MISSING, ASSUMED DEADPrejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
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I posted this a couple of years back, but with the resurgence of the right-wing, neo-Nazi, racist encouraged by the appointed President, I thought it was worth another run.
Recent unfortunate events in Oregon (the self-named "militia" who are essentially domestic terrorists) led me to thinking about the villains of this mystery/thriller. I made the terrorist group in the book white power proselytizers. The out-of-state agitators holing up in a Federal building on Federal land no doubt carry the same prejudices around in their pointy heads. For your consideration, I submit to you the ignorant racist elements of civilized society who say "constitution" as if they had a clue what was in that document. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to introduce a very similar bunch of "bundies."
FEAR AND POWER
I didn't want to let the Judge rant on about his prejudices, so I'm covering for him. This is one mean, nasty old man. But one soft spot in his heart does him in.
But that's not always the case. He brings the darkness of the Aryan Brotherhood right to the town's front door when he forces his daughter, Miranda, to marry one of the brotherhood, Cole Bristow. Mostly, the Judge want to get his daughter away from a Basque shepherd, Salvadore. When Salvadore disappears mysteriously, the town populace whispers behind closed doors, but don't dare cross the Judge with his connections to the White Power group.
The ol’ man climbed up on the platform at the end of the meeting room with Hitler peering over his shoulder. George sat in the back just wishing it were over.
His uncle was in fine form. He hollered and pounded the lecture table like an old-time preacher in a tent revival. George’s mind drifted back to when he was a boy and his pa took him to the traveling meetings. George’s ma, the judge’s sister, died from the cancer when he was a boy. All the prayer vigils didn’t help none. The judge was a rich man and showed an interest in his nephew. When George’s pa died, the judge took him in. He owed the judge a lot, and the judge never let him forget it.
George’s attention returned to the lecture. The judge was talking about the Spanish War, the one where Hitler bombed the Basques. He got them all worked up. Seemed like those fellas didn’t know about it, and it gave them a good excuse to be pissed off at somebody close by. Everybody stood up and clapped up a storm. George rose along with them, so’s nobody would notice him.
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 beer 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.”
“Yessir.” George agreed some, but not with what the judge was saying. Salvadore and Miranda hadn’t been together for years, so George couldn’t see how it mattered anymore.