Demons ran wild at our farm last night. I sit, drained. Exhausted. It began, I suppose, when three young Mexican men arrived at our farm.
I was working, as usual on a Sunday, the first day of the week according to my calendar. I saw Manuel and Jesus and a few unknowns sitting around a picnic table behind the trailer they share as I drove by. Smoke rose from the grill; the umpah beat of Norteño music blared from speakers of an unfamiliar car.
Later, while in the garden transplanting tomato plants, Manuel approached me with a few young men, introduced as nephews from Houston. They wanted to buy a hog or a goat, kill it, and take the meat back to Houston.
I told them I was too busy. Because I was.
They left, disappointed, or so I thought.
Around 10 pm my dogs began to bark incessantly. Leah and I were watching television. I heard a frantic knock at my back door.
I opened the door. Jesus stood in a pair of jeans and socks, bathed in blood. There was a hole in his abdomen and one leg of his jeans was soaked. Blood on both arms, his torso. His face drained white. Sweating.
In Spanish he said, “They tried to kill me with a knife. I killed Manuel, but the rest of them are still over there and I have no more bullets.”
Manuel is a beloved friend of twenty years. A brother, of sorts.
Jesus began showing me where he’d been stabbed.
“You killed Manuel?”
“Yes, but just Manuel. The rest are still over there. What should I do?”
“Stand right here. I’m going to call the cops.”
The next few hours I count among the most difficult I have faced in this life.
It took about fifteen minutes for the cops to arrive but I couldn’t go to my friend’s aid, (or dead body, if what Jesus had said was correct), for fear of getting caught in the fray.
Being a convicted felon I’d be the only guy in a gun fight without a gun. I suppose I could have wielded a garden hoe or some such…
But I am not made of such stuff.
The rest is a blur of cops, ambulances, well-meaning volunteer firemen and rescue workers, and finally the helicopter that flew away with Manuel’s body.
I did not learn until midmorning today that Manuel survived his wounds, despite being shot in the face from point blank range with a .38.
Will violence jump the Mexican border?
It already has in my back yard.