Case IV: Undercover Operations
Chapter 1: Some Interesting Characters
Dudley was just about to leave his room to begin his day when the phone on his desk rang.
“Ya at eeh, Doc. How’s my favorite Belagaana?”
“Ray! It is so good to hear your voice. I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine, Doc. The guys have been worried that we haven’t heard from you in a while.”
“How on earth did you ever find me in this place, Ray?”
“My people have excellent tracking skills, in case you forgot, Belagaana.”
“Oh, and Frank Garcia sends his regards.”
“So, maybe your “native tracking skills” had some help!”
“No way! How is it that you know Garcia, anyway? You’re not in any kind of trouble with Albuquerque’s Finest, are you?”
“No, I met him through several unfortunate incidents since I’ve been here at La Vida Aureo and have a great deal of respect for him. How do you know him?”
“I’ve known Frank for many years through the youth program I run. You know that one of my goals in life is to keep as many of the young braves as possible out of the Criminal Justice system and Garcia has been a long-time supporter of my efforts.”
“I know your program has had quite a bit of success and, from what I’ve seen of Frank, I’m sure he shares your passion.”
“Well, the White Man’s system of justice can be unkind to my people, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.”
“Ray, it is really great to hear from you. How are the rest of the guys?”
“They’re fine, but miss having you around to harass. Even old man Guzman was asking about you the other day.”
“How is he and how is his shop doing?”
“He’s fine and has developed some new pastries that you’ve been missing. What do you say I pick you up on Thursday morning and we can all get together? That is, if your security guards will let me in the place. I promise to leave my dress war bonnet at home.”
“That would be great.”
“And Doc, when will you be going home to Cerrillos? We need to get out to Cochiti Lake before other people catch all the fish.”
“Oh, Ray. I’m in the process of selling the place and have decided to stay here at La Vida Aureo.”
“Wow; that’s a big change for you. Save that story for all the guys. I want to see the expression on their faces when you try to explain that one.”
“OK, I’ll see you on Thursday morning, about 10 o’clock.”
Dudley could not wait to share this news with Paloma as he hurried downstairs to the kitchen. “Señora Angostura, I have the most exciting news. I just got a call from one of my dearest friends whom I have not seen the entire time I’ve been here at La Vida Aureo.”
“That is good news, Señor Doc. I sense that you have missed your friends even though you have been busy here.”
“I truly have and we’re all getting together on Thursday for coffee. I’ll need to get my ToDo List projects completed before then so I won’t incur Isabella’s ire!”
“Si, and you must tell me the story of your life to not incur mine!” “I guess almost everyone who ended up in New Mexico has an interesting story to tell. But, I must be going now and tend to my Handyman duties. But, I promise to tell you my story.”
On Thursday morning, Isabella noticed Dudley standing in the lobby. As she approached, Ray drove up in a very old, very beat-up pick-up truck.
“Are you sure you want to get into that truck; it’s even in worse shape than OJ’s?”
“Oh yes, Ray is a one of my dearest friends.”
“I see; one of your Curmudgeon Crew, no doubt?”
“Yes, we’re meeting for coffee and I haven’t seen these guys the entire time I’ve been here at La Vida Aureo.”
“Just be careful. I suspect you’re not meeting for coffee at “The Ritz” from the looks of that truck. When you get back from your adventure, I want to discuss a serious matter which could involve a small building project. I’ve discovered some things recently that are really bothering me and I want to review them with you. But, at some point, you must tell me about your “friends”. Knowing more about them will help ease my mind about your excursions with them … I think!”
Warren Jenkins Pearson was born in Midland, Texas where his father Dr. Richard “Rocky” Pearson was a professor of geology at the local Texas A&M University extension. Dr. Pearson’s specific area of expertise was the Permian Basin region of West Texas where several large oilfields had been discovered. He had developed a significant reputation for his ability to study surface geologic formations and predict the presence of oil or gas beneath the surface. As a result, he spent a considerable amount of time traveling in the Middle East as a consultant for major oil companies as they explored new horizons for oil reserves after World War II. It did not take long for Rocky’s wife to become disenchanted with his long absences and he returned from a month-long journey to Libya to find her gone. Rocky learned from a mutual friend that she had apparently run off with a young man who was going to strike it rich in the new discoveries around Artesia, New Mexico and had left young Warren with neighbors prior to her hasty departure.
This event was the beginning of an extended period of travel and adventure for Warren. The demand for his father’s consulting expertise increased and was focused almost exclusively at locations throughout the Middle East. Rocky saw no alternative but to take Warren along with him and arrange for tutors in each of the various countries. Warren never found geology very interesting; it seemed like just a study of a bunch of rocks. He had his mother’s vivid imagination and had always dreamed of one day living in one of the more appropriately-named towns in West Texas like Big Spring, No Trees or Levelland, not in a camp in the “middle of the desert”.
Although Warren was initially hesitant about this nomad-like living arrangement with his father, he soon realized the potential opportunities. It became an exciting time for him as he began to develop many friends throughout the region, including some who would later rise to positions of power and influence as their individual nations benefited from the discovery and development of oil reserves. He kept an extensive journal and recorded virtually everything he and his friends experienced as they grew up together in an exciting place and time in history. As he continued to travel and learn, Warren’s fascination with this entire area and its people deepened. His diary became a series of short stories about the people and places he knew and their various adventures. In his stories, the characters were all fictional and he used them mainly as a means to explore the history and culture of the people and places he visited. His short stories eventually grew into novels and he began to enjoy a modest notoriety. One publisher compared him to James Michener and pushed him to write more, but Warren didn’t have the drive or enthusiasm to achieve that level of success. His father’s considerable consulting income provided a very comfortable life-style, which dampened Warren’s motivation. When his father retired, they moved to Houston. Warren continued to write and began teaching creative writing on an adjunct basis at Rice University. His real passion was to encourage young people to express themselves through writing or just keeping a regular journal to document their feelings and impressions. He never married, but settled into a relaxed and comfortable routine, interrupted only by his father’s death a few years later.