Saturday, July 26, 2014

Victims and Villains Part 3

In a week, I'll be visiting Sue Perkins' blog to talk about heroes and heroines. I thought it would be fitting to first talk about the villains in my books. "Missing, Assumed Dead" is a murder mystery set in the desert high country of eastern Oregon. It's off the beaten track for me, since most of my writing is in the fantasy genre. Missing is one of the first of my books to be issued in audio format.

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
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Why Basques? I could have made the victims of White Power hate African Americans, Native Americans (Paiutes are featured), Jews, or Latino migrant workers. White Power is an equal opportunity hate organization.

I'm not even sure when I decided to make my missing man a Basque shepherd. I was, of course, researching the Malheur County extensively. After all, I had to know which town is the county seat (Vale), if deputies patrol out of small towns (they do), what the environment is like, and I needed to know about the small unincorporated towns (there are several), and just how these towns might function.

There is plenty of opportunity for a "boss" type of person to run their own little kingdom. The fictional town, Rosewood, has a grand population of 12 souls. Don't laugh. French Glen, just on the west side of the Steens Mountains has about the same population and does a thriving business from tourists and hunters. If you're ever in the area, try to stay the night at the French Glen Hotel. It's quite an experience.

I have traveled through Malheur County more than once and the area impressed me with its rugged beauty. Some people like beaches and others like forests, but I get a kick out of high desert. I knew from my travels that a person can get lost, and a whole lot of bad things can be hidden.

In other words, Malheur County is a perfect place to commit murder. Not that they do that much, but it can happen.

I also was aware that the eastern side of Oregon and western Idaho is a favorite hangout for the Aryan Nations or White Power groups. They find the sparse population and wide open spaces perfect for attempting to raise up their own little Third Reichs.

As I mentioned before, the White Power groups hate just about everybody who isn't white. When I discovered that eastern Oregon was a target destination for Basques fleeing from the Spanish Civil War, and I found out a big reason for this was Generalissimo Franco's cozy friendship with Adolph Hitler, the whole thing came together to become "Missing, Assumed Dead."


After the ending prayer, the judge led a group to the local watering hole to discuss the situation some more. It was only at the tavern that George realized the judge was talking about Salvadore Vasco. He noticed Cole Bristow standing next to the judge. George wondered how the judge felt about his son-in-law when he run out on Mirabel and left the judge to raise her. They acted friendly, though, so George figured they’d mended any broken fences.

Cole walked over to George and threw a heavy arm around his shoulders. “How’s it hangin’, cousin?”

George edged away but forced a grin and shook Cole’s hand. “Hangin’ fine. How ’bout you?”

“Good, good.” Cole leaned forward and tapped the lip of his beer bottle on George’s chest. “Say, George, I didn’t want to ask the judge, but how’s that little girl.”


“Yeah, yeah. I wanted to know if she’s come out dark or light.”

George shook his head, confused by what Cole was getting at. Then a light bulb lit, and he realized Cole wanted to know if Mirabel was his daughter. “She’s fair-skinned, Cole. Looks like her mom.”

Cole chuckled deep in his throat and tapped his beer on George’s chest again. George took a step back and glanced down at the spot Cole left behind. “Miranda was a hot number, all right.”

George nodded but thought Cole talking about his dead wife like that was, well, it was disrespectful. Before Cole could tap him again, George made his way to the judge’s side. “Shouldn’t we go home soon? It’s a long drive.”

“In a minute, George. Find yourself another beer.”

George looked at the group of men standing around the judge, all practically foaming at the mouth talking about going out and ‘taking care’ of Vasco. The judge grinned and clapped them on the back, sayin’ he’d be grateful to whoever helped him out in sendin’ a message to the Basques around Jordan Valley. No good white folks wanted them around, and they’d best move along.

When they drove back to Rosewood, the judge was laughing and happy. “It’s about time something was done about Vasco. Teach the Basques to keep their dirty paws off white women.”

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