Journal of a Novel – Number Two

The last post was a description of Chapter 50, the capture of the Banditos who intended to kill Carlos and Juan. That dovetailed nicely with the bit about the all-female C130 crew from the West Virginia Air National Guard which I wrote a week ago and thought of as Tinker Bell rescues Peter Pan. I also included the story of the Santa Cruz, Arizona Sheriff’s Posse and their role in eliminating the Banditos.

Now it’s time to back up and write Chapter 47, the story of Luis Garza’s return to the Sanchez hacienda for the express purpose of wiping out the family and their staff and take possession of the hacienda to use as the cartel’s eastern headquarters.

I would love to finish this book with no loss of life, however, with a man like Luis Garza, loss of life is an everyday occurrence, and this chapter reflects that. Telling the story, the way it happened, without getting lost in the detail on the one hand or glossing over it, on the other, is my task.

I’m going to begin this chapter with Garza leaving the hacienda after Juan, Carlos, the peasants, and the gunmen leave. Luis and his two lieutenants go to the cantina and join the remaining sixteen gunmen in a private room they have reserved in the cantina. There they will spend the next hour and a half drinking, passing out automatic weapons and ammo and discussing the upcoming confrontation only in the most rudimentary way – Garza saying, “When we’re done at the hacienda it will be ours. Try not to shoot up the building more than necessary.” Later he said, “After the father, his young son, and all other men on the property are dead, but only after they are dead, you can have the women, then kill them, every one of them.” He paused and then added, “But the oldest daughter is mine. Anyone who lays a hand on her is living in his last moment. Understood?”

While the Banditos are in the cantina, the Lieutenant outlines his plan, a simple one that he learned more than twenty years earlier at the United States Army Ranger Training Center, Fort Benning, Georgia. With Manuel, his youngest son Javier, the other LURPS, the partners of Southern Investigation, and the Holcomb’s, gathered around the garden table, the Lieutenant said, “No one is more adverse to killing than I am.” He paused, looked at each of the Vietnam vets around the table and continued, “I should say, more adverse than we are. That said, I think we need to face reality. The odds of Luis Garza showing up and surrendering are pretty slim. Let’s give him a chance to do that, but only with the understanding he more than likely won’t accept it.”

Everyone around the table nodded their agreement as he continued outlining the details of his plan. “Let’s keep the action on the front yard. I’ve sent Michael to town to keep an eye on Garza and let us know when they head this way and advise us if anyone is unaccounted for.”

“Good idea,” Shirley said, “I hate surprises, especially from someone who is trying to kill me.”

After that set up, the group moves from the garden to the front lawn to establish individual positions. David and Mojo are hidden behind a circle of thick shrubs that form a hedge on the back side of a life-size granite figure of Mother Mary. David explains that he and I will be out of sight around opposite corners of the porch. He placed Sid and Faith Ann and Robert in the trees on the northeast side of the lawn, and Shirley, Michael, and Ken on the southeast side. He looked at Julie and said, “Don’t give me a hard time about this, but you’re too important to be in the line of fire. If one of us is hit you could well be the difference in whether we live or die, so I want you to stay in the hacienda.”

Julie started to protest but Ken interrupted, “He’s right Julie, and you know he is.”

Julie slowly relaxed and said, “OK, but I don’t like it.”

“Noted,” the Lieutenant said, and Julie smiled.

Thirty minutes later we got in position, and the Lieutenant checked everyone to make sure they were invisible to traffic coming up the drive. Satisfied he turned to me and said, “Well my friend, if we have figured this out correctly, the show should be about to begin.”

Ten minutes later Michael radioed. “They are on the move. Counting Garza, there are nineteen of them. They are in three vehicles. I’ll trail them at a distance, leave the car at the head of the driveway and follow them in. If you don’t hear from me again, you can be sure no one has left the group, and they’ll all be present for the drawing.” He paused, then the radio came back to life and he added, “You do have to be present to win, don’t you?”

The Lieutenant clicked the transmit button twice, smiled, and he and I headed for our positions.

From this point it’s simply a matter of recording the rest of the scene, which, thanks to this sketch will be simple.

Thank you, John Steinbeck.




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