M. Leland Oroquieta


A cycle has been terminated, under this beautiful silence of a sky in November. There is no way December would take your arrogance through January, March, April, and beyond. Mistakes have limits. Perhaps it’s the way you opened your mouth, and how the aspiring professor in you loves to lecture us with brilliant combinations of sharp, four-letter words, and things like ideologies, neo-liberalism bullshit, or hello, Langley, catch us if you can. You’re always too gutsy to poison any room with sounds of discord and dissonance.

I now hate to imagine the sad faces of your women. You are their Patron Saint of French-kissing, after all, charmed with a face that fucks beauty with lessons in symmetry, and the envy of everyone in the organization glued by fierce loyalty. What misfortune got you into this business, anyway? You could’ve been a model of some repute. If only you were as symmetrical with your loyalties, and refused the fraternity of rival traffickers and smugglers. But then you’re a child of liberal ideas, so how can you not love diversity, and diversify your loyalties? You are, indeed, from the Land of the Free, people who had left the land of their ancestors to forge a new heritage with other exiles and immigrants.

As you know, leaving the land of your heritage is an old business, though it’s never been as lucrative in the age of globalization, full of affiliates that require talent how to procure boats, trucks, hackers, movers, and connections, all working and conspiring to transport a hundred migrants or more, outside legal procedures braving through climates in the high seas, from Africa to Europe, to the Asia-Pacific region. We are obsessed on the minute details of time, and things like gas or petrol that approximates arrival to a particular destination in the Mediterranean or the waters around Australia, without leaving passengers stranded to their last breaths. You can smell the stench of dead bodies that litter news outlets lately. This was the fourth project we allowed you to manage, and the worst.

Maybe you didn’t understand that thugs like us are sticklers to responsibility, as well. In fact, our services have created bridges to dreams for a better life, despite how these dreamers look down on us like roaches and vermin. I’m sure you’ve fulfilled your dreams many times over, glittering on your fingers in gold and silver, which you didn’t protect hard enough, unfortunately, and endanger those who trusted your guts.

But, my friend, in the end, plans should be done accordingly. My favorite pistol with a silencer on a chilly night, after vodka, weed, and turkey was my preference. And yes, the boss obliged. Or it could’ve been an accident on the road to somewhere, waiting to take you to another place that offers multiple second chances after deadly mistakes.

The truth is, you’ve made us all laugh in our meetings, always drunk on stories of men and women you’ve conquered, things that made us look at each other, as though we’re really trying to figure out who among us speak a dozen languages, and are actually contract spies from Langley and its international cohorts, monitoring underground, global networks of smugglers. Perhaps we’ll always remember your stories, as though, in the end, our loyalty to you is not easily tarnished by the mandate and necessity of procedures.

M. Leland Oroquieta has been a library page, draftsman, cashier, stray cat, and other things he can’t remember, while reading for a humanities course at university. He lives on the edge of a valley, near an ocean. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cricket Online Review, Eunoia Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Local Nomad: An Online Journal of Writing & Art, Origins Journal, and Queen Mob’s Tea House.
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