Saturday, October 26, 2013

Torn Man 1999

One of my best friends when we lived on the Zuni Reservation was Sam Wayaco*.  When I met him, Sam was about the age I am now--early sixties.  He owned a horse pasture and barn and I needed a place to keep my horses.  I ended up paying a a nominal fee to keep them stabled there for the eight years we lived in Zuni.  In appearance, he was more cowboy than Zuni, always wearing cowboy boots and hat, except when he worked at his day job, which was driving heavy machinery for the Village and then he wore a baseball cap.  Like me, he loved horses, and was a wonderful friend.

Sam had a son-in-law, named Carlos*, a Mexican National.  Carlos fancied himself a rancher, and would  offer to help Sam out when he needed it.  Sam kept on good terms with Carlos to keep peace in the family,  not liking Carlos much, but he was family; the husband of his daughter and the father of his grandchildren.  Near the end of our stay in Zuni  I had an argument with Carlos, and a few weeks later, while I was at the barn, working with the horses, bullets whinged by my head.  Carlos was shooting in the adjacent pasture, and had "accidentally" aimed some shots my way.  It shook me up, but I had a hard time thinking he deliberately shot at me.

A few years after we left Zuni,  I got the news that Sam had been outside his home in the Village, talking with an old friend, a non-Zuni Mormon man that Sam had known for years.  The man, Sheldon*, walked a thin line when it came to taking advantage of his friends, and had gotten Sam into trouble a few times; things like  borrowing Sam's stock trailer, transporting stolen cattle in it, and then getting caught.  As Sam stood talking to Sheldon, Carlos drove up in his truck, got out with a pistol in his hand and shot Sheldon in the chest several times.  Evidently, Carlos felt that Sheldon was taking advantage of him on a deal involving a horse.  Sheldon died, Carlos went to prison, and Sam went on with his life.

*All names are fictitious

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Mysteries of Accidents 2006

On Wednesday morning, I decided to ride my bike along the Thompson Fence Line, a hilly pedestrian/bike path that follows the ridge above the community I live in.  Coming down from the top of one of the steeper and longer hills, I came upon eight police cars, lights flashing, with yellow caution tape blocking both my trail and the road which ran alongside it.  The basket of one of the hot air balloons that had been filling our skies all week was being dragged through the dirt and over a chamisa bush by the winch line of a tow truck.  I glanced up.  A power line stood directly above us.  Something was clearly not right.

I've learned not to question police about anything, so I watched and waited until the basket was safely in the back of the tow truck, then asked permission to ride on, passing  the police cars and the tow truck as I continued on my hilly ride.  On the way back, at the site of the downed basket, a man walked in small circles, moving the loose soil with his foot.  I stopped my bike and asked him if he knew what had happened.  Here's what he told me: "The Balloon got caught in the power line.  The sandbag on the side got stuck over the wire and one of the guys in the balloon reached out to free it and got electrocuted.  It was pretty bad.  Then the basket came down and we all went over to help.  We dragged out the pilot, and the guy who got shocked, and he was all stiff like, burned up and down his face and chest, but, alive.  Then the balloon caught on on fire, so we put it out with dirt and so forth.  So we called 911 and the ambulance came and took them away, and the whole chase crew took off after them.  Just up and left the balloon here so the police came and took care of it all".
"Oh my god" I said, "And you were just watching?"
"Yeah.  We were just standing on the hill there watching and then this all happened.  It was terrible.  I don't know if that guy is going to live or not".
I remembered that, as I sat at my kitchen table reading earlier that morning, the power had gone off for several minutes, and I knew that it had to have been from the hot air balloon hitting the power line.  The next day, the news carried a photo and story of the fiery accident.  Later, I learned that the man who had been so badly electrocuted had lost his arm, but was alive.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hungry Dog 2013

Recently, when I've left on trips, my little dog, Niko, has been getting out of the yard.  He has been able to locate and then squeeze though the tiniest of holes in the wire fence, and once we fix one spot, he finds another. Last week I was in Kansas City, visiting my daughters, when I called my husband.   "So, your little dog got himself in some trouble. Let me tell you what happened" he said.  So, while my stomach churned and roiled, this is what he told me:

From inside the house, Bob had heard a high, shrill, yelp coming from the outside. He started out  the back door, and then, with a feeling of dread, began to run toward the fence, frantically calling Niko's name. "My gut said  something was really wrong" he told me.   He saw Niko in the large field to the south of our house running back towards Bob as fast as he could, and at the same time, Bob saw a large male coyote loping  away. Niko forced himself back through the hole in the chicken wire that he had used to escape from, and greeted Bob with a mixture of guilt and excitement.  Bob examined him and found two slight puncture wounds on either side of his thigh, and later, the next day, another puncture wound closer to the joint on his back leg.  Bob thinks the coyote lured Niko out of the yard, and then grabbed him by the back leg once he was a safe distance from the house, planning to have Niko for his midday meal.  When he'd heard Bob charging out of the house yelling, he'd dropped Niko and decided it was time to move on.