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A Tale of Two Legacies


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									                                A Tale of Two Legacies
                                  By William Gardner
                             Copyright 2012 William Gardner
                                  Smashwords Edition

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                             A TALE OF TWO LEGACIES
                              A work of fiction written by:
                                   William A. Gardner
                               4612 Miramar Drive NW
                               Albuquerque, NM 87114

All of the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental.

        Chapter 1
        Jeremiah Beeson had a business problem nagging at him as he sat in his oak-
paneled study in his ranch-style home in Knoxville. Another burst of wind-driven rain
pelting the windows that Saturday morning served only to exacerbate his mood. On the
wall opposite his desk hung the several portraits of his family business predecessors. He
felt he did his best thinking here among these pictures of his forebears; their rather sober
expressions helped to coalesce his thoughts. His eyes fell on the portrait of his great-
grandfather, Adrian Beeson. Looking for some kind of inspiration or revelation or
guidance or he wasn’t sure what, he went to a bottom drawer of the credenza and pulled
out some old albums and shoeboxes where he ran across several old letters to the family
discussing the death of Adrian Beeson. Jeremiah gleaned the following information:
Adrian Beeson passed away in 1960 at the ripe old age of 96. Having outlived all of his
contemporaries, he had been recognized as the oldest man in eastern Tennessee. Many of
the folks at the funeral mentioned how he seemed to have a smile frozen on his face. His
had been a hard, but full life. He was one of those so-called hillbillies in his day. He was
not a descendant of a Stuart or a Jackson or a Davis or a Beauregard. His was not of
plantations and debutante balls, but he had succeeded in bringing all his offspring on their
own through the years. A shirttail relationship to Davy Crockett was his biggest claim in
life. Adrian knew what it was like to talk to a mule all day long and he frequently dined
on squirrel or possum, but he knew how to survive just on hushpuppies if need be.
        Some folks felt that he was smiling because the Lord had let him through the
pearly gates even though he had never acted like a God-fearing soul. If there was a family
Bible, no one knew its whereabouts. He had nothing in common with the Hatfields or the
McCoys. His essential belief was ‘live and let live’. Others, more close to him, felt that
he was still celebrating his and his pappy’s success in escaping the ‘revenooers’ in those
desperate days when making Tennessee’s famous white lightning was the only way to
feed and clothe the young ’uns. Rumor had it that the ‘network’ from those days was still
alive, but now moving different types of merchandise. The consensus of the more polite
crowd was that he was unable to contain his joy in that he had come from such humble
beginnings and now had progeny owning businesses in nine different states.
        Adrian Beeson preached that the way to success was to take advantage of such
opportunities as might come your way, but never be piggish about it. Take it slow and
easy, mind your P’s and Q’s, and never take anything for granted was his mantra. He had
stated any number of times before he died how proud he was that his descendants
appeared to have learned and practiced those same principles.
        Adrian’s obituary showed a rather lengthy list of survivors. Julian Beeson,
Adrian’s oldest child and Jeremiah’s grandfather, however, appeared on the ‘preceded in
death’ list. Julian had been killed as a soldier in France in World War I. Although
Adrian’s kinfolk had spread to the four winds looking for a better life during the
depression days of the 1930’s, it was true that he had expended great effort in keeping his
clan in touch with one another. Curiously enough and seemingly by design, only his
grandson Eustice and Eustice’s older boy were in attendance at the funeral. Jeremiah was
Eustice’s older boy and he thought all of this was a fair representation of how that day
had transpired. Jeremiah recalled how his own father’s facial expression had remained
rather stark during the occasion, but he knew that Eustice had inwardly smiled at all of
this gossip. Jeremiah was keenly aware that, with Adrian’s passing, the tightly held reins
of the Beeson clandestine business then fell to Eustice with Jeremiah as the heir apparent.
        While no hard and fast succession rule had been promulgated for the family
business ‘founded’ by old Adrian Beeson, Adrian, through his actions, had certainly
indicated a desire that the reins be passed through the first-born of each succeeding
generation. Such guidance had apparently passed muster in spite of the untimely demise
of Julian Beeson when Julian’s only child, Eustice, was tabbed as heir apparent pending
his growth to adulthood. Eustice died in 1994 having steadily increased the Beeson
empire fortunes utilizing Adrian’s still viable philosophy. Now under Jeremiah’s guiding
hand, the Beeson clan was still heavily involved with contraband.
        More specifically, they moved stolen and counterfeit goods effectively and
efficiently by breaking shipments into much smaller portions and distributing the smaller
portions to legitimate clan businesses in a number of states where the merchandise was
sold at a significant profit as discounted or discontinued lines. It was an illegitimate
rendition of a Tuesday Morning approach. Their suppliers were crime families in New
Jersey and Illinois who had become truly professional and proficient at hijacking big
semi-trailers, raiding warehouses, and engineering heists for high-priced jewelry and
other such items, but the Beesons worked generally through middlemen who provided
them with phony, but convincing bills of sale. Timely, but not necessarily quick,
distribution of their acquired goods was key to the success of the operation. ‘Never be
piggish’ was the unstated motto. Through family around Santa Fe and Taos, the Beeson

syndicate had even dabbled in helping to fence fine art. Because of numerous marriages
and childbirths, the roster of the clan was now significant. A favorite ploy of a number of
the family retail outlets was to market their ‘marked down’ merchandise shipments
simply as alleged ‘loss leaders’. Money talked.
        Over the decades, the ‘nature’ of the merchandise changed, but only as dictated
by the market. With the import of ‘knock-offs’, illegitimate copies of merchandise from
the far East, and the dramatic increase in prices for silver and gold over the past several
years, the syndicate was generating more profits for more folks than ever before.
Jeremiah Beeson was generally pleased with his operation of the business.
        It was succession planning, however, that occupied and troubled Jeremiah’s mind
this day as his first-born, daughter Rose, had fallen victim to cancer some years ago. Her
first-born, a son, was the heir apparent, but just now approaching adulthood. Rose’s
husband, while having proved himself quite adept in all other matters of the family
business, had reported difficulties in training his and Rose’s young son to assume a more
responsible role. Jeremiah was reluctant to step in. Perhaps ‘watch and see’ would be the
proper course for the moment. Nonetheless, including the lad in a very recently
developing opportunity for the family to handle some ‘hot’ artwork was indeed raising
Jeremiah’s anxiety level.

         Chapter 2
        Harrell Wade Harrison was trying his luck at one of the bars in the Opryland
Hotel. Having squeaked through his third year in his General Business major, he had
kissed the University of Alabama goodbye for the summer. It looked like his grades were
good enough to let him finish his senior year, but he wondered why he had picked such a
tough school in the first place. When Vanderbilt rejected his application outright, he was
determined to show his pa that he could get into a respected university. In his heart,
though, he knew he wasn’t much of a student. His high school record was proof of that.
He should have set his sights more in line with his talents and there were plenty of party
schools in Tennessee. What he truly wanted was not to have to live at home. Part of the
problem, Wade thought, was the death of his ma, Rose Beeson Harrison, just when he
entered high school. He had not adjusted well to his new situation. He yearned to see
more of the world before joining his daddy in the family business and he had no interest
in joining the military. His choices according to his pa were college or the army. With
scholarship help out of the question, he was indeed fortunate that his pa decided to spring
for ’Bama.
        The summer would be spent doing grunt work for Harrison & McComb, Metal
Purveyors. On the bright side, however, his pa was indeed serious about sending him out
to New Mexico on a special assignment, a treasure hunt as it were, that had been first
mentioned well over a month ago. The deal was even more recently sweetened by the
promise of better wheels – a low mileage new car that he was to deliver to someone in
New Mexico and swap for a ‘muscle’ car that he was to drive back. He was to pick up the
outgoing car first thing the following morning. Not that the trip was in need of a carrot,
but Wade had felt for some time that his old Chevy Citation was stifling his social life.
        Quaffing what was left of a bottle of St. Pauli Girl, he put in a call to his
dormmate from New Mexico. The dormmate was still in Tuscaloosa, but packing up his
gear and wrapping up his affairs so that he could return home to commence his post-
graduate life.

        “Keith, this is Wade. Assumin’ you’re still at school, I just thought I’d call to let
you know I’m headin’ west tomorrow, but I’ll be takin’ it slow and easy. How’s it goin’
with you?”
        “I leave in a couple days. I want to say my goodbyes to the Computer Honors
Program staff and I’m taking several of them out for lunch before I go,” replied Keith.
“Then I’ll drive home in one ridiculously long day.”
        “You takin’ them to Nick’s In The Sticks? That was a hell of a party we all had
there the other night. It’s tough to bid adieu to the gang that won’t be back.”
        “No, I think we’ll go to the Cypress Inn. I really enjoy their view of the Black
Warrior River and my grandma asked me to get the recipe for their delicious miniature
muffins. Well, I’ve still got some packing to do. I’d better get after it. I’ll see you when I
see you; take care,” said Keith obviously terminating the conversation.
        Keith sighed as he closed his cell phone. The warmth of a summer evening had
Tuscaloosa well in hand. At the moment, Keith was locking the computer lab for the final
time having just finished boxing up his personal items from his lab desk. The desk had
essentially been his home for four years and he admitted to himself that he was suffering
equivocal emotions. He was alone as so often was the case at this time of night. The
familiar peal from Denny Chimes, announcing the time as 11:00 PM, penetrated the night
from the nearby quad. These bells in the University of Alabama Campanile had become
his close friends over his years on campus. They had indeed become unassuming and
unquestioning confidants as he labored through his various assignments. Keith faced the
campanile and, with a heavy heart, whispered into the night, “Goodbye, old friends”.
        Back in Nashville, Wade looked around the bar and, seeing no possibilities for the
evening, paid his tab and left. On the way home, he mentally went over his planned route
west. His daddy had enlarged the scope of the journey over and above the ‘treasure hunt’
by giving him a specific list of contacts, in addition to the car swap, where he was to drop
off or pick up special delivery business packages. Wade saw this, finally, as a chance to
get out of his father’s doghouse.
        Two years ago, his pa had him drive to Pittsburgh to deliver a special package of
unknown contents specifically to the owner of Sparkle Plenty Jewelers, a Mr. Harry
Collier, at his home address. Finding no one at home, Wade left the package with the
lady next door. The news beat Wade home and his first assignment was apparently his
last. He had never seen his pa quite so incensed. Wade’s travels ceased before they had
really begun. He had not been sent on such an errand since. Instead, he was incessantly
bombarded by ‘lectures’ on old Adrian’s business philosophy.
        Apparently, Wade’s suspension had now expired and he was to be given a second
chance. He dared not make any miscues. His instructions had been designed with almost
clockwork precision as if it were some kind of military maneuver. Obviously, this was a
very serious test as far as his pa was concerned. Wade was still completely in the dark as
to the contents of any of the packages as his pa said that Wade had no need to know and
would, in fact, be better off not knowing. His father had mapped out the precise route he
was to follow and had obliged Wade to memorize a number of passwords if he were
indeed challenged at any juncture. He was also told to conduct his business like a pro and
not to call home or anywhere else until his business had been completed. Wade
recollected the end of the conversation:

        “I hope you understand that I expect you to do exactly what you have been told.
You are not to embellish any of these instructions. You are to remain anonymous as
much as possible. Stay in the shadows so to speak so as not to draw any attention to
yourself. Is there any part of this you don’t comprehend?” queried his pa.
        “You can count on me, pa. I can take care of it,” replied Wade with Pittsburgh
weighing heavily on his mind.
        “I want you to know that I am relyin’ on you, boy. Here’s sufficient cash to get
you through Albuquerque. I presume that you have had enough business courses that you
can successfully budget your expenditures. Lastly, here is a Visa credit card, but the Visa
is to be used only at an ATM for an extreme emergency. It is not to be used without my
specific okay.”
        Now having pondered his ‘sailing orders’ for the nth time, Wade thought to
himself, ‘Seems downright peculiar to me, but if that’s what my pa wants, that’s what my
pa gets.’ Nonetheless, this was his big opportunity to see some of the western states and
he was hoping to make the most of it. The plan was for him to cross the Mississippi at
Greenville, mosey up to Mena, Arkansas, drift across southern Oklahoma on his way to
Lubbock, and move on up to Albuquerque from the south. After Albuquerque, he was
apparently on his own.

        Chapter 3
        Harrell Wade got a good start the next morning and his mind was awash with
great expectations. His pa took the old Citation and handed him the keys to a brand new
Mercury Sable. Wade was aware that Ford no longer manufactured the Mercury line and
guessed that his pa had gotten quite a deal on this gray beauty. It was already gassed and
washed and ready to go. The first scheduled stop was in Columbus, Mississippi, and he
located Magnolia Motors quite easily. His contact, Billy Joe Beeson, was the owner.
Wade waited outside Billy’s office until a customer left and then went in and introduced
himself. Billy was most cordial as he accepted the package that Wade presented him.
Wade was somewhat startled as Billy opened the package right away and removed
several significant stacks of banded currency in, apparently, a multitude of
denominations. Wade caught himself staring and consciously forced himself to blink.
        “Tell your pa that I appreciate the fast remuneration. I should have another 100 or
so catalytic converters for him next time since I now have procurement representatives in
sixteen cities,” said Billy.
        “I’ll do that. Just what does pa get out of those things?” asked Wade.
        “I’m surprised you don’t know. He salvages platinum and rhodium among other
precious metals from them. The rare earth metals are especially dear. And the demand for
such will be quite high as soon as the electronics manufacturin’ gets goin’ ag’in. Most of
these are from Toyotas and the high clearance on their SUVs and trucks makes sawin’
them off just a few minutes work. And there are plenty of older Toyotas still bein’ driven
around throughout the South these days. Won’t you join me for some lunch at the Burger
        “You bet!” replied Wade not wanting to show too much that he was having
difficulty following everything that Billy was telling him.
        The Burger Barn was right across the street. Waiting for their order to arrive,
Billy quietly continued his spiel, “With the economy in the toilet, theft is really on the

rise across the country for almost anythin’ ... of little value or of great value. One hears of
the telephone companies squawkin’ every day because somebody is stealin’ copper wire
right off the poles. Out west towards the 100th meridian, they make off with the copper
wirin’ from the electric wheel motors on the farmers’ center pivot irrigation systems. I
even read in the paper that an art museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, got ripped off for some
Grant Wood paintin’s. He’s the artist who painted American Gothic.”
        Wade brightened, “Isn’t that the one of the dour farm couple with a pitchfork
standin’ in front of a barn?” Wade thought that at last his art appreciation course had been
worth something.
        “Yes, indeedy, and, if that’s the one that was swiped, it will be a real problem to
fence. No pawnshop in the country would dare touch it. It would have to be put on ice for
quite some time,” laughed Billy. Bemused, Billy went on, “I remember not too many
years ago, your pa got aholt of a paintin’ lifted from the Taft Museum in Cincinnati
called The Singin’ Wire or somethin’ like that, but it was so well known in the art world
that he had trouble findin’ a buyer on the Q.T. It was a beautiful paintin’ too – an Indian
in the middle of nowhere listenin’ to a telegraph pole. He had it hangin’ on the back of
his bedroom closet door for the longest time. That deal was sure a faux pas as it were, a
good one on all of us. As I recall, he eventually sold it for a tidy sum to a philanthropist
who returned it anonymously to the museum. I think your pa had it so long that it became
part of his life. He kind of hated to see it go!”
        Wade could not recall ever seeing any such thing at home. He was more intrigued
by Billy’s catalytic converter operation, but felt he dare not try to draw him out. Wade
had clumsily already revealed his lack of insight as to his being here in Columbus.
        Billy very nicely paid Wade’s luncheon tab and expressed his hope that he might
see Wade again relatively soon. Wade took his leave and headed due west for Greenville
and the Mississippi River.

        Chapter 4
        Harrell Wade had never been west of the Mississippi. In fact, he had only seen the
Mississippi once before when he was quite young. His ma and pa took him on a vacation
trip to Memphis to visit Graceland and the King. His favorite memory, though, was the
scaled replica of the Mississippi River watershed on Mud Island. That rather faded
memory, however, did not help him here and now at Greenville. The river was in flood.
Levees were being blasted upstream near Cairo trying to alleviate the flow. Dire warnings
were publicized daily. Wade thought it best that he not tarry too long in these parts.
        Having spent the night in Greenville, he headed northwest early the following
morning towards Mena, Arkansas. He knew it would be a long day since the route his pa
specified was one back road after another. It would have been faster, albeit a few miles
longer, to go via Pine Bluff and Hot Springs, but Wade knew there would be hell to pay
with his pa if anything untoward occurred. The temptation was great too because Wade
had read several books about Hot Springs’ sin city days in a bygone era and he thought it
might be worth seeing. He was also aware of Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park
that was reasonably close to his designated route and he had heard that for a small fee
you could dig for diamonds to your heart’s content. He was beginning to feel hamstrung
by his pa’s dictated path while he yearned to be foot-loose and fancy-free.

        According to the schedule, he was to spend the night some 40 miles short of Mena
in a town called Mt. Ida. He found a reasonably good-looking motel for the night and
checked in, but he had unexpectedly made such good time that he decided to drive over
to Mena for a preliminary look-see. Mena was a smaller town than he would have
guessed and Ouachita Memories was closed for the day. Skip Calvin was his contact here
and Wade was to exchange one package for another. Obviously, this call couldn’t have
much to do with catalytic converters since a walk-by peek in the window revealed
nothing but Ozark handicrafts, posters, knickknacks, and other tourist stuff. Info on the
door told Wade that Ouachita Memories would not open the next day until 11:00 AM.
Returning to Mt. Ida, Wade was grateful that he could have a leisurely catfish dinner at a
diner on Lake Ouachita and, with plenty of daylight still, watch the fishermen and boaters
awhile before turning in at his motel.
        Skip Calvin proved to be not one of Wade’s favorite people. Not only did he not
open his shop until eleven in the morning forcing Wade to cool his heels even after a
right lengthy breakfast, but, when Wade introduced himself several minutes after eleven,
Mr. Calvin seemed like a flighty and overly nervous type of person. Apparently, Skip
didn’t think much of Wade either because he seemed to want to expedite the transaction
as much as possible even though no other customers were in the shop. He took Wade’s
rather small package, pretty much akin to the package Wade delivered to Billy Joe
Beeson, disappeared in the office in the back, and returned with a heavily wrapped
package that resembled a large serving tray in size and barely less so in weight. No offer
for lunch ensued and conversation was minimal. Fortunately, the package fit snugly on
the floor of the trunk of his car. Skip Calvin stood at the front window of his shop, waved
as Wade closed the trunk, then disappeared into the darker interior. Wade shrugged his
shoulders, got in his car, and headed for Oklahoma. Although his pa had told him he had
no need to know the contents of his business packages, Wade’s educated guess was that
he had just paid a significant bundle of money for a painting of some sort.
        Next stop was Lubbock, Texas, and it was to take Wade two days to get there.
Although they made for slow driving, he liked the hills of Oklahoma and he was eating
quite well. On across the Red River into Texas, Wade had some barbecue at a small place
in Vernon that was the best he had ever had. His contact in Lubbock was a Mr. Joe Don
Sutherland at the Hubber Pharmacy. Joe Don was a casual gregarious soul and Wade
liked him.
        “You Rose Harrison’s boy?” asked Joe Don.
        “Well, yes, I am, but she died about seven years ago.”
        “Yes, I know. Tragic loss. She was a fine woman, Jeremiah’s favorite daughter.
Your pa is apparently getting along okay though. I tell you he is one astute businessman.
And there is lots of activity going on these days. Another of his deliverymen, the one
from L.A., passed through here just three, maybe four days ago, going the other way -
heading east for Tennessee. Well, I guess you have a shipment for me. Let’s have a look
at them.”
        Wade was breathing somewhat easier now since his inventory no longer
contained any of the smaller presumably cash packages. Joe Don opened the box that
Wade presented him revealing rather large sacks of several kinds of pills. “Yep, looks as
good as what’s made here in the states. They work the same magic. And I make

considerably more money on them. Pity the day when the government butts out. If you’re
not in a big hurry, I’ll treat to dinner and a baseball game tonight.”
        After the encounter with Skip Calvin, this was like night and day. Wade felt a
camaraderie with Joe Don and truly relaxed for the first time on his trip to New Mexico.
And there were only several more items on his list...so far so good.

        Chapter 5
        Clark, smiling at his good fortune, held the door open for two exceptionally
attractive young women and followed them into the coffee shop. From his vantage point,
the décolletage of both women was clearly in evidence. ‘Someday, I must broaden my
horizons’, he thought to himself. His play on words amused him.
        He spied Keith waiting in one of the lines to order and sauntered over to join him.
“Been waiting long?” he queried. Since the two had given each other long-time-no-see
bear hugs the night before, upon Keith’s return home from Tuscaloosa, Clark simply
stuck his mitt out for the ritual handshake.
        “Just got here myself. I ran a couple of errands this morning since I’m still
operating on Central Time,” Keith answered in his usual go-with-the-flow demeanor.
        No one would have guessed that the two men were brothers. They were born at
opposite ends of the gene pool. Clark, a blonde, was, by his own self-description, five
feet twenty-two inches tall. He had had to duck coming in the coffee shop door. His
height and his Scandinavian locks frequently triggered second looks by the gals just as
had happened moments ago. Clark relished the attention, but was quick to downplay its
importance to his mental well being. He had an engaging personality and an unusually
cheerful disposition. The Nordic fold in his eyes, however, gave him the ability to project
a more serious, even stern, attitude when he found it to be to his advantage. Clark was of
the ‘que será, será’ school. The demands of secondary academia had been woefully
inadequate to motivate Clark, but his innate brainpower was now enabling him to stay
ahead of the game in the local mechanical engineering offering at UNM. He referred to it
as University Near Mom. Clark had been quite active in Marine Corps ROTC in high
school and, upon his own volition, attended a summertime boot camp normally attended
by juvenile delinquents. He had held his own admirably vis-a-vis the other attendees. He
also stayed with the Boy Scouts program throughout high school and attained all the
ranks including Eagle Scout virtually unaided by other members of his family. He was
very proud of that accomplishment in that only 2 percent of Tenderfoot Scouts make it all
the way to Eagle. As a consequence of his tenacity, he was already an avid hunter and
camper. His deportment generally reflected quite strongly his commitment to the 12 laws
that define a Scout. Most fortunately, the collegiate mechanical engineering curriculum
was apparently finally firing his previously lacking enthusiasm for academic
achievement. But notwithstanding all these established and developing virtues, Clark still
had a taste for mischief. A spirit inside him rebelled when told he couldn’t do something.
He was his own man.
        His brother was three years his senior and obviously farther along on the
maturation spectrum. Keith had finished his schooling and had embarked more or less on
his career. He too was tall, but a more commonplace, these days anyway, six feet two.
Keith was heavy set revealing a dedicated desire to satisfy his appetite over the somewhat
demanding past few years. He had dark hair and a darker complexion and, while he too

had the Nordic fold, the potential austere look was hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses.
Keith was a nerd and proud of it. The rigors of academic competition suited him to a T.
In the space of four years, he had attained a bachelor degree in computer science and a
master degree in computer engineering – both from the University of Alabama on
scholarships and both with honors. Keith too would be a high scorer when evaluated on
the Boy Scout laws, but his high school pursuits were mostly academically oriented. He
gloried in helping others perceive some difficult mathematical concept or resolve some
esoteric computer glitch. Like his younger brother, he also relishes a caper, but with the
motivation being ‘for its own sake’. Keith’s personal life’s philosophy might be best
summarized as – ‘sufficient unto the day is the fullness thereof’.
           Interests in common are few. Neither cares much for spectator sports. Each now
mostly enjoys pool and tennis, after having dabbled in soccer, golf, swimming, football,
shot put, and discus in their formative years. Both now seem passionate for board games
and card games and have shown a strong interest in appreciating the finer points of bridge
– highly unusual for someone in their age group. Typical for their age group, however,
they also enjoy computer games in their solitude to such an extent that mesmerization
frequently ruins what might otherwise have been a full night’s rest.
          Each ordered and paid for his own. The big screen TV was reporting the recovery
of a stolen Grant Wood painting called American Gothic, as important to national art
lovers as Whistler’s Mother or a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. Several
smaller TVs blared with play-by-play reporting of a professional soccer game going on
somewhere. Preferring to snub all of that interruption to their conversation, the two of
them went outside and meandered to the far end of the patio where the only available
tables were half in the sun. Putting their trays down, they started to arrange themselves to
take advantage of what shade there was.
          “I don’t understand why you do that,” said Keith.
          “Do what?” answered his still smiling brother.
          “Order a cafe au lait and ask them to leave room for cream,” said the disapproving
          “ I love to see the looks on their faces when they realize I’m being sarcastic,”
Clark said delightedly.
          Keith grunted in response to Clark while simultaneously struggling with a chair
that rocked on the unevenness of the patio. Swiping a shim from under a chair at the
unoccupied table next to them, he solved his problem and gratefully ensconced himself in
the shade once again. He carefully spread a napkin across his knees and picked up the
front page of the daily paper that had been left on their recently vacated table. “Are you
ready for today’s headline?” Without waiting for a response, Keith paraphrased the lead
article,“UNM professor named in student rape.” Keith tittered, “What kind of school is
that that you go to?”
          “What are you talking about? It’s no different at UA,” said Clark, who continued
in the pontificating manner that he liked to use in addressing his brother. “We are all
animals with most of us trying to pretend that we’re not. There’s an alleged rape every
day in every city of the world. They say the sexual drive is second only to staying alive;
it’s all a reaction to a natural desire to procreate. Grampa told me that his grandmother
told him in his adolescent years to mind his manners because ‘a stiff dick has no

conscience’. I suspect there might be a lot of truth in that, but then I wouldn’t know.”
Clark basked in the audacity of his statement.
         Keith looked quizzically over the paper at Clark, frowned, and lowered his voice
with his response. “Well! I haven’t heard that one and I frankly don’t believe that his
grandmother told him that,” said Keith. “But it fits with the other pithy sayings he
attributes to his grandmother. Mother told me that he was four years old when his last
grandparent died.”
         Both brothers spent a fair amount of time at their mother’s parents’ house in their
youth. Since their own parents’ divorce some four years ago, their father moved to the
west coast, Keith went off to ’Bama, and Clark stayed with his mother in Albuquerque.
Keith had returned on several school breaks, of course, but now that he was temporarily
here at least, the three of them once again were about to become grandma and grampa’s
frequent guests for dinner and games. The grandfather reference reminded Keith...
         “Speaking of grampa, mother told me this morning that we’re having dinner there
this evening. I have missed the family hoots and hollers this past year especially. I am
even looking forward to hearing that grampa-quoting-his-grandmother ditty that goes
‘winning merely signifies the end of the game’. Does he still say that every time he loses
at any family contest?”
         Clark quickly chimed in, “And you’ll also hear ‘the world is full of starters’. I
hear that every time I play pool with him if he falls behind in a best four out of seven.”
         Keith nodded as he took another bite out of his Napoleon, “I think he has one for
every occasion. When he misses a shot, it tickles me when he says ‘one thing I absolutely
will not tolerate is incompetence - especially in others’ or, if he makes a particularly
difficult shot, it’s ‘as my grandmother used to say, effort is no substitute for ability’. The
latter is my all time favorite. I must admit the veracity of his quips is undeniable.”
         “Yes, his repertoire by and large is little changed. His latest though is to tell me
‘watch and learn’, but I notice it’s always after he makes a shot, not before,” responded
Clark. “But, fortunately for me, he can’t really attribute that to his grandmother.”
         “Anyway, I’m looking forward to reclaiming my championship at the pool table,”
boasted Keith as he reached to lay the newspaper on the adjacent empty table.
         “We’ll see! You may have to bribe me to get the job done,” retorted Clark.
         Both men had big grins as they moved their attention to finishing the coffees that
had now cooled to something less than a serving from McDonalds. They both dearly
loved their pool matches with their grampa. As kids they were ceded ‘ball in hand’ on
every turn. Nowadays, they generally had the better eye and the steadier hand. In the past
several years, in fact, grampa had been permitted to invoke ‘the old man’s rule’ to correct
certain unintentional ball movements or to take a mulligan on the occasional terrible
miscue when breaking the rack. Nonetheless, any one of the three could plan ahead for
shape and be fully capable of ‘running the table’ when the situation presented itself.
         The patio was crowded with patrons of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Keith and
Clark always enjoyed being here for that very reason. It highlighted the multi-cultural
aspects of Albuquerque. There aren’t that many cities where one might expect to see a
Black, a Native American, an Hispanic, and an Anglo all sitting at the same table having
a casual cup of coffee. Besides, their own exceptional physical dimensions were less
conspicuous in this environment. Although the fair sex was also most notably represented
in the clientele, neither Clark nor Keith was yet a practiced Don Juan at this point in their

lives. When quizzed, either would say ‘I don’t have the time and I don’t have the
money!’ Actually, all the men in the family had been late bloomers.
         Both brothers had jobs, but this was a delightful Saturday morning in early June.
The skies were a turquoise blue with not a cloud yet to be seen.
         The two were situated at their table such that they could see all the coffee shop’s
comings and goings. Suddenly, it was obvious to both of them that a very good-looking
young woman was heading directly to their table. Clark recognized her immediately as
one of the gals he had ‘escorted’ into the shop. They both rose to their feet.
         “Excuse me, please, gentlemen!” she said with a smile. “I hope I’m not
interrupting and I hope I am not being over-bearing, but, in this life, sometimes it’s
nothing ventured, nothing gained.” She turned to Clark and continued, “Your name is
Clark, is it not? I saw the name on your helmet as you locked it to your motorcycle.”
         Clark stammered a response, “Yes, I’m Clark Watson and, ah, this is my older
brother, Keith. Won’t, ah, won’t you please sit down and join us?”
         Keith motioned her to sit in his chair as he fetched a replacement from the next
         “I won’t stay but a moment and, frankly, I feel just a little silly. Perhaps I should
explain. My name is Kayla Sullivan and I teach English Lit at Albuquerque Academy. I
was here having coffee with a friend who has a friend who is quite tall, Clark, but not as
tall as you. She has trouble running into guys who are single. I’m making a mess of all
this. Do you ever consider blind dates, Clark? Her name is Jenny Sorenson; she’s going
to UNM this summer, living in the dorm, majoring in Nursing, and she loves skiing. Now
why did I mention that in the middle of summer?” Handing a previously prepared note to
Clark, she concluded, “Here’s her name and cell phone number. Would you be willing to
give her a call?” Clark took the note, but was not immediate in his response.
         Keith instinctively reached over and touched Kayla’s hand. It was something
between a pat and a caress; it had an unsaid ‘there, there’ connotation to it. “I used to
attend the Academy and I’ll make sure he calls her. Write your number on this napkin
and I’ll give you a report as soon as there is one to be made.” Kayla smiled broadly at
Keith and did exactly as he asked. Keith was flabbergasted. Both men stood and shook
Kayla’s hand as she took her leave. Keith quickly added ‘Kayla Sullivan’ to the bottom
of the napkin and placed it in his wallet. Kayla’s note with Jenny Sorenson’s name and
number went into Clark’s wallet at the same time as Keith mumbled something about it
being time for everyone to come of age. They both sat again seemingly befuddled and
         Clark at last broke the silence, “Did I tell you about the poster that Uncle Bob
gave me?” Keith encouraged him to continue just by raising his eyebrows. “I’ve got it up
on my bedroom wall. It’s two turkey vultures sitting together on a dead tree limb
apparently talking to each other. The caption is ‘Patience, hell; I’m gonna kill
something!’ That got me thinking.” Both brothers were prone to mischief and Keith
looked at Clark expectantly.
         A rendition of the Marseillaise announced an incoming contact on Keith’s cell
phone. “Excuse me a sec,” said Keith as he walked over to a back wall to take the call.
He returned rather quickly saying, “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you this evening.”
         Clark gave him that hurtful look that he has mastered when things aren’t going the
way he wants “Yeah, I’ll be there.” They arose and bussed their dishes as they walked

back through the building to exit through the front door. Out front, they said “hasta
luego” simultaneously and parted as they had parked on opposite sides of the building.

         Chapter 6
         Keith drove the five blocks to Cottonwood Mall rather quickly and found a
relatively isolated spot in the shade of a tree in the huge south side parking lot. A fast
thumbing of buttons put him back in the middle of the recently foreshortened phone
conversation. “You’re here faster than I expected. When did you arrive in Los Lunas?”
queried Keith of his former schoolmate.
         Harrell Wade Harrison, a southern fellow, who invariably used both his given
names when introducing himself, but preferred to be addressed by acquaintances as
Wade, responded, “I got here yesterday, but remember I left a couple of days before you
did. My old Spanish teacher would be appalled to see the local error, Keith. Luna is
Spanish for moon and is a feminine noun – it should be Las Lunas!”
         “I hate to ruin your day, Wade, but Los Lunas, the masculine plural, is properly
interpreted as ‘the home of the Luna family’. Whether to fault the teacher or the student
is your call. Assuming you’re looking at a map, you’ll see Los Chavez and Los Padillas
nearby,” chided Keith.
         “Duly noted, thank you! And I am lookin’ at a map and I see that Albuquerque is
the seat of Bernalillo County and Bernalillo is the seat of Sandoval County. What’s your
explanation for that one?” asked Wade in a somewhat mocking voice.
         “Well, you’ve got me on that one, but one more thing. If you don’t want to stick
out like a sore tongue, don’t roll the double L. Castilian is better left in Spain. Here it’s
pronounced as a Y. Strangely enough, I’m told that in Argentina, it’s pronounced as a J.
Vive le difference!” remarked Keith with just a twinge of condescension in his voice.
“And while I’m on this tirade...you mentioned earlier that you were staying right next to
the ‘Rio Grand River’. Rio Grande will suffice quite well. And be sure to sound the
ending ‘e’. Adding the word ‘river’ marks you immediately as an outsider.”
          Although a computer geek by choice, Keith felt that he had been rather well
schooled in Spanish and French as well as English such that he could certainly hold his
own in languages with any of his classmates.
         “I’ve never been this far west before and I’ve come a rather circuitous route just
to see more of the country. Yesterday afternoon, I passed through a one-horse town called
Carrizozo, went across a humongous lava flow, climbed up and over a mountainous
ridge, and then drove over a never-endin’ scrubby-lookin’ plain. Hardly did I see another
soul; God forsaken! Near what purported to be a town called Bingham on the map, I saw
a huge tarantula in the middle of the road that caused me instinctively to swerve,” offered
Wade in response.
         If the dropping of ‘g’s wasn’t a give-away, the seemingly interrogative, but
emphatic, lilt to his voice on words with which he ended sentences certainly insinuated as
to Wade’s birthplace. Four years in the South hearing a word like ‘before’ being
pronounced as ‘befaw’ had Keith almost browbeaten into thinking that the speaking of
English had been completely overhauled. Listening to Wade’s discourse reminded Keith
of his first week in Tuscaloosa when a new acquaintance asked him if he was going to the
‘fair’. Keith’s innocent far western reply was ‘fire, what fire?’

         Not really knowing why, Keith said, “Yes, I’ve seen that very tarantula. They
grow big in that stretch. You skirted around Bell Ranch country. I’m sorry that I didn’t
know you were coming that way. I would have directed you to the Owl Bar in San
Antonio where you could have had the best green chile cheeseburger and fries in the
Southwest. Then again, let me take that back. Remembering your reaction to that
jalapeño pepper you tried at our group’s goodbye dinner at Nick’s, you wouldn’t be an
aficionado of chile. On the other hand, you would have greatly enjoyed a beer at the Owl.
The bar there is a one-of-a-kind original. It was hand-carried up the street by fifty men
many years ago from the very first ever Hilton Hotel right there in the small town of San
Antonio. I could have asked my grampa to call a long-time acquaintance who is the
proprietress down there to give you first class treatment.”
         “I suspect you’re right about the spicy burgers, but I am sorry I missed the beer.
It was hot going across that plain they call the ‘journey of the dead man’ on the map. I
have a genuine appreciation for deserts now. I think I’m beginning to understand what
Death Valley might be like,” replied Wade. “What’s next on the agenda?”
         Irrespective of the jalapeño incident, Keith was already well aware of Wade’s
probable reaction both to the chile and the beer. In some of their intra-state travels during
the school year, Wade would never indulge in ‘hot boudin’, the South’s answer to the
need for a lip smacking (and thirst provoking) bar snack. It evened out, though, because
Keith for some reason couldn’t or wouldn’t tolerate the South’s hot boiled peanuts. And
Wade’s prize possession was a large metallic wall collage made from topless and
bottomless flattened beer can cylinders of every brand name imaginable that he had
sampled. He had mentioned to Keith before that he wanted to come west to locate a can
of Moose Drool.
         What was next on the agenda? Keith sighed slightly before answering. “I’m tied
up with family this evening so come on up to Albuquerque and find yourself some
reasonable lodging. If you need to kill some time, you might try the zoo or the aquarium
or the botanical garden for entertainment. I’ll call you around 10:00 AM tomorrow and
we’ll do lunch.”
         Following the chat with Wade, Keith just sat in his car for a few minutes and
looked across the cottonwood forest stretching along the river in front of him. It wasn’t
all that wide, but its riparian length from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico made it the
largest cottonwood forest in the world. Here it was called the ‘bosque del Rio Grande’
and Keith experienced a quick taste of belonging for his hometown. Cottonwood in
Spanish is ‘álamo’. Keith smiled to himself as he thought that that usually quite large, but
frequently gnarled tree, not only provided a name for this shopping mall, but, in Spanish,
provided names for numerous towns, like Alamosa (site of cottonwoods), Alameda
(cottonwood grove), and Alamogordo (huge cottonwood), as well as the Bowie, Crockett,
et alii historical spot in Texas, a rental car agency, and even a nuclear research facility.
         Then his thoughts returned to Wade and the matters at hand. “What on earth have
I gotten myself into?” muttered Keith aloud to himself.
         Keith would have been far more worried had he known of Wade’s activities in
Los Lunas last night. Wade was now starting to appreciate his pa’s admonition that ‘if
you tell all your business, then you have none.’ Just like a spy novel, he was to have
contacted a Jessica Gordon in Los Lunas and ask her to dinner at Teofilo’s Restaurant
with the authenticating phrase, ‘our corn will probably mature early this year.’ If she

were to accept and respond with ‘I’ll take all the corn you can produce,’ Wade was to
give her the package from Ouachita Memories in the parking lot of the restaurant.
Without the authenticating response, Wade was to figure out a safe place to stash the
package and leave it. Jessica didn’t come up with the proper response and Harrell Wade
dined alone not having the slightest idea as to his next move. This was the first real
breach in his confidence. As he pondered his dilemma, Wade’s breathing slowly became
shallow and his shoulders tightened. His first thought was an emergency call to his pa,
but the instructions had obviously anticipated Jessica’s action – or rather inaction. A
storage unit? A locker at the train station? Ignoring costs, either sounds a little risky for
an extended time period. ‘And if it really is a painting, do I need to worry about
temperature and humidity considerations? Albuquerque might provide more options for
solving my problem,’ said Wade to himself. That thought and a couple of generous swigs
of his beer seemed to calm his nerves.
        His postprandial appointment, however, lifted Wade’s despair completely and
how simple it was. He was to appear at the Coronado Car Wash there in Los Lunas
precisely at its 10:00 PM closing and take the keys into the office and ask for Manny.
Surprisingly, Manny was no older than Wade and greeted him with a warm “Que pasa?
I’ve been expecting you.”
        Wade thought his own Spanish was inadequate for conversational purposes and
replied in English, “Not too much; I’ve got a beautiful car to swap with you.”
        “Si, it’s nice, but you haven’t seen real beauty yet, mi amigo.” Manny returned
the keys. “Drive the Sable around in back next to the red convertible. I’ll meet you
        Wade couldn’t believe his good fortune. A great improvement in his love life was
assured. He offered the best remark he could come up with, “Muy hermosa, es verdad!”
        Manny grinned and said, “Let’s get your stuff transferred and it’s a done deal.”
        Wade gathered up his maps and papers, his suitcase, and the Skip package and
stashed them all in the backseat. “That’s it? asked Wade.
        “Correctomundo, my friend. Take care of yourself.”
        “Muchas gracias” replied Wade and he waved as he slowly rounded the building.
The entire operation took less than ten minutes. He said to himself, ‘Wade, you could get
real accustomed to this life.’ He returned to his motel over by the river.

         Chapter 7
         That evening, the family of three pulled up to the entrance of grandma and
grampa’s gated community, punched in the code, and proceeded up the hill. It was a
relatively small subdivision of 52 homes all done in fan-styled stucco with essentially flat
roofs, but with Spanish tile accents. Except for a number of single women owning some
of the residences, it was primarily retired couples and it was ideally suited for grandma
and grampa’s lifestyle. Normally the front light at their house would be blinking in
anticipation of the arrival of guests, but at this time of year, there remained plenty of
daylight. Grampa had had the optional blinker on the front light put in ostensibly as a
retort to a very close friend who claimed the right house couldn’t be found in the dark
because they all looked the same – sand colored fan-styled stucco with turquoise trim.
The fact that there were essentially only six variant floor plans in the neighborhood did
give a modicum of credibility to the complaint. In actuality, however, grampa had the

blinker there looking ahead to the time when an ambulance might have to find the house
in a hurry.
         Grampa had been greatly amused and entertained by negotiating modifications to
the basic floor plan that they had purchased. Their house was the only one in the
neighborhood with a basement – the poolroom; one of but seven that had two floors
above ground; and the only one with a dumbwaiter installed. The dumbwaiter paid
homage to one of grampa’s most cherished childhood memories. The latest generation
would probably dub it a ‘food elevator.’ It served all three floors. From the deck above
the garage to the sunroom next to the upstairs master bedroom, the house had gorgeous
views of Albuquerque’s environs. He says that the day he can’t climb the stairs is the day
he starts looking for a nursing home. In deference to his advancing years, however, he
had had installed a special light switch in his bathroom that, if you pushed and held the
switch in for a full second, gave you 30 seconds to get in bed before it extinguished the
         As the front door was opened, there were hugs all around and a to-do made over
Keith’s return to Albuquerque. Cold sparkling cider and nachos were served as appetizers
in the living room. Tonight’s repast called for sliced broiled flank steak and scalloped
potatoes and seven-bean salad. It was one of Keith’s favorite menus because each could
have as much or as little of the specially marinated meat as they preferred. Grandma’s
potatoes were exceptionally delicious because she used a bit of half and half in addition
to straight 2 percent milk and the bean salad was always fun with her addition of
nopalitos (deneedled, skinned, spiced, and julienned prickly pear cactus) to the mix. The
nopalitos were a labor of love since, as mucilaginous as they are, repeated washings are
required before they’re suitable for the salad – somewhat reminiscent of fresh okra.
         The dining room had a pocket door opening to the kitchen, French doors opening
out to the covered patio, and French doors opening to the living room. Grandma would
open the French doors with some theater as she called everyone from the living room to
the table. The room’s chandelier was an absolutely lovely eight-tiered concatenation of
crystals the interior lighting of which was controlled by a rheostat on a timer. Grampa
delighted in having the light ebb slowly, but surely, throughout dinner thereby having a
somniferous effect on the diners. Then in a quick luminiferous resurrection, the feasters
would be rejuvenated ready for the piece de resistance which, in this case and to no
attendee’s chagrin, proved to be humble bowls of tapioca. On this occasion, the meal
seemingly took forever with wading through all the family’s catch-up chitchat.
         While the ladies put away the leftovers or prepared doggy bags for the brothers’
next meal, the gentlemen retired from the dining room and descended the circular
staircase to the poolroom. The carpeted staircase to the basement has pressure-sensing
piezoelectric devices under the carpet on the top and bottom treads. Whenever someone
begins a descent or an ascent, illuminating lights in the wall even with every third riser
come on automatically to assure safe passage. The lights go off via a timer. Grandma’s
choice of berber for the staircase and poolroom was ideal. It had certainly held up well
through the countless circumambulations of the pool table. The brothers dearly loved this
house and the thought their grandparents had put into it. The boys particularly enjoyed
that their grandfather was a lighting freak. His living room Lutron light controller
provided programming for six different light circuits (from over-the-sofa sconces to a
variety of reading lamps to a spot highlighting the painting over the mantle to another

grandiose six-foot long chandelier at the ‘foyer’ to the two-story-high living room)
creating over time a resulting four different ‘moods’ for living room occupants.
         Once in the poolroom, Clark went immediately to the wall phone and hit the
intercom #2 button to page the kitchen. “Grandma, I forgot to turn on the music. Would
you do that for me, pretty please?” This was standard operating procedure for Clark and
grandma never failed to turn the CD player on for him. Grampa had installed a system
that piped music optionally to the living room, the dining room, the covered patio, and /
or the poolroom. Clark especially liked grandma’s recordings of French torch singers.
         The poolroom had a double door to the neighboring wine room, a sliding glass
door to an outside three-step bank of flowers (the alternate egress from a basement as
required by the city’s building code), a cabinet-type door serving as access to the
dumbwaiter, and several stools and chairs for spectators and players. The decor of the
poolroom was indeed Spartan; there was a TV, of course, but no bar or garish beer signs
as are found in many ‘rumpus’ rooms. Grampa had a single neon light that he considered
more sophisticated, elegant even, yet apropos to the issue at hand; it read ‘Mi Querencia’.
Only his wife knew that he had wanted to name his whole house, his ‘estate’, as Mi
Querencia similar to Twelve Oaks, Greenbrier, Winterthur, Hermitage, Broadmoor, or
The Breakers, but finally decided that it was too pretentious or too presumptuous or both.
The Spartan look had not set well with grandma. She had elicited a promise from him,
that ‘sooner or later’, he would add a bit more ‘socko’ to the room; that, of course, was
now some years ago.
         “Well, shall we open with a game of nine ball?” asked grampa. The trio had two
special house rules that didn’t conform to Official Rules. One was their ‘old man’s rule’
and the other was for lags. They simply each took a lag shot in turn and order of play was
determined by nearness of the lag to the head cushion with striking the head cushion
permitted. While each was capable of running the table in nine ball much as one can see
on TV, none of the three could resist an early shutout with a combo if it looked at all
possible. Such an attempt was almost guaranteed in the aftermath of a scratch. Another
‘understanding’ was that the loser of a game or first man out racked for the next game.
         Keith had purchased his own cue, which he kept at grampa’s, some time ago and
the self-styled ‘intimidator’ carried him to victory in the opening game. Keith clenched a
fist and blurted out a firm, “Yes!”
         Because of his unusual reach, Clark routinely used one of the shorter cues and
was currently feigning extreme disappointment at having just missed a game-winning
shot that had now set up Keith’s easy stroke. Grampa commented, “As my grandmother
used to say, winning merely signifies the end of the game.” The grandsons rolled their
eyes. As victor, Keith chose rotation for the next contest.
         Rotation frequently requires combos to score one of the higher numbered balls in
the early on to stand a chance of winning. And since it’s not a call game, it gives one
incentive to strike the more difficult shot fairly hard in hopes of scoring from ‘slop’ if the
shot fails in its primary mission. This technique usually thereby results in a greater
number of scratches. The winner is normally determined by who gets a hot streak with
the last few balls remaining on the table. As fate would have it, Clark won rotation
         Clark asked, “Might we have time for a game of cowboy?” While they all enjoyed
its special needs for billiard-esque skills, it can be somewhat time consuming. Hearing no

support for the idea, he chose eight ball for the next event. In this poolroom and with
three participants, it was called King of the Mountain. Since only two play at a time, the
winner stays at the table until defeated.
           “First one to three victories wins? I think the gals will be down here by then,”
exclaimed grampa with the concurrence of the other two. “I’ll sit out the first one. I’m a
little tired this evening.”
          Eight ball was the game preferred by all three, not only because it was one on one,
but because, as a call game, it required considerably more finesse and a much greater
concern for shape. All three delighted in attempting difficult combos, kick shots, or rather
extreme English whenever the situation demanded such and all three were successful
uncommonly often. Bank shots, feather shots, caroms, and draw shots were all de rigueur.
Clark had just holed his last stripe and the eight ball for a win in that first game when the
staircase lights announced that the gals were coming down to join the fun.
          This meant curtailing the eight ball tournament and switching to a game of
cutthroat where each of the five players has three balls to defend with the goal of one or
more of the three being the last on the table. Occasionally this can lead to someone’s nose
being out of joint if it appears they are being picked on, but the restoration of a ball to the
foot spot upon someone’s scratch is usually a pretty good equalizer. In fact, to terminate
the game with that number of players, some kind of X-number-of-scratches-and-you’re-
out rule is usually required at least in this poolroom.
          “Grampa, you just fouled. You sank the ten ball; that’s one of your own balls!”
said Clark.
          “I thought I had seven through nine,” responded grampa.
          “I’m sorry, grampa. That was last game,” said Clark. “You have ten through
twelve this game. You finished next to last in the last game.”
          “Humph! Someone should have told me. I used to have ‘a mind like a steel ...
uh ... uh’ whatever,” laughed grampa. He was only half-kidding, of course, as his
attention to detail had deteriorated in the past several years.
          The line had a familiar ring to it. The whole group had grown aware of grampa’s
problem over time, but this incident just got away from them.
          “Let’s put the balls back as they were,” offered Keith. “Take your turn over,
          “No, no, no way. When you beat me, you beat the best I have to offer. The fact
that my best is gradually lessening is nobody’s problem, but mine.” Grampa had never
coddled the boys as they were growing up. When they first beat him at pool, chess,
tennis, putt putt, arm wrestling or any other endeavor, they knew they had beaten him
          Being more of a social game than an ego contest, the winner of the prior game in
cutthroat is usually lost in the fun of the next one. According to Billiards, the Official
Rules and Records Book, the game of pool ‘evolved from a lawn game similar to the
croquet played in France during the 15th century. When play was moved inside, green
cloth was used to simulate grass. The game is played by kings and commoners,
presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike’. Grampa wondered at
times which of these his grandsons might become. At last, the grandparent’s bedtime
came around. The felt on the pool table was meticulously brushed and the rails all-around
were lovingly hand-burnished. The crutch, the balls, and the cues were carefully returned

to their designated storage spots. This never-to-be-violated ritual was completed and the
visitors departed with their carry-home goodies.
         Keith had been especially pleased that the evening had removed all thoughts of
Harrell Wade Harrison for quite a length of time. He had always felt that Wade was a
‘loose cannon’ or still ‘a work in progress.’ Keith recalled being along in the car once
when Wade bought himself a late lunch at a Tuscaloosa burger shack. The drive-thru
waitress gave Wade change for a twenty when Wade had given her a ten. Wade had
laughed at his good fortune; Keith felt very much ill at ease.
         An image from the old treasured movie, Gone With The Wind, came to him on the
ride home as he thought to himself, ‘tomorrow is another day’.

         Chapter 8
         There’s good water and there’s bad water. Clean sweet water is the lifeblood of
humankind. And nowhere is that truth more pronounced than in desert country. While
New Mexico has several permanent rivers within its borders, such as the Rio Grande, the
Pecos, the Gila, and the San Juan, it also has a large number of ephemeral streams as
evidenced by the numerous dry creek beds or arroyos. The arts of irrigation were
invented here by an ancient people. This is the bastion of the flash flood. The law practice
of ‘water rights’ is a valid specialty here as interstate compacts abound. Even today, the
City of Albuquerque draws drinking water from the distant Colorado River watershed.
Maintaining the adequacy and purity of our most precious resource is a never-ending
         These waterways, wet or dry, have been the stuff of timeless legends, books, and
newspaper articles. Who has not heard of Francisco Coronado, Don Juan de Oñate,
Cochise, Judge Roy Bean, Charles Goodnight, Colonel John Wesley Powell, Zebulon
Pike, Kit Carson, Josiah Gregg, or even today’s plight of the silvery minnow?
         All of New Mexico’s perennial streams rise in mountain country from the melt of
the winter snowpack. Good snow begets good water. The streams have always been the
avenues for exploration and commerce. The famed king’s highway from Mexico City to
Santa Fe, the ‘Camino Real’, followed the Rio Grande north from El Paso. The Mexicans
refer to the famed river as the ‘Rio Bravo del Norte’. The Rio Grande or ‘great river’ is
listed as the sixth longest river in North America. It rises west of Creede in southern
Colorado and runs for 1885 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico near Port
Isabel, Texas.
         The Rio Grande has numerous tributaries that also add to its water supply, but
these tributaries normally collect their waters from sporadic rainstorms during the
summer ‘monsoon’ season when a high-pressure area, the Bermuda high, draws moisture
up over the state from the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes the storms are false alarms. The
falling rain evaporates before reaching the surface of the earth. This phenomenon is
called virga. Sometimes on a lazy summer afternoon, you can watch small wispy clouds
disappear before your eyes. Other times, huge thunderheads or anvil clouds billow high
into the atmosphere over nearby mountains. New Mexicans can actually smell pending
rain – it’s accompanied by a broad smile. The deluge begins. And because of steep
terrain, non-permeable soils, and sparse vegetation, the run-off gathers quickly, rushing
down arroyos, and catching the unwary oftentimes in great peril.

        Obviously, these flash floods are the means that vast amounts of silt are
transported from one locale to the next. The middle Rio Grande has several such sources
– the Galisteo, the Jemez, the Puerco, and the Salado being major among them. Since the
Rio Grande sports one of the world’s principal dams near the town of Truth or
Consequences (yes, there really is such a town), the question looms – how long will that
dam be viable before all the money spent constructing it will have been wasted because it
has silted over?
        It is into this mystery that Clark has propelled himself with his part-time school
year and full-time summer job with the United States Geological Survey, Water
Resources Bureau, Quality of Water Branch. He had now been with them for one year
and thought himself quite fortunate to have been accepted. He liked the work. The office
had responsibility for that section of the Rio that extended from Cochiti Dam on the north
to Elephant Butte on the south. While Elephant Butte lays claim to being one of the
world’s principal dams, Cochiti claims the distinction of being the world’s tenth largest
earthen dam. ‘A dance for rain you’ll never see until you see them dance at Cochiti’ is a
line from a famous New Mexican poet, Fray Angelico Chavez. It rather dramatizes the
zeal with which this area pleads with Father Sky for precipitation.

         Chapter 9
         “What are you up to this morning?” asked Keith as he came down the stairs and
joined Clark at the breakfast table.
         "Well, I mentioned to you yesterday morning at the coffee shop that I had a little
deviltry in mind. I’ve got a co-worker who is, in my opinion, a genuine horse’s butt. A
little over a week ago, the boss had a notice up asking for a volunteer to go out to the Rio
Puerco to bring back some mud balls for analysis by a summer school class in Soils in the
Civil Engineering Department. When flowing, the river erodes its clay-like bottom and
rolls it up like a rug or like grass sod or a ball for a snowman. There’s one particular spot
on the Puerco where it makes a dramatic turn, and these erosion balls get pushed right on
up a sand bar by the force of the current. This CE professor asked for three or four of
them and they are extremely heavy and you have to carry them up a steep embankment.
Well, this s.o.b. co-worker, David Arthur Cabot Ward – yes, he’s from back east
somewhere and loves his name – thinks he’s cute by writing my name on the notice. He’s
definitely got a screw loose somewhere. I could hardly tell the boss that I didn’t do it or
try to back-peddle with some lame excuse, so I got stuck with it. Turnabout is fair play
and I’ve got a great idea for getting even!”
         “Love it!” said Keith. “What do you have figured?”
         “Well,” Clark continued, wrapped up in his thoughts. “This upcoming week,
various field men are scheduled to go out to visit the various sampling stations and get
them ready for the monsoon season. Each station has a dual A-frame cable car apparatus
stretched across the river with the car chained at one end, a locked special tool and
supplies box nearby, and a vertical culvert set in place with a time recorder in it in a
locked box at the top and kind of an elevator float in it at the bottom of it. While a
counterweight helps keep the float properly engaged over the recorder, the float
invariably becomes silted in as the water flow ebbs from its most recent high because of
mud coming in the inflow holes at the bottom. So you have to dig down to open a door at
the bottom of the culvert and then dig out underneath the float so that it operates

properly. You have to check the recorder batteries as well as check the inked stylus and
the recorder paper. All this for a continuous record of how high the water was i.e. the
gauge height. When associated with a weir, you have a known cross-section for the river
whenever. One merely multiplies that figure by the speed of the water, as I’m sure you
are well aware, to then calculate the cubic feet of water per second going down river at
any particular point in time. I’ve been told that the average speed of the water occurs at .6
of the depth or, alternatively, the average of readings at .2 and .8 of the depth. Judging
from lab studies, the surface velocity is approximately .9 of the average velocity of a
given stream. Maybe they use an anemometer or something similar from time to time or
maybe they survey the angle of the particular site somehow. I’ll have to take their word
for it since I’ve never taken a velocity reading other than a surface one and that’s solely
for my own safety when taking samples. You throw a stick in the current and count the
seconds it takes to go 10 feet down river. If the depth times the speed approaches 10, like
10 feet deep going 1 foot per second, obviously you can’t wade it as it’s in all likelihood
over your head – even mine. On the other hand, if the depth times the speed approaches
10, like 1 foot deep but going 10 feet per second, you can’t wade that either because the
river will erode around your feet so fast that you won’t be able to walk. So you have to
judge by some lower number whether you’re safe taking your sediment samples by
wading or whether you should use the cable car. If it’s night, and most of our
thunderstorms do indeed occur in the late afternoon, you’re most likely to opt for the
cable car as most of our field men do. Of course, it’s later analysis of sediment samples
as a percentage of the water flow that finally gives us our desired information. You might
be interested in knowing that two rivers in the western United States, when they run, are
technically mudflows i.e. more silt than water. One is our own Rio Puerco and the other
is the Dirty Devil River in Utah. But I digress!"
         Keith took advantage of the momentary pause in Clark’s near soliloquy,
“Interesting. I’m glad you think that’s fun. But I must have missed the part where you get
         Clark continued, “Well, tomorrow I’m slated to go down to New Mexico Tech in
Socorro to pick up twenty cases of one pint milk bottles. The USGS contracted with some
guy down there to acid etch a portion of the lower part of each bottle. We use them for
our sediment samples and the etching allows us to write the station, the date, the time,
and the gauge height for each sample right on the specimen itself. On the way down, I
pass right by our lower Puerco sampling station at Bernardo. It’s right before the Puerco
dumps into the Rio Grande and the station is only a city block off old US-85. You can see
it on the right from I-25 heading south. I saw on the assignment sheet that David Arthur
Cabot Ward has that station on his task list for Thursday. I’m going to unlock the cable
car and let it gravitate out to the middle of the cable. I don’t know if he’s ever had to
retrieve one, but it’s terribly uncomfortable and scary as hell whether there is any water
in the river or not. You have to climb up on the cable yourself and, while sitting on it
with one leg hanging down to maintain your balance, ease out a little bit at a time. Not
only does the cable bite into your leg, but every time you move, you change the center of
gravity on the cable and the car moves toward you with the real prospect of its back
wheel rolling right on top of your hand. Believe me, it’s no picnic. He’s gonna feel like
one of the flying Wallenda family before he fetches the cable car, clambers into it, pulls it
back hand over hand, and has it properly locked up again.”

        “Ingenious,” said Keith. “You have a key. It’s equipment that you are authorized
to use. You’re not destroying government property. Will you leave a calling card for your
        “I think he’ll figure it out. Are you interested in coming along?” urged Clark.
        “I think I have my own fish to fry, but please accept my sincere congratulations,”
replied Keith as he finished off a bowl of cereal. “Have you had a chance to call Jenny
yet? I’m eager to make my report to Kayla,” laughed Keith heartily.

         Chapter 10
         At the appointed hour of 10:00 AM, Keith flipped open his cell phone and called
Harrell Wade Harrison. “Yo! Wade! Where are you?”
         “I’m breakfastin’ by the pool here at my temporary digs – the Hotel Albuquerque.
Nobody’s in the pool because it’s so darned windy. I’m a little hung; I was tossin’ tequila
shots at the El Mescal bar here at the hotel last night with some people I met. Actually,
they weren’t people; they were a pair of wild legal secretaries. I would have preferred
‘cerveza’, but these gals wanted to show me the proper way to drink tequila. You know,
lick the salt from your left thumb web, slam the sauce with your right hand, and suck the
lime held with your left hand. It was great fun, but they drank me under the table.”
Wade’s voice sounded an octave or two below normal.
         “I know the ritual,” snickered Keith. “Did they reel you in with that line that
‘tequila is always drunk in pairs’?”
         “I don’t remember! I was too busy fixatin’ on this one gal’s diaphanous blouse.
I’ve decided to become a brassiere salesman when I graduate. I think she had a thing for
me, but I’ll never know. It’s probably just as well. My granddaddy says, ‘if you can’t
frock’em, don’t knock’em’. I think maybe the altitude got me,” lamented Wade.
         “Thank God for grandfathers,” answered Keith, not really knowing whether he
had Wade’s attention or not.
         “You know, Keith, if we were back in Tuscaloosa, some good red-eye gravy and
biscuits would fix me right up. But they don’t have any on the menu here. How do you
New Mexicans cure a hangover?”
         “I can’t really say that I’ve had the experience,” gloated Keith. “Hispanics claim
that a large bowl of menudo is a cure for the problem. You’re in luck in that it’s prepared
in most Mexican restaurants on Saturdays and Sundays some say in large part for that
purpose. You might try it; the desk folks would tell you where you could buy a menudo
grande, I’m sure of it.”
         “What’s it made of?” inquired Wade.
         “Don’t worry about it,” replied Keith. “But it should get you back up and
running.” Keith wasn’t interested at this point in discussing cow innards. He was more
interested in bringing this larger situation with Wade to a head. They weren’t what one
would call ‘bosom buddies’ by any means. In fact, Keith didn’t really care much for
Wade. Besides having questionable honesty, Wade exhibited a lot of ‘red neck’
characteristics that Keith found reprehensible. Keith recalled a thought he had had back
on campus that if travel is indeed the enemy of bigotry, a trip out west might be
supremely beneficial for Wade. They just happened to be part of the same dormitory GDI
coterie at school. They were of the same ‘tribe’ that fielded teams for intramural events;
they all sat together for games at what was lovingly referred to as ‘the mother ship’, the

Bear Bryant football stadium on campus. In fact, Wade was most assuredly his least liked
associate in the group. Only a fun dorm room ‘treasure hunt’ discussion that had gotten
out of hand one night had led to Keith’s present predicament. He was snared only by his
geographical heritage. Keith continued his conversation with Wade; “Sounds to me like
you could use some down time for awhile. Your hotel is near Albuquerque’s Old Town.
I’ll come pick you up about five and we’ll have an early supper near there and decide
how we’re going to handle this. Okay with you?”
        “Count me in; I’ll be waitin’ for you in the lobby. Ten four,” said Wade with a
perceptible increase in his enthusiasm for the day.
        Not only Keith’s personal ethics, but also his knowledge of the law, told him that
he was on the threshold of aiding and abetting. While in high school several years ago,
Keith tinkered with the idea of a career in law. To help evaluate the prospect, he
simultaneously and successfully pursued a pre-law or paralegal Associate Degree at the
Central New Mexico Community College (formerly known as Albuquerque Technical
Vocational Institute). It was the acceptance of a large number of these two-year
curriculum credit hours by Alabama that enabled him to complete his Bachelor degree in
just three years having given a computer career the nod over law. He knew that Wade had
in mind the wrongful taking of someone else’s property and had rationalized that action
as ethical in his view.

         Chapter 11
         It being a Sunday afternoon, Clark thought that this might be as good a time as
any to get this over with and get Keith off his back. He pulled the handwritten note from
his wallet with some trepidation. Clark was not a babe in the woods; he had had this
rather cruel gag pulled on him before. There was something seemingly sincere about
Kayla though and he had observed that cute gals tended to have cute friends. Chances are
good that this Jenny might be a ‘keeper’. What possible reason would Kayla have for
embarrassing anyone? He called Jenny’s number. The connection was immediate.
         “Hello! This is Jenny,” said a most melodious voice that had a smile written all
 over it.
         “Jenny, my name is Clark Watson. You haven’t a clue as to who I am, but I met a
friend of a friend of yours at a coffee shop on the west side yesterday and she seemed to
think you and I might make a wonderful couple. It might be that her idea of a wonderful
couple is two people who can kiss standing up without looking ridiculous. I’m quite tall,
six ten, to be exact and I understand you can see over quite a few folks too. Should I
         “I’m listening.”
         “Well, let’s see. I’m a junior in mechanical engineering at UNM, but I’ve got a
job with the government for the summer. I love motorcycle riding in the summer and
skiing in the winter. I understand your last name is Sorenson. Interestingly, my great
grandmother’s maiden name was Sorenson.”
         “Are you Scandinavian?” queried Jenny.
         “My maternal grandfather is half so that means I’m at least an eighth I guess,”
answered Clark. “Why?”
         “I’m pretty much Swedish. Are you blonde and blue eyed?”
         “Yes! My family lives here in Albuquerque and I ...”

        Jenny interrupted him. “I go out with you. When do you pick me up?”
        “Well, I have an engagement this evening. And I work during the day all week.
How about a get-acquainted cup of coffee some night this week ... say on Tuesday?”
        “Yes, Tuesday would be fine. I could be ready at seven if that suits you. Rather
than going to LaPo, could we walk over to the Frontier and talk while we walk? I’m in
Hokona Hall. You know where that is, yes? I’ll wait for you in the lobby; I think you will
recognize me. And one more thing, let’s go dutch. That way you are not out anything if it
turns out we have a miserable time. Is that okay with you?”
        Clark was smiling to himself the way Jenny was carrying on, but everything she
said made sense to him. “Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I’ll be at Hokona at seven on Tuesday,”
replied Clark.
        “I’m looking forward to it already. Thank you very much for the invitation,” said
Jenny as she hung up.
        Clark said to himself, ‘well, that wasn’t too tough; Jenny might be all right’. He
recorded her number on his cell phone.

        Chapter 12
        Keith and Clark walked into the lobby of the Hotel Albuquerque shortly after five.
Wade rose to his feet in anticipation when he spotted them across the long lobby. Keith
opened the conversation with the introductions, “Wade, this is my younger brother,
Clark. He’s somewhat familiar with the area you have in mind and I thought he might be
helpful in answering your questions.”
        “My pleasure, sir,” said Wade looking up at Clark. Wade was the type to assume
subordination solely due to a greater physical stature. “I’d like supper for you all to be
my treat.”
        Having seen this obsequious reaction by others now fairly often, Clark smiled and
allowed his hand to virtually engulf Wade’s. “Delightful, I accept,” said Clark. “Where
are we going?” he asked of Keith.
        “I thought Las Mañanitas would be convenient as well as having a bearing on the
subject at hand even though a number of years removed. Wade, I’ll drive. Let’s allow
your wheels some well deserved rest.”
        “Sounds good to me. What’s the connection of the restaurant?” asked Wade.
        The conversation stopped as they worked their way through the revolving doors
out to the front parking lot. Finally, Keith continued, “Las Mañanitas is a restaurant now
owned by one of the area’s new car dealers. Prior to that, it was owned by one of our
grandfather’s fraternity brothers and they held numerous rush parties there in grampa’s
college days. And well before that, it was once a stagecoach station on the old
Albuquerque to Cabezón run.” Wade nodded his head in acknowledgement. Since the
restaurant was just straight up Rio Grande Boulevard from the hotel, they arrived in
        It took awhile for all three to negotiate the multitude of small rooms and the
extremely low lintels of the doors between them. These especially discombobulated
Clark. The immediate service of chips and salsa, however, assuaged his displeasure as
food almost always did. As they admired the ‘ojos’ and other decorations on the walls,
Keith looked to Wade apologetically and said, “More chile, I’m afraid, but it’s hard to

avoid in New Mexico. I’m sure that you will enjoy the tacos. They’re not hot. Or you can
opt out completely with the hamburguesa.”
        “Actually, I think I’ll order some guacamole. I like avocados and, besides my car,
my stomach too could use a little respite,” laughed Wade. “You know, I’ve noticed that
sometimes menus spell it ‘c-h-i-l-e’ and sometimes ‘c-h-i-l-i’. What’s the deal?”
        Clark took that one. “The official spelling by act of the state legislature is ‘chile’
with the ‘e’. The only ones who spell it ‘chili’ with the ‘i’ are big chain restaurants and
other outsiders who don’t know better. And our chile doesn’t look like, doesn’t taste like,
and isn’t made like Texas chili or Cincinnati five ways chili.”
        They all placed their orders. Keith had a chicken enchilada and Clark had a beef
enchilada. Both rejected rolled and opted for flat. Upon further questioning by the
waitress, Keith chose green chile and Clark chose red. Upon further questioning, Keith
chose mild and Clark chose hot. “No kidding,” continued Clark, “the state legislature also
passed the official state question ‘red or green?’ Our grandparents had a foreign exchange
student live with them a number of years ago. It was her observation that you can’t get
anything to eat in New Mexico without answering a half dozen questions.” Coffee and
dessert supplemented their entrees. They all tried cherry empanadas, a traditional fried
pie, for dessert.
        After a quick tour of the facility, they had no doubt that it might have once served
as a stagecoach station. The bill having been paid, the three returned to Keith’s car and
Wade was asked to brief both of them on just what this so-called ‘treasure hunt’ was and
what he had in mind.
        Wade’s story went like this: “My daddy is in the precious metals recapture
business in western Tennessee. He also buys gold and silver jewelry, copper wire, surplus
metals, scrap metals, old photographic material, whatever. Prices are right and business is
good. If it can be recycled, he’ll buy it. My first cousin was workin’ for an electric
company in northwestern New Mexico last year when they were constructin’ a new set of
power lines from the four corners area down to Albuquerque. He heard about a solid
silver bell that had been abandoned in a church that has been deconsecrated in a ghost
town named Cabezón. The bell, albeit relatively small, had been cast and shipped up
from Guanajuato supposedly over three hundred years ago. My father’s partner swears
that that bell is up for grabs. It’s just like a ship at sea devoid of all personnel, a derelict.
It’s a maverick and my pa is payin’ me and all my expenses to go get it. You thought I
was funnin’ you before, Keith, but here I am and I aim to please my daddy.”
        “Je me souviens,” remarked Keith, smiling only at his quick application of the
motto he had recently seen on a Quebec license plate.
        “What on earth does that mean?” responded Wade somewhat irritably.
        “It’s ‘I remember’ in French,” said Keith wishing that he had not spoken at all.
        “If that’s true and you’re going to fetch it, the window is about to close because as
soon as a local rain falls in there, that caliche gets wet and gets as slippery as monkey
mierda and you won’t be able to get in or out of there unless you’re on a horse. It’s dry
right now. Every summer, the USGS hauls a trailer in there for temporary housing for a
field man to take sediment samples from the upper Rio Puerco and one of its major
tributaries, the Arroyo Chico. The trailer is right at the confluence and is about two miles
from downtown Cabezón. We towed the trailer in two weeks ago,” said Clark.

          “This is some derringdo if you ask me. I don’t claim to be a lawyer,” expounded
Keith, “but it seems to me that, while you might not be guilty of desecration which is
considered a very serious act in this state, you certainly would be guilty of grand larceny.
Surely, that whole town, that is what there is of it, belongs to somebody. Have you ever
seen anyone in there, Clark?”
          “I haven’t personally, but guys in the office, who have spent the summer up there,
tell me it serves as a line camp for the ranch so a couple of vaqueros are in and out of
there from time to time. I believe it’s the Montoya ranch. And the Sandoval County
Sheriff is a Montoya, Feliciano ‘Happy’ Montoya,” answered Clark.
          Clark’s statement got Wade’s attention. “What’s a vaquero?”
          Keith answered, “That’s ‘cowboy’ in Spanish. Early cowhands had trouble with
the pronunciation. It finally worked out as ‘buck-a-roo’ for Anglos. It’s probably the
sheriff you should worry most about. According to the gossip mill, he shoots first and
asks questions later.”
          “Does this Sheriff Montoya own part of the Montoya Ranch?” quizzed Wade.
          “I don’t know, but they’re all related up there in Sandoval County. The family
practically runs the courthouse,” Keith replied.
           With the county seat of Sandoval County, Bernalillo, in mind, Wade relented
some. “Maybe I should mosey up to Los Montoyas and nose around a little in the public
records,” Wade said to Keith with a little wink.
          For the first time in several days, Keith was feeling a degree of deliverance. The
last part of this discussion took place in the hotel parking lot where they had arrived some
time ago. As Wade now got out of the car, he asked, “Either one of you want to go for a
little ride tomorrow?”
          Keith and Clark replied at the same time in almost the same words, “Gotta work
tomorrow, thank you very much for supper!” Keith added, “Call me when you get back.”
          Clark’s “Pleased to meet you, Wade” got lost in the cacophony of a car door
shutting and an engine coming to life.
          Keith mumbled to Clark, “I don’t mind telling you that I’m getting bad vibes from
this ‘Cabezón Campanile Caper’. This whole thing can’t end too soon!”
          Harrell Wade went into the El Mescal Bar in his hotel for a nightcap. There was
not much going on so he struck up a conversation with the barkeep. “ How you doin’, my
good man,” queried Wade.
          “Name’s Ralph. Tips are down, but quiet nights are good now and again. I’m glad
you survived your bout with the tequila girls. They come in about once a week and get
the place hopping. What’ll you have tonight?”
          “A Dos Equis sounds good, if you would, please. I see you’ve got a Go Hawkeyes
sticker on the mirror. You go to school at the University of Iowa?”
          “Nah! I was a real fan though. I worked just up the road in Cedar Rapids for
Collins Radio before I got laid off and came down here to warm up,” replied Ralph as he
served up the cerveza and then reached up to turn down the volume on the TV.
          “What’s in the news today, anything of interest? asked Wade.
          “Same ol’, same ol’,” replied Ralph. “Although they got the guys who stole the
truckload of solar panels that were manufactured just south of here. Did you here about
the paintings from the museum in my old hometown? Somebody made off with three
Grant Wood paintings from there that I really liked. The most famous one is named

American Gothic and everybody recognizes it. I don’t know if anyone has been arrested,
but the cops located it within three days probably with the help of snitches, God
bless’em. No news on the painting called Arbor Day as yet – it was my second favorite.
It’s a grabber for mid-westerners because it shows a group of children planting a tree in a
country schoolyard. The third one, lesser known, but probably equal in value in the art
world, is a canvas called Young Corn. It’s a great agricultural landscape. Look! There’s a
picture of the two missing paintings on the TV now. That’s Young Corn on the right with
the contoured plantings on the rolling hills. Isn’t that a beaut? Supposedly, they had a hot
lead on that one too that traced to some art dealer in western Arkansas, but the guy had
apparently kicked off with a heart attack. Serves ’im right, I think. So it’s still missing; I
hope they get the bastards.”
          Wade suddenly started to sweat. He chugged the rest of his beer and bid Ralph a
good evening. Fortunately, Wade had taken the ‘package’ with him up to his room when
he checked in. With quivering hands, he carefully unwrapped the package enough to
reveal the contents. It was a painting all right, but it had nothing to do with corn. It was a
landscape of Pinnacle Mountain near the confluence of the Big Maumelle River and the
Arkansas River just upstream from Little Rock according to a sticker on the back. Wade
liked the picture; the mountain looked like a big breast to him. Not that he ever claimed
to be an aficionado, but the artist was unknown to Wade. His heart had been racing, but
Wade was now himself once again. He carefully re-wrapped the painting. Stashing it
somewhere per his pa’s instruction ought not be as difficult as he had been making it out
to be. In fact, he had an idea even now...and probably the sooner the better. With a degree
of smugness about him, Wade called Keith.
         “Keith, Wade. I forgot to mention something earlier this evening. I bought a
mountainscape painting that I really liked as I was coming west, but I’ve got a problem.
You remember that I had that old Chevy Citation? Well, it finally gave up the ghost. I got
a replacement car in Los Lunas and the trunk is too small for the painting and I need to
store it until I can come fetch it again. My pa warned me never to mail a painting because
they are invariably damaged in shipping. You were telling me at school that your
grampa’s poolroom needed some decoration. Could we act like the library program in
Nashville where you check out paintings for a period? I would sure appreciate it.” Wade
concocted that one rather easily and was surprised how half-truths worked out so well.
         “Not a bad idea; at least I know my grandma would go for it. When shall I pick it
up from you? And when do you think you’ll reclaim it? answered Keith.
         “It might be a week or it might be 6 months before I get back here, but that’s no
problem from my point of view. If you could pick it up here within the next three days, I
could tag it for you and check it with the bell captain,” proclaimed Wade.
         “Sounds like a plan. Thank you. I’ll take care of it for you,” said Keith.

         Chapter 13
         Monday morning broke over the Sandias promising a disturbing day for those
who put credence in the nautical adage, ‘red sky at morning, sailors take warning’. The
two brothers were infidels on this score and both believed that life was what you made of
it. As they came down for breakfast, they were surprised that their mother was already at
her work desk. Since the divorce and building on her own degrees, a Bachelor of Science
in Electrical Engineering from SMU and a Master of Science in Computer Science from

The University of Texas, she had steadily grown her own computer company, Duke City
Software, such that it was already ranked among the top web-site development
companies in New Mexico. Both boys had worked for her off and on during those four
years because they could handle assignments on a do-it-wherever-you-happen-to-be
basis. Her company was competing in a niche market of tying customers’ internet
accesses into a client’s present total business software. She used ‘shopping cart’ tie-ins
rather often to get the job done. She had expertise in C++, PHP, and other software tools
technically and a real knack for client relations administratively. Plus no lesson from
hands-on experience in either area went unlearned. While Clark assisted in his spare time
with some of the grunt work, Keith had become a true enterprise partner, because of his
computer knowledge developed these past several years, as he did more and more of his
mother’s workload from school. He had even recruited a recently graduated female
classmate who was now a contract programmer for Duke City Software. She
telecommuted from Massachusetts. The company had progressed to the point that Keith
was ready, willing, and able to assume the post of Technical Director when his mother
suggested it. She had become more involved with and was completely surprised by her
unexpected enjoyment of smoozing with potential clients, going to ‘networking’ social
events, and preparing responses for RFIs and RFQs. What’s more, it was quite
satisfyingly evident in these contacts that her business was growing substantially by
word-of-mouth referrals. She had all the proper reactions to customer questions and
problems; integrity and the Golden Rule were her keystones to success. She liked the set-
up. She could even travel and not miss a beat. Life was on an up-swing. Nonetheless, she
didn’t care much for cooking and cleaning. Employing a housekeeper solved the latter.
The former was still a bugaboo. The boys routinely fixed their own and constantly
inquired about the next event at grandma’s house. A lot of pizza was eaten at the boys’
        Clark, being in especially good humor, offered to make buttermilk pancakes for
the group from what he called a secret Eagle Scout flapjack recipe. He had made these
for himself a day or two ago so ingredients were fortunately still at hand. Keith prepared
drinks from a can of frozen orange juice, got out butter and syrup, and set the table. She-
who-usually-hates-to-cook fried some Jimmy Dean sausage to complete the menu. All
three relished the results of their efforts. Dirty dishes were left for later as they set about
preparing for the day.
        Keith checked with his mother, “When is our appointment with the trading post
people?” The question called to mind one of grampa’s stories when his family moved to
Albuquerque right after he graduated from high school in Iowa. They were driving down
Central Avenue and his mother pointed out and spoke the name of the Hacienda Trading
Post that existed at that time. Fresh out of high school Spanish, grampa corrected his
mother’s pronunciation in that the ‘H’ is silent. In the next block, she pointed out another
such emporium, dropped the ‘H’ and laughed ‘and I suppose that one is called the
’Itching Post’. Keith appreciated that humor had been in his genes for quite some time.
        His mother called down, “We’d better leave about nine thirty. Has Clark left yet?”
        “Yes,” answered Keith. “About twenty minutes ago.”
        Clark got to UNM just before eight o’clock. The USGS had leased the top two
floors of the Geology Building on campus for their own administrative offices and labs.

He was greeted by applause as he walked in the main USGS office. “What’s this? What’s
going on?” asked Clark.
        The bureau chief presented him with a $100 bearer check from the Soils prof over
at the Civil Engineering Department. “It’s a special thank you for the mud balls brought
back from the Puerco about a week ago. Since you did all the work above and beyond, I
wanted you to have it. I greatly appreciate your initiative in taking care of this for me,”
said the chief.
        The whole office was aware of this unusual ceremony. Clark was greeted by more
applause as he walked into the lab. In due time, David Arthur Cabot Ward sidled over to
him and suggested, “Where’s your largess? You ought to treat everyone to a round of
drinks after work.”
        Clark just looked at him for several seconds. Then he spoke, “I think you have
already gotten all the enjoyment that you are going to get out of this, buddy Dave.”
        Clark checked the ‘chore board’ to make sure his trip to Socorro was still on and
what else he would be doing that week. He busied himself with the planning details for
his assignment to fetch the sample bottles. Fortunately, his favorite field vehicle was
available and he grabbed the keys and departed for New Mexico Tech. ‘To be or not to
be? Tis better to ....what’, Clark grappled with both his Shakespeare and his situation. He
had a perfect plan. Everything was still spot on. What to do? He was still in this quandary
as he passed through Los Lunas. He was still in this quandary as he passed through
Belen. Belen is Spanish for Bethlehem. The encroachment of a religious aspect to his
dilemma didn’t seem to be helping any.
        Clark was approaching Bernardo where US-60 joined the interstate highway. It
was here where he would need to get off I-25 and get on the old US-85 to detour to the
old Puerco bridge where the sampling station was. His foot eased off the accelerator, but
his hands wouldn’t turn the wheel. Not that David Arthur Cabot Ward didn’t deserve it,
but perhaps this rather nice windfall and the appreciative words from the big boss had
overwhelmed his desire for revenge. For whatever reason, he couldn’t do it. Chalk up
another victory for good over evil. Besides, if he feels he made the wrong choice and
changes his mind, he is still coming back this way.
        As he topped the hill above the rest areas in the Salado valley, he looked up river.
Just in his lifetime, the dunes that lined this valley had been stabilized by vegetation. If an
extended drought recurs, he might see the dunes re-appear. He liked the Salado. You
could tell during the monsoon season where the rain had fallen up-river just by checking
the color of the streambed. Each of the three main tributaries came down through
different sandstone or tuff deposits giving the stream a vermilion, ochre, or ashen hue.
        Before Clark was really consciously aware of it, he had passed the Escondido
turn-off and was rapidly approaching Socorro. The rendezvous for the specimen bottles
went quite well and he was soon once again on the road. This time he wasn’t even
thinking of the Rio Puerco and David Arthur Cabot Ward as he rolled through Bernardo.
His attention was reawakened by the highway mileage sign for Albuquerque – 53 miles.
        Almost everyone who has passed by this way (‘paso por aqui,’ thought Clark)
knows that Albuquerque was named in honor of a Spanish Duke when the city was
founded in 1706 by Spanish colonials. The professional baseball team for many years
was called the Dukes. A somewhat smaller group knows that the title of that royal
personage and his descendants is spelled with an extra ‘R’, Duke of Alburquerque,

reflecting the name of the ancestral home near the Portuguese border north of Badajoz in
Spain’s Extremadura province. Far fewer yet know that the true derivation of the word is
found on the ‘escudo’ or shield of the villa de Alburquerque. It’s a white oak tree. The
early Romans stripped the bark from that tree variety for use as corks in their wine
vessels. The tree’s trunk was perceptibly white after the stripping. The botanical name for
this tree, derived from the Latin, is quercus albus.
         Clark was proud that his mother had named her business Duke City Software. He
liked it here. If he traveled east, like on his several visits to Alabama, he enjoyed
remarking that it was beautiful country there, but that he missed New Mexico’s
brownery. Clark was pleased with his major at college; he was pleased with his hobby of
stripping down and rebuilding motorcycles; and he was delighted with his job (it was a
personal goal that he would cover his own college expenses). At this point in life, he saw
himself as a future automotive engineer. He wondered where life might take him. He
thought of another of Grandpa’s oft used quotations, the one he always attributed from
The Man Without a Country: ‘Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to
himself hath said, this is my own, my native land?’ Clark felt a tear or two form in his
eyes and a quiver on his lips. He was glad he was alone.

        Chapter 14
        Harrell Wade found himself thinking of last night’s empanadas as he opened his
eyes that morning. He wasn’t sure that he would ever want to live in New Mexico. He
had had some fried fruit pies in the Arbuckle Mountains near Sulphur, Oklahoma, on his
way west. They were far more delicate and filled to the max with fruit. These empanadas
had a lardy taste. They couldn’t hold a candle to Oklahoma’s. And then there’s all this
        He dressed hurriedly. He had much to do today and he was fully recovered now
from his recent indiscretions with tequila. After a breakfast of ham and eggs, he taped
Keith’s name, address, and phone number to his painting. With a self-satisfied smile on
his face, Wade checked the painting with the bell captain, and then was off to the public
library. Wade was a map nut and wanted to be completely oriented to Cabezón’s vicinity.
He relished geography and, if he had a true hobby, map reading was it. He thoroughly
enjoyed knowing that the Maumee River of Ohio, a northeastern flowing stream that
dumped into Lake Erie at Toledo, was formed at Ft. Wayne in Indiana by the confluence
of two westwardly flowing streams, the St. Mary’s and the St. Joseph’s. The Maumee
then flowed back east between its two parental rivers. He enjoyed knowing that the
headwaters for the Missouri River were at Three Forks, Montana, where the Jefferson,
the Madison, and the Gallatin joined just northwest of Yellowstone National Park. He
loved the story of the Northwest Angle of Minnesota and the role of the Mississippi
River’s birthplace, Lake Itasca. Although he didn’t like to remember the infamous trip to
Pittsburgh that his father sent him on, at least he had the satisfaction of seeing where the
Allegheny and Monongahela joined to form the Ohio River. Names like Wapsipinicon
and Maquoketa in eastern Iowa sang to him. He learned history by learning rivers. Wade
could name the major rivers of every state in the union. He knew the fables too, like the
Ashley and the Cooper joining to form the Atlantic at Charleston, South Carolina. He
knew what happened to a spoon that was dropped into Passamaquoddy Bay in Down East
Maine – it got wet. He knew all the geographical most easterns, most northerns, et alii.

He knew Reno was farther west than Los Angeles. And he knew that there were two Rio
Puercos in New Mexico.
        Wade was distressed with his State Farm Road Atlas that he had used as his guide
on this trip. He easily found Cabezón Peak on the New Mexico page. It was shown as
7786 feet high. His cousin had told him he’d have no trouble spotting it in the real world.
One could see it fifty miles away from the hills around Bernalillo. The bell lay at its foot.
What disturbed Wade was that his road atlas showed a stream flowing from or to the west
of Cabezón marked as Rio Puerco. If this was the other Rio Puerco that flows through
Gallup on its way to the Little Colorado, it would have to cross the continental divide and
this made no sense at all. If Clark were to be believed, this stream would rise around
Ambrosia Lake in the uranium mining area and would have to be the Arroyo Chico that
Clark mentioned. Wade was well aware that the more noteworthy Puerco came into
Cabezón from up to the north of Cuba, not from the West. Granted that few, if any, non-
locals would be traveling in this particular area, still in Wade’s mind this was an
egregious error.
        Wade discovered that parking downtown was not really a problem. He entered the
Municipal Library and walked immediately to the Help Desk.
         “Good mornin’, how are you ma’am?” said Wade earnestly.
        A much more accentuated “Good mawnin’ your se’f, how can I he’p you?” came
the most pleasant reply. For the first time, it felt like home to Wade. He indicated a desire
to see maps of the Rio Grande watershed from Colorado to the ‘Gu’f ’. When she
responded with that same strictly southern twist as she repeated the specs for his
information search, the two knew they would like to spend a little more time with each
other. Both, it was discovered in the immediate small talk, called Nashville their
        “My name’s Harrell Wade Harrison, but please call me Wade,” pleaded a broadly
smiling face.
        “I’m Linda Sue and it’s my pleasure, suh,” replied a most eager librarian assistant.
“Let me show you what maps we have.” Linda Sue called over to another assistant to
cover for her at the Help Desk for a short break.
        As they walked to the second floor map room, Wade answered her inquiry, “I’m
here on business for my father. Unfortunately, I’ll only be here for a few days. I’m now a
senior at the University of Alabama and I’m workin’ for my pa for the summer. How
about you? What brought you to Albuquerque?”
        Linda Sue was quick to answer, “Well, wouldn’t you know? I do declare. I’m a
senior at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro takin’ Library Science. As you might
surmise, I live at home and commute to school. My folks thought I would benefit from
gettin’ away from home for a few months. My Aunt Millie is on the Library Board here
and got me this summer job. I’m not stayin’ with her, though. I have my own apartment.”
        They quickly found a map of the Rio Grande watershed from the Colorado State
line to El Paso. Wade was rather tickled and expressed his gratitude. He felt motivated to
embellish his statement with an invitation.
        “I’m deeply pleased with how you’ve helped me, Linda Sue. Could I treat you to
a Coke on your break?”
        The response was most encouraging. “I can’t this mornin’, but I would like that.
My last name is Byerson. You can contact me here or give me a call at the Landmark

Apartments anytime after three. It’s in the phone book and the doorman will forward
your call to me.”
         Wade could hardly contain himself. “I’ll call as soon as I know my schedule.”
         “I sincerely hope that you do,” said Linda Sue Byerson with a wink.
         Wade watched her walk away and thought to himself, ‘Now there’s a gorgeous
and, unless I miss my guess, a lonely woman. Maybe I was too quick to pass judgement
on New Mexico. A summer here, anyway, or even just a fortnight might prove to be
downright intoxicatin’. Let’s see where this goes.’ After a short study, the map proved
that State Farm was wrong and Clark was right. He now also had mileage for the route
down the Puerco valley from State Road 550 south to San Luis, Cabezón, and Guadalupe
and on over to San Mateo and Grants, if need be, although the cartographic legend
showed that the road surfaces got progressively worse. San Luis was apparently a viable
town, but both Cabezón and Guadalupe were in ‘abandoned’ status. The map also
showed various ranch holdings in the area. Montoya Ranch had the largest holding and
completely encompassed the ghost town of Cabezón. Apparently, some smaller outfits
held grazing permits here and there around the monolith. Linda Sue was back at her post
as Wade retraced his steps, but she was tied up with another customer. She saw him,
however, and they exchanged waves.
         Curiously enough, neither Keith nor Clark had yet seen Wade’s transportation. It
was an older car, but very nicely appointed. It was a bright red convertible, a ’68
Mustang fastback, outfitted with an LS1 Corvette engine. This thing, when called upon,
could really make tracks. It was a real head turner and Wade suddenly realized that could
possibly be a liability on his present assignment. But what the hey, he now visualized
Linda Sue sitting beside him as he gunned the engine and pulled out of the library
parking lot. He drove over to I-25 and headed north for Bernalillo.
         Wade chuckled to himself as he pulled up in front of the Sandoval County
Courthouse. This is another one-horse town like Carrizozo, but with a much wider main
drag. They’re even so proud of it that they have a sign every block prohibiting a U-turn
under penalty of law. The courthouse was an old, old building all gussied up with a brand
new two-story facade. He went into the County Recorder’s office and stopped at a
‘teller’s window’ sporting an embossed nameplate that identified the clerk as Emily
Montoya. Wade thought he might as well come straight to the point, “Emily, I’m
interested in ascertainin’ the owner of the properties in Cabezón. Can you he’p me?”
         “Are you government?” the clerk responded in a voice that sure communicated
that the answer better be negative if you really thought you might get some information.
         “No, definitely not.” Thinking fast on his feet, Harrell Wade averred, “I’m writin’
a book on western ghost towns for my master’s thesis at the University of Alabama and I
heard of Cabezón while doin’ research on early day stagecoach runs in New Mexico. I
am hopin’ to visit it and some of the people who own it.”
         “Well, first of all, I ain’t Emily. I’m Teresa Montoya and I guess I can tell you
that the whole town is part of my cousin’s ranch. He’s getting pretty old though so you
probably ought to talk to his boy, Feliciano. But I can tell you honestly, they don’t take
kindly to strangers loitering around out there. People tend to take stuff that ain’t theirs. I
honestly don’t know if they would give you permission or not.”
         Wades eyes opened a little wider as he reacted to this news. “Isn’t Feliciano the
County Sheriff?”

         “He surely is,” said Teresa. “His office is just across the way there, but he’s out
on patrol. I would imagine he’s having lunch at El Bruno’s in Cuba right now. I can get
him on the radio if you’d like.”
         “No, no, thank you. I hate to disturb a man while he’s eatin’. I’ll come back
later,” lied Wade who had every intention of getting out of Bernalillo as fast as possible.
         He drove west towards San Ysidro and on towards Cuba until he came to the San
Luis turnoff. The natural erosion of the various uplifts and the myriad colors of the
various sandstone deposits here on the Colorado Plateau made for a virtual fantasyland
for a man reared in the South. The naked igneous throat of an ancient volcano, a
splendiferous column of congealed lava, a black butte that dwarfed the surrounding rocks
... this was El Cabezón. The English translation of ‘the big head’ hardly did it justice.
Wade’s cousin was absolutely right, you couldn’t miss it. With each succeeding mile,
Wade became more concerned that he was on a fool’s errand. He turned around for
Albuquerque with the realization that his stomach was starting to knot up as he pondered
his father’s reaction. He was back in the Duke City shortly after three.

        Chapter 15
        Keith took a break from his programming labors that afternoon. He had learned
long ago not to do a lot of coding when his mind wasn’t really on it and right now his
mind was on Kayla Sullivan. While he knew very little about her, she had an aura that put
her completely apart from his girl friends at college these past four years although she
couldn’t be much if any older. He called her.
        “Kayla, this is Keith Watson, the former Academy student from the coffee shop.”
        “Yes, Keith, I remember you, of course. The way you touched my hand, some
kind of energy and warmth passed between us. I hope you don’t think I’m a nut of some
kind. How are you?”
        “I’m fine, thank you. A man’s word is his bond and I promised you a report on
the Jenny slash Clark affair. He called her and they have a get-acquainted coffee date for
Tuesday night. He said her telephone voice was fantastic whatever that means. So I guess
you win the ‘Cupid of the Year Award’. I was hoping you and I might try something
similar; is there a chance you might be interested in a get-acquainted something or
        “Yes, I’d like that. I’m teaching a literature course at the Academy this summer at
nine in the morning so I have a fair amount of free time. When and where?”
        “Well, how about lunch tomorrow in the Lucia Dining Room at the Hotel
Andaluz downtown say promptly at twelve or I could pick you up somewhere if you
        “I have some legal work to take care of downtown. I could do that later in the
afternoon. It sounds delightful, Keith. I look forward to it,” said Kayla with genuine
eagerness in her voice.
        “I have no idea how familiar you might be with downtown parking, but the
restaurant will validate your parking stub if you use the parking structure at Third and
Copper. They also have, quotes, free valet parking if you would rather,” prompted Keith.
        “That’s most helpful. I think I’ll try the parking structure. See you then, Keith.
Bye for now!”

       From out of nowhere came a bit of Shakespeare to Keith’s mind, ‘Would I were a
glove upon that hand that I might touch that cheek’. Keith thought the fates acted in
strange and mysterious ways.

         Chapter 16
         Between fear and lust, Harrell Wade Harrison was slowly turning into a basket
case. He longed for home. Maybe Linda Sue Byerson would be the proper tonic to salve
his psychic wounds. It was about three-thirty when he parked his car and unlocked his
room at the Hotel Albuquerque. He needed a second good hot shower this day. The
thought of ‘to wash his sins away in the tide’ or potential sins anyway suddenly ran
through his mind. With his hot outer clothes in the hamper and now down to his skivvies,
he looked up Landmark Apartments in the phone book and placed a call. It worked just
like she said.
         “Linda Sue? Harrell Wade Harrison. Since you left me this mornin’, I’ve had a
terrible day. But my business is done and I’m in the mood to party. Is there a chance you
could join me for a nice dinner where ever that might be?” said Wade, now naked, but
wearing his very best manners.
         “I was prayin’ you’d call. Yes, I’d like that very much. Does ‘pick me up at six’
sound like a plan? I know a really good steakhouse if you’re hungry. It’s called
Baxter’s,” replied the sweetest voice Wade had heard since leaving home.
         “Yea, verily. That’s music to my ears. It’s perfect,” he said. She gave him explicit
instructions on how to get from his hotel to the Landmark. He hung up the phone and
found himself actually humming Dixie as he stepped into the shower. Life was not so bad
after all.
         Dressed, shaven again, and smelling good, he was somewhat ahead of schedule.
He put in a promised call to Keith, but got only the voice recorder. “Keith, this is Wade.
I’ve had a full day and I’m tired. I’ll call you tomorrow. Roll, Tide!”
         He was right on time and she was sitting at a desk in the lobby chatting amiably
with the doorman. She gave Wade a peck on the cheek as they met. She was dressed to
the nines. Arm in arm, they went out to the car. She gave a low whistle and a dainty
growl as he led her to his car and opened the door.
          The restaurant, located on West Central near San Pasquale, was surprisingly
convenient to both their abodes. Baxter’s had a reputation as one of the best in town. It
featured linen tablecloths, needless to say, but also rather haughty back east type older
male waiters. Big linen napkins were ceremoniously placed in their laps and menus
opened and placed on the chargers. Wade’s paraphernalia also included the bar offerings.
He noticed immediately that Baxter’s claimed the coldest beer in town. His budding
enthusiasm over the prospect of a cold beer was cut short by Linda Sue’s suggestion that
the restaurant offered superior French 75s, a champagne and brandy concoction. Wade
was not sure he had ever had one, but anything to please a lady. He just hoped that they
weren’t drunk in pairs.
         Fortunately, the 75s were sipped at leisure and certainly guaranteed a relaxed
environment. Caesar salads followed by rare filet mignons served with a delectable
mushroom sauce, french fries (larger, but certainly a worthy match for McDonald’s fries
that Wade thought were the best in the world), and absolutely crave-inducing toasted and
buttered hint-of-garlic slices of French bread constituted a truly delicious dinner. Wade

reminisced about a recent family dinner at the Orangerie in Knoxville. Were Baxter’s to
serve some kind of canapé as a lagniappe and have a piano soloist, the restaurants would
certainly be competitive. They chatted at length about Nashville. Wade’s family lived
fairly close to the Parthenon replica. Linda Sue lived fairly close to the start of the
Natchez Trace. It was a wonderful dinner date. Since Linda Sue demurred on dessert,
Wade did as well.
         Wade paid the tab with cash. As he now wrestled with the change figuring out an
appropriate tip, Linda Sue put her hand on his and whispered, “If you’re willin’, I’d
rather have a nightcap. The Starlight Lounge is one of the nicest in town and it is close to
here. As a matter of fact, it’s on the penthouse floor of the Hotel Albuquerque.” Wade
was quick to agree. He felt light on his feet, but inebriated only by her feminine charm.
         They arrived shortly at his hotel and had a second French 75. The buzz was re-
ignited. As he charged the tab to his room, she whispered in his ear, “Why don’t you give
me a tour of your room?” They walked arm in arm to the elevator.

         Chapter 17
         When Wade awoke that next morning, Linda Sue was long gone. He lamented
that his old Chevy Citation was also gone as last night’s conquest would have been
honored by painting another shooting star on the trunk. The bedside clock showed nine
o’clock. He knew he had several potentially interesting phone calls to make. He placed
the first one to Keith. “Yo! Keith! What’s happenin’?” Keith had picked up immediately.
         “Well, mom and I have been celebrating a big new contract that we got yesterday,
but, more importantly, what’s been going on with you?”
         Wade smiled as he contemplated the question, but remembered that he had told
Keith that he was turning in early. He felt he dare not mention the library. “I was
reconnoiterin’ yesterday. I drove up to Bernalillo to get a look-see at the public records
and then drove out towards Cabezón.”
         In a moment of genuine concern, Keith asked, “You didn’t go all the way, did
         Wade had to stifle a laugh as he realized that there were two different answers to
that question. He kept the more private one to himself as he responded, “No way, my car
is too obvious. I’m goin’ to look into rentin’ a four-wheel drive. And I may need to get
some more help. You’ve made it clear you want no part of it. I saw some unemployed,
maybe homeless, guys downtown yesterday near Second Street and Mountain Road. I
suspect I can get what I’m lookin’ for there at the right price.”
         “Well, you’re right. What you want to do is not lawful and I’ve invested far more
in your project than I ever intended. And I’m already behind here at Duke City Software.
Let me know how it all turns out when you get back home or call me if you need any
legitimate help,” said Keith with a great sigh of relief. He was out of it.
         “Yeah! Well, I want to thank you anyway. It was nice to have had a contact here
while I’ve been a thousand miles from home,” Wade realized he was speaking into the
ether since Keith had already hung up.
         Wade took a little more time before placing his next call. He rehearsed several
possible openers in his mind, then shrugged his shoulders, and placed the call to the
Library’s main switchboard. “Linda Sue Byerson, please!”
         “Good mawnin’, how may I be of he’p,” answered Linda Sue.

        “Linda Sue, it’s Wade. I’m so sorry I didn’t get you home last night. It was a
fabulous evenin’. I just wanted to thank you for everythin’. It was absolutely wonderful!”
gushed Wade.
        Her voice suddenly dropped to a hush. “When we were through gettin’ physical,
you dropped off to sleep pretty fast so I just took a cab back to my place. I, too, thought
the entire evenin’ was out of this world. I feel I ought to apologize to you for takin’
advantage of you. My libido just grabbed hold of me yesterday and wouldn’t let go. Are
you leavin’ town right away?” replied Linda Sue.
        “No, I’ll be here another day or two. Maybe we could get together again?” Wade
held his breath for what seemed an interminable pause.
        “Wade, you could do me a big favor. I told you about my Aunt Millie here who
got me this job. She’s havin’ a small group for dinner this evenin’ and encouraged me to
bring a guest. Would you be willin’ to be my escort?” said Linda Sue very matter-of-
        Teased by the chance for a repeat and even now dreaming of a three-peat, Wade
jumped at the opportunity. “What time shall I pick you up and what’s the dress code?”
        “How about seven o’clock. Dinner might well be on her patio. It’s been a rather
hot June; resort casual would be in order, I think,” answered Linda Sue. And Wade
thought he detected that same tone in her voice from yesterday.
        Wade spent the rest of the day at his hotel. He went swimming to kill some time
and re-studied his map, but, mostly, he held his head in his hands wondering how he
should handle Cabezón. Keith had a solid head on his shoulders. Wade regretted letting
Keith go quite so fast. The extra brainpower might be very beneficial. Wade also played
out the upcoming dinner party in his mind. That part would work out just fine, he
thought, as he began his ‘toilette’.

         Chapter 18
         The weather forecast had been for another extra warm June day. Keith was eager
to make the best impression that he could so he put on a shirt and tie for his luncheon
engagement, but, in deference to the heat, left his jacket at home. He arrived at the Hotel
Andaluz about fifteen minutes early and decided he could cool his heels in the comfort of
a lobby chair that had a view of both entrances while he waited for Kayla to show. He
really liked this hotel. Just like the Owl Bar in San Antonio, the Andaluz had a Conrad
Hilton connection. This building started life as a Hilton Hotel and was the scene of many
a dance in grampa’s day. Now it was one of two brand new boutique hotels in
Albuquerque. Considerable sums had been cleverly spent in the building’s renovation.
         Kayla, a few minutes early herself, came in through the side door and they spotted
each other with a smile simultaneously. As she approached, Keith could see that she had
changed her coiffure. The ebony hair now had a silver swath down one side. She wore
bright red breeches and huaraches. Saturday’s plunging neckline had been replaced by a
ruffled blouse and a bolo. Keith thought this woman is either a free spirit or a kook and
he loved it. Keith got to his feet just in time for her to embrace him in today’s cheek-to-
cheek manner.
         “You look absolutely gorgeous,” blurted Keith.
         “Why, thank you, Keith. I try,” said Kayla as she twirled in front of him.
         “Are those what you gals call pedal pushers?” tendered Keith.

         “Pedal pushers were in your grandmother’s wardrobe, Keith. These are called
‘piratas’. My mother sent them to me from Madrid.”
         As they walked over to check in with the maitre d’, Kayla could hold her
appreciation no longer. “Keith, thank you so much for getting Clark to call Jenny.
Melanie is so very grateful.”
         “You are most certainly welcome. I’m delighted to be of service. Who’s
         “She’s the friend with whom I was having coffee Saturday at the Flying Star. She
knows Jenny’s family in Ely. Melanie and I were roommates at Wisconsin and she’s
down here visiting me for a couple weeks.”
         The conversation stopped as they were shown to their table. Then Kayla resumed,
“I’ve been here less than a month myself. The Academy hired me right out of school.
Apparently nobody majors in English Literature anymore and they were desperate for
someone to teach this summer. At this point, though, I’m only under contract for the
summer. Tell me about you, Keith!” Eliciting a smile from both of them, Kayla quipped,
“I believe that I can safely presume that you’re not a fashion designer.”
         “Well, I just finished a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering at Alabama. I
had a variety of stipends and graduate assistant type jobs at school and now I’m working
for Duke City Software helping my mother expand the company. The nicest part is that I
determine my own hours which allows me like today to take a beautiful companion to
         “You’re such a Lothario! Do you read much? I’ve noticed that you technical types
don’t seem to share a lot of my interests.”
         “Au contraire, my pet. You have confused me with the masses. I have read The
Fair Penitent and I am familiar with Lothario,” responded Keith. “Actually, I am a
voracious reader of all kinds of things.”
         Kayla saluted Keith with her water glass.
         “Shall we order? Please, whatever you want. The salads are especially nice here.
The special looks good or may I recommend the Nicoise?” continued Keith. After
deliberating over the several choices, they both finally opted for a Crab Louis. “What are
you currently covering in your class?”
         “Hemmingway, right now... The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Old
Man and the Sea. I find his works depressing generally. I’ll die if we don’t get through
this section quickly,” said Kayla.
         Keith smiled. “I believe my response should be ‘never send to know for whom the
bell tolls, it tolls for thee’. You didn’t mention perhaps his most well known work. I must
confess I just read John Donne’s Meditation 17 last week.”
         “You’re good, Keith, you’re very good. Let’s hope it tolls for neither of us,”
responded Kayla with a hearty laugh. “I’m also writing a love story about a young couple
in school who have an out-of-wedlock child. I’m calling it Mendota Ain’t No
Gitchagoome. Have you ever tried writing?”
         “I’ve written too many term papers recently to get very excited about the
prospect. Maybe some day. I would be pleased to serve as a literary critic if you want
         “I think you’d be an excellent critic, but I’m not far enough along yet in
developing the story line.”

       They devoured their salads with gusto. When finished, Kayla reached over and
clasped Keith’s hand. “I don’t know if you possess unusually high vascularity in your
hands or what, but they have become a fetish for me. Does that make me a freak?”
       “It certainly makes you interesting. And one should keep one’s fetishes in close
proximity. I hope that you have enjoyed this as much as I. Shall we get acquainted some
more quite soon?” said Keith hopefully.
       “I would be most disappointed were you not to call,” replied Kayla. “Why don’t
you walk me over to the county courthouse?” They left arm in arm.
       After parting with Kayla, Keith remembered to pick up Wade’s painting at the
Hotel Albuquerque. It was hung in grampa’s poolroom that same afternoon and grandma
was pleased.

        Chapter 19
        Clark headed for home from work that Tuesday with a strange feeling. There were
rumors at the USGS that changes were in the wind. An early Thursday all-hands meeting
had been called by the Bureau chief. All the scuttlebutt was in the negative and just when
he had all his ducks lined up for replenishing his coffers for the next school year. He was
in the mood for something to take his mind off work and he hoped his coffee date with
Jenny would be just the ticket. He stopped at Lota Burger for supper and hied himself
home for a shave and a shower.
        Because of his financial situation, most of Clark’s social life had been partying
more with groups or resulting from more impromptu arrangements. This pre-scheduled
one-on-one date with Jenny was in actuality a new experience for Clark. He didn’t want
to admit it, but truthfully his concern about his height had also played a role in this. He
hoped this turned out well.
        Minutes before seven, he drove into the Hokona parking lot. Several girls were
standing on the steps and among them was a blonde considerably taller than the rest. ‘My
God’, said Clark to himself, ‘She is beautiful. I’ve got a date with Venus herself!’ Jenny
spotted him, waved enthusiastically, and came running to greet him.
        “I sure hope you’re Clark,” she laughed. “I’m Jenny, the Swedish girl.” Both of
them blushed. Temporarily tongue-tied, Clark just nodded his head. “Let me run get a
sweater. I’ll be right back,” she gushed. Clark slowly followed her path back to the door.
By the time he got there, she was down the steps and immediately placed her hand in his.
“I’m so pleased to meet you. Shall we go?” and they walked off holding hands. Clark felt
a warming sensation in his groin. He prayed his protuberance was not clearly evident.
        It was just a five-minute brisk walk from Hokona to the Frontier Restaurant on
Central, but it took them thirty minutes to cover it. She was six feet four, bubbly, happy,
and talkative. Clark had never before felt so masculine. They exchanged volumes of
personal information. She was a second generation Swedish-American. She had been
named in honor of Jenny Lind, a world famous soprano known as the Swedish
Nightingale. Clark responded that he got his middle name from a not so famous grampa
whose not so famous grampa was Swedish. She said she named her pillow Bjorn after the
famous Swedish tennis player, Bjorn Borg. Clark said he didn’t believe in naming
pillows, especially after men, but his grampa did. As a child, his was named Gunder
Hägg who it is said was a famous Swedish runner who first flirted with the four-minute

barrier in the mile. Clark suggested that maybe she should be having this date with his
grampa. Jenny replied, “I think you’ll do just fine.” They laughed until their sides hurt.
         Jenny was from Minnesota and was only here for the summer to take a couple
catch-up courses before going back to the Golden Gopher campus. She inveigled him into
a promise for a motorcycle ride. Clark said to himself, ‘I’m putty in this girl’s hands and
I’m loving it’.
         Neither one could really remember having had coffee. The time went so quickly.
Before they realized it, they were back at the front door to Hokona Hall. Jenny’s eyes
glistened with a tear or two as she said, “Come here, big fella, I want to know if we can
kiss each other standing up without looking ridiculous.” It took them some time to prove
it to their mutual satisfaction.

         Chapter 20
         Linda Sue looked great again. She and Wade were the first to arrive. Introductions
and mutual compliments were exchanged. Millie Throckmorton was and always has been
single. Her college degree was in Library Science from Case / Western Reserve in
Cleveland. She had come to Albuquerque forty-five years ago to work with the
Albuquerque Public School System Libraries. An attractive woman was she; Wade could
see certain family characteristics between her and Linda Sue. “Wade, Linda Sue simply
calls me Millie; it would please me if you would do the same,” said Millie. “She told me
that you are working for your father and he’s in the precious metals reclamation business.
What is your role with the firm?”
         Wade thought to himself ‘Well, here it is; it came a lot faster than I would have
supposed’. His voice was calm, “It’s just a summer job.” Then the lie began. “You’re
well aware of numerous new businesses advertizin’ for folks to convert old jewelry and
such to cash. I’m tryin’ to negotiate initial contacts with these business people to have
them become retail outlets for my pa. He’s been in the business for fifty years and knows
all the ropes. It would help these locals grow their businesses and steer them away from
any unethical practices.” Wade thought that turned out pretty well. Thank heavens for his
own foresight.
         Unexpectedly, Millie burst out laughing. “Forgive me for my chuckles, but you’re
hardly the first man to come to the Land of Enchantment seeking silver and gold. In
1540, Francisco Coronado came from Mexico searching for the Seven Cities of Gold. He
didn’t find any because there wasn’t any here, but that hasn’t deterred others from
chasing the legends and the rumors even to the present day. I wish you the best of luck in
your job here, Wade, but New Mexico is a poor state. Riches here are few and far
between. There’s a legend of a gold shipment as part of an early Army fort payroll that
has supposedly been buried somewhere near Victorio Peak on the White Sands Missile
Range. Ill-fated adventurers get permission to go in from time to time. All they find is
ridicule and publicity. The Confederate Army was defeated by the Union Army at
Glorieta Pass looking to take possession of alleged gold shipments from California.
There’s the story of an old mine up in the San Pedro Wilderness Area north of Cuba that
any number of folks say they have seen, but not one is able to retrace his steps.
Supposedly, one of the original finders killed the other before the claim was ever filed.
Nowadays, folks are trying to invest money in a gold claim in Santa Fe County near

Golden. They have been completely stymied by environmentalists. Gold and silver are
not profitable pursuits in Nuevo Mexico,” laughed Millie.
        “My cousin who worked out here a year ago told the tale of a silver bell in an
abandoned church in some ghost town. He said it was absolutely true. Have you heard
about that?” proffered Wade.
        “If you are referring to Cabezón, I sure have. It’s another old wives’ tale. There
was a bell there for many years, but it wasn’t silver. And there were so many adventurers
pouring in there, the County Sheriff had the old regular bell removed and sold for scrap. I
understand that there’s still a ruckus from time to time. No, the only silver in these parts
is in Indian jewelry and the ceremonial silver-tipped canes President Lincoln gave to the
Governor of each Indian Pueblo. If your brother bought the Cabezón story, I’d like to tell
him about chupacabras,” said Millie full of mirth.
        Wade passed on the invitation to learn more about chupacabras, as, fortunately,
the other guests arrived. The rest of the attendees were more of Millie’s age. When the
barbecue was eaten and the conversation turned more to the participants’ daily lives,
Linda Sue whispered to Wade, “Since we were the first to arrive, I think it’s all right if
we are the first to leave.” They bid their adieus. Aunt Millie gave Wade a goodbye peck
on the cheek. Linda Sue and Wade walked hand in hand to the car.
        “The night is still young,” said Wade hopefully. “What’s on your mind?”
        Linda Sue pulled Wade over for a passionate embrace, “I’m not sure I saw all of
your hotel room.” They both giggled. Wade felt utterly relieved of all his troubles. The
evidence on Cabezón was overwhelming. He had indeed been on a fool’s errand. Millie
had sensed that he, Harrell Wade Harrison, was merely the latest to be duped. He looked
over at Linda Sue and thought to himself, with all the pride befitting an over-sexed
testosterone-laden collegiate male, ‘at least I found a nymphomaniac who speaks
Southern, not bad for consolation’.
        Wade and Linda Sue stopped in the El Mescal for a quick drink. She ordered a
Seven and Seven; he had another Dos Equis. Ralph brought the drinks to their table and,
recalling their previous conversation, mentioned that Arbor Day too had been found, but
Young Corn appeared lost because, given enough time, thieves make arrangements to
have run-of-the-mill paintings mounted over the original and then they become near
impossible to chase down. Wade simply moved his head side-to-side and feebly voiced
what sounded like a ‘tsk, tsk’ to sympathize with Ralph.
        Other than that, Wade showed little emotion to the news as he was now well
ahead of Ralph on that idea. Inwardly, Wade was taking stock of his situation and
congratulating himself. Here he was out touring the West, he had a car the envy of any
collegian, he had a good-lookin’ gal eager to please him, he had a piece of valuable
artwork under his personal control, and things were right between him and his pa. Wade
thought to himself, ‘Wade, my boy, you have arrived!’
        He thought he should probably call his pa tomorrow and then leave for Wyoming
as he didn’t come all this way not to find a can of Moose Drool. He wondered to himself
if he would really be back through this way. Those miscellaneous thoughts melted away
as together they pushed the hotel elevator button for his floor.

       Chapter 21

        It had been a pretty exciting last several days in Albuquerque, but now things
seemed to be settling down. Keith was putting in considerably more hours than usual
helping Duke City Software get its new trading post web site contract off the ground.
Both he and his mother were excited about their business prospects. They had recently
landed a contract for web site expansion and maintenance with ALBUQUERQUE, THE
MAGAZINE, a very trendy periodical that appealed to those moving to new forms of
customer cultivation.
        All the US Geological Survey field men were out and about getting their sampling
stations in order for the arrival of the monsoons. They wouldn’t really be seeing each
other until follow-on lab work started in the fall once the summer rains had stopped. Not
seeing David Arthur Cabot Ward on a daily basis was a Godsend as far as Clark was
concerned. There weren’t many people in this world that Clark didn’t care for, but ‘buddy
Dave’ was certainly one of them and David seemed hell-bent to nurture that unfortunate
relationship. Clark had confided in one of the older fellows at work about the problems
he had getting along with David. Apparently everyone, but Clark, knew that David’s
father had returned from the war with one of those military service combat syndromes
and maintenance of the family rested on David’s shoulders. Why David had chosen to
blame Clark for the misfortune was beyond Clark’s ken. His grampa had told him that
folks by nature look to big-in-stature males as authority figures. His older co-worker had
pondered that idea and replied, “I think that’s true, but, if David is blaming his
disappointments in life to you by transference, I couldn’t say; I’m not a shrink.”
        Sure enough, David had been assigned the lower Puerco station at Bernardo. He
also had the Rio Salado south of there, the Rio Grande diversion channel at Isleta Pueblo,
the Rio Salado at San Ysidro, and the Jemez Dam outlet channel.
        The Jemez Dam reservoir rarely contained water so no recreation was allowed
there. The dam gates were almost always wide open. The project was just upstream from
the confluence of the Jemez with the Rio Grande and neighbored Santa Ana Pueblo land.
At the dam overlook high on the south wall of the canyon, there was a perfect painter’s-
eye view of El Cabezón off to the west. There are even picnic tables there, but the spot is
relatively unknown – seemingly anachronistic. Some felt the entire project was built by
the Corps of Engineers to placate the Santa Ana folks who needed jobs, but who made no
bones about the fact that they didn’t appreciate visitors on their tribal lands. Besides,
most of the Jemez run-off was used near the headwaters for irrigation. There was just no
modern history of significant erosion. Much of the channel cut through igneous rock
which was prime rattlesnake country. David was welcome to that station in Clark’s mind
– it was appropriate restitution. There had been numerous reports of rattler sightings at
the dam outlet by USGS field men.
        The Rio Salado at San Ysidro was an up-river tributary of the Jemez. Just as there
are two Rio Puercos, there are two Rio Salados in New Mexico. As various streams were
being named by early travelers, it was primarily for navigation. Whether in English or in
Spanish, a good descriptor was paramount; duplication after several day’s travel was not
of that much significance. Puerco simply meant dirty or muddy. Salado simply meant
salty. The mighty present-day Colorado River was categorized as a great or grand river
too and was once depicted on English maps as the Grand River - hence the city of Grand
Junction in Colorado, where the Gunnison River joins what was then known as the Grand
River, now the Colorado. The same applies to the Grand Valley in Utah now watered by

the Colorado. The canyon in Arizona first traversed by John Wesley Powell was the
Grand River Canyon, but now is known as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
         The Rio Salado at San Ysidro drains an interesting area of alkali, limestone,
sandstone, and gypsum; it’s home to hoodoos and fossils, but very little water in its
diminutive watershed.
         Clark’s assignments included the Rio Galisteo, the Rio San Jose, and the middle
Rio Puerco. The Galisteo provided his baptism under fire last summer. It drains a wide
area to the east of the Rio Grande from the Dolores Hills south of Santa Fe and near
Cerrillos around to the Ortiz and the San Pedro mountains – pretty much everything that
doesn’t drain into the Estancia Basin (which, of course, has no outlet). The Galisteo runs
across the base of La Bajada where the highway to Santa Fe gains over a thousand feet.
The sampling station is next to a rickety bridge north of Domingo next to the BNSF
railroad tracks. Clark watched that stream go from two feet deep to ten feet deep in less
than a minute one August evening during violent rainstorms off to the east. He swears the
wall of water coming downstream was louder than any engine he had ever heard on the
nearby tracks. He was so impressed that he buried a sediment sample bottle at the high
water mark on the far bank. It was still there the last time he checked.
         The Rio San Jose was his favorite sampling station. It was at the far west end of
Bernalillo County outside of a dying whitewashed bar, gas station, and post office known
as Correo. The Arroyo Colorado joined the San Jose just up-river from the station. The
two streams drained the area from Bluewater Lake in the Zunis, north to Mt. Taylor and
south to the Malpais. The composite torrent carried a less intimidating flow and required
a much smaller span for the cable car.
         The field man would bolt his sampler reel to a steel plate on the front end of the
cable car and secure the ‘fish’ to the wire on the reel. The fish had a hinged front end that
permitted insertion of a sample bottle. When the hinged part was closed, it sealed the top
of the sample bottle except for a quarter-inch diameter steel tube that allowed water to
come into the bottle and a downstream exit hole that permitted air to escape the bottle as
it was displaced by the incoming water. The rear end of the fish was finned for
hydrodynamics so that the entire apparatus would point upstream. From the middle of the
river, the operator would crank the fish down to the water surface and slowly lower the
fish to the bottom of the stream and back up thereby ‘vertically integrating’ his sample to
be representative of the entire depth of the water, being careful not to let it stir up silt at
the bottom and being careful not to ruin the integrity of the sample by allowing the
sample bottle to overfill. This was not rocket science, but nonetheless required a skill that
was not always easy in coming. The fish would then be cranked back up to the cable car,
the sample bottle removed and capped, and the pertinent data penciled on the etched
portion of the sample bottle. When sampling after dark, a car battery and spot light from
the supply locker would be placed on the floor of or affixed to a cable car railing
respectively such that the operator could see any debris coming toward his line while in
the midst of taking a sample. Getting the line caught in a floating tree limb could prove
more than exciting. Wire cutters were part of the cable car supply and put in a small
metal basket next to the reel for just such emergency action – it would be goodbye fish,
but a welcome relief to a sudden panic as the cable car was being pulled downstream like
a bowstring. Flotsam was always most critical on a rising flow, of course, before all new
deadwood in the channel had been carried away. Clark says he got religion the night he

saw a dead steer float right by his line. When the sampling was done, a cable puller, the
simplest possible design of a ratchet wrench, was used to get back to shore. Then the
gauge height would be posted on the sample bottle. The procedure was repeated every
fifteen minutes until the flood had passed and the gauge height stabilized.
         Downstream from the sampling station just about even with a railroad siding
named Suwannee, the Rio San Jose carves out an impressive, yet seldom seen cataract as
it cascades down a rocky outcropping on the edge of the Dough Mountain mesa before it
joins the Puerco maybe fifteen miles downstream. The Correo to Los Lunas cut-off, NM-
6, is the shortest route to the middle Puerco sampling station. Interestingly, this was
Clark’s least favorite sampling station. The weir was part of the BNSF railroad bridge
over the Puerco at that point and it had river-wide concrete steps to lower the elevation of
the river without incurring erosion. This was the BNSF main line out of Belen with trains
passing with quite some frequency. The bridge was probably some three hundred feet
long and had no room for pedestrian traffic. Clark was forced to look both ways for trains
and hoof it out to the central pier rather quickly to be on the ladder down to the gauge
culvert before the next train came along. The cable car, while upstream from the weir,
was also his least favorite. It was longer and higher than any other in the system, the roar
of floodwaters pouring over the weir steps was indeed deafening, and there was
quicksand in the area impounded by the weir. Absolutely no one waded for samples here.

        Chapter 22
        Harrell Wade Harrison left Albuquerque on Wednesday with his sexual appetite
satiated for the nonce. His father was pleased when Wade called just before departing to
report that his special duties had been completed. As had been previously stipulated, no
details of the westward journey were mentioned. Wade, however, did per instructions
work in the code phrase that ‘the corn had been laid out to dry’ to let his pa know that the
gal in Los Lunas had not shown up for the package, but that it had been securely stored.
His pa was surprisingly nonchalant when Wade explained his research in regard to
        Apparently dismissing the silver bell caper from his mind, his pa was most
complimentary as he stated, “Son, I’m absolutely pleased that you were able to pull all
those assignments off so well. Don’t worry about Cabezón. It just wasn’t that big of a
deal. You done good!”
        “Thanks, pa. I tried my best.”
        “Go ahead and take your time comin’ home if you want. Incidentally, start
chargin’ all your expenses to that Visa card now. We don’t need to worry so much about
leavin’ a trail.”
        “That’s great, pa. My cash supply was getting worryingly low. I imagine I’ll be
home in about a week.”
         Heading north on I-25, Wade now wanted to get to Wyoming as fast as possible.
He had his eye on a couple of roads in Colorado, but the highest paved road in the U.S.
up Mt. Evans and the famous Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the
U.S., across Rocky Mountain National Park would have to wait for the trip back to
Tennessee. Right now, getting a Moose Drool in the Tetons was paramount. Following
that, perhaps, a quick run up to Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park in Montana
might be in order. That’s where water flows from the same mountain down the

Mississippi to the Gulf, down the Columbia to the Pacific, and down the Saskatchewan to
Hudson Bay. Visiting Triple Divide Peak would fulfill one of his geographical
         At this juncture, he was now at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National
Park imbibing and thoroughly enjoying his first taste of regionally brewed Moose Drool
beer. It was mid-afternoon and the dining room was essentially empty save that a
skeleton serving crew was still on duty. He had heard that a large number of college kids
formerly staffed the national parks in the summers, but, since they had a propensity to
quit before the end of the season, concessionaires were now contracting with manpower
agencies for seasonal workers from foreign countries. Wade noticed that his waitress had
an accent unknown to him and that her nametag identified her only as Sasha.
         Sasha stopped by his table and poured what little of his beer remained in the can
to his glass. “Will you be wanting another?” she inquired.
         “May I decide a little later? Are you about to close the dining room?” answered
Wade. He was enjoying the fantastic view of the Tetons through the extra large perfectly
sited windows and he was happy sitting there. The Moose impressed him.
         “Oh no! We remain open all afternoon. Is this your first day here?” asked Sasha.
She tarried at his table since there were no other customers at the moment.
         “Yes, I just got a cabin at Colter Bay Village and the bar is closed until evenin’. I
don’t mean this to sound intrusive or intimidatin’, but what ...how do you happen to be
here?” Wade hoped he wasn’t being too forward.
         Sasha confirmed what Wade already knew about the employment picture. She
added, “It gives me the opportunity to see the United States and make far more money
than I could in Romania.” This statement caught his attention because he had recently
seen on TV a journalistic piece on human trafficking in Romania. Apparently it was
rampant in the Balkans. He wondered if her arrangement was on the up and up. “The
hours are reasonable and we get enough time off to run our own errands; not enough
though to see the sights and we have no transportation.”
         “I’ll be here for a couple days to see the scenery and then I’m off to Montana. I’m
by myself. Forgive me, my name is Harrell Wade Harrison, but please call me Wade. If
your schedule allows, I‘d be downright tickled to have some company to look around
here and in Yellowstone before I hit the road again. What’s your schedule tomorrow?”
asked Wade hopefully.
         “I get off at ten in the morning for six hours and then I have to work again. Is that
all right? My name is Sasha Comaneci, like the Olympic gymnast. We could meet in the
lobby under the bison head if you like? Would that be permissible?” she asked.
         “I’ll be here. That’s great. I guess I’m done with the Moose Drool, but if I may,
and I know it sounds a little peculiar, I’d like to keep the can as a souvenir; what’s my
tab?” Sasha returned with his bar bill. Wade left a tip as big as the bill and waved as he
departed. Sasha smiled.
         The next day’s rendezvous was perfect. He was right on time and she was waiting
under the bison head just as arranged. He had the top down in his convertible and both
were all smiles as he turned north towards Colter Bay and Yellowstone.

       Chapter 23

         The USGS field men had been called in for a special early morning meeting that
Thursday in the Bureau’s conference room. That probably was a harbinger of unwelcome
news as all the employees were aware of the agency’s budget problems. All ten of the
field men were there. Most, the senior and junior professional engineers, were higher pay
grade than the two helpers, David and Clark. Sure enough, the budget axe was at work.
The chief’s head count had to drop by one in this first go. As per his normal modus
operandi, he asked for a volunteer with the proviso that all comp time would in fact be
paid before termination. Everyone looked at the floor.
         “If I have a volunteer, I need to know by tomorrow noon. If no volunteer, I’ll start
working on the forced layoff,” said the chief. “Questions?”
         Clark looked around the room in his mind. All the engineers were married with
families and already well down their chosen career paths. It was up to him and David.
Even though David had less seniority and even though Clark loved the job and it’s
convenience during the school year, Clark felt he could read the ‘handwriting on the
wall’. This was the first, he thought, of a nonstop series. As far as David was concerned,
losing this job might be enough to push him over the edge, thought Clark. Even before
anyone had stood up to leave the meeting, Clark said, “I’ll volunteer.”
         The chief looked at Clark and said in an unmistakably sincere voice, “Somehow
that’s the way I thought this would turn out. It would be an honor to give you whatever
references you need.”
         “Thank you, sir. I’d appreciate that very much,” said Clark feeling no semblance
of regret. In fact, he felt real good inside.
         “Come into my office, Clark, and we’ll discuss the details, go over your
compensatory time reimbursement, and start the paperwork. The rest of you should start
considering the fairest way to cover Clark’s assignments now that we’ll be a person
short.” The chief smiled an encouraging smile to the group as he rose to his feet.
         Last summer, Clark had built up considerable comp time on all-nighter sampling
stints such that he was able during school to get paid full time on his part-time job well
into December. He had little comp time coming now because the new season really
hadn’t gotten underway. Clark started to wonder if he could maybe find a job with decent
wages, but with an ability to manipulate his schedule to suit his needs better.

         Chapter 24
         Keith answered the phone on the first ring, “Duke City Software, this is Keith.”
         “Good morning, sir. This is Sergeant Renfeld with the Teton County Sheriff’s
Office in Jackson, Wyoming. We have a person incarcerated here on a charge of
disorderly conduct. His name is Harrell Wade Harrison with an operator’s license out of
Tennessee. We found your name and address in his automobile. Are you an acquaintance
of Mr. Harrison?”
         “Yes, I am. He was a schoolmate of mine at the University of Alabama for the
past several years. He was just here visiting in Albuquerque for a few days last week,”
replied Keith. “His parents live in Nashville, Tennessee, as I recall. I understand he is on
like a three-week road trip through the west. How can I help you?”
         “Perhaps you already have,” replied the deputy. “At this point, we’re just
verifying identification and assessing flight risk if the charge holds. Does Mr. Harrison
have a history of difficulty with women to your knowledge?”

         “I am not aware of any difficulty, but then I am not privy to his personal life to
any great degree. I suspect, however, that had he any run-ins with the law these past
several years, I would have heard about it,” answered Keith.
         “Thank you so much for your help and good day, sir,” was the deputy’s closing
         Keith sat for a moment shaking his head and thinking to himself, ‘some people
are just born for trouble’.
         A second call came in about four hours later. It was Wade. “Keith, you’ve got to
help me out. I got in a little trouble up here in northwestern Wyoming. I met a girl at the
lodge in the Tetons and I thought she was into me significantly more than she was. I took
her to my cabin for a ‘nooner’ and, when I made my move, she ran to the front office and
reported me to the police. Thank God she decided not to press charges after all, but my
daddy is madder than hops and canceled my Visa. I got no money to get back home.
You’ve got to help me out!”
         Keith found himself shaking his head once again. “Wade, I couldn’t name a worse
credit risk than you. From our past affiliations, I feel somewhat obligated to you. But
payback would have to be ironclad. What do you have for collateral?”
         “All I’ve got is my car. It’s a ’68 Mustang fastback with a really souped-up
engine. It ought to be worth quite a bit,” answered Wade.
         Keith knew little and cared less about cars; all he wanted was to safeguard his
loan. “Wade, you have a lawyer there draw up a 30 day $500 promissory note with title
to the car as collateral. As soon as I receive the note, I’ll wire the money to you. That
should be enough to get you back to Tennessee if you take the most direct route. When
you get home, send me $500 and I’ll send the contract back to you. Is it a deal?” asked
         “I’ll get right on it; ten four,” came the reply.

         Chapter 25
         It was Flag Day and grampa was up early. He amused himself by conducting a
private little ceremony as he mounted his flag on the front of the house. The Concord
Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson was the greatest poem ever written in grampa’s
estimation. He recited its opening lines aloud to no one, but himself, “By the rude bridge
that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled
farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.” Then he saluted the flag and
went back in the house; he had repeated this routine annually since moving into the house
some fifteen years ago.
          The June heat in Albuquerque can be pretty hard on older people and grampa was
sure feeling it. Even the refrigerated air going longer than usual didn’t seem to ameliorate
his fatigue. He sat in his office in his recliner and occupied himself with his thoughts. His
children and grandchildren were all seemingly doing well. He and his wife were showing
signs that the golden years were slowly wending their way into the sunset years. Grampa
felt that their finances were in order in spite of the vagaries of the stock market. Smartest
thing he ever did was fall in love with and marry a gal two years his senior. They found
themselves walking in lockstep through life’s inevitable travails, yet both felt so grateful
as to how they had been blessed.

         Grampa was ‘resting his eyes.’ Really! He was not asleep. He was entertaining
himself thinking of our current day education system. While his generation had moved
beyond the three Rs, one-room schoolhouses, and knuckles rapped by a ruler, discipline
still had a front and center role in his schooling and he felt ‘progressive education’ had
somehow lost its way. He laughed to himself as he recalled his fourth grade teacher’s
recess instructions: First row, slide, stand, pass; Second row, slide, stand, pass... perhaps
a bit Germanic. People now talked of a baccalaureate as the current equivalent of the old
high school diploma. Granted that there had been a zillion-fold increase in knowledge in
all kinds of fields, but kids also had computers nowadays. He was thinking the problems
lay more with attitudes.
         He was pleased that his wife’s major had been in English literature. He envied the
effects that those many literary works had on her capabilities for reasoning. Grampa
kiddingly called her his goddess ‘Erudite’ with an extra ‘e’ sound at the end. While his
own education had been primarily in scientific and business fields, he found that many of
his thoughts as of late referred to earlier schooling in poetry.
         Some of the lines rang through his head. He had learned these oh so long ago, yet
he could still recite them easily. Famous lines from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Hiawatha, and Evangeline coursed through his brain. From the opening stanza in the last
poem that Longfellow ever wrote, grampa quoted to himself, ‘What say ye, Bells of San
Blas, to the ships that southward pass from the harbor of Mazatlan? To them it is nothing
more than the sound of surf on the shore, nothing more to master or to man. But to me, a
dreamer of dreams, to whom what is and what seems are often one and the same - to me,
they have a strange, wild melody, and are something more than a name’.
         He wondered what bells were saying to the current generation.
         He dwelled a little longer in his mind’s eye on the words by Robert Frost in The
Road Not Taken... ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, -- I took the one less traveled
by, and that has made all the difference’. They had always had a haunting effect on
grampa; he wondered which road he had taken. Was he leaving a world to his kids not
only not less than, but better than the world left to him? Or had he spent a lifetime in
Walter Mitty’s shoes?
         Grampa had tried his own hand at poetry too. His best lines were from his Ode to
a Family Tree where he wrote ‘You are you and we are we, yours alone your destiny; but
don’t count us out, for we will be – born again in your progeny’. Thank heavens he
hadn’t tried to make a living writing poetry. All in all, he felt appropriately chastised as
per Clint Eastwood’s famous line, “a man’s gotta know his limitations!” Anyway, he
concluded, it sure wouldn’t hurt modern day school kids to study more poetry.
         He thought of the more signal events in his academic career. Certainly, the
reading of The Philosophy of Kant had a fundamental impact on grampa’s views.
Immanuel Kant’s ‘categorical imperative’, that essentially ‘one ought to conduct one’s
self so as to be a role model for others’, had in great measure affected his life’s efforts.
         The moral lesson from Homer’s Odyssey with its tale of Scylla and Charybdis
suggesting moderation in all things had not been lost on grampa.
         He was proud of all his grand kids. He had imbued them with his personal
philosophy that ‘your life is what you choose to make of it’. His guidance was that there
were a lot of different worlds out there; be careful to choose one that’s right for you. He
had provided seed money for an IRA for each of them. He frequently wondered what else

he could or should do. It was then he remembered his promise to grandma to add more
decoration to the poolroom. Grampa was indeed grateful for Keith’s addition of
Arkansas’s Pinnacle Mountain. Grandma and grampa had driven by the mountain
numerous times in their earlier years together while driving back to ‘swamp-east
Missouri’ to visit her parents. Since the painting was to be in the poolroom only
temporarily, however, he felt a bit more was required. He placed a call to a calligrapher
friend of his who agreed to get the ball rolling on a little project he had had in mind for
some time.
        Then he returned to his recliner and did, in fact, doze.

         Chapter 26
        Clark had started immediately in search of a new job. Yes, times were hard as far
as employment was concerned, but Clark said he would take minimum wage as long as
the hours could be flexible and he didn’t have to flip burgers. As he had an outstanding
employment reference, it didn’t take long. He got a job the next day as a stocker with
Office Depot. Grampa kidded him because he thought he heard Clark say he got a job as
a stalker. Jenny was delirious with Clark’s suggestion that they go out for dinner to
celebrate his new job.
        Keith was most pleased upon opening a letter from Harrell Wade Harrison in the
days following. It contained a check for $550 and a thank you note for the loan and for
taking care of his souvenir. Wade and his pa had settled their differences over the Teton
affair and Wade planned to be back through Albuquerque next summer after graduation
on a trip to Los Angeles for his pa. Keith sent the promissory note off to Nashville and
thanked his lucky star that he was spared being the owner of a muscle car. Keith, wanting
to celebrate, called Kayla with an invitation to a concert at the Hard Rock Entertainment
        Unbeknownst to Keith, Wade and his pa had had a real knock-down-and-drag-out
upon Wade’s return home. Wade’s pa had told Wade that Wade could be of little or no
use to the family if he couldn’t ‘stay in the shadows.’ Being detained by law enforcement
personnel was totally unacceptable.
        Wade had countered in the Donneybrook that his father had bamboozled him on
the painting pick-up in Mena. Upon spotting Young Corn hanging on the back of his pa’s
bedroom closet door, it was obvious to Wade that the east-bound runner had picked up
the painting the day before Wade arrived with the pay-off – so much for ‘relying’ on
Wade to get the job done. His pa had just run him through his paces.
        His pa said the job was simply too high-risk to trust Wade’s inexperience on this
one and the Teton fracas proved that his caution was indeed justified.
        Wade yelled that he had done everything his pa asked of him while he was ‘under
the gun’ and his pa had even complimented and congratulated him.

         As the end of June approached, things were relatively stable. Romance was
flourishing with the grandsons. Grandma and grampa, while sharing a dream of wedding
bells for their grandsons, were having more difficulty communicating. Oft repeated was
the phrase ‘if you want me to hear what you are saying, you’ll have to come where I am’.
        About ten-thirty in the evening on a Friday night, the front light at grampa’s
house was blinking on and off. Grampa, complaining about chest pains, had awakened

grandma. She, in turn, had taken immediate action by calling 911. The ambulance was on
its way. She also alerted Keith and Clark. Thank heavens for their cell phones. Their
mother was out of town that evening.
         Keith and Clark met grandma in the emergency ward. The hospital visit, which
proved to be nip and tuck for an hour or two, finally got grampa safely through the crisis.
His potential demise, however, had triggered a more sober outlook on behalf of both
boys. They suddenly had a new perspective on the extent to which their grampa had
impacted their lives.
         “Weef, we almost lost grampa,” said Clark looking at the floor of the waiting
room and using a pet name from childhood. Keith nodded his head, but said nothing.
Clark continued, “He told me several months ago that his aches and pains were gaining
on him and that his ‘bucket list’ was just about taken care of. He asked me if I would
watch over grandma and mom if anything were to happen to him.”
         Keith sniffled. “He told me that he’d be ready to go when the last grandchild was
graduated from college, so maybe he will hang in there for another couple years anyway.
He seems pleased with his life although I know he hankers to see a great-grandchild or
two. I know he would be tickled to see his genes show up in future generations. And so
would I – especially the genes that reflect respect for all people of whatever station in
life. Pops has been a super role model. Emulating grampa would be a formula for success
in life, I think.”
         Both Keith and Clark stayed with grandma that evening until she was ready to go
home and then stayed the rest of the night with her at her house. The plan, of course, was
to return to the hospital early the next morning. The breakfast that the boys prepared was
waiting for her when grandma awoke the next morning. Since the boys had already eaten,
she suggested they enjoy a game of pool while she got ready. As they arrived at the foot
of the circular staircase, they spied it immediately - the new wall decoration for grandma
that grampa had long promised. On the wall opposite the neon Mi Querencia and next to
the Pinnacle painting, grampa had surreptitiously hung a newly framed quotation,
         ‘When the Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
           He will not mark won or lost, but how you played the game.’
                                                             Grantland Rice, 1880 – 1954
         In retrospect, June passed rather quickly that year and life went on.


        Somewhere along the line, I had read that manhood was conferred upon the
accomplishment of siring a son, building a domicile, or authoring a book. This novella
was undertaken as an attempt to complete the trifecta.
        It was envisioned as a philosophical treatise rife with allegory and replete with
intimation aided by cleverly constructed characterizations. The reader was to be
alternately vexed and assured by the unanticipated development of substantive events. I
doubt that even my most ardent admirers would say I achieved such a lofty goal.
        It being an initial effort by the author, family members, friends and neighbors
were sought out for critical inputs. Most telling, of course, was the realization that a
significant number couldn’t be bothered. For those few who succumbed to the ordeal, the

author is indeed grateful. The one suggestion that I burn the manuscript was surely in
jest. Another suggested that, if I insisted on the story line as presently pursued, the final
chapter should be rewritten for grampa to suffer a tragic accident followed by a smallish,
but tasteful, funeral. Still others reported that a replacement work would be in order
         My more astute critics descried the work as lacking a real plot followed by an
appropriate denouement. I researched the short story as an art form and take solace in the
words beginning on page 145 of The Critical Reader – words so perfectly chosen that an
attempt on my part to interpret further would be ludicrous.
         There are also those who demand identification of a main character. The truly
perspicacious reader will have been schooled in the children’s pastime of ‘Where’s
Waldo?’. I claim that perhaps the work is best described as a quasi-memoir narrated in
the third person. Indeed, the adage that ‘when Peter tells you about Paul, it tells you more
about Peter than it does Paul’ has never been refuted. I’m satisfied if the reader still
respects me in the morning.
         Needless to say, the work triggered considerable criticism in that the dialogue
between young people as presented by and large is a far cry from the way they really talk.
I can’t tell you how sorry I am. Please allow me to apologize on behalf of American
youth everywhere.
         The foregoing statements conclude my professed defense against my critics. Alas,
the returns are in. My fondest hopes for immediate literary acclaim have been dashed and
I don’t see myself holding out for some level of posthumous fame a la Edgar Allan Poe.
         If, dear reader, I have, however, triggered a moment of introspection or even just
a smile, I feel amply rewarded for my time and effort. The author salutes all who helped
bring this composition to fruition.


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