Yesterday, I was worried about Don Reymundo’s connection to México Lindo, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if he’s not planning to make a bid for power all on his own. He could just be using México Lindo for protection while he makes his preparations. All these refugees would make a pretty loyal army if he could provide food, land and water, like he is promising.
So the first thing I did when I got to town was look for a place where I could buy a card or pretty stationary to write on.
Then I found a place where I wouldn’t be scrutinized, and sat down to write to Auntie. I figured this was my best option, since I didn’t know where Robert was, and I didn’t want to take any chances on sending a message via the local ham operator. Getting a letter to Auntie on the train will be slower than sending a message by radio, but I think it will be the safest and most reliable way. She’ll give the information to Miguel, and he’ll know how to contact Robert or someone in southern regional command.
To be extra-safe, I wrote the letter using a sort of code that’s not a code. It's done by writing a seemingly normal letter, using smudges, punctuation, the shapes of letters, and even certain types of pen pressure on the paper, to indicate the words and phrases that are important. It’s a hard technique for me, because I have to spend a lot of time thinking about what to say around the critical information so that it reads very innocent to the uninformed. Someone like Auntie can write one of these letters like it’s nothing, but not me. I finally got it, though, and sent it off.
I hope it gets to her. It’s going to drive me crazy, not knowing for sure.
Now I have a new problem. From the growing number of signs on the road, and from the excited chatter of the refugees, I can tell I'm getting near Don Reymundo’s borders. His fiefdom has grown considerably since eighteen months ago, when I last had any dealings with him or his people. I can’t continue south, which is the shortest way to Valle Redondo. I’ll have to bear west through the mountains and come around the back way.
This means going through Trés Ladrones Pass, which is known for its rockslides, and then through the contaminated valley where the deserted town of Catalunia lies. After that, I’ll be in contested lands, where Anglos, Hispanos and Nativist Apaches are all trying to make a claim on Valle Redondo and its surroundings.
I’m obviously an idiot to think I can do this alone with a wagon, a dead boy, and all this extra gear, but I don’t see any other options. I suppose I could bury Ishkin around here somewhere, but I’m committed now to getting him to my family’s cemetery, where the spirits of my people will look after him. All I can do is stock up on supplies and hope for the best.
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