobs to survive. Beautiful, marked by war, Cari catches the eye of Hans-Peter as he closes in on the treasure. But Cari Mora has surprising skills, and her will to survive has been tested before.
Monsters lurk in the crevices between male desire and female survival. No other writer in the last century has conjured those monsters with more terrifying brilliance than Thomas Harris. Cari Mora , his sixth novel, is the long-awaited return of an American master.
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Hans-Peter Schneider is in a berth aboard his long black boat off Key Largo. He listens to a woman sobbing on the V-berth in the bow. He imitates her sobs. He is a good mimic. His own mother’s voice comes out of his face, calling the crying woman’s name. “Karla? Karla? Why are you crying, my dear child? It’s just a dream.” Desperate in the dark, the woman is fooled for a second, then bitter wracking tears again. The sound of a woman crying is Hans-Peter’s music; it soothes him and he goes back to sleep.
In Barranquilla, Colombia, Jesús Villarreal lets the measured hiss of his respirator calm him. He breathes some oxygen from his mask. Through the common darkness he hears a patient out in the hospital ward, a man crying out to God for help, crying “Jesús!” Jesús Villarreal whispers to the dark, “I hope God can hear you as well as I can, my friend. But I doubt it.”
Cari Mora recognized the signature call of an Andean Solitaire that lived fifteen hundred miles away. The catbird sang with great enthusiasm. Cari smiled and paused to listen one more time to the song from her childhood. She whistled to the bird. It whistled back.
Cari Mora had a variety of day jobs. The one she liked was at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, where veterinarians and other volunteers rehabilitate birds and small animals. She maintained the treatment room and sterilized the instruments at the end of the workday. Sometimes with her cousin she catered the station’s boat excursions.
Hans-Peter was very proud of his liquid cremation machine. He’d had to pay a premium for it, as liquid cremation was becoming all the rage with ecology enthusiasts eager to avoid the carbon footprint of cremation by fire. The liquid method left no carbon footprint, or print of any kind.
The carelessness of young people. No, that’s an old-man thought. It is not Umberto’s youth that is to blame, it is his stupidity, which he will not outgrow.
At the age of eleven Cari had been taken from her village at gunpoint and conscripted into FARC, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. FARC trained her as a soldier, and took her picture as a child soldier of the New Colombia. They jammed the regulation subdural contraceptive into her upper arm and used her in the ways that she was useful—she was quick and dexterous and strong. Cari was a child among children in the guerrilla base deep in the Caquetá forest.
The house was near the Snake Creek Canal in a neighborhood of small neat homes hard-won by their owners. Most families managed to have in their gardens a mango tree and a papaya, a Meyer lemon maybe.
“… men might see that they themselves are beasts,” the old preacher said. “For that which befalleth the sons of man befalleth beasts; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yes, they have all one breath; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again.”
… capybaras do not count as meat during Lent since the Vatican ruled the rodent is a fish.
“So is this encampment, Cari, this system. It is a machine. You have a good and inventive mind, Cari. Don’t let them cozen you. Don’t limit your personal life to just the minutes you can steal in the woods with someone. Use your wings for yourself.” Cari recognized this sort of talk as the most forbidden kind of subversion.
Cari Mora pulled on some sweats and got her baseball bat from under the bed. Her phone and her knife and her bear repellent spray were in her pockets.
Antonio was twenty-seven, fit in his pool service T-shirt.
This raid by FARC was to avenge a massacre by the ultra-right paramilitary three weeks before at a village sympathetic to the guerrillas. The paramilitary had killed everyone in the village: guerrillas, residents, their children, their animals and all. In this way Cari’s family was massacred by the paramilitaries in her second year as a soldier. She did not find out for six months, and when she heard she could not speak aloud for two weeks.
“Danger is everywhere and time is short,” Schneider said. “You want to provide for your family. I want to protect my men. What threatens one also threatens the other—is your mind clear enough to follow that?” “My mind is clear enough to count money. This is a simple matter: Pay what you said you would pay and do it now.”
Cari could not stay in Colombia. And help her the professor did. She rested a week—it took that long to buy her some makeshift papers, and then he sent her north by bus, days and days and days through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, she tying the bandages on her arms with the opposite hand and her teeth. He gave her enough money for bus tickets in Mexico—she did not have to hop La Bestia, the northbound Mexican train where gangs sell spaces on top of the freight cars, where so many fall, and severed arms and legs dry between the tracks. He gave her a note for a family in Miami. Owing to illness the family had to pass her along, to a family who told her she had to work three years for free. Radio Mambí told her that was a lie, and from there she had to scratch for it.
The condiment wipe Part 1 of 2:
In a condiment wipe you have to set up early and see the mark come into the food court, so you know in which hand he carries the thing you want to take. Say it’s a computer in its case in the left hand. Fix on it. Left hand. You must smear the mustard or mayonnaise behind the right shoulder so he can only reach it with his left hand. And, ladies, when you point out the mustard smear to him as he is walking, you must give him the tissues immediately into his free right hand, so he cannot just switch the briefcase from hand to hand before he wipes behind his shoulder. He must set down the burden. He must put it on the floor and turn his head over the smeared shoulder, away from the briefcase.
Push some teta on his arm while you are helping him. A wired support bra will help conduct the sensation through a suit coat.
The condiment wipe Part 2 of 2:
At that moment your partner makes the snatch. You would be astounded how many people smear the wrong shoulder or are late with the tissues. And the ones that do it wrong are sitting in a little windowless room at the airport, waiting on a bail bondsman and dying to pee.
What to give the crowd on the boat? Finger food that did not drip. Empanadas, finger sandwiches, chorizo on toothpicks. Avocado halves full of ceviche when the budget permitted. Give them sweet drinks, rum and vodka, and beer.
’63 Lincoln with the suicide doors …
She also had a cuckoo clock. It did not run and everyone knew it. She thought the clock was probably right—time was not passing at all.
In the frangipani tree beside the terrace a catbird sang a song it had learned in the Colombian Cloud Forest and brought north to Miami Beach.
Temporary Protected Status. The U.S. president could cancel everyone’s TPS at any moment in a fit of pique, if the president knew what a TPS was.
“This is a loaded .30-.30 cartridge reversed butt-forward with a .357 cartridge in the neck where the bullet used to be. Like this. I think you want to load it yourself.”
The crocodile did not dwell on eating humans, but with her prodigious memory for food and the locations of food, she did recall how refreshingly free humans were of hair and feathers and tough hide and horns and beaks and hooves. Unlike a pelican, which is more trouble than it is worth. Dog owners with their shorts and their plump white legs, sneaking along briskly in the gloaming following their pets, were attractive to her and they could not see very well as the light failed. It only called for patience.
Legal drop-in sears for an AR-15 were all made before 1986. A legal, registered sear will cost you $15,000 if you can find a bargain and have a Class 3 license. A newly made illegal sear will cost you up to $250,000 in fines and twenty years in Coleman federal prison without possibility of parole.
“ … women for the miners in illegal gold mines in Colombia and Peru. A lot of them get mercury poisoning because the mines pollute the water. That makes it hard to sell their organs when they die. He sells human organs that do not have mercury poisoning. He harvests them in motels. He sells mutilated women to specialty clubs in various parts of the world. He does custom modifications on the women. My point is, if he doesn’t catch you he’ll make some other woman squeal and squeal.”
Miami—savory and beautiful, an intensely American city built and maintained by people who came from somewhere else, often on foot.
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