Thursday, September 3, 2020

Interregnum, A Curt Huntinghawk Story, Part 3, Post #129

 Still no Grove, and Hawk’s already had to fight off temptation. Maybe his new partner being winged in a gunfight with drug traffickers will give our hero time to cool off. Unless, of course, temptation comes his way from a different direction.

 When we left Hawk last week, he had turned over the drug smugglers to Amadeo and the rest of the Red Rezes and seen Robert on the way to the hospital. Then he set out to check out something he’d seen while approaching Dragon’s Back before the interdiction. Let’s see what caught his eye.

 * * * * *

INTERREGNUM, A Curt Huntinghawk Story, Part 3

           An hour later, Hawk found what he was looking for. At least a dozen people had been heading for the Dragon when the gunfire scared them off. Illegals. Not his business, and he would have dropped it after notifying the INS except that they’d been chased away from the only water in the area. They might need help. He raised Amadeo and asked him to notify La Migra before taking off after the group.

          Hawk rounded a bend in a broad, sandy arroyo at a trot and suddenly halted. A man stood in the middle of the gully. It was seldom anyone took Hawk by surprise, and after a moment he understood why. The man, a boy really, was motionless, mouth open, lips burnt, hands shaking. He was on his last legs. For one giddy moment Hawk thought it was Ramon, but this one was taller and there was something more of the man in him.

          “¿Agua?” the youngster gasped. “You have water?”

          Deciding the Mexican youth posed no threat, Hawk led him to the shade of a scrub at the side of the gully and gave him a modest drink.

          “¿La Migra?” the boy gasped, wiping his chin to save a precious drop.

          “No, but I’m a peace officer. Where are the others?”

          The youth motioned with his head down the arroyo. “Not far. Bad shape. You give them water, no?”

          “How many?”

         “Twelve of us. The coyotes ran off after we got across the border. Women, children…one baby.”

          “Shit!” Hawk cursed. “You stay right here! Don’t move. I’ll be back for you.” The boy sagged against the gully as Hawk hurried down the arroyo.

          They were in such bad shape nobody even tried to run. Hawk rationed his water carefully, trying to ease the suffering until INS arrived. The agent in charge, someone Hawk had worked with before, soon had them loaded in vans and headed for the detention center and medical help. The vehicles had pulled away before Hawk remembered the kid back up the arroyo. Oh, well, he’d take him to the center himself. But there was no one in the shade of the scrub.

          Hawk took off his hat and rubbed his head. The son-of-a-bitch had more spunk than he’d thought. Wearily, he followed the tracks out of the arroyo expecting to find the prostrate form of a sunstroke victim. Nothing moved over the desert that he could see. The little shit had lit out as soon as Hawk was out of sight!

          Without hesitating, Hawk made for his vehicle and drove in a big circle back to Dragon. They’d been headed for water, so the kid probably knew about the spring. He kept his foot light on the accelerator to hold down his dust plume. If the illegal spotted it, he might shy away from the spring and die out there.

          As he had once for Ramon, Hawk settled himself against a shadowed rock wall and waited patiently for his quarry to come to water. A tiny stream trickled out of the pool and straggled down the wash, evaporating in something less than a mile. If the kid tried to drink out there, Hawk would see him.

          He did not. He made for the cover of the rocks and fell to his knees at the edge of the pool without spotting Hawk in the shadows. The kid took a desperate drink, ripped off his shirt, soaked it, and doused his head to bring down his body temperature. He swayed on his knees from his efforts.

          “Hola, amigo”, Hawk said quietly.

          ¡Dios, mio!” the boy gasped, staggering into the small pool.

          “I told you to stay put. You don’t listen very good.”

          “Please,” the boy said, backing away and muddying the water.

          “Get out of the pool, idiot!” Hawk said. “A lot of animals water there.”

          “¡Lo siento! Sorry!” the youth said, scrambling out of the water on the far side of the little pool. “You won’t hurt me, will you?”

          Hawk recalled Ramon’s fractured sentences. “You speak good English.”

          “Thank you. Please, don’t hurt me.”

          “Why do you think I’m going to hurt you?”

          The boy swallowed hard and tried again. “Don’t rape me!”

          “Rape you? Why do you think I’d rape you?”

          “My friend, he was caught. He… he got raped in detention.”

          “Maybe,” Hawk acknowledged, “but not by INS. He was probably raped by his own people, especially if he looked as good as you.”

          The boy’s eyes bugged. “I know you’re an indio, but please don’t—“

          “You think I’m going to rape you because I’m an Indian?” Hawk asked half in surprise and half in anger. “You think we’re savages?” Suddenly Hawk laughed. Half of Mexico was mestizo, but they got their idea of “real” Indians from John Wayne movies. “Think I’ll scalp you after I’ve fucked your ass.”

          The boy squared his shoulders. “You joke with me, no?”

          “Yeah, I joke with you. What’s your name?”

          “Luis. Luis Carlos Delgado y Ortiz.” That chore completed, the boy swayed and dropped to his knees. Hawk made it to his side in half a dozen steps and pulled him to his feet.

          “Okay, Luis Carlos Delgado y Ortiz, let’s get you some help.”

          “Please, mister. Don’t take me to detention.”

          “What you want me to do with you? Turn you back out on the desert?”

          “No! Not the desert!” the boy cried weakly. “Town. Let me go.”

          “I might as well take you straight to INS. They’ll pick you up within a couple of hours. All right, I’ll tell you what, Luis. I’ll take you home, feed you, clean you up, let you rest some, and then we’ll figure out what to do, okay?”

           “Thank you,” the boy said faintly, slumping against Hawk.

          Hawk picked up Luis’ soaked shirt and half-carried him to the four-by wondering what in the hell he was doing? He'd taken Ramon home and it had worked out, but Hawk worked for the federal government—indirectly, at least—and they frowned on breaking their laws. He radioed that he was going straight home. In view of the skirmish this afternoon, Amadeo made no objections.

          Luis had lost his possessions, so Hawk found something for him to wear. Still uncertain of Hawk’s intentions, the kid had to be talked out of his pants. He washed the young Mexican’s filthy clothing while the kid showered. Then Hawk studied the youth as they ate green chile stew. When the swollen, blistered lips and sunburned face healed, he’d be one good-looking son-of-a-bitch, as handsome as Ramon, but with a difference. The nose was thin and patrician. The big, brown eyes, even exhausted, held an air of insolence. Ramon had been a beautiful peon, a peasant. This one came from the middle-class, if not the upper crust. What the hell was he doing crawling across the desert? The kid was larger than Ramon too. He stood as tall as Hawk and carried around a hundred and seventy pounds when he wasn’t dehydrated, Hawk figured. Good, broad shoulders, long torso, slim hips and legs. Educated too, probably.

          “Do you take me to the detention center now?” the kid demanded after two bowls of stew and a quart of milk.

          “Luis,” Hawk answered. “I’m too damned tired for that, and I think you are as well. I’ll put you up in the spare bedroom so you can get some rest, but I need your word you won’t sneak off in the night. And I’m an indio, remember? We’re like cats…see in the dark and hear things that aren’t there.

          Luis looked down his nose with as much of a sneer as he could manage with his swollen lips. “I give you my promise.”

          “Can I trust it?”

          This time he managed the sneer even if it cost him some pain. “The word of Luis Carlos Delgado y Ortiz is good with any man in Mexico.”

          Hawk tapped him on the chest. “This ain’t Mexico, old buddy.”

          They retired to separate rooms after Luis showed some concern that there was no lock on his door. The kid would probably sleep in his pants tonight, Hawk surmised with a secret smile. As his groin tingled, silently acknowledged that might not be a bad idea.

          Hawk sipped his coffee on the front porch the next morning by the light of the morning star and came to the conclusion he would leave the boy alone while he worked. Luis would more than likely be gone by the end of the day, solving Hawk’s dilemma.

 * * * * *

Offhand, I’d say fate’s laying a trap for Curt Huntinghawk, but maybe he’s right. Perhaps Luis Carlos Delgado y Ortiz vacated the premises while Hawk was at work. After all, the young hidalgo was worried about being raped by a wild Indian. Until next week.

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 And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

 Until next time.



 New posts at 6:00 a.m. every Thursday until the story is completed. Then we’ll revers to the first and third Thursday of the month.

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