Storms Never Last
Chapter 10: Acey

Copyright© 2010 by Jake Rivers

I'd had any number of people tell me how much their life had changed when they had their first child. This from a friend in high school:

"It's amazing. It's like putting a diaper on a boat anchor and carrying it around with you. From the first day, your life changes in expected and unexpected ways. No more grabbing your purse and heading out the door. You almost have to have a checklist even if you were only going to the store. There are times that by the time I've found and restocked the diaper bag, changed the diaper a final time after just having changed it, finding the baby's coat somehow under the bed, putting her in the car seat, I've been so tired I just took her back in the house and collapsed.

"Jimmie and I can't decide at the last minute to go out to dinner. I spend an hour getting all pretty so Jimmie will see how sexy I am and get him sniffing around — then, just then, the baby starts bawling. I'm beginning to think sex is just something to watch on television."

It quickly became obvious with Millie that this was all true. She was the sweetest thing, and she slept like a baby, but still, she was a baby. And I wouldn't undo it for the world. Terry and I never thought that our hurried coupling would produce something that demanded — and received — such love from us. I knew Terry had come to love me, but it was something to watch him with Mille. He had a degree of tenderness about him that I never expected. I was coming to understand just how much I loved the both of them.

After we got settled in the new ranch house, west of Laramie, we worked out an arrangement for his writing. I knew that he was a writer — and understood what it meant to us. If he was working, he went into his office and closed the door. I wouldn't bother him, unless it was something urgent. When he wasn't working he was great with Millie. If I was tired, I could take a nap knowing our baby was in good hands — and that meant diaper changes, feeding and bathing, and naps.

He did have to travel some, but it wasn't too often, and usually just for a day or two. His writing was progressing nicely. His first Western was finally released and was doing well. Through working with his agent, he came up with a new model he wanted to try, one that combined his interests in both fiction and non-fiction. He wanted to do the research first, and publish that. If there was enough, he would write it as a novel, otherwise in one or another historical journal. He was doing the first one at the request of the University of Arizona Press. It was to be a small volume about the secession of the Southern New Mexico Territory from the Union during the Civil War, which was formalized in the "Ordinance of Secession of Arizona Territory," in July, 1962.

He was there for a week doing research and lining out the outline for the novel. The Journal article was already published, and he was deep in the plot of the book.

Terry already had a second project planned — a treatise and novel based on the "Pleasant Valley War" in the Tonto Basin of Arizona in the 1880s. In an extended feud that made far overshadowed the Hatfields and McCoys, the fighting between the cattle-herding Grahams and the sheep-herding Tewksburys, was almost literally, a fight to the last man. We planned to spend a month in a cabin under the Mogollon Rim, while he worked on his research.

Time flew for the next couple of years. My folks, Lee and Kate, decided to retire. We talked it over and they sold their ranch in Amarillo. Then they had a house built on the flats, the lower part of our property. It was closer to the road and didn't have the great view, but I loved having them close. My mom was a big help when I gave birth again two years after Mille. We named him Terry Lee. He was a cute baby, but when he started crawling he became a handful. As soon as he hit the floor he would take off at full speed for the nearest horizon. It was worse when he started walking. I swear that just a couple weeks after his first step he did nothing but run at full speed.

Terry and I grew in our love. He was always thoughtful and considerate of me. I never had any reason to doubt his love, but at the same time he gave me space to do the things I liked. With my mom to help with the kids, I started with rodeo again. I didn't have any plans to compete, but I did work with the girls at the University and Laramie High School. I enjoyed working with the girls, and watching them improve. I guess I became a role model for them. It wasn't uncommon for me to come home and have Terry look at the wet spot on my shirt from teenage tears. I learned more than I ever wanted about the angst of young love.

Then about ten years into our marriage, our lives were rocked to the core.

Hector Ángel Elizondo was like any other kid living in Ciudad Juárez, until his parents were killed in a drive by shooting when he was ten. He went to live with his uncle, Eyahue Elizondo, more commonly known as, "El Charro." El Charro was one of the top leaders in the Barrio gang. This gang had been dealing drugs and stealing cars in El Paso, Texas, but over time became contract killers — mostly across the border in Mexico — but they would go anywhere if the money was good. They did the dirty work for the Cartels that wanted to keep their hands clean. The Barrios locate targets, stalk them and finally kill them in ambushes involving multiple chase cars and radio communications by masked gunmen in body armor, who vanish back into safe houses in Juárez or El Paso.

Ángel, as he became known, was immediately started in training to be an assassin. He showed a natural flair, and at thirteen, made his first hit. His Uncle, to give him motivation, found the men who killed his parents and prepared his nephew for the job.

Ángel, because of his young age, could move around freely. The small gang he was looking for frequented a tired, not too clean restaurant in Juárez. Angel got a job for pennies a day as a dishwasher, and he watched for several weeks as the men wandered in and out. On the evening, they were drunk and strung out on drugs. He retrieved his Belgium made FN 5.57-caliber pistol, known as "asesino de policia," or "cop killer" in Mexico.

Calmly walking through the door into the dining room, he cut down the four men responsible for the deaths of his parents. Within a year, he was known as, the ángel de la muerte, or the "Angel of death."

El Charro had a contract to kill a drug dealer in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He didn't need a written agreement, or a reason, just a handshake and the money, in advance. Ángel flew to Los Angeles, where he was provided with a car and the necessary weapon. He drove east on I-80, following the maps he was provided with. He was told to stay overnight in Rock City, but wanting to get it over with and get out of the driving snow, he pushed on through. A few miles west of Laramie, Ángel started feeling drowsy. He passed by a roadside stop, and less than five minutes later closed his eyes for a brief, but fatal, five seconds. It was 8:07pm.

Terry left the ranch at seven, right after dinner. He was going to a friend's house to pick up a present for his daughter, Millie. For her tenth birthday, he was buying her a pony. She had been taking riding lessons, and wanted a horse, "more than anything in the world." Terry had a number of well trained horses, but none the right size and training for his daughter. Pulling his trailer he arrived at his friend's house and loaded the pony. The wind had come up and a ground blizzard made visibility almost non-existent. His friend wanted him to wait, but Terry wanted to get home. He did accept a mug of coffee to drink on the way home. At 8:06, he pulled slowly onto the entrance ramp to I-80 heading east. As he shifted up, he took a sip of the coffee, and finding too hot, so he quickly tried to put it down. As he was pulling onto the interstate lane, he was trying to store the mug, but couldn't find the holder. Briefly, no more than two seconds, he looked down to place the mug in its holder. As he did, the clock on the dash changed to 8:07 in the dark evening.

Clarence Jones was pissed off. The foreman at the Circle K ranch insisted he go pick up a load of hay. He protested, until he was reminded he was going to take a few days off. "Now if you want to tell Jenny that you are postponing your vacation..."

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