I was standing in front of one of those massive buttress-rooted trees common in Amazonia, focused on a two inch long horned beetle in the moss at my feet. I was taking a piss when I felt it. Something small, cool, and hard was pressing between my shoulder blades through the damp T-shirt. A man's voice accompanied the touch, speaking words I recognized as Spanish but did not understand, having brushed up only on essential phrases when preparing for my trip.
"I'm sorry, I don't speak much Spanish," I said without turning, cock still in hand. "Habla Ingles?" My polite response was automatic; my brain hadn't caught up with the situation. Perhaps I imagined that if I didn't turn and look, then this couldn't really be happening.
"Si, I speak a little English. I said 'don't move or I'll shoot you'." The man's accent was the rolling Hispanic lilt of the area, but he spoke my language without any trouble.
"Okay, I'm not moving," I jabbered.
I was acutely aware of my dick still protruding from the zipper of my cargo pants. There was a man behind me, pressing into my flesh what I had to assume was a gun, and I had no idea what he wanted. We were in Ecuador, for crying out loud. One of the safest places in South America. It was supposed to be nothing like the mugging and murder hotspots of Mexico's Ciudad Juarez or the People's Army's abduction zone in Colombia. Ecuador was a haven for eco travelers like me. My group—eight tourists, the rep of the travel company, and the local guide—were just ahead on the trail. We had been looking for somewhere to stop for a snack on our way to an afternoon canoeing on a lagoon, and I thought it a good idea to take a leak before we settle down to eat.
Instead, I was standing there with my arms flapping at my sides, and I wasn't sure how I even ended up in this position. I'd reacted the way you'd expect in some movie hold-up when a bad guy sneaks up behind someone and shouts "hands up!" But I feared the gun was no prop, and I knew I was no action hero. I was shaking, in fact. The sweat remaining on my skin after the walk through steaming vegetation had gone cold despite the ninety-degree heat. I gulped and found my voice, but it came out as a croaked whisper, "Who are you? What do you want?"
"My name is Alvaro Ramirez, of the Socialist Movement for the Liberation of Ecuador. And I want to know who you are, and what you are doing here. But first, I want to take you somewhere we can question you in safety. Place your hands behind your back."
It felt like the contents of my innards had liquefied. The muscles in my arms froze in place. "Wh—what?"
"I said, 'place your hands behind your back.' And if I have to repeat myself again, I may just shoot you instead. I cannot let you go now that I have told you my name. You will no doubt prove to be a worthless tourist, but we would like to make sure you have no other purpose here. Now do what I say."
I considered trying to fight him. Grab the gun and run. We've all seen it in those action movies. James Bond. Jason Bourne. Bruce Willis. You swing round so fast you knock the gun aside before he can pull the trigger. Then, you punch him in the face and snatch the weapon at the same time.
They make it look so easy in the movies, but I was no stuntman. I was an architecture grad from Birmingham, England.
I moved my shaking arms down and behind my back.
The man was holding the point of that gun perfectly steady in the middle of my back as he closed cold metal around my left wrist. My gaze followed the beetle's slow creep up the tree trunk. It had green spots on its back. Somewhere at the back of my mind, a part of my brain that was still functioning properly murmured, "This is your last chance. Last chance to make a break for it before he has you cuffed and helpless."
-- from "The Guerrilla's Plaything" by Tilly Hunter