Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 110

“Don’t shake his hand,” Manolo said. “ ​ I’m not your enemy,” said the man, introducing himself as Joe D’Antonio, the foreman. “ ​ I’m Gil de Castro. We’re here, most of the residents of the colony, to tell you we’re not leaving our houses.” Gil knew he didn’t sound as defiant as he’d wanted to. J ​ oe shook his head and let out a long breath. “I’ve got nothing to do with that. The land was sold. There are orders for enough houses to fill this whole area and more.” 110 J ​ oe was droning on about land values and contractual rights, and Gil was nodding, trying to follow, when he saw out of the corner of his eye someone else approaching. It was Andrew, and Gil heard him before seeing him: the thump, smack, thump of a soccer ball kicked along the uneven pavement. Andrew was headed directly toward them, but he stopped about ten feet away with the black and white ball held under the toe of one sneaker. Then, swiftly, he drew his leg back and gave the ball a savage, sharp kick, and it flew in a long elegant line straight into Gil’s chest, before he could dodge it or butt it away. He felt a jolt, a sudden breath-grabbing pain as the ball hit him hard. He let out a cry, staggered back, and fell on his side, breaking his fall with one hand. Joe reached down to help, but couldn’t grab Gil in time. ​ Gil lay on the ground, looking up. He couldn’t see clearly and heard only muffled sound, as if he were suddenly underwater. He thought, I’ve been shot, and he felt his chest for blood but there was none. People were scrambling toward him, a man was bending over him, and they were speaking words he couldn’t make out. He heard a dull repeating thud and roar. Lifting his head slightly, he looked past the hovering people and saw a figure in green running off--a solider? A thought drifted hazily: they had caught up with him somehow, and he would not escape. To his own surprise, he began to pray, although he knew his mouth was not moving. Then he stopped to listen. Now the garbled speaking seemed to be one voice, and it had something important to say to him, more important than anything he had ever heard before. He thought, I am about to die. He waited for some revelation, but it was no deep father-god sound; it was a woman’s voice,