"You have much work to do, you lazy bastard," said Tomás.
The Urrea clan paid Aguirre handsomely to exercise his
education for them in elaborate hydrological and construction
plans. He had designed a network of vents to carry odors from
the house's revolutionary indoor toilet. He had even astounded
them all by designing a system of pipes that carried water
With liquid on the mind, it was not long before they found
the notorious El Farolito cantina. There, they ate raw
shellfish still gasping under tides of lime juice and hot sauce
and great crystals of salt that cracked between the teeth of
the men. Naked women writhed to a tuba-and-drum combo. The men
regarded this display with joy, though Aguirre made the effort
to feel guilty about it. Lieutenant Emilio Enríquez, in charge
of the Conducta wagon train, joined them at the table.
"Teniente!" Tomás shouted. "What do you hear?"
"Gentlemen," said Enríquez, arranging his sword so he could
sit. "Unrest in Mexico City."
Aguirre had to admit to himself that this soldier, though an
enforcer of the oppressors, was a dashing figure in his
medallions and the bright brass fittings on his tunic.
"What troubles are these, sir?" he said, always ready to
hear the government was being overthrown.
Enríquez twirled the ends of his upswept bigote and nodded
to the barkeep, who landed a foaming beer before him.
"Protesters," he sighed, "have dug up Santa Anna's leg
Everybody burst out laughing.
The old dictator's leg had once been blown off by a
cannonball and buried with full military honors in the capital.
"Every year, somebody digs it up and kicks it around," Enríquez said.
Tomás raised his glass of beer.
"To Mexico," he said.
"To Santa Anna's leg!" Lieutenant Enríquez announced.
They all raised their glasses.
"The Canadians," Enríquez said, as he poured himself a fresh
glass of beer, "have launched a mounted police force. They
control their Indians."
"And bandits?" Tomás interjected.
Tomás Urrea's own father had been waylaid by bandits on the
road to Palo Cagado. The bandits, a scruffy lot said to have
dropped out of the Durango hills, had been after silver.
Tomás's father, Don Juan Francisco, was well known for carrying
casks of coin to cover the wages of the three hundred workers
on his brother's great million-acre hacienda south of Culiacán.
When the outlaws discovered no silver, they stood Don Juan
Francisco against an alamo tree and executed him with a volley
of ninety-seven bullets. Tomás had been nine at the time. Yet
his subsequent hatred of bandidos, as he grew up on the vast
ranch, was so intense it transformed into a lifelong
fascination. Some even said Tomás now wished he were a bandido.
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