Miguel was perplexed. Here he was tying to be nice to this dumb American. The American, one Sam Jarvis had always been a pain. He owned a small grocery store in the central part of Mexico, one of the few Americans to own a business there. However, the store was only a front for a number of illegal operations.
Jarvis had recently tried to move into the territory of Miguel’s boss, the local heavy and now his boss was pissed. Miguel, being the strong arm of the gang was sent to give Jarvis a message.
But it was all going wrong. Jervis was not cooperating and Miguel was getting worried. Although he had worked for the local mafia for more than a decade, Miguel had never killed anybody and tried not to. His boss had given him specific orders that if Jarvis didn’t toe the line, then Miguel was to mess him up good. Miguel had broken the bones of his boss’ rivals before, but it called a lot of attention to the local authorities.
There had to be a better way. Miguel looked around for an alternative and found one. Jarvis was shouting at him “Tell your boss to go to hell, Miguel. “I am going to be the big boss here soon. “If you were smart, you should come to work for me”.
Without saying a word, Miguel raised up the baseball bat menacingly. Jarvis yelped and covered his face with his arms. Miguel swung with all his might, but instead of aiming for Jarvis, he turned and broke the picture tube of a 35” TV. Jarvis was stunned as if he had been hit himself “What the hell are you doing? “I’m going to call the cops”.
Miguel paid no attention to the American. There were about 15 TV’s in all, and Miguel systematically went around and destroyed them all one by one. Jarvis was beside himself, shouting all the time “Stop it! “Stop. I’ll call the police”.
“No you won’t” yelled Miguel above the din, “I know these TV’s are stolen, so there’s no way you call the cops. You are screwed, my friend. TAKE IT LIKE A MAN!
Miguel finished busting the last set and was walking towards the door. Jarvis was enraged, following behind him shouting “God Damn it, Miguel, I’ll get you for this. “You son of a bitch”. Miguel wheeled around, grabbed the bigger man by the throat and pushed him up against the wall hard. Then Miguel put his face right in front of Sam’s and said in his most sinister voice “Listen, you punk, even if you wait 30 years, until I’m an old man, I will never be too old to kick your ass. “You got that?”
Jarvis didn’t answer. Miguel threw him down to the floor hard and walked out the door.
That was yesterday. And here he was today, in a holding cell of a police station. No, Jarvis had not had him arrested. It was a lot worse than that. It had happened later in the day. Miguel had been ordered by the boss to pick up his nephew’s car at the airport. Not a big deal, until halfway back to the boss’ house he had been stopped by the police. After searching the nephew’s car, they found a huge cache of cocaine in the trunk. Miguel couldn’t prove that it was not his, and his boss was not talking.
The minimum sentence in Mexico for a crime like this was 20. Miguel knew the boss was not coming forward to spring him, less he implicate himself in the process. Miguel could not blame him. But the fact didn’t change. 37 year old Miguel was going to prison for a very long time.
What was he going to tell his family? Miguel was married to Rosa, 38, the love of his life. They had two kids; an 18 year old daughter named Juanita and a 13 year old son named Carlos.
Miguel was lead to a small room, and he was surprised to see his wife sitting in a chair. So, he hugged her, and took a seat next to hers. What was going on?
Soon, a man walked in, but this was not a policeman or a guard, Miguel was sure of that.
“Hello Miguel and you must be Rosa” he said.
“What is this all about”? Asked Miguel. “Are you a lawyer or something?”
The man laughed. “Heavens no” he said, “I am a doctor” I do research in that big white building down the street. “Sometimes the prison lets us use ‘volunteers’ for our research. “That’s what I am here today for.” Miguel, you know that you are facing some serious prison time. “What if I were to tell you that I could get you paroled, tonight, and you could go home with your wife?”
Miguel laughed. He was no fool. “And what would I have to do to attain this miracle?”
The man turned cagey. “Oh, not much. “You see, we are involved in research with several different drugs. “They are still in the experimental stage and we need volunteers to test them. “If you would be willing to become a volunteer, I can arrange for your bail to be met, and you could walk out of here tonight.”
Miguel still wasn’t convinced. “So, you want to inject with some unknown drug, like a guinea pig or something? “Is that it, man? “Well, you forget that!”
Rosa jumped up from her chair. “WAIT” she said a bit too loudly. She collected herself and asked the man if she could talk alone with her husband. The man agreed and stepped out of the room.
Miguel took on a stubborn look. There was not way he was going to go through with this. They argued for a few minutes. Miguel was just beginning to understand how long 20 years away from home would be. “Just think about it…” Rosa said with tears streaming down her face, “….you come home twenty years from now. Your daughter is married and moved away. You son will be 33 years old and will no longer know you. “I myself will be an old woman. “How can you not take this man up on his offer?”
Miguel didn’t know what to say. One thought kept crossing his mind. My 13 year old son. He will be 33 years old when I get out, almost as old as I am now. How much of little Carlos’ life he would have missed by then.
In the end, Rosa convinced Miguel to go through with it, no matter what monstrous things the drug would do to him. Now there was only one thought in his mind. “33”.
They found out the drug that would be used on Miguel would be an experimental youth formula. The doctor said it was completely safe. “You mean I will get younger, turn into a child?” Miguel said. He was shocked.
“Oh, I doubt very much that you will get that young. “The other versions of the formula only took about 10 years off of the last subject. “Granted, this is an “improved” version of the formula, but we do not make great leaps in only one generation. Hi looked at Miguel “You are how old? 37 ? “This is a guess, Miguel, but I think the most years you will lose will be 15. “That will make you 22 years old. You will still be a man and you will be in the prime of your life.”
Miguel was not sure about this. He looked at Rosa and could see the wheels turning in her mind. The thought of having a 22 year old lover made her giggle.
“Alright” he said finally. “Give me the formula”
They led him into the next room and injected him with a syringe of a colorless liquid.
“That’s it?” he muttered. “No” the man said. “You must come to our research center every day to be measured and weighed. “If you miss one visit, your parole will be revoked and you will serve your entire sentence. “Do you understand, Miguel?”
“Yes, yes, I got it” he said sarcastically.
And he walked out the door a free man. Well, at least free of serving in prison.
The next few days went quickly. Each afternoon, Miguel walk through town to the big white building that contained the research center. They would prod and poke him. It was not that bad. Then he went home. Once a week they re-injected him with the same clear stuff.
The first couple of weeks went without incident. Rosa said she could see a difference in him. That his face looked younger. But other than a new found energy level, he could not see any difference.
Miguel also went back to work for the boss. He felt strong and sure of himself and did his job well, intimidated even the biggest of men.
But on the third week, he did notice a change. His face got younger. His body seemed less thick. The center said he was now down by six years from his starting age of 37.
31 years old. He was not sure he wanted to continue this. But, the alternative forced him into the room to take another injection.
Then he was down by 9 years, the center told him. He was 28.
They marched him into that little room and gave him another damn injection. Again, that same colorless liquid that was working this miracle on him.
By the next week, the clinic had confirmed that Miguel was down by 12 years. He was a 25 year old man again.
The upside is that Miguel felt better that he had in years. Rosa tried to keep things on an even level. She instructed the kids not to mention anything to Miguel. And they didn’t.
Their lovemaking increased from every other night to every night.
On his way to the clinic one day, Miguel passed the grocery store that Sam Jarvis owned.
Miguel could see him peering out of the window, staring at him. But was he?
Miguel knew that he had changed a lot by now. His body was thinner, as was his trademark mustache. He no longer resembled the 37 year old man that he once was. But did Jarvis recognize him? A tinge of fear ran down his spine. But Jarvis turned his eyes away, showing no sign of recognition.
Day by day, week by week the injections continued. The good news was that Miguel’s age had stabilized around 22, almost exactly 15 years younger, just as the doctor had predicted. Hi boss told him that he looked too young to be intimidating, and put Miguel to work in his warehouse. The young man did not like this arrangement, but went along reluctantly.
His and Rosa’s relationship had suffered too. Yes, they still made love. But, her body, a thing of beauty to him mere weeks ago, now seemed flabby and thick, compared to his young, rock hard body.
Rosa sensed this and pulled away. They stopped having sex. She started to treat him like one of her kids, not like a husband and he resented her for this.
One day, Miguel stopped in the local drug store for a malt. His tastes had changed also. He had the same sweet tooth he had years before.
At the counter was a girl of about 17. And she was flirting with him. Miguel recognized her as a Guliana, a friend of his daughter’s. She knew him in his previous life and paid no attention to him at all. But he had looked at her. She had a beautiful face and had a lithe body with breasts even larger than Rosa’s.
“My God, she doesn’t know it’s me, Miguel.” He murmured to himself. So, he started coming onto her. At first it was a game. He told her his name was Jorge’.
But as more time went on, the more time he spent at the drug store. Pretty soon, he couldn’t contain himself. She invited him to her house one day when her family was away.
They went upstairs to the master bedroom. She showed no pretense and let him take her blouse off. ‘God, she is magnificent’, he thought.
She reached down, unbuckled his jeans, pulled the zipper and let them fall to the floor. Her hand went exploring as well as his. Soon, they were naked and in each others arms.
He entered her, and felt a sensation unlike any he had felt before. It was almost love, almost.
In the middle of their deepest passion, someone entered the room and stopped at the door.
In his ecstasy, Miguel noticed a shadow on the wall in front of him. He turned and saw his daughter, Juanita, staring open mouthed at her young father, his balls waving in the air, having sex with her best friend.
“NO!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. Guliana finally saw her and was desperately trying to disengage from him.
His daughter dropped the book she was returning and raced out of the room.
Miguel grabbed for his pants, trying to pull them on and chase after her at the same time. He was too late. By the time he got to the door, she was gone.
Guliana caught up with him. She was still naked, smiling at him, oblivious of how big a deal this was.
Don’t worry Jorge’, that is Juanita, my best friend. She will not tell on us.
Miguel was not so sure about this. “But – but you don’t understand, Guliana,….” He tried to say. But she was on a roll.
“Jorge’, it’s nothing to worry about. “I trust her. She has a good mother and father. Her mother is a saint, but her father……her father got into some kind of trouble with the law. “Juanita told me that they made him take a drug that makes him younger.”
Miguel already knew how this was going to turn out. “Guliana, I have to go now..”
“…..yeah, she said he is taking this drug and it made him look a lot younger, almost as young as her and…..” Guliana stopped in mid-sentence, then tried to continue….”he got y-younger….t-took injections….”
Miguel dropped his head. He could not stop her. ‘Almost there, and, and…’
“and …..and….” Guliana’s face turned chalk white. She stared at him, then at the door. Finally she turned back to him. “M-Miguel?” she asked.
“Yes” he said, and she fainted dead away.