A little confrontation
Saturday Evening, the Fourth of May: 8:30 pm Desert Willow Hotel, Phoenix
Henry Davis was pacing the lobby of the Desert Willow, a huge new resort on the northwest edge of Phoenix. He was a small bulging man with a completely bald shiny head and bushy eyebrows. His face was covered with laugh lines and he always looked happy. If his legs were a little shorter, he would have looked an awful lot like Humpty Dumpty. Jovial—professionally jovial—would be the best description of his personality. As Senator Aragón’s front man in Arizona, his personality was a strong asset. In addition, he had impressive motivational skills and an ability to organize people that is rarely found.
He had been walking the marble floors for so long now that the carpet felt good under his thin-soled shoes. The brightly colored rug he was walking on was thick, soft, and strongly reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earlier style—as was the entire complex. Henry chuckled as he thought Frank would laugh out loud at the idea of a five-story lobby at this level of pretentiousness pretending to be in Prairie-style.
The furniture was almost as uncomfortable as it looked—stark, geometric, dark leather with tall vertical backs to the chairs and long horizontal grid work patterns for the couches. It was luxurious in appearance though it looked a little strange at the lobby level of this huge, ground to roof atrium of balconies, fountains, and chattering people. Over the rail, the atrium dropped down another twenty-five feet with curving marble staircases passing down around the towering waterfall that fell in multitudinous cascades from the fifth floor balcony. At the bottom was a softly lit, upscale restaurant.
The rectangular mahogany columns shooting to the ceiling were spectacular. The whole place was designed to impress, though Henry didn’t see or feel any comfort here. In fact, he was worried. His head was even shinier than usual with beads of sweat running down and lodging in his large bushy eyebrows. His blue pinstriped summer wool suit was stained with sweat at the armpits. The red bowtie was bouncing over his Adam’s apple as he kept clearing his throat and swallowing. But the 109° temperature outside was not the problem. The air conditioning had that down to an almost tolerable 80 degrees or so.
As a fundraiser, the night was going great. Henry had spent the past four months getting everything set up for this night. It had been a fight the entire time. The city had required massive private security (paid for—in advance—by the Arizona Republican Party) before it would issue a meeting permit. For a while, he hadn’t even thought they would get a permit—like you really need a permit to have a private meeting in a rented private hall.
But then, the whole atmosphere in Arizona had been changing radically ever since the early 1990s. Actually, it pretty much started in New Mexico in the early 1960s. In northern New Mexico, a group called Alianza Federal de Mercedes led by Reies Lopez Tijerina began advocating the retaking of the Southwest. In June of 1967, he led an assault on the courthouse of Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico fighting for land rights. They shot the jailer Eugolio Salazar in the face, pistol-whipped Undersheriff Dan Rivera, and killed Deputy Sheriff Nicainor Saizan in the process. They took twenty citizens hostage in the courthouse while they made their revolutionary statements to the press—then they fled town.
Reies’ position was that southwestern United States was stolen from Mexico. The basis of his fight was that the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, at the conclusion of the Mexican-American war in the mid-1800s, stated that the United States was to continue to honor the old land grants issued by Spain during the time of the Conquistadors, and later by the Republic of Mexico.
In their view, the Nation of Aztlan, which is comprised of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, the southern part of Colorado, plus Chihuahua and the rest of the northern Mexican states is destined to be liberated. By the early 1990s there were several large organized groups supporting this radical agenda throughout the United States especially in the southwest. LULAC, League of United Latin American Citizens, was the most visible with 700 chapters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Later they led the fight against the Minutemen in Texas who were patrolling the border to help the INS in 2005. MeChA, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, was a very large, well organized student movement. MeChA groups were organized on 90% of the public high school, college, and university campuses of the Southwest. In 2001, their official policy was ratified which stated among many other radical positions that, “we vow to work for the liberation of Aztlan”. They were the group the future Lieutenant Governor Bustamante worked for while in college.
Henry had studied this situation in detail as he watched his state being taken over. The attitude of the Mexican government was expressed clearly in an official study done by the Mexican Government’s National Council of Population in the early couple of years of the new millennium. Their study concerned the huge numbers of people crossing the border, illegally and legally, into the United States. According to that study, by the end of Vincente Fox’s six-year term in 2006, Mexicans would be entering the US at a third of a million per year. It was actually quite a conservative assessment.
The policy embraced by this study was called “demographic warfare” which is the reconquering of Southwestern United States through unchecked illegal immigration and by exporting its “surplus poverty” to regain control of that area. Mexican columnist Carlos Loret de Mola in the newspaper, Excelsior, had explained Mexico’s future demographic warfare strategy in the mid-1980s.
He wrote an article called “The Great Invasion; Mexico Recovers on Its Own” which stated among other things, “A peaceful mass of people… carries out slowly and patiently an unstoppable invasion…” He goes on to describe a migrant invasion that will return the southwestern United States to the control of its native peoples “…without firing a single shot, nor requiring the least diplomatic action, by means of a steady, spontaneous, and uninterrupted occupation.” He saw that happening even then in Los Angeles of the 1980s, which he called “the second largest Mexican city in the world.”
The problem was that this slow invasion (though it was succeeding beyond anyone’s wildest dreams) was not moving fast enough for many Mexican radicals. Groups like The Brown Berets of Aztlan, OLA (Organization for the Liberation of Aztlan), La Raza Unida Party, The Nation of Aztlan, The National Council of La Raza, and more were growing like rank weeds. They all call their people La Raza, which means the race but refers to all whose ancestry is indigenous to Aztlan. The Raza manifesto, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, was focused on the “proud heritage” of our people and also commented on “the brutal gringo invasion of our territories”. The Brown Berets of Phoenix were especially violent and were among the most aggressive of these radicals. They had become a major force in southern Arizona.
Henry Davis had received several anonymous threats about the speech by Senator Aragón tonight. But that was merely normal in the new Southwest. He really wasn’t aware of the violent radical Azecatl underground. He did know that Anglos were barely tolerated around here any more. There were so many immigrants that Phoenix was basically a Mexican town now. The snowbirds were severely outnumbered. Plus, if you didn’t speak Spanish you were a foreigner. He had assumed that La Raza (whatever that meant) was merely flexing its muscle a little. The threat tonight had been on a whole different level though.
He had been in his room at the hotel making final preparations. He was talking to the hotel manager on the phone while waiting for Danny and Nancy to arrive from the airport. He had heard a slight scratching sound at the door and looked over just in time to see a piece of paper coming to rest after being slid under the door.
The conversation finished and he hung up the phone. He then ambled over to the door and picked up the paper. He read it and dropped it as if it had stung him. It went flying through the air and his mind reeled in shock. The message was fierce.DON’T THINK YOU CAN ESCAPE! The Azecatl know your plans and we will stop you. The borders will be open. Aztlan will be free! You are no longer in charge, Señor Davis—we are!
He had leapt for the door and yanked it open. But even though the hallway was over a hundred yards long, it was empty. Somehow he knew this threat was different. What it meant he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t like it at all—not at all.
When the group arrived from the airport, he had taken the senator aside and mentioned it to him. Danny had poopahed it as just another threat. However, just in case, he had called over Gerry Turback, head of his Secret Service detail and showed her the note. She took it much more seriously, but knew of no group called the Azecatl. Gerry promised Henry that they would make sure the meeting was safe, but now that it was underway he was still very uneasy.
The final introductions and preliminary balderdash were almost complete. Senator Aragón would be taking the podium any time now. They had rented both ballrooms and taken out the dividing wall. The rooms were still jammed. It looked like nearly two thousand people at $1,000 a plate. The whole hotel was alive with excitement.
Henry had about done himself in—running back and forth making sure things were running according to plan. The seating of the guests had gone smoothly—as had the serving of dinner. It might have been an isolated Anglo enclave in the midst of a large Spanish desert, but at least Danny would know that there were people in Phoenix who loved him. Henry heard a roar of applause from down the stairs at the end of the long hall. He turned to walk down the hall and join in the excitement.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash of breaking glass from the lobby entrance in back of him! Henry whipped around and saw the glass wall to the left of the revolving doors crumble as it was smashed open and people began pouring though the gap.
At the head of the mob, jumping over the window jam first, was a man who would have made Henry laugh under better circumstances. He looked like a dark, bandito version of a dwarf cross between Gene Shallit and Ronald McDonald. His large black mustache draped down almost to his shirt. He had deeply pockmarked skin from losing the battle with zits. His hair was flying in long, dirty, black flames on either side of a deep red-brown path of bald skin running over the top of his head. He wore a blousy, long-sleeved, dirty white shirt tucked into worn out blue jeans with black snakeskin boots. Tucked into his belt on his left side was a naked machete—the sharp edge on its rusted steel caught the light. In his left hand, he carried a huge Colt .45 revolver.
His teeth were dirty and some were broken. Henry was certain that his breath would stink if he could smell it. The man headed straight for him and jerked to a stop a couple feet in front of him. He was right—the breath could kill a horse.
“Did you get my little note?” The black eyes narrowed slightly. This man was seriously angry. This was no joke.
Henry tried to defuse a bad situation. “Yes, I did, as a matter of fact. But I didn’t know who to respond to. You forgot to sign it. But now that you’re here, how can I help you?”
“I am Señor Pancho Gerulé, head of the Brown Berets de Aztlan—La Azecatl de Sonora.” There was no smile. The man didn’t even pretend to care.
He turned to the crowd who stood silently watching the confrontation. “¡Attención, amigos!” With that, he reached across his chest, whipped out the machete with his right hand, and slashed with blazing speed.
Henry’s world spun crazily as his head flew across the lobby trailing a spray of blood. Not many realize that a person’s head remains alive for up to thirty seconds after it is severed. That was the horror of the guillotine—knowing your head was lying on the floor and your body was still up in the guillotine. He heard the angry roar of the mob. He heard Pancho roar, “¡Vayamos!” to get his men moving. But, that disappeared with everything else as his now lifeless skull crashed into a large earthenware pot holding a tall palm tree, smashing it into large pieces and knocking the palm over the rail down into the restaurant below.
Some of the men slipped in the pool of blood spreading from the stump of his neck, but it didn’t slow the rush of the mob at all as they roared in anticipation running down the hallway toward the fundraising dinner and Senator Aragón audience of the faithful.
Sunday Morning, 3 am, the fifth of May: on I-40 East passing through Albuquerque
John Duncan stretched in the leather seat of his Lexus SUV Hybrid. He looked over his shoulder at his daughter and son sleeping in the back seats. He reached over and stroked the leg of his lovely wife, Julia.
Her eyes opened and she smiled at him, “Hi, hon, how are you doing? Do I need to drive?” She took his hand and gently raised it to her lips and kissed it.
He stretched and smiled at her. “No, we need to be back in Kentucky tonight, babe. I have to work tomorrow. It’s worth it though.”
“I agree. I’ll never forget the Grand Canyon. Dylan has talked of nothing but the meteor crater since we left and Jamie is still looking for Indians. I love that turquoise bracelet with all the silver work you got me in Gallup. For only having a week off, it was wonderful.”
“Did you have any idea that Albuquerque was this big?” John asked. He was looking at the hotels and shopping centers spread out south of the Louisiana exit. “The interchange where I-25 crossed over I-40 was huge. I sure don’t remember that from the last time I was here. I have always loved the way the lights spread out across the Rio Grand Valley. I couldn’t see an end either North or South.”
“You should’ve woken me up.”
“You’ll need your sleep getting us through Amarillo and Oklahoma City. Besides you looked too pretty and peaceful to disturb.”
“I love you, honey.”
“I love you, babe.”
Ten minutes later, the car dropped a gear as it climbed up through Tijeras canyon. “Look! That’s old Route 66 going under the freeway. What the…” The sky above them to the left turned orange and red with flames arcing across it. “Hold on!” John shouted as he slammed on the brakes and the huge car/truck slid toward the edge of the road.
Through the glow of the flames, John and Julia could see huge boulders bouncing down the slope toward the highway. Worse yet, it looked as if the entire mountainside was moving. Julia screamed as the huge SUV slid to a stop right on top of the bridge over Route 66. John couldn’t have picked a worse place to stop.
Moments later that bridge erupted into fragments from the explosions beneath them as thousands of tons of rock crashed down on top of them. Both highways were sealed off and would be for weeks.
In the air
Sunday Morning, 4 am Local time, the fifth of May: on a chartered jet over Needles, California
Senator Daniel Aragón was tired, but he could not sleep. He was counting on the crowds to get him pumped up tomorrow. So far, the crowds had been amazing. But there was fear there also. The senator was not a man to be frightened. But something bad was going on. Things had gotten ugly yesterday every time he mentioned that he opposed La Raza and their numerous offshoots. He understood that in Tucson, but it had been worse in Phoenix.
He had heard from the Secret Service as he and Nancy were hustled on the plane this morning that over twenty people were dead in the riot that ensued outside the ballroom during his final speech last night in Phoenix. The Secret Service had quickly sealed off the ballroom and held off the charging mob with machine guns. No one inside knew what was happening outside the sound-proofed doors.
After an extremely tense standoff, the mob had left, but they left many bodies behind—all of the workers who had been outside the ballroom. The scary part to him was that no one had been arrested. It wasn’t even in the news, as far as he could tell. Reports were that Henry Davis, head of his campaign in Arizona, had been killed. Worse yet, it looked like all of those dead were workers for his campaign. It almost smelled like some kind of hit. At this point he didn’t have any answers.
Suddenly, the plane banked hard to the right. Daniel jolted upright in his seat. He saw Gerry coming out of the pilot’s cabin walking fast. She was looking hard at the Senator.
Adrenalin spiked in Daniel’s body, “What’s going on?”
Gerry said nothing as she approached. She was trained to show no emotion but Danny could see she was pale under her makeup. She spoke as she handed him a secure fax, “We just received this from your friend, Bill Colbein at the CIA. We’re headed for Denver, then on to Washington.”
The senator started reading.
FROM THE OFFICE OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE,
0540 EST: Reports we are receiving suggest that the United States may be under attack. At 0500 EST large explosions were heard throughout the mountains of New Mexico, Western Texas, and in Northern California. Early reports show that all passes through the Sacramento, Manzano, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico have been closed with what appear to be large rockslides. We will not know for sure until the sun rises and a satellite passes over. This will occur at 0615-0619 local time. I-5 in California has been closed just south of the Oregon border. Satellite transit of Northern California is from 0712–0716 local time.
At the same time, there are indications of large troop movements throughout New Mexico and West Texas. Before the reports ceased, there was a report that thousands of black trucks were crossing the border through Cuidad Juarez. They were moving fast with no hindrance at the border.
We have lost contact with Fort Bliss in El Paso, Holloman AFB and Kirtland AFB in New Mexico.
We have lost contact with CINCPAC and CNRSW in San Diego.
We have lost contact with all bases in the San Francisco Bay area.
At this time, we have not received a response from any of our military bases throughout the southwestern United States. We are assuming that we are under attack. You should divert immediately to Denver and return to Washington.