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jody rawley

 

Jody Rawley lives in Richmond, Virginia and describes himself as "an out of work newspaperman." His published fiction consists of a Young Adult story collection printed in 2002, and several Young Adult novellas on Kindle. He has an unpublished literary novel set in East Africa and a nearly finished science fiction novella, plus a thousand (or two), pages of notes, research, outlines and early chapters for the novel he hopes to complete in 2017. To learn more about Jody Rawley, please visit Capital Media Enterprise Inc.

AIRPLANE DOWN
By Jody Rawley

(Part One)

Going South In A Hurry


Twenty minutes before the homeroom bell on a cold dry October morning, eleventh grader, Patricio Feliciano, sprinted the hundred yards from Chaparral High School’s flying model airplane hangar to the school’s main building. He burst into Principal Eldon Sandage’s office, struggled for breath, and gulped air to speak in short bursts.

“They’re …gone.”
Sandage moved the wilting boy to a chair. “Sit down.”
“Sir, the XB-70, Eusibio, and Carson are missing.”

The school’s radio controlled model of the Cold War supersonic experimental bomber, XB-70, was twenty-seven feet long from the tip of its needle nose to the end of its six turbine jet engines. The bomber, nicknamed “Valkyrie,” was the biggest model plane in Chaparral’s squadron.

“Rest here,” said Sandage. “I’ll phone Coach Wilton.”
Samuel Wilton turned off loud country music, glanced at the number of the incoming call and answered. “Eldon, I’m five miles out, on my way to school.”
“You haven’t seen the XB-70 passing overhead have you?”
“What?”
“Eusibio Graciana and Carson Zonobio were testing the Valkyrie this morning at dawn.”
“Yeah, I know. Touch-and-go runway work, initial flight evaluation. I scheduled them. They should be finished and waiting for me in the hangar.”
“They’re finished all right, gone, and the plane with ‘em.”
“I’ll meet you in the hangar. We’ll check the flight recorders.”

Six telepresent remote control cockpits, each the size of an SUV, filled half the clean modern aircraft hangar. At an engineering control station the coaches, Principal Sandage being the team’s secondary coach, studied computer screens.

“The log ends at 7:00 AM, and the hangar was closed when Patricio got here at 7:30,” Sandage announced. He looked to a wall clock, and out the big open doors to sunlight on distant mountains. “They erased the files.”

Wilton took off his Stetson and duster coat. He walked to the largest remote cockpit, a two-seater, opened its canopy and climbed in. He called to Sandage. “The master switch is there on the control station. The screens inside the cockpit won’t activate until after the canopy is closed.” With that, he settled into the seat, buckled in and closed the canopy.

Sandage found the switch and fired up the remote cockpit systems. He mirrored the canopy’s screens on his control station desk to see what Wilton was seeing inside the cockpit. The blank blue screen did not surprise the coaches. It would have been a shock to discover the plane still in flight, sending back the pilot’s view out the window along with telemetered instrument information. All flight data files in the cockpit from the morning’s test were gone, replaced with a single video clip. Wilton clicked a cursor and Eusibio’s endearingly honest teenage face appeared on screen.
“We ditched the XB-70,” Eusibio said, characteristically calm and expressionless. “Carson and I know exactly where it is, so we’re going after it. We’ll be back in about a week. We don’t need any help. It’s a simple plane recovery.”

As Wilton walked from the remote cockpit to the control station, air team members began arriving, heading for the coaches with questions, and a few answers.

The team’s chief engineer, twelfth grader, Nazario Paz arrived just ahead of ace pilot, Ryan Forrest.
“I got a text from Eusibio,” Ryan announced. “6:45, saying the XB went out of control, off course, all engines running away, pegged over top speed.”

Nazario whistled. The coaches exchanged glances of alarm. The plane had been specifically designed to be the first giant scale radio controlled airplane to break the sound barrier.

“I tried to call back, but I noticed the message a half hour after it was sent and I guess his phone’s turned off.”
“Full report,” Sandage demanded of Nazario, pointing to the boy and reminding him of his title, “Chief Engineer and Field Safety Officer.”

“Top speed is estimated at seven-hundred and twenty miles-per-hours, sir,” Nazario answered at attention. “Of course with winds and altitude…”

Sandage cut him off, drawing a phone from his suit jacket pocket. “I’m calling the Air Force at White Sands.” The phone rang in his hand.

“Principal Eldon Sandage… Yes, sir. General, it was ours. 820?”

Coach Wilton checked his watch. The boys looked to the hangar wall clock. It was only eight o’clock. “It got away sir,” Principal Sandage began timidly. Yes sir, we know that’s commercial space.” Nazario almost whistled, but stopped when hit with warning stares. “Two boys were in control, Sir, but they’re not here. What direction was it…? Yes. Sir, I have another call coming, it may be them. Yes, sir.” Sandage checked the LED readout of the number and recognized the area code. He whispered “Oh no, it’s Washington.” “Yes. FAA, yes, Sir, this is Principal Sandage of Chapa… uh, yes. Well, we currently have several jets. In our radio control squadron we have two, F-100 Super Sabers, each ten-feet long, top speed two-hundred and twenty-five miles-per-hour, an F-101 Voodoo, an F-102 Delta Dagger, four, F-104 Starfighters… Yes, they are beautiful.” Principal Sandage listened and began to smile. “Was your grandfather based here in New Mexico? Is that right?” Relief was contagious but short lived. “Of course. Sorry. We have an F-105 Thunderchief, and an F-106 Delta Dart, …three-hundred miles-per-hour, and an F-107 under construction.” Shock and dismay registered on Sandage’s face. He reached to a countertop to steady himself. “Understood.” He looked at the phone. He’d been hung up on.

“Well?” Wilton asked.

“Grounded,” Sandage said without looking up. “It strayed into controlled air space, up with the passenger liners. It…” He searched for courage to say it out loud, “overflew El Paso.” Nazario whistled.
Wilton took a bandana from a pocket and wiped his brow and asked “Direction?”
“South, at eight hundred and twenty miles an hour on RADAR.”

Nazario whistled quietly. “Call the Federales in Mexico” Wilton advised in a gravely quiet voice.

The hum of computer fans filled the hangar. Sandage looked to the mountains and said, “The FAA told me the State Department is handling that.”

Quick On The Draw

“If we wait, they’ll close the border,” Olivine Tularosa insisted. She jingled keys in her hand and urged her air teammates, Chan Lee and Emma Clementine to make up their minds.

“We do have to cross before the school notices it’s missing,” Chan agreed, “And we’ve absolutely got to help the boys.”

The three twelfth-grade girls stood in the shadow of Chaparral’s forty-five foot long, highly modified luxury recreational vehicle. It carried three remote cockpits and a control station, Chaparral’s mobile base.
Emma, tall, thin, blonde, with high cheekbones and dark rim designer glasses answered nonchalantly. “I heard Principal Sandage is just going to wait for the boys to come back. Maybe we should do the same.”

“Pro argument,” Chan said robotically, “The only transport rack that can move the Valkyrie is on top of this RV. If the boys find the plane they’ll need us to bring it back. Two,” she said waving two fingers, “We have four planes on board the RV and can fly reconnaissance search and rescue. Eusibio and Carson are probably walking the crash zone.”

“Chan has a crush on Eusibio,” Emma added while using a compact to check her lip-gloss.
“Contra,” Chan continued, “One, we don’t have permission. Two…” She stopped. The girls looked at each other for another reason not to take the RV to Mexico. Olivine, green-eyed, sharp-nosed, with long wavy red hair, wearing her trademark safari hat and khaki shirt with black jeans and hiking shoes finally looked away. Chan, whose silky jet-black hair framed a symmetrical pretty face, looked down to her python skin cowgirl boots. Emma stared into the sky.
“Counter argument reason number one works for me,” Principal Sandage said. He stepped around the front of the RV and held out his hand for the keys.

“The News That’s Cool” microwave truck arrived unannounced and parked across the street from Chaparral. Students crowded school windows. Most recognized the glamorous network reporter, who along with her cameraman, moved to stand in front of the school’s concrete sign.

“This is McKaylah Megan Kaytee Kaylee, reporting live from Chaparral High School where we’ve just learned from a concerned parent that two boys are missing. They were at the school early this morning and are now believed to be the subject of a search by teachers and Principal Eldon Sandage. The names of the boys have not been released. We phoned the local Sheriff’s office and he informs us he received no call from the school. Social Services Director, Melinda Schummer is on the phone with us via the studio, Ms. Schummer, what can you tell us?”

“McKaylah, I assure you that Child Welfare Services, the bureau for Juveniles At Risk, the Missing Minor Task Force, experts at the Electron Alert Center, and my Department of Social Services take cases like this very seriously. In regards of broader services we have Protective Family Act resources we can call upon on the ground. This is also certainly a federal matter.”

“Thank you Ms. Schummer, we’ll be back in touch with you as this crisis unfolds. Folks, Chaparral High refuses to issue a statement and we are yet to see police activity here. What we don’t know at this time are answers to questions like, why have local authorities not been contacted? Were the boys abducted and if so by whom? Was there a struggle? Most importantly, why is the school not on lockdown? We know our viewers are as concerned as we are at The News That’s Cool. We care about the children. This is McKaylah Megan Kaytee Kaylee reporting live at Chaparral High School.”

Principal Sandage reached his office and turned on the television just in time to catch McKaylah’s last sentences. His phone rang and when he answered the sheriff yelled at him.

Sandage felt a tinge of panic. “Look, Robert,” he said to the Sheriff, “one boy apparently has, or thinks he has his grandfather’s permission, I’ll check that out personally, and the other boy, well, we’re trying to find his parents now. His dad had some kind of trouble, and now the dad and mother are both locked in some stress management retreat where they don’t have phones. Yes, Nick Zonobio. Right, nervous breakdown some years back, so it could be a relapse. A student told me Carson is home on his own. He and uh,” Sandage winced as he said the name, “Graciana.” He held the phone from his ear until there was quiet. “Robert, we don’t know he’s actually in any militia. The grandfather’s just …independent. Yes, he’s the boy’s only family.” Yelling interrupted. “He’s coming to my office in an hour. Very very good idea, I’ll drive out there instead right now. The last thing this town needs is the press discovering Old Man Graciana.

Between the school and the town, at the end of a long dirt driveway, Principal Sandage parked in front of the derelict Graciana farmhouse. There were three wooden steps, a wooden porch, and a screen door. Mr. Graciana stood behind the screen.

“Hello,” Sandage said in a friendly way. “I stopped by to let you know your grandson has gone to Mexico. Did you know that?”
“No.”
“Yes, he and his friend, Carson, borrowed your truck.”
“Yep.”
“Oh, so you do know?”
“Not where they’s going. Eusibio told me he’d be back in a week. He left his cell phone, took all his savings.”
“You just …let them go?”
“Eusibio’s got good judgment. He’ll have a good reason for going.”
“The boys flew a plane over the border and they’ve gone to retrieve it.”
“Good judgment. They got it there, it’s their responsibility to bring it back.”
“Right.” Sandage glanced into the room behind Mr. Graciana. A thirteen star American Revolution flag hung from a hat rack beside a Confederate flag. Two shotguns leaned on the wall below them. “Uh, Mr. Graciana, Eusibio didn’t take a gun with him did he?”
Graciana had noticed the Principal’s glance and knew the reference. “Those came from the truck,” he said without turning around or averting his stare. “You can’t take a gun over on the Mexican side. They don’t like it. You gotta respect boundaries.”
“Okay. Sir, do you watch television?”
“Don’t own one. I’m seventy and I quit watching when Goldwater lost.”
“Do you have a computer?”
“The wire for internet don’t come out this far off the road. I’ve got a radio and it tells me more than I want to know.”
“Some media people are trying to make you and me out to be negligent. They’ll try to stir up the government. Can I count on you to keep a level head until Eusibio returns?”
“You can. I give trespassers neighborly fair warning.”
“Thank you,” Sandage said as he turned to leave.
“Principal, why would a boy not want to fly the stars and bars?”
“Well,” Sandage said sympathetically, “Maybe, since it’s not their country, he thought some Mexicans would rather he not show that flag.”
“See it as too boastful?”
“I expect that’s it.”

Riding In Open Country

Eusibio locked the truck and left it in a long-term parking lot near the El Paso bus station. They changed buses twice and landed in the mountain town of Creel. Along the way they had seen bison and dust devils. In town they walked to an outfitter’s office to test Carson’s parent’s credit card. They were soon in the back of a jeep on their way to a ranch. They’d signed up for two horses, a pack mule, camping gear, which consisted of bedrolls and knives, and “grub.” They paid extra to travel without a guide.

Estrella, a four-year old chestnut mare, was Eusibio’s choice. Carson saddled Lua, an older appaloosa. Despite growing up on a farm, Eusibio had no experience with mules. Carson had barely seen one before. When the outfitter gave instructions on handling, loading, feeding and treating the mule, Carson considered writing notes on his hands.
The boys studied their simple map and a satellite photo. They settled into their saddles and coaxed the train forward. “Let’s try to get as far as that mountain before sunset,” Eusibio said quietly.

Carson wondered if Eusibio was talking to him or Estrella. Frontier travel was not new for Eusibio. His grandfather owned horses from time to time, and they’d made long camping trips into the Siera Blanca. Riding, for Carson, was a rare treat. He savored the experience, as Lua shared height and strength, four steady feet and four long legs.

The setting sun and low distant clouds turned the Chaparral campus an eerie okra and pink. As Sandage crossed the quiet schoolyard, headed for the hangar, he noticed ‘The News That’s Cool’ microwave truck, a group of people and a police car still in front of the school. Thankfully, the Sheriff had regained his composure and was keeping the press and bureaucrats at bay.

Inside the hangar, Nazario waited at two easels and a computer screen set before Coach Wilton and the air team. Sandage took a seat on the back row, thanked everyone for waiting for him, and asked Nazario to begin.
“Thank you, sir.” Nazario used an old-fashioned wooden dowel pointer and placed its sharp rubber tip on a road map. “Gentlemen, ladies, at eight hundred and twenty miles-per-hour and twenty-seven thousand feet, the XB-70, ran out of fuel approximately here. Factoring for glide slope, winds aloft, Carson’s excellent gliding skills, and the fact that he was flying without a map, my best guess is that the plane came down around,” he turned and pointed to a spot on an enlarged satellite image, “here, inside…”

“Brass Rock Canyon,” Olivine blurted. The coaches looked at her. “The girls and I had some free time after school. We figured it out.” Nazario looked down. “Sorry,” she said to him, “I didn’t mean to take the wind out of your sails. Most maps of course say that spot is Copper Canyon, but properly that’s a plural, Copper Canyons. Brass Rock Canyon is…”
“Brass is an alloy,” Wilton interrupted.

Nazario sighed and looked away. Olivine hesitated. When Nazario’s silence signaled an invitation to explain, she did. “Don Desafortunado, also known as El Perdido, the last conquistador was a sea captain and he discovered the area. He decided the setting sun made the local rocks look like the brass on his ship, so… Anyhow, he had a habit of wandering off and one day his soldiers couldn’t find him. They never did.” Nazario looked at his shoes. Olivine stopped. To compensate for having stolen the show she, perhaps too cheerfully added, “We still don’t know exactly where the boys are or exactly where the plane went down.”

“If we’d taken the RV,” Chan chimed in, “we could be flying reconnaissance over that area. We could see more territory than the boys will ever be able to in that rough country. Also…”

Regaining control of the briefing, Nazario cut her off. “They know where the Valkyrie is or they wouldn’t have gone to get it. I’m positive they printed this same satellite image and marked it. Eusibio’s an excellent outdoorsman and Carson’s a quick study. The only question I can’t answer is how do they think they can move the plane? How do they get it out the canyon? How do they get it back to the hangar without the RV?”

“Eldon,” Chan liked addressing the principal and all her teachers by their first names, “if you’d let Emma and Olivine and me take the RV, we can bring the plane back. Eusibio and Carson probably plan to cut it up, which of course defeats the purpose of their heroic rescue effort.”

Sandage chose his words carefully and spoke deliberately. “There is nothing heroic in this recovery and it’s not a rescue. The state capital and three federal agencies not to mention the Air Force are already stirred up and that television woman is ginning up some kind of local panic. We are not…” He had to stop and take a breath and lower his voice. “I certainly am not going to allow three teenage girls to cross an international border with millions of dollars’ worth of aviation gear to fly around over a foreign country and…”

“Wilton can come too,” Chan said.
“Oh,” Sandage answered in biting sarcasm with a harsh gaze. ”Thanks.”
Chan, surprised, sank in her chair.
“All the attention this incident is getting,” Sandage said, looking to each listener individually, “could finish the sport and end a few careers.” He looked at Wilton.
Wilton cleared his throat and to Sandage said, “We just need to trust these boys.” He directed his next comments to the students, planting a thought in the minds of all gathered, “Principal Sandage trusts them.” Wilton turned so the air team could not see him and he gave Sandage a challenging look. Turning back, he shifted to an encouraging tone and saw a chance to teach. “Nazario, what do I always tell you in Air Traffic Control?”
“Let the pilots fly their planes.”

“Exactly,” Wilton confirmed. “It’s a difficult lesson, especially,” he looked directly at Chan and held her gaze, “for some of us.” After a pause he added, “Trust your teammates. Two of us have gone on an airplane recovery mission. Reporters and bureaucrats may try to twist facts for their own purposes, but you tell them this is routine.”
Chan Lee imagined reporters and bureaucrats as enemy planes. A new mission, the prospect of a new battle warmed her. Her heart raced. A new enemy. Chan was totally psyched.

Something In The Air

The next day, a Thursday, Principal Sandage and Coach Wilton met early. The television was loud in his office and the reporter crowd out front was bigger. A bus angled in to park.

“We’ll catch flack from every direction,” Sandage warned. He was obviously unnerved by the gathering media. “We need a plan.”
“The Air Team is desperate to help, Wilton said. “I suggest we give them something to do before they take initiative.”
“Get a step ahead of them. Yes,” Sandage agreed. “The FAA grounded us, so we’re switching after-school flight training practice sessions to computer simulation. Assign reporters to air team members. We’ll put reporters in the cockpits, win them over to the sport.”
“Roger, Wilco.”
The phone rang. Sandage reached for it but let his hand hover over the receiver as he looked out the window, and asked himself warily, who will it be this time? On the television, Sandage saw a familiar smile.

“Dizzie” Hernandez Chihuahua, aka “Diz a Problem,” appeared on television in front of Chaparral High School. He was all fired up.
“It might be time to start asking where the bodies are,” he said, modulating the first words in the sentence in somber tones and twisting the last words to sound indignant. An entourage of men in nice suites stood behind him.
“You suspect foul play here?” McKaylah asked.
“Neglect, is the operative word, McKaylah. Little boys lost in a foreign land or maybe in the deserts closer to home. Children, McKaylah!” He raised an eyebrow to signal, and the cameraman zoomed in for the close up. “Diz a problem.” He paused for dramatic affect and dove into his trademark rapid delivery. “We’re talking about children here. Where is the proper supervision? Where were the authorities? I’m calling for immediate action from the Department of Child Services. What other abuse is going on in this little town, McKaylah? The Department of Health Assistance must look into this now. My non-profit is on the scene and this may require material donations from your viewers.”
“You are so right,” McKaylah said. The men behind Dizzie smiled and a few clapped their hands.
Principal Sandage looked out his office window at the crowd, and Dizzie’s luxury travel bus emblazoned with the slogan, Link globally, attack locally. “Yes, sir,” Sandage said on the phone. “I’ll do what I can, governor.”

As high schools with air teams advanced over the years, from small building and flying projects to later constructing exact scale models of historic World War I and then World War II planes, competitions grew and aerial combat became the test of plane and pilot and school. In less than five years since the sport began schools began building micro turbine jet powered models of classic Cold War fighter planes. Old planes were lost in attrition. Chaparral was one of the very few jet schools that kept and maintained a few old planes. They used them to train new pilots and flew them in practice when a jet was in the hangar for service. Chaparral still had a quarter scale P-51 Mustang (six-foot wingspan), a quarter scale P-47 Thunderbolt, and a battered, F4-U Corsair. They also had a bomber, a seven-foot wingspan B-25. Getting the bomber out of storage and assembled was a two man job, which, with extra care, Chan somehow managed all by herself. She fueled and prepared it, loaded the bomb bay with aluminum tinsel called “chaff,” and then pushed the plane to a hiding spot behind the hangar.

Ten minutes after the final bell, when most of the school was lining up to catch their buses, the air team assembled in the hangar for flight practice. Three reporters and their camera crews joined them. Emma was assigned McKaylah Megan Kaytee Kaylee. A BBC woman was assigned to Patricio, and Olivine was tasked with an anchorman from Albuquerque. The pre-flight briefing consisted of a script hand-out and a group read-aloud. The reporters received basic instruction on how to control their planes and weapons. Emma, Patricio and Olivine climbed into their cockpits, took-off, and when their planes were level and steady in the sky they froze the computer simulation. The students climbed out of the remote control cockpits and helped the reporters climb into the pilot’s seats. The flight clock’s re-started and the reporters tried to fly the script. They used the radio protocol they were taught and the air team crowded into the Air Traffic Control room to watch and listen.

“Ninety-M, M for McKaylah, to Tower: starting my ‘S’ turns.”
“Roger, Ninety M,” Nazario answered.

The reporters marveled at the realistic sights and sounds of the fully immersive cockpits. They flew simple maneuvers to get used to the planes. After thirty minutes of repetitive radio calls with “pedal, stick and rudder” work, they came to the end of the script and to the word, “combat.”

Computer generated enemy planes, Mesa High School Mig 21’s leapt onto the screens. One of the Migs dove past McKaylah’s XF-90 and shot it full of holes.
“Ninety M to Tower: red lights and alarms are going off in the cockpit.”
“ATC, Ninety M: you’ve been hit. Keep flying.”
Another Mig arrived behind the plane flown by the reporter from Albuquerque. He pulled the “eject” lever in his cockpit.

The BBC reporter began evasive turns and an ascending corkscrew. The enemy plane followed and fired on her XF-90 but missed. She threw her plane into every direction to confuse the enemy, but she lost control and it began to tumble. The Mig passed her. Unfortunately the XF-90 couldn’t cartwheel at that speed and her plane broke up.
The battle had lasted five seconds.

The reporters graciously thanked the air team and each said they enjoyed the lesson. They praised the cockpit experience as “very educational.” The students felt sure the afternoon had diffused the “crisis.”

Moments later the reporters were broadcasting. Chan climbed into the cockpit of her F-104 Starfighter and opened the operating menu. She re-programmed the computer, turning off some functions and reassigning others. She configured the cockpit to control the B-25. She tuned one of her cockpit’s antennas to receive the microwave feeds from the television trucks.

“Bloodsport,” the BBC woman sang with a smile. “Violent war games taught in school.” She took a step, pointed into the camera at her audience and said, “I gave one of the airship gun platforms a spin myself. I flew a simulator mission like the ones that this school uses to teach children to shoot to kill.”
Chan pushed the button labeled “engine start.”

Sandage had two televisions by then, one tuned to the BBC news feed, the other tuned to McKaylah’s network. Each woman disparaged the remote control flying and teased the audience with news that an angry Town Council meeting was about to begin in Cambio City Hall. The pictures and sound on each television faded into static. Sandage switched to the Albuquerque truck signal and saw the same. His desk phone rang. He switched off the televisions. In the quiet before he answered the phone, he heard the far away faint hum of a twin-engine radio controlled airplane.
It took hours for Sandage and Wilton to fill in the gaps of the mystery and realize what had happened. The television crews had long since packed up and moved into City Hall. Attention had shifted and no one else knew the truth. Chan was safely at home for the night when the principal and his coach watched her cockpit recorder files in the ATC. Eight thousand feet up, Chan had “bombed” the network truck satellite beams. Aluminum filaments from her B-25 filled the transmission pathways, and scattered the microwaves. She had successfully executed an electronic warfare operation, and brazenly violated the FAA’s “no fly,” order. Thanks to the commotion at City Hall, her accomplishment went unnoticed.

Sandage smiled with secret pride. Wilton laughed out loud. Chan enjoyed an unusually peaceful night’s sleep filled with happy dreams.

“Give that girl something to do,” Sandage ordered Wilton.
“Eldon,” he said chuckling, “We’re lucky she didn’t strafe them with her Starfighter.”
When he stopped laughing, Sandage said, “Put a code lock on the remote frequencies from these cockpits.”
“On it right now,” Wilton said, typing at the control station. “We can’t trust these goblins overnight. Who knows what we might find if I put this off until tomorrow.”

While Sandage and Wilton worked in the hangar, Dizzie monopolized the Town Hall meeting. There were more people from out of town than residents and only a few parents of Chaparral students. For all his grandstanding though, Dizzie imparted real news. “That plane is in the canyons,” he declared to spellbound listeners. The Mexican police will not assist us because the canyon area is populated by murderous narcos.” He paced, wagged his finger, flailed his arms, careful all the while to stay in camera frame. “Tonight some parts of the canyon country will reach freezing and a storm is on the way that will make tomorrow night lethally cold.” He paused and then shouted, “Diz a problem.” He used his hands as though communicating in sign language, “The Mexican governor says ‘we’ve got our own problems, don’t bother us with two boys.’ The Mexican police say ‘The canyons are too dangerous for us.’ Folks, these boys are in trouble. Cold, hungry, lost, surrounded by wild predatory animals and drug dealers with guns.” Women in the meeting cried. Men shook their heads. The mayor and town council members made expressions of worry and concern. An elderly Black woman prayed aloud for Eusibio and Carson.

High And Low Searching

A quiet animal nosing around the dead campfire awakened Carson. Camping on the scenic summit seemed like a good idea as the sun set on the warm evening before, but temperatures dropped steeply through the night and firewood ran out. They were seven thousand feet above the balmy canyon floor, and the high frozen ground had a tight grip on Carson. He did not want to move. He opened his eyes and in the bright starlight saw a tiny thin coyote. A tossed pebble ran the visitor away and woke up Eusibio.

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