It was an uncharacteristically overcast day in the desert. I had whittled down my meager belongings even further to just clothes, a wristwatch, and the money. All could be contained neatly and dryly in some jumbo sealable plastic bags and tied to my belt to ensure I didn't spill thousands of dollars into the Rio Grande.
Now that the liquor was bleeding from my system it seemed like a fucking ridiculous idea. And considering that my abandoned car was cleared from the crossing, the police might have full knowledge that I was attempting to flee the country and would be ready to scoop me out of the water and into custody to face trial. I wish I had my gun back. It was stupid to throw it in the gutter like that. At least I could have used it to force the police to kill me instead of arresting me. But the time for doubt was gone, and so I wrapped my cash in a dirty motel towel and stuffed it in a plastic bag, then marched out the door and into the busy street.
I walked for about twenty minutes until I was out of sight of the crossing and away from the majority of the traffic. The river was about sixty yards across, and the opposite shore was spattered with mexicans staring out at their freedom. This was both reinsuring and ominous. Clearly there was no one posted to stop them from swimming across, but on the other hand, why were they waiting? Surely these men, all my age or younger and with bodies hardened by years of manual labor, could easily swim the distance far easier than I could, and yet they do not. With these thoughts in my head I sat on a dusty riverside rock and took off my shoes, sealing them in a bag and tying it to my belt.
The men on the other side were interested now, gesturing at me and no doubt discussing the crazy gringo that was obviously about to jump in the fucking river. I waded out into the freezing water and immediately regretted it. But I had no other choice, so I jumped forward into the deeper water.
In my head I was swimming forward, but my eyes seemed to be lying to me and indicating I was swept swiftly downstream. I struggled to keep my head above water as I went, the only thing keeping me afloat was the meager bits of air in the plastic sacks tied to my waist. The water was much faster and stronger than I anticipated, and suddenly I realized I was in deep shit. The cold seized the muscles in my left leg and I took in a deep mouthful of muddy water, swallowing fast to clear the way for a desperate gasp of air only to be cruelly denied by another gulp of wetness. I was in full panic when I lost consciousness.