Big Melvin Chapter 3 "When The White Raven Flies"

Elk.Mt.StringBand1930The family moved to Jenkins, Kentucky in 1911 from their home in West Virginia. The newly formed town was soon bustling. The jobs in the coal mines were there for the asking, especially for Big Melvin's father, Wesley. It had been an arduous trip for the family. Everything they owned had been piled into one heavy wagon pulled with four mules and Mama, the little ones, her rocking chair and her mother's china safe in a  wood soap box were crammed into the buckboard, wheels bumping along over puddles and ruts in the oft traveled mountain roads. The going was slow, but Irma was excited about having a brand new house to house her growing family. Three rooms, a brand new shiny black cook stove with three ovens and a hot water tank right at the touch of a spigot. There even was a pot belly stove in the bedroom to keep them all warm. The winters would be damn cold in Eastern Kentucky, come November. Her children could hardly hold their excitement while on the journey. Especially Big Melvin, who was six years old. "Can I go to work with Pa when we get to Kentucky,"he asked incessantly. They called him Big Melvin, because he had weighed nearly 12 pounds when the midwife caught him in grandma's quilt after Irma had finally squeezed him out like a new calf. Sister Rose placed him on Irma's bare belly. "He hadn't started just a hollering' afore he was a sniffin' for that teat, jes like an ol' hound dog," boasted Wesley with a grin as wide as the Ohio River. As soon as he was sure all involved in the actions were healthy and safe, sure that Big Melvin had ten working fingers and toes and that his little pink pecker was intact and in the right place, he lit out to meet his fellows and celebrate the doin's with some of good West Virginia moonshine. He was staggering and pretty happy when he finally came home. Irma could not get angry with him. He got tight only on the occasion of the birth of one of his children. There was also the time on November 8, 1904 when Teddy Roosevelt got elected president. That seemed like a proper time also.

Big Melvin was the middle child of twelve. He had five sisters and six brothers. Being six years old, he was expected to help his Mama and the girls get situated in their new company house. It had a big front porch, smelled of fresh paint and had real glass windows, not lard soaked newspaper as was in their old house in West Virginia. Mama made sure the kids kept the windows  spotless and had them clean them daily. She loved sitting in her her new house, comfortable in her old rocking chair, smoking her pipe, while she nursed little Wesley. Gazing out and enjoying the sunlight, the rolling hills and forests, not yet ugly and soot blackened from the mines that would blanket the land, in just a few short years.

 She carefully planted a garden to grow all the favorite greens and vegetables that would supplement the credit she had at the company store. The sweet apple saplings would not bear fruit for pies and Brown Betty for a few years, but she had room for one, and it was hers. That made her proud. The older boys would go back up the hollers with Pa's old 22 single shot. If their aim was true that day, they would bring back some fat squirrels, three or four rabbits or a possum or two for the stew pot. Irma planned to barter for a couple of goats for milk for the children, and the they would eat all of the kitchen scraps and the trimmings from the garden too. It would be some time before they could afford a milk cow. Wesley has sold their old cow, Darla to help pay for their journey to Jenkins.

Rachel was the oldest girl. She did most of the cooking, but Mama made the cornbread, had the final say with all of the seasonings and her turnip and raisin pie was a big favorite of her husband and all of the kids. Irma's garden would contribute all types of vegetables. Mustard greens, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, fat, sweet white onions, red beet roots, and much more would show up on the Henry table in one dish or another. Her sow did not have her litter yet, so lard and bacon grease was scarce, requiring her to barter with Mrs. Todd for some extra, trading whatever she had extra on hand. Big Wesley had to give the boys a hand with making sure their new smoke house was built straight and true. "If the damn thing falls down, we will lose our hams, all the bacon and hog jowl. That is one thing I ain't a havin'. No way those young 'ins know what they are a coin' with a hammer, some iron nails and a square," he bellowed.

"I believe that you are a askin' a whole bunch from these boys of our'n. How many smoke houses has they built lately," Irma asked while tapping out her pipe on her boot and refilling it with tobacco. He just wrinkled up his nose and bit off another chaw, agreeing with her by saying nothing.

As Melvin got older and the places at the table increased, it became more of a chore to feed everyone. Melvin had a knack for mechanical things. It seemed he could fix most any machine or rig they had around town. Consequently, he was able to earn extra money to put in the big green cookie jar where his Mama kept her household money. He was very excited to bring home that money. "Here is another two bits for the green jar, Mama," he announced proudly. "I helped Mr. Jakes, the company maintenance boss, with some angle iron that needed a sawin'up. I be thinkin' he will soon trust me to do some more. Some  harder tasks that he needs a doin' . When that time comes along, I might be comin' home with a silver dollar, maybe more!" Irma couldn't be more proud of her middle child. Wesley would just grunt when Big Melvin would boast of his new accomplishments, but Irma knew he was just as proud as she was. He may have a gruff manner, but he loved all of his children.

Mr. Jakes continued to have Melvin work on more projects as he was learning, each more complex than the previous ones. Soon heavy trucks came rolling in, replacing the wagons and mules. The crew would show Melvin just once about a new task and he would know the order of each part and how it fit into the whole assembly. It seemed no detail escaped him, soon the other workers were getting him to help them and Melvin was not getting paid for all the work he was performing. He would often stay late when a new manual or a piece of machinery would be delivered to the building, peering over the details, learning the names of the parts, wanting to become more proficient. When the latest equipment got delivered from the rail siding, it was always a big affair in the yards. All of the mechanics and workers in the department would gather and be on hand for the big day. Those were the days that Big Melvin loved the best. Now he was part of the crew and they treated him like he was vital and very important. Melvin quit going to school when he was 12 years old. The eight grade was about all anyone needed, most people would say. He knew his arithmetic, he knew about George Washington and the American Revolution. He scored high with his reading examinations and had learned about the Rocky Mountains, the California gold rush in 1849 and about the Pacific Ocean. He hoped one day to see the Pacific Ocean. That would mean seeing the Rocky Mountains on the way there.

Big Melvin had been working in the maintenance yard full time since he was twelve. He was considered one of the top young mechanics. His family had benefited from that extra money. It was now 1925. During World War I in 1918, his brother Andrew had come home from fighting for the Army in France. He had been horribly disfigured from mustard gas attack by the Germans and he only lived about six months after coming home. He died a very painful death. Big Wesley had had an accident in the mines the previous year and was walking with a cane and a bad limp. He was in pain most of the time, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night screaming. Mama had been especially strong through all of this. Wesley was now 14 and was working in the coal mines to help the family. His Mama and Pa had hoped he would finish high school and get a good job, not have to go into those black hell holes six days a week like his Pa had done for so many years. Jenkins was a much bigger town now and there were many good jobs for a clever boy to take advantage of for his betterment.

Melvin had not ever had a girl friend, although plenty had shown an interest.  They thought he was good husband and family material. He seemed so serious and was always working hard for the company, and that impressed them. He just loved his job, and he was well suited for the tasks. "Hey Melvin, when you gonna git yer self a girl," Jakes was often to ask. "I ain't got no time for  girls an' such, Mr Jakes. I want to have yer job someday. I need to keep a workin' hard to do that," he said firmly. His boss would just get a curious look on his face when Melvin's answer was the same every time he brought up the subject. Big Melvin kept with his habit of coming to work early, and continued to often stay late. Even on Friday night, when all the young fellows in Jenkins were out on the town, looking for a connection to a young lady or going to the weekly dance at the school gymnasium, he was usually toilin' on a twin axle transmission , trying to figure out how to take it apart and put it back together. One night ,he could be seen in the repair garage, shiny gears and gaskets strewn all over the floor,two kerosene lamps turned up bright close by , squinting in the light as he thumbed through the tattered manuals. He was so relieved, when he was finally able to get it back together and there were no odd parts left on the floor. "Yipee! I done it,Mr Jakes. I done it ! , " he directed  quietly as if Mr. Jakes was there to give him a verbal reward for his determined work. That was a time when he wished he had gone to the dance like the others. An Appalachian string band had driven over from Berea way and was a plain' at the dance or maybe it was Hindman, he couldn't remember just which town it was.  A rousing rendition of Barbara Allen or Wings of a Dove would have been the best thing for him that night. He was pleased he did learn about that transmission. He washed the grease from his hands, rubbed the smudges from his face and just tumbled onto an old tattered truck seat the dogs used in the corner of the shop. That is where Jakes found him at sunrise, when he was making a trip to the outhouse from his room. Jakes just shook his head, covered Melvin with an old tarp and let him sleep.

Jakes had a well appointed room in the back of the huge building where he lived. He had a radio and Melvin liked to listen to the string bands from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Jakes, not being married, often invited Melvin to eat with him. There would be some squirrel stew, boiled potatoes and ham hocks and greens he had made for supper. Of course, the kid would not pass on having some of Doggett's shine that also was offered. Illegal, but everyone knew that Doggett made the best shine in the county. One night he got pretty lit and did not go home. He and Mr. Jakes listened to the radio, sang along and  finished off two or three Mason jars of Doggett's concoction. Melvin woke at dawn and found he was in Jakes' bed, and both were naked. He was startled. He did not remember anything from the night before. Jakes had a hold of his privates and was rubbing on him and making groaning noises. Big Melvin slapped Mr Jakes on the side of the head with powerful force and then leaped to his feet, scrambling to scoop up his clothes and putting them on as fast as he could. His eyes were burning red, he had a terrible headache and he couldn't breathe right. His brain was swirling about from the liquor. No one said a thing. When Melvin finally looked at Jakes, he saw the bright red welt on the side of his face and the look in his eyes was sad and pleading. He started to speak. Big Melvin pursed his lips, put his forefinger to them and said quietly, "shhhh. Quiet, you asshole. It is a good thing I didn't get my hand on a monkey wrench or you would have had your miserable brain splattered all over the that there side wall, right now." Jakes started to speak again. Melvin put his finger to his lips again and repeated, "shhhhh. Say one word and you are a dead man. I don't care if they hang me out in the rail yard fer the whole town to gawk at for a week. You will be a dead man, and fer that I would be glad!"

He pulled on his boots without bothering with stockings or lacing them up. Grabbed his coat and was out the door. Into the bright sunshine, walking briskly away from the repair yards, he started to breath a bit easier. His stomach was turning over and over. He felt sick. His head was still pounding. "Should he head on home? That was not a good choice, for his Mama would keep after and pester him until she found out what trouble had been brewing. Mamas have that knack, especially his. He decided to head out of town,  walk down past the mines and find a spot on the river to do some thinking. The soothing sounds of the water, rushing and gushing over the boulders would bring him some relief. He could rinse off his face. Hell, he would just stick his face in the water like he used to do as a young kid when he got angry and frustrated. All the times when his older brothers would tease him, without giving up, because he had such a big head and giant feet. They would say relentlessly,"you shore 'nuff gots feet like a Barnum and Bailey clown, Melvin. That is a fact to see fer sure.  Ever body knows that. I mean ever body!"

He soon found an inviting boulder, not too jagged and smoothed over by eons of cold, rushing water, that rose above the waterline. He climbed up, slipped of his loose boots and tossed them back on the bank, one by one. He plunged his feet in the freezing torrent all at once.  The shock almost knocked him into the water. His feet felt like your head does when you eat too much Paw Paw ice cream at once. His Mama made the best Paw Paw ice cream around the county he figgered, but she only would make it when she could get some fresh lemons for the juice. "Cider vinegar did not work too well," she would say. At the same time, it felt wonderful. He loosened his shirt, pulled up the top of his long johns and let the sun beams bake and warm his face. It was early fall, and soon the sun would find it's way out of the hollers and valleys,  earlier and earlier every day. Melvin stayed there the rest of the day. He slowly started to feel better. "Ma belly is a growlin' like a treed coon," he thought. He was, all of a sudden, very hungry and he needed to do something about that. His Pa said he could always handle himself in the woods, was a damn good shot with Pa's old double barrel Greener 10 gauge shotgun. That firearm had a kick most grown men could not handle. Pa let him learn early, about six years old or so, with his .22 cal. single shot squirrel rifle, but only his younger brothers used that now. His Pa got that shotgun from a man that owed him money for digging a well back in West Virginia. Pa always said, "that fancy English gun is worth a lot of money. I reckon that feller that I dug that well for, wasn't too durn honest. He used to hang out down by the train station, doin' what for over ta Richmond and figgered he needed that fancy wood case more'n that English feller did. I was plumb surprised when I opened it up after I jumped up into an empty boxcar. I pried open that case with my pocket knife and that's when I saw that gun. All scrolled up, shiny and fancy, it was. Curly hammers shaped like birds a flyin'. Polished stock looked like a slim woman's body, it did. Let me tell ya," he often has repeated the story.

Melvin learned some of the old injun' ways to survive out in the wilderness from that Cherokee drunk, Ol' Bear Paw, who hung around the garbage dump at wintertime in Jenkins, right along side with the coyotes and the crows. Ol' Bear Paw liked his liquor a bit too much and one hot summer evening, happy after stealing a slew of Mason jars full of moonshine from a still up in one of the more remote hollers, the moonshiners caught up to him and they cut off his hand . Two of them held him down over a piece of coal slag , pulled out their big knives and sawed it right off. They tossed it to those happy blue tick hounds that helped them track the old injun down as a just reward, Melvin had heard it told. "I imagine that Ol' Bear Paw didn't make a sound, not a whimper when those fellers were a cuttin'. Probably because he had already downed a jar of their mix before he was found hiding in a lean- to tool shed. They  left him to bleed out and die alone," Melvin surmised. That Cherokee soon pulled himself up with one arm when it seemed all was clear of any offended distillers, staggered back into the woods, loosing balance several times and making sure he fell on his good side, getting back to his feet and moving onward. Soon he found a tree oozing enough fresh sap to do the job. He scooped it up with his good hand and dobbed it all over the bloody stump of his excruciatingly painful right hand. From then on he had to teach himself to do everything with his left hand. One painful night about three weeks later, he woke from a terrible dream, trembling, and out of breath. Like a hound dog running in a dream chasing a squirrel, he was being chased by a mama black bear that had cubs. She was about to swipe viciously at his back a second time with those three inch claws, when he awoke from the nightmare. That was his answer! It was late winter in his dream and the bears would be emerging from hibernation, moving very slow,ravenous and weak. He knew just the right spot and the best type of trap to build to set his plan in motion.. He clamored through the woods to a rocky place just above the river where he knew there was a den full of sleeping, soon to be hungry, bear. Over the next 3 days, he rigged a snare of small saplings, well set in an earthwork well woven with a place for heavy jagged boulders that he had carried up the hill from the river, one by one, placed in the structure, perched just so. When she would come out from her den, he would kick out the bough holding the boulders in place and the bear would be buried under an avalanche of stones. Dead bear, he figured. Hopefully, it would give way with one strong kick, otherwise being just a few feet from the entrance to the den, Ol' Bear Paw would become her first meal! Seemed like the plan had been a success. The next time the townsfolk eyed  Ol' Bear Paw, he was wearing a big black paw, claws and all, where he used to have a right hand. With just one hand working the leather and the severed paw and his teeth pulling things tight, he had fashioned a prosthetic hand from a tanned bear paw, a cast off lace up top from an old high topped shoe and several leather thongs. It was as if he had never been without a hand at all. Many were then heard to say, "Ol'Bear Paw is a tough old bird. I don't know if I coulda gone and done that." Some even wrote songs up in the hills and hollers about Ol' Bear Paw and his ordeal. You can bet he made good use of the rest of that donor bear. Traded the bear skin for some moonshine, made jerky with the meat after  roasting the heart, liver and kidneys over his campfire and kept the skull as a reminder to not get caught stealing shine.

 

"I fashioned a snare, waited about an hour and snagged myself a fat rabbit. Made a substantial fire, and roasted the quarry. It tasted delicious, not like my Mama would put on the table, but good enough to end what had been one of the most miserable days I have ever ever had by filling my belly," Melvin said while he mumbled to himself. He thought about the day, ran the events through his head, as he tore off another leg and started chewing hungrily . Would he go back to his job? That now seemed like a good decision to deal with on Sunday morning. He decided that he would go to church tomorrow. That in itself would give his Mama and sisters a surprise, for darn sure. It had been a long time since he had been in that little chapel. Would God let him back in, he wondered aloud. That was definitely a good plan.  A smart plan. Papa always said that hasty decisions could gather momentum after a good nights sleep on a full belly. Reaching into the pocket of his Dickie's overalls, he pulled out his jack knife, flipped the large blade and locked it in place and cut several boughs in different lengths so he had the right layers in place if it rained, made himself a good soft bed of more boughs for the night. He grinned to himself and agreed that Ol' Bear Paw would nod his approval at it's solid construction. He wondered,"where the hell is that Injun? I could have used some conversation towards the end of this hellacious day." Last task before retiring was to gather a large stack of firewood. He didn't need to have some hungry bear smelling his rabbit supper gettin' to make himself fat for his hibernation after some efficient gnawing on Big Melvin. The golden red rays of the sun were now slipping behind the the lowest ridge. He was damn tired. He slept well and he did not dream, not that night.

A bright crisp and cold day dawned on Jenkins that Monday in October. It had been a month since Big Melvin's overnight ordeal. Work had gone on at the company as in the past. Everyone was looking for the first dusting of snow. When the snow came, work became much harder for everyone not down in the mines. The stifling heat under ground was some relief when the temperature was below freezing for everyone not down below. It was especially uncomfortable for those that worked on equipment not in the repair garage and the sheds. Mr. Jakes had promoted Melvin to maintenance crew on the mine railway - the mine cars and the locomotives that pulled the coal train from under ground. That Monday, new equipment had been delivered to the yards. Not yet in service, Melvin and the crew's responsibility was to inspect all of the wheels and undercarriage that all was properly lubricated and ready for new service in the mines. He was there an hour before anyone else on the crew. He wanted to ask Jakes some questions about the new locomotives that would be running on benzene and alcohol. He walked briskly in the sunshine, his breathe fogging the air in front of his face with every stride, making his way quickly to the repair garage and Jakes office and quarters. Passing behind the building, he glanced into the soot coated windows and was shocked at what he thought he saw. There were odd movements. He stopped and looked around. No one was about or behind him. He pulled down the sleeve of his heavy coat and rubbed a clean spot on a lower pane of the window. There was Jakes, naked as the day he was born, kneeling behind Tommy Watson, the new young kid who worked in the shop after Melvin left. Tommy was also naked and the look on his face, eyes closed and face pained, it was obvious that he was being forced to do something he did not want to do. "What to do," whispered Big Melvin quietly. He could not watch or look one more moment. He thought that if he had stayed in the repair garage, he would have been on that miserable bed where Tommy was now with Jakes.

He was out of breath as he tripped going up the steps. Pa was sipping his morning coffee with chicory . "What is a goin' on, Melvin," he asked. "Slow down now, you will scare your Mama. You got a crazy look in your eyes."

"Pa! I needs the Greener from over the mantle. And some double aught shells,only two , I needs 'em now," he blurted out quickly.

"If you needs the Greener, go ahead. I will get the shells for you, but you better take more'n jes two," he said as he handed him the partially full box. Big Wesley kept the double aught shells for bear, coyote, and mountain lion . He had seen what a 10 gauge would do to a man with a double aught load. "Damn near cut a body in half," he remembered from his past. Wesley did not have a chance to say any more to Melvin. His Mama came out on the porch from taking the biscuits from the oven in time to see him running down the road, stuffing the Greener under his coat and heading back towards work. She thought that odd. It would be hard to run after a bear or a mountain lion with that big gun under a man's coat. "Maybe there's a big 'ol bear causin' trouble up ta Jenkins, Ma."

"He didn't take time to even grab  one of his Mama's biscuits. My Melvin loves my biscuits ," she said wistfully.

Big Melvin cautiously opened the heavy creaky door to the repair garage. "Hello, Melvin," Tommy said with a cheerful smile. He obviously was hiding what he had just endured. "Hi, Tommy. How's it going in here. Mr Jakes around? I would like to speak with him," he said sternly. "I reckon he is back in the office, a doin' some paperwork an' such."

"Tommy," Melvin said looking him coldly in the eye. "I want you to go for a walk for a while. Get some air. Take your dog, Blarney with ya. Go see the new mine cars I looked at this morning."

"But I will get in..."

Melvin stopped him in mid sentence. "Listen to me. There ain't a no trouble here with old man Jakes. I can tell you that, fer sure. No trouble at all. Now grab your coat and that pup and head out to the mines."

"Jakes! Jakes! You in there, you bastard," he hollered as loud as he could. He glanced out the window at Tommy heading to where he sent him towards the mines and the new mine cars. He noticed the sparkle of the first snowflakes falling. The black soot covered town was soon to be covered in a blanket of white,  transformed into a picture worthy of a Christmas postcard. "In here, Melvin. Whatsa matter with you, huh? How come yer a hollerin' that loud. Did you jes now call me  bastard," he asked as he finally looked up from the tally sheets on his desk. Big Melvin slowly pulled the Greener from under his heavy coat where it had been hidden. He carefully leveled it at Jakes midsection." Stand up really cautious like, you little boy fucker." He knew well that Jakes kept a Smith and Wesson break front .44 caliber revolver in his top drawer. It had lost it's former bluing and the ivory handle was broken on one side, but it fired a big bullet straight to it's target. At this close range, it would be a contest to see who got of their rounds the fastest. "Step slowly forward and make sure those arms are up in the air. I remember that big ol' Smith and Wesson ya got hid in that top drawer, " Melvin cautioned. It was cold in the office, but the sweat was rolling down Jakes' face and was stinging his eyes. "Can I take offen ma specs and wipe my eyes? They is a stingin' powerful bad."

"Mr. Jakes, I once promised you that you would be a dead man, even if I had to hang by my sorrowful neck in that yard for all to see for a week. You member that day. Do's ya?"

"Look here Melvin. We has bin friends , hasn't we? I made a big mistake that day. We was both drunk on Doggett's shine. 'Member? I got you a better job an' more money straight from my purse. Didn't I? "

"Mr. Jakes, the time for palaver is a comin' to an end in this here life fer you."

"But, but... Melvin..."

The next sound was the report of that shiny antique English Greener 10 gauge shotgun with a load of double aught balls.  Melvin had aimed right at Jakes' midsection and pulled both triggers from less than eight feet away. The blood, dungaree, and body bits and pieces were splattered all over the office. Jakes' top half of his body was blown back into the metal mullions that separate the window panes on behind his desk .  They were bent where his body hit them and the glass was shattered all over his desk and the tally sheets. Melvin stood there looking at the sight. The lower half of the body had tumbled to the floor, blood was draining out towards his boots from what had been Jakes' privates .

He finally came to his senses, grabbed a clean shop towel, wiped off his face, his coat and the Greener hurriedly and tucked it away. He reached up on the top shelf where the records were kept. He was looking for the pipe tobacco can that Jakes always kept there. He found it and opened it, fumbling at first. He shoved the wad of greenbacks in his overalls and tipped the can up. There were three twenty dollar gold pieces and several silver dollars which he also pocketed. He was thinking clearly now. Tommy would not have to endure this shit again. Melvin would never see his family again. Better grow his beard out real heavy. He will look older than his twenty years. He could sell the Greener for some hard cash. He heard shouting and footsteps running towards the garage. He quickly needed to head for the river, out the back way. Camp for a day or so. "No," he said to himself. "I better keep on a movin' out of these parts. Out of these mountains." He wondered where he would go. That planning had not been part of his day. Mostly, he was not going to let some fool ruin that boy's life. He had accomplished that. What was the price ? Maybe it was the price of his own life. He would keep on moving, only to stop for an hour or two, eat something and move on. Night was the best time to travel. He could hold up during the day. First stop should be to try to find Ol' Bear Paw. For a silver dollar, he would lead him out of the mountains and head... Where? "California," he shouted out loud breathlessly as he was running towards the river right past the mines, ducking in and out of the buildings, hoping no one sees him. The company will surely have their influence and money in play with the county sheriff. He needed all the edge he could muster. Ol' Bear paw was his edge. "How far is California," he thought to himself. "Must be pretty far." He wondered if the trains ran all the way to the Pacific Ocean. He knew it was a fer piece way to the Pacific Ocean. He'd seen that on the old leather globe Jakes had in his office. They must have railroads there, and they will have trucks for sure. And cars too. He could fix all of them. He would have grown out his beard out by then and no one would know him. He would tell people he met was from West Virginia. That wasn't a lie. It was settled. "I 'm a headin' fer California. I wonder if they have string bands in California."

The Curse of Mala Rosa Chapter 2 "When The White Raven Flies"

Lost-Road-RossIt was a bright and sunny day, just after a spectacular  sunrise. The waters off what is San Diego Bay were calm, the breakers foaming, steady and methodical. San Diego de Alcala had been claimed for the Spanish king in 1602 by Vizcaino, even though some sixty years earlier Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo had done the same thing. Vizcaino claimed he did not recognize the bay, even from Cabrillo's detailed logs and descriptions. By 1769 when the Spanish Father Junipero Serra and the Spanish army contingent arrived in San Diego, bent on colonization and established the first of twenty one missions in California, the Mission San Diego de Alcala.

They defeated the native peoples, including the Tipai-Kumayaay people.This had been the practice for some 275 years in the Americas. The Spanish were  firmly entrenched and had enslaved the natives, destroying their crops, their way of life along with their homes and villages. Most devastating of all was their determined efforts to convert the people to Catholicism. Even though they had established advanced agricultural practices,practices that the Spanish had no knowledge of at all, all farming was to be by European methods, with no variation. Their Presidio (fort in Spanish) is known today as Presidio Hill. Built on visually serene, strategic and lush lands, formerly a Kumayaay village. The meadows, valleys, mesas, and creeks had been their home for centuries and had always been well defended. Up on a promontory, one could see all the way to the coast on a clear day, some eleven miles.

In 1778 the Kumayaay rose up and fought the Spanish to drive them out of their homelands. These efforts were futile. The Spanish were to continue to dominate the natives as they had done before the uprising. Before the Spanish had arrived, they lived in harmony in triplets of 300 persons or so ,spread throughout the rich and fruitful lands in villages established years ago. They had hoped to farm, fish, hunt, and trade again like they had for so many generations. After the uprising was was over, four local Chieftains were executed in a public place within Presidio Hill. The natives were required to witness their leaders being murdered. The Spanish were sure that the possibility of future uprisings were slim,and their stronghold and enslavement would be secure for all time.

The ramifications to the triblets and the chieftains families were sure to be severe and heinous in nature. How many of the Chieftain's families would die or suffer terrible retributions?  HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR'S father had been a beloved Chieftain and one that led the others to the insurrection. Her brother was now Chief, One Blue Eye was his name. He was also very young, five years younger than HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR and had little knowledge of the world and of sensible dealings with people. He was just a boy and not at all yet wise. Their two older brothers had been killed in the battles during the uprising. All of their families, the people of their triblet were terrified of what the soldiers would do now. The talk was  rampant. Most wanted to flee to the mountains to the east, and surely become invisible among the tall pines and the inaccessible rock strewn arroyos. Would they all be beheaded or shot and left to rot in the hot summer sun, their bodies to be picked over by the jaguars, coyotes, wolves, ravens, and the gulls, until their bones were bleached by the sea and the sun? One Blue Eye decreed calmly that they would all stay and that he would speak to the Spanish, that he would convince them that there was no longer any threat to them and they would therefor be safe and secure. Most did not believe their young chieftain. Especially his sister. Even though she was not a man, her father had said many times, privately and within the people of the triblet, that she should be in charge when he is gone, but this could not happen. She was a woman!

The next sunrise found the villagers, frightened with angst and fear. Lookouts ran into the village, warning of a large group of soldiers approaching. Commanded by Captain Pacho Guerrero, the soldiers marched  with a grand show of strength into their village. Villagers that were too close to their formations were prodded with lances or whipped to get to move move aside, others that dared stare back without a look of humbleness in their eyes received similar punishments. Some did not rise from the attacks. "Who is in charge of this pitiful gathering?" Shouted Lt. Macias. One Blue Eye strode forth with confidence, he had dressed in his finest garb and had a proud look on his face,"I am the leader of my people. I answer for them."

"I'll speak to this trash, Lt. Macias," said Captain Guerrero. "You answer for these people,do you? You do not look old enough to have pell on your verga, much less to know what to do with it," scowled Captian Guerrero."I need some answers now, little verga. I need answers for the action you people took against my soldiers," he said now shouting more loudly. Spittle was running down his chin and into his black beard. His eyes were wide and glaring, his cheeks showed red.

Shadow Owl hurriedly ran into her tule and said in a firm voice, "HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, you must listen to me carefully. What I am to ask you now will determine whether you will live or die. Your brother will offer you and your five attendants to this Spanish jellyfish and I feel that none of you will survive being slaves. He will make you lie with him. When he does, you must not resist." Shadow Owl was the elder of their village, no one knew how old he was, they just knew his words were true and wise words and one could know that the sunrise, the ocean tides, the crows in flight, and the sunsets were as true as his words. "When he lies with you and after he has taken you, all of your attendants will change shape. A black jaguar, a wolf, a coyote, a cougar, and a white raven. They are to kill the captors that are holding them, then come to your tent and the Captain must not live. You have seen what these animals can do,their vengeance will be the vengeance of all of your people and for your dead father, our Chieftain. The child you will carry will be a man child. He will become Chieftain of our people."

"Why will he become Chieftain, mOne Blue Eye is our Chieftain?" She asked feeling Shadow Owl and his urgency. "That will be revealed to you soon. After you all have made your escape, you must leave for the mountains where the sun rises and stay until your child is born. Your attendants will protect you on this journey, and the white raven will be the eyes for your journey. I will have several men go with you to build you a safe shelter of tree boughs and limbs. The kind of shelter that as the forest grows, it will become invisible. I will also see what the raven sees and I will know when to send for the boy child."

"I want to stay with my people. I am confused," she meekly responded. "There is no time to be confused.There is only time to be the daughter of your father, our Chieftain. There is something else that I must tell you now," he said with a hard stare as he looked directly at her with his dark eyes."What is it Shadow Owl?"

"You will never return to your people. You will never die. Your child will be the way you have chosen to help your people. I need your answer before you leave the tule to meet the Spanish." She glanced at the five women beside her. The looks in their eyes gave her the answer. "I will do this for my people, Shadow Owl. For this I thank you. I fear that I will not see you again." He nodded and his eyes softened and he lowered his head. He had a look she had never seen in him before, one of relief and sadness at the same time. They all rose and left the tule to go outside. Shadow Owl left quickly to his tule to make ready for the curse.

Seeing the state that the Captain was getting into and knowing he had better do something to impress and calm him, One Blue Eye knew he must do this thing quickly or many would die that day. "HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, my sister, come here to me," he commanded. She gasped as did the crowd. She had been watching from back in by her home, her tule, and she calmly, with her five attendants, walked slowly to where the Captain and her brother stood. The five young women joined behind her. She stood proudly and announced to them both,"I , HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, sister of our Chief and only daughter of my dead father. Brother, what is it that you require of me?"

"The Spanish Captain has come to our village and wants some answers for the actions taken by our father and the other Chieftains."

"Are you asking me what my solutions would be to this question," she said with a quizzical look on her face. He puffed himself up to his maximum height, which was just a fraction over that of her's and said, "no, I am not, sister." He turned to all of the villagers that were formed in front of the armed soldiers, and said clearly and resolutely for all to hear, "I am now decreeing that the Captain will have the gift of my sister, HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, and her five attendants, to do with as he pleases. I only ask his mercy and the continued safety of our people, and my hope is he and the Spanish king will accept this gift and know we have only humbleness to offer."

When the Captain hear the proclamation, a grin came over his face."Hold my horse," he tersely commanded a private standing close. He climbed off his horse, adjusted his sword. With sweeps of his hand he brushed some road dust from his shoulder epaulets, doffed his hat and did the same to it. Casually he pulled an elegant lace kerchief from his tunic and wiped his sweaty brow and the inside brim of his hat. He then carefully folded the lace, replaced it in the tunic, re-buttoned it and put his hat back on. Now feeling a better symbol of his rank and station, he said to One Blue Eye, "my savage friend. You truly amaze me. These gifts, as you call them, are to compensate my King and what your people did to my soldiers? My little verga, you are more of a fool than I thought you were. There is nothing or no one in your filthy little encampment that will ever satisfy the lives you have taken or the time you have robbed us of. Valuable time to develop this land for our sovereign King Carlos III. All of your people will do as we tell you. You will become of the Faith and the loyal subjects of our King," he said his voice rising steadily. "All of your people, my young boy, will work to grow the crops and toil as we demand for all of your days to come."

Everyone was getting more and more nervous, except for HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR and her attendants. Their calmness was being noticed by those around them. Captain Guerrero was briskly striding back and forth now in front of the gathering. "As for your gifts. Why would accept these gifts which I had planned to take anyway and do with what I please. As for your sister, she may prove to be an interesting diversion. Her women? My men will surely find tasks for them,during the day and especially at night! Now my little verga, we will talk about you. You have said that you are the Chieftain of these people. I have a plan made perfect for a Chieftain.. It is a very fair plan, and I think you will agree. Nod, if you agree with me that I have a fair plan. One Blue Eye nods his head timidly. My translator has said that you were decreeing the terms of your wishes to atoll for the atrocities your people have committed to the soldiers of my King. Now it is my turn to decree something about you, my little brother."

"Lt. Macias,bind little brothers hands behind him tightly with rawhide. Make the knots especially firm and secure. Splash some water from a canteen on them, they will tighten quickly in this hot sun. I want him to be very uncomfortable. That is another thing,little brother. I do not want to stand here in the heat of the day trifling with you and these wretches you call your people, any longer." Lt. Macias had three soldiers grab One Blue Eye and bind his hands. "Now place him in front of those stones over there. I want the lead to strike the stones as they travel through his body. I have heard it is more painful when that happens," grinning as he gave the commandment.

The soldiers grabbed his arms roughly and dragged him, legs and knees digging furrows into the soft soil,and stood him in front of the stacked stones. There was a stillness within the crowd. No one dared to move, cough, or speak. There were small children sniffling and sobbing quietly, their mothers yanking on their hands and whispering in their ears. This Captain was unpredictable. It could be that they all would die this day. HAIR THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR, face raised to the sun, eye closed tightly, thought about how brave her brother was being. He was to die a young boy, but he would be remembered. She was also thinking about her fate, and that of her women. What was it going to be like to live forever? For a moment the thought gave her a chill as if the wind has whipped off the surf on a dark and rainy day. She decided that her decision would never allow her to think about this day again. They all had many perilous and dark days ahead to endure, and she must do as Shadow Owl had instructed them to do. The sadness for her people would have to be short lived. They had known this sadness since these invaders had come to their land.

She looked down and saw that a formation of soldiers were being placed in front of her brother. Five kneeling and five standing behind, all with their big guns at the ready. "We are ready my Captain," said Lt. Macias. Captain Guerrero strode triumphantly over the gathering like a peacock. "Little brother, I see that my Lieutenant has added some bindings at your elbows. That must really be painful. I very much hope that it is painful, little brother."

"Lt.Macias," he barked sharply.

"Yes sir,my Captain."

"You are to make sure that all of the shots find their target. understand?"
"Yes,my Captain," he responded with authority.

"One more thing, Lt Macias."

"Yes,My Captain."

"You are to make sure that none of the shots enter his heart or his skull. I want to see him suffer like a rabid dog. If we are fortunate, we can find a place in the shade, have a cool drink of water, and watch the blood drain from the many holes in our little brother's useless body. Do you understand?"

"Yes,my Captain."

"One more thing. Have you put your best marksmen on this squad of death," he asked.

"Yes, I understand, my Captain, and I have placed the very best of our company to perform this task," he boasted proudly.

"Very good, lieutenant. You may proceed  at your own pace." Lt. Macias walked up alongside the men, drew his sword and shouted, "ready. Aim. Fire." The volley echoed through the little arroyo where the village was situated. All of those present shuddered at the roar of the muskets and blinked as the smoke wafted into their eyes and made them sting and water. Some saw the lead hit their Chieftain with a horror on their faces. When the light wind had cleared the smoke away, One Blue Eye's body was still writhing where he had fallen in front of the stones and on the soft dirt. The blood was flowing from his mouth, and the short hollow breaths of  badly punctured lungs were heaving in his mangled chest. His rare antelope skin shirt with the many colored sea shells and abalone sewed on by his mother was now destroyed. His mother had bartered one hundred dried silver fish, that only come at the high moon, for that pelt. The weeping could be heard throughout the crowd. The soldiers had removed their hats. Some were smoking and talking. Others immediately started cleaning their pieces, these were probably the expert marksmen, waiting to be ready for any further orders from the Captain that day.

Captain Guerrero called Lt. Macias over and said something in his ear. "He perked up and looked to the soldiers," Sergeant Villa, get some men and prop up the savage on his knees and hold him there. The sergeant and three men walked over to One Blue Eye and did as ordered. The body was still heaving, not yet quiet. Lt. Macias quickly strode over the them, grabbed One Blue Eye by the hair, lifted his head upright, and with a swift downward movement of his sword, he severed the head cleanly. He held the head high and waved it all about, the blood splattering around. The soldiers cheered and waved their lances, hats, and muskets in the air. Lt. Macias had been given this honor for his good performance that day. He also knew that he may also receive a letter of commendation that would surely help him advance up the ranks. If only his father, also a career soldier, could see him that day. He would be very proud of his son. Captain Guerrero wanted to make sure this act was performed before the body was completely dead. His orders were to make an example of this village, and he was determined to perform as ordered by his superiors. Later the Friars would have a much easier time keeping these people docile and timid.

"Lt. Macias, we have celebrated quite enough. Place that head on a pike firmly in the dirt. Have the translator tell them that if it is removed from the pike, I will return and behead ten of the villagers. Tell them they will be children. That will keep them in line. Put that whore of a sister of this head and her women in irons, and make ready to move the men out. We have another village to go to before sunset. Make sure we fill our skins with water, take any goats or food they have stored. Bring that sister over here for me to look at. Finally before we leave Lt. Macias," he said grinning again. "Have all of the men piss in their water supply, shovel in some horse dung for good measure and set all of these hovels alight. That will finish my example quite well, I am sure." Still proud of his recognition that day he replied clearly,"yes,my Captain."

"Well sister, your day has not turned out too be to good, has it?" He grabbed her by the irons and yanked her to where she was in front of him. "Let me have a closer look at you." He pulled the sweat stained lace kerchief from his tunic again spit in her face two or three times,and rubbed vigorously. "Let's see what is under that filth, little sister." She took the abuse, knowing Captain Guerrero would soon experience his death. Perhaps a fate as terrible as her father had and her brother had suffered that day. She imagined what it would be like to be eaten alive by a black jaguar, a coyote, a wolf, a cougar, and have the eyes pecked out by a raven. She smiled inwardly with a small shred of satisfaction. "The only good thing about you, little sister are the wild roses woven into your hair. Some sort of badge of state, is it, I should imagine? You have a face that is not completely unpleasant, for a savage. The translator said that your name is HAIR LIKE THAT SHINES LIKE THE JAGUAR. You will now forget that name. You are now my little bitch and I will name you MALA ROSA. You have no idea what I am saying, do you? Pvt. Gonzales,I need you to talk to this savage bitch for me."

"Yes sir,Captain. What do you want me to tell her?"

"Inform her that she now belongs to me and that her name is now and forever MALA ROSA. At least as long as I let her live and do for me. Tell her  that the women will do whatever they are asked, at any time of the day they are asked, by whoever asks them. See if she understands." After the translator passed on the orders, the new MALA ROSA glared and nodded her head reluctantly. The Captain saw the acknowledgement and said,"Good. Well done,Private."

"I will beat her tonight before I take her. My father always said that you must make sure that your animal knows who is the master. She will know her master when we get to the other village and make camp."

RHINOCE-ROSES

Sometimes when we were kids,

We would pull the thorns off of roses,

Stick them on our noses,

And call them Rhinoce-Roses.

 

Ross Pullen   Age 9

THEN THERE WAS A FATHER Chapter One “When The White Raven Flies”

 

Lost-Road-RossThe year was 1886, the month was May, in the state of Sonora, the northernmost part of Mexico, adjacent to Baja California and just below Arizona in the United States. These were the lands of the Yaqui - native people of Mexico. The Yaqui village of Vicam and the fortress of El Abril had been under attack for several days by the forces of Generals Marcos Morales and Miguel Martinez.

In the end there were 2000 Yaqui left at El Abril, mostly elderly, sick, and the young. A few Yaqui had escaped to the, mountains to fight another day, even though in the coming weeks many in the surrounding villages traded their weapons for food and protection.

“Sargent,” Capt. Rota shouted, "bring me that little ragged one. The one with the long  and shiny black hair like a raven. I will wager that little Yaqui  bitch can warm my bed tonight." The Sargent ran over and grabbed her by the arm as she was helping an old woman up from the dirt. The old woman resisted and the corporal slammed her in the skull with the butt of his musket. She fell limp and lifeless to the ground. The young girl just looked with at her with sadness in her eyes - there were no tears. She saw her grandmother’s blood spilling out on the dirt, mixed now with that of soldiers and her people that were killed that day. She just stood there in silence as the corporal yanked her arm roughly. Her face turned up towards the bright sun and the corporal and with that blank stare from her black eyes, the dirt and sweat streaked her face. Her eyes were as if they were in the skull of a wax museum mannequin-dull and glass like. Sergeant Montes, with a sly grin on his face showing his many missing teeth bellowed, "come with me little one. This old woman fell like a sack of masa. Was she your grandmother? Ha! Come with me quickly, the Captain will split you open like a ripe watermelon tonight, and you will become his new whore. He slit the throat of the last one the other night, she didn't shine the black leather of his boots as like a mirror. One quick twist of the wrist with that antique blade of his. Besides, you have more to offer," as he grabbed her breast through her coarse ragged shift. "I will wager a months pay that then you will have something to say." 

“Come with me you little whore. The Capitan will be sticking you tonight until you bleed like a young suckling pig. When he is happy, then all of us are happy.”

“I think I will call you Rosalita, just like my first whore when I was fourteen. Come here you little bitch and take off my boots,” he said with a sneering grin on his face. He was now comfortable in his tent, “I am your Captain and you will wash my clothes, brush my uniform to a perfect nap, and shine my boots like a mirror." With the grin becoming more sinister he said, "you will chula mi pito… mi verga and many more acts that I desire... as I command. Let’s see how you can do it right now. Take down my trousers. I’ll bet mine is your first, you little puta!"

The weeks ahead were hard work for HAIR SHINES LIKE THE NIGHT,  her native name given by her father, not Rosalita as she was called by Capt. Rota. She traveled with the army. Her chores and Capt. Rota were relentless and were taking a toll on her frail body. She had learned after a month, that if she gave in to his terrible physical requests, there was more food for her that next day. The terrain they traveled she knew well, not so much the soldiers. This was her homeland, she knew every cactus, every sun baked boulder and every dry wash and gully, at the edge of the hot, vast and dry Sonora desert. The Yaqui people were always there, even if not seen by the invaders. Quiet and invisible, not a movement of a bush or the slightest sound was made. The soldiers, their wagons and the long column snaked threw the rugged hills bordering the desert. The horses and mules suffered the most. The ones that couldn't make it, soon became the nights rations, roasted over the cooking fires, tended by the Yaqui captives (who did not partake of the sad, but delicious bounty). Water was not always available, at least for the invaders. If water was not easy to find, the Yaqui had ways of extracting water from certain roots and bulbs. They also ate small rodents, a roadrunner if they were quick, perhaps a desert iguana or some eggs from a cactus wren or a martin, stolen from a nest carved by a woodpecker in a Saguaro cactus. If they were fortunate, they could bring down a Pronghorn antelope with a silent arrow from ambush. She worked with the other Yaqui women, determined to survive and see their people once again someday. It was rigorous and hard work and sometimes she was beaten by Capt. Rota when he was drunk or she didn’t do a task to his liking. Some of the other Yaqui women became camp whores and they received more food and fancy dresses and jewelry. At least she was not passed around for the enlisted men to abuse or her life would be far more desolate.

Corporal Unai was a baker and cook for the officers. His expertise had been learned in his Basque homeland. He left his home at 13 and joined the Spanish Army and soon was on a ship to Mexico. Napoleon III had defeated the Spaniards. Pvt. Unai had been invaluable with his bread and pastry skills, had many occasion impressed high ranking officers with his creations, so now he became a member of the army of Emperor Maximiliano. This post was short lived. The Emperor was deposed and executed a year after the French left Mexico. His abilities and skills with an oven kept him in good stead, he was promoted to Corporal and assigned to the Mexican Army. He longed for a return to his mountain homeland, at least he was posted to Mexico City. After many years of ordinary service, he felt if he volunteered for a dangerous campaign, perhaps he could obtain a faster promotion, then his Basque home might be realized again. He remembers that home as green and lush, with high peaks and magnificent thunderstorms and clouds, not like this barren and inhospitable country he found himself in now. He had served in three armies since leaving, if he had to desert he would do so to get home again.

Rosalita often had to work for him in his camp kitchen when there was a special Army official visiting the camp and an elegant banquet was to be prepared. As her belly became more pronounced, many of the tasks were more difficult for her. “You should sit and rest. Do not worry,I will do that for you," as she was taking several pans of fragrant sweet rolls he had finished to be proofed in the cabinet, said a kind Corporal Unai. She had added some coals from the fire in the bottom to give off enough heat for the proper rising. There is no question she was about five months along. An older Yaqui captive who had had six children examined her, "young woman you will give birth to a son when four moons pass. I wish that I could get some more help to let you  not toil so," Unai added. Her physical condition did not find Capt. Rota from not having her every night, now even more than before she was to give birth.

They came out of the early morning sun, silently and with intent. The sentries were taken without any notice, until one who was coming back after relieving himself behind a thicket, let out a shout as his throat was slit by a silent Yaqui. The Mexicans were tired, hungry, thirsty, and ragged. Any fight they had in them was dulled by early morn sleep and weakened reflexes. "Sargent, what is happening," a stumbling Capt. Rota stammered. Just at that moment HAIR SHINES LIKE THE NIGHT rose swiftly from the bed, maneuvering her large belly, grabbed his prized engraved knife from under the bed and plunged into his liver and twisted with all the force that she could muster. He turned his head around and looked at her, "you bitch,you stabbed... me." At that point she plunged it into his chest and the blood poured from his mouth, he fell on the carpet in his tent - dead. Corporal Unai threw back the flap and charged into the tent,sword raised ready to strike. He saw this tiny pregnant woman, in a dark red blood spattered nightgown, Capt. Rota's knife in her hand. The blank look in her eyes was the same one as that day of the battle, when she was taken and her grandmother was murdered. He would never forget that look, those dark eyes with no emotion in them.

She had known that her people had gathered their forces, now rearmed and that the numbers had grown. They had followed and watched the army for several weeks and Corporal Unai and she had became confidants during this grueling journey. She reminded him of the determination of the women of his village. The plans were passed on to him and he said,"No matter what happens, I will help you."

"Your kindness has been a joy to my heart and to my unborn son. You have said you are unhappy being a soldier. You will come with us?" He just nodded and a calmness came into his eyes that she had not seen before. "Come with me now. Make no haste! Gather your things. Your people have done their task. There is no one alive. Thankfully, only a few Yaqui were lost. They are packing up what horses and donkeys are left,along with the food."

"So you are going with us?" She asked not believing he would."Yes. I will go with you. Your son will need a father. A father that will teach him to bake a fine bread and learn the right way for a man to act,but mostly how to treat his mother. He will have an amazing mother, I have seen this with my eyes," said former Corporal Unai with a slight tear in his eye.

 

"Father, may we speak about things that may upset you?"

"Of course,Porfirio, always you and I may speak," said Unai. 

"It is time for me to leave our village, my home. I must try to help my people more than I have. I want to go to Chihuahua and join with Pancho Villa and fight against the government."

"Have you told your mother this thing you must do, Porfirio?"

"No, I am reluctant to do so,it will hurt her badly."

"You have seen your mother endure much. Since you were born in our village, twenty-eight years ago, there have been many hardships, much death and unhappy times, have there not?"

"Yes, that is why I must do this thing," he said with conviction.

"You feel that you can do what others of your tribe have not?"

"I only know that you always longed to go back to the land of your birth. To the green mountains, the rain and the snow you have many times told us stories about. Yet you did not go."

"Yes,I have not gone, Porfirio. It was important to stay here in our village and take care of you, my son. Not to mention your three sisters and two brothers and your mother. Have I not taught you that a man keeps his word? That a man takes care of his family, no matter what," he said emphatically.

"What about your wife, Porfirio. She is only thirteen and with child. Would you take her on a dangerous journey that most likely will end in pain and hardship for both of you?"

"HAIR LIKE THE SETTING SUN and I have talked many many times about this, Father. She is ready to follow... to go with me and help us with our task," he stated clearly.

"If you are both determined to follow this through, then you will have to tell your mother. She is strong. It will hurt her deeply, as it does me, but I see this is what will happen in your lives now."

"We will both tell her, tonight after the evening meal."

"Good. That is good, Porfirio."

"Yes, father?"

"When you leave I will not be there. I am not as strong as your mother, that is all I will say. Here, take these."

"But father, this is your beloved watch and your compass that we used to find our way so many times, both  from your father."

"Yes, I know. You must have them now. You are my oldest son and you are going where you have never been. The path is perilous. You will not always have other Yaqui to look after you and your wife. You must take an extra horse, and a donkey too. Eat the donkey if you can not hunt enough food. Your family must be well fed. That is all I have to say." He turned and walked away, shoulders slumped, looking down and moccasin clad feet shuffling in the dirt. Porfirio felt such an ache in his heart. What had he done to his father? The man who taught him to be a fine baker. Taught him to be an honorable man. Showed him the way to treat a woman. Taught him to practice relentlessly to be the best in his village on the back of a horse. He knew he would never see his father again, and he knew Unai knew this too. He looked up at the row of peaks shadowed against the sunset. It would be very hot in the morning for their journey east to Chihuahua. He must remember to take extra skins full of water, along with the donkey.

He was proud to be a Unai, as he was proud to be a Yaqui. Perhaps there would be a time when his travels would lead him to his father's homeland. He would see it for himself... resplendent with colors of green, high jagged mountain tops and then the stories Unai recounted to him and his siblings, so many times, would come alive. Porfirio would look to his side and his father would be standing there, smoking his pipe as always, his old worn and patched Basque beret a tilt on his bald head and hardly containing how proud he was of his Yaqui son.