Only Yesterday 3

San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church (Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go)

Agricultural Research Service scientists have ...

Agricultural Research Service scientists have developed a more affordable method to track the movement of termites using traceable proteins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Agustín

San Agustín (Photo credit: sharnik)

San Agustín

San Agustín (Photo credit: sharnik)

The funeral was held by the Archpriest of San Agustin.  Holly was buried in a little protestant churchyard and I cry a little and leave as they are lowering her into the ground.

Chad, you can stay around if you want, Joaquim says.   Maybe you shouldn’t leave when you feel like this.

I better go, I say.  If I hang around here…

I see.  Well, this place isn’t all that safe.  We have armed barricades around the city to keep outsiders away.  You didn’t see them when we flew in but they’re here.

He points at the sky and says, The dome is almost finished.  We go to war with those things when it’s done.  Lasers and bombs or whatever.

Shouldn’t you put lasers at Socorro?

We should but there’s not enough money.

They’ll get out, Joaquim!

Have to risk it, he says.

I really think you should.

Finally to shut me up he says, I’ll see what I can do.  Call me if you need anything.

I get the Hum Vee and stuff it with food and supplies and weapons.  Joaquim rides with me to one of the barricades and tells the guards to let me out.  As I drive away I see him talking heatedly to the guard and I wonder what is happening.

In my mood I feel like the mountains.  Not the Superstitions; they’re too close.  The Canciones sound better and I’m glad the Hum Vee can make it anywhere the horses could go.  I try to keep myself clean, bathing and shaving in mountain lakes but when I run out of disposable razors it gets too much trouble.  Then I stop eating.

At the escarpment the scrub juniper that grows along the rim leans with a wind that has long since passed.  Along the stone bluffs are old pictographs of men and animals and suns and moons that seem to have no reference to the world.   I sit in the sun and look in all directions.

Finally I stumble into a camp of Indians.  They may think me mad for all the deference they show me.  They feed me and their women wash my clothes.  Before I leave they warn me to stay out of Yaqui country because the Yaquis will kill me.

As I leave I am in a position to see Socorro.  I get the binoculars and look down.  The swarms of flying termites are getting thicker and more frequent and that is ominous.

In the cool dark of the night it has rained and borne on the wind is the smell of creosote bushes.  I lift my face by the roadside and know that other than wind and rain nothing will ever touch me out of that estrangement that is the world, not in love nor enmity.  I sit in the roadside weeds and cry.

Then I go over to the edge of the escarpment and throw a rock over the edge.  It sails out turning and falls and falls and vanishes into silence.  From far below comes the clatter of stone on stone.  My home has become dreamlike and remote and there are times I cant remember my dead wife’s face.

In the dark and down onto the plain.  I drive to Socorro and see dense clouds of termites and moths and general insects.  The place is thick with swarms of termites but there is no sign that Joaquim has done anything here.  I’m afraid the termites will clog the air filter so I drive back to the mountains.  If I’m stuck here at daylight I’m dead, horribly.

One day in late summer I look down toward San Agustin and there are flashes of white brilliance and thunderous noises.  Black flying shapes float like vultures above the city and I am very frightened.  I know it is the giant carnivorous butterflies but I don’t know how they got out.  I call Joaquim but there is no answer.  Only static.


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