The Heritage     Chapter 5        La Gavacha Returns

He had work late into the night then turned around and got started
on this project for Miguel Serna.  Serna has dropped off his pickup
that needed some carburetor work a little after the garage has
closed for the day.  A shortcoming of living next door to the garage
was customers could knock on the door for service.  Johnny had
just cleaned up from what was already a long day, a day that was
made a bit easier with the thought of spending the following day, a
Saturday, fishing when he answered Serna's knock.

Johnny saw Miguel's truck parked in front of the garage and one
of the valleys patrol cars parked in front of the house.  Walking
toward the patrol car was Tomas  Serna, Miguel's brother.  
Johnny guessed Julian had followed Migal over in the truck before
he could greet either of the men Migal asked.

Hey, Johnny, I'm glad I caught you, man, do you think you or
your uncle can rebuild this carburetor on my pickup for me?

Hi, sure we can fix it for you just leave me your keys, and I'll get
to it first thing Monday morning, replied Johnny.

Well that my problem man, I need it by noon tomorrow, so I can
get my pickup ready to run down to Denver Sunday for a family
thing were having at my uncles' place.  Do you think you can do
me a favor and do it in the morning?  I pay you extra if you could
do this for me, Miguel pleaded.

The thought of getting an early start to do some fishing flashed in
Johnny's mind, but the chance to make a couple of extra bucks
overruled his plans for the day.  

Yea, I guess I can give it a try, I'm not promising for sure, but I
don't think I should have any problems, was Johnny answer.

Thanks, man I really would appreciate, Miguel replied and then
setting the carburetor on a chair on the porch he turned around
and headed to the patrol car he drove like one of the valley's
deputy sheriffs.

Johnny headed for the garage to get started on the project, maybe
he thought he could get it done tonight, even though he was tired
from the already long day.  He worked on the carburetor until a
little past ten-thirty that night and decided to call it a day and pick
up the project in the morning thinking he shouldn’t be too much
Johnny hurried as he completed the work on the carburetor he
had been rebuilding.  Knowing that having it ready or Deputy
Serna when he arrived to pick it up would mean a couple of extra
dollars, and every extra buck was needed as he got prepared to
return to school.  One more quick check and a bit of testing and it
would be ready to place in Miguel Serna's pickup truck.  Serna
was one of the valley's three Deputy Sheriffs and the oldest son of
the largest Hispanic landowners.  Migal had secured a place as
the only Hispanic in the Sheriff Department when his father
provided the votes for Cassidy's handpicked candidate ran for
Sheriff in the last election.

The finishing touches on the carburetor had just been completed
when Johnny heard a vehicle approach the front of the garage.  
Thinking it was Serna he picked up the carburetor and headed for
the open door but instead of seeing the deputy sheriffs vehicle he
saw the blue and white Ford he had work on a couple of weeks

Mary-Ann Cassidy sat proudly behind the steering wheel and
greeted Johnny as he came out the door with the carburetor yet in
his hand.  Hi, Johnny, how you are doing? She asked.  

As when he had seen her the day she came in having car
problems, the first thing he observed was her flaming red hair.  
Today she had it in a ponytail with a green ribbon tying it down on
the back.  As before he was a  bit taken back by her casual way of
talking to him, a way that implied she had known him for years,  
Johnny answered, okay and you.

Before she could answer, he followed asking,  is there something  
I do for you?

No, not really, I just drop by to pay you for the work you did on my
car the other day was Mary-Ann's reply.

She opened the door and stepped out of the car and walked toward
Johnny as she continued talking.  Johnny could now see her entire
figure, even with the full and flowing green skirt, he could see she
was physically attractive.  The green in her dress matched the
ribbon in her hair, which seemed to flow smoothly as she walked
toward him.  Although Johnny had known several girls mostly
from his part of town, this girl impressed him as being more of a
woman than a girl, though she could not be more than eighteen or
nineteen years old.  For a moment he wanted to back away and
find the shelter of the garage but stood there his hands covered
with grease hold the carburetor.

I thought I told you it was on the house, no charge Johnny
informed the beautiful and confident red-headed girl.

Yes, I know, but I thought maybe I could buy you lunch or
perhaps a cold beer, I bet one would really hit the spot today was
the girl's reply.  

She was now in front of him, and he could quickly touch her with
his gritty hands, but this did not seem to bother her.  The perfume
she wore covered the odor of grease and gasoline Johnny had on
his hands.  Her eyes he could see now were a kind of hazel and
appeared lost by the radiance of her hair, and her lips held the
slight rose color of her lipstick.  

Really, you do not have to do anything or pay anything it was just
a favor, and nothing else, no strings attached, Johnny tried to
explain.  Besides, it would just put me in kind of a bad situation to
be seen anyplace in this town with, his voice trailed off before he
added in a bearly audible tone, with a white girl.

Ah, come on Johnny was not living in the dark ages, all kinds of
people hang out together nowadays, things are changing.  Besides
who cares what people might say or think, Maryann replied.

The people in the valley do not think like you, I don't feel like you
and the Anglo of this valley doesn't think like you.  Problems can
come our way, for me, for my uncle if you try to change the ways
of the valley with your kind of thinking, it's best if you just forget
your ideas and go your own way, Johnny informed this girl whose
intention seemed well-meaning.

Johnny retreated away from the girls and began to fidget with the
carburetor.  He hoped the girl would just get back into the car and
leave, yet he wondered what it would be like to be seen with the
Cassidy girl.  Reality told him it would result in trouble for him,
but to some slight degree, he wanted to talk to this strange
thinking person.  The truth of the ways of the valley settled in his
mind, a fact which wanted him to end this conversation and see
this girl leave as quickly as possible.

Again Maryann spoke.  I know how things are here in the valley, I
know Whites and Mexicans don't really socialize, but does that
mean we can not talk to each other.  I just see everyone as people.  
Not light or dark skin, rich or poor, only people.   I've tried to be
friends with all people, its something my mom gave me and all I
want is just to know you as a person, nothing more.

Johnny was about just to tell the girl to leave when the Deputy
Sheriffs car pulled into the lot, it came to a stop, and Deputy Serna
approached the two of them.  Hola Johnny, Hi Miss. Cassidy, he
greeted them both.  He stepped toward the girl and asked if she
had a problem and if he could help.  Serna well versed in the
thinking of the valley had learned he could find favor with the
Cassidy's by being the concerned public servant, especially since
the Cassidys were the real law in the valley.  

Nothing major she replied, I just heard a funny noise in the motor
and stopped to see if someone could take a look at it she lied to the
deputy.  She continued, this mechanic was just going to look when
you pulled up.

Johnny set down the carburetor and unlatched the hood.  Lifting it
up, he then turned to Serna and informed him he was finished
with the carburetor for his truck and was getting ready to install
it.  I can probably drop off your pickup at your place after a bit if
you want.

No problem, Johnny, just take care of Miss. Cassidy's challenge
and  I'll pick up when I get off one of the guys will drop me off
here when I get off duty. If I have any problems, I'll give you a
call.  He then turned to Maryann and asked if he could call
someone to come out and get her, and would wait until someone
came for her if the car couldn't run.  After all, this is a pretty
rough neighborhood he informed her.

Well, let me start it up and have the mechanic listen for the noise
maybe he can fix it for her here, she told Serna, you don't have to
wait I'm sure you much too busy, flattering him with her tone and

Yes, I need to get back on my patrol, see you later Johnny, take
care, Miss. Cassidy, tell the Senator hi for me, referring to
Maryann's father, who served as the County Commissioner but
had set his sights on the State Senators for the district where the
valley existed.

       Serna pulled away, and Johnny stood over the now running
engine, pretending to be listening for the none existing noise.  The
girl spoke; first, I acted like a hypocrite didn't. It was her first

No, not really you just didn't want to make trouble, and I thank
you for that, its best that you now leave, Johnny informed her as
he lowered the hood.  Anyway even if we could have stepped out
for a hamburger, I had other plans for this afternoon.

Oh, a date with your girl, she teased in a lighthearted manner,
hoping to disperse the tension she had created by her presence.

No, actually a date with a can of worms, a fishing pole and an old
fishing hole, Johnny informed her.

Wow, came the immediate reply, I love to fish, and I haven't been
catching in the longest time.  My dad used to take me all the time,
but since he got into politics, he says he doesn't have the time,
where do you go?  All her comments were coming out in one

I usually fish the Valley River, above the puente, the Middle Creek
Bridge, he interpreted for the girl.

You're trying to catch the granddad, I bet, was her reply.

The king he asked, not knowing what she was talking about?

Yes, for years my dad and I tried to catch this fish that has to be
the biggest fish in the valley, a couple of times we almost had him,
but he always breaks the line or somehow gets away.  The
granddad would be a trophy for whoever netted him, she answered
with a degree of excitement in her voice.  We call him the
granddad because of his probably the oldest fish in the river and
for sure the biggest.

You are talking of El Viejo, I know of the fish, in fact, I almost had
him twice, but like you say he always gets away, but someday he
will be mine, Johnny informed her.

Would you mind if I dropped by and fished along with you this
afternoon she asked of him, and you can't say we would be seen
together cause no one ever goes to Middle Creek from town most
of it is on private property?

Well, I guess I really can't stop you, besides I think you dad owns
most of that land up by the bridge, Johnny noted.  Hoping to
himself that after thinking about fishing, the girl would change her
mind and decided not to go.

Okay, I'll meet you up there around noon or so, I bring my dad
truck, so be on the lookout for me. She then restarting her car,
which by now Johnny had turned off, she pulled out of the parking
area before he could argue further against her decision.

Johnny closed up the garage and headed for the house next door to
clean up and get moving with his plans to do a little fishing and
put the days' problems behind him.  Entering the house he was
greeted by his cousin Doris, the youngest of his aunt and uncles
children and the only yet living at home.  Doris had just turned
seventeen and would be starting her senior at the high school and
like her mother and two older sisters, a beautiful young lady.  
Greeting him in Spanish, Doris began to tease him about the patty
girl, he had been talking and in a good nature way riding about
his choice of girls.

You like la rojaita Johnny? She teased I guess us dark skinned
chicas are no match for them huh.  Maybe I will dye my hair red
and get the vatos to look at me like you were looking at her she
said jokingly.

Be quite Doris he replied to her comments, you know I don't have
the time for any girl right now, the only thing I'm concerned about
is getting back to school and getting my degree so I can do
something for the gente here in the valley.  Maybe then will I get
the respect of these Anglos and the color of my skin will not make
a difference.

Leave him alone, intervened Johnny aunt, show a little respect for
your older brother, though she knew that her daughter knew
Johnny was, in reality, her first cousin.  In Spanish, she asks
Johnny who the girl was and what it was she had wanted.

A little embarrassed Johnny told her it was Maryann Cassidy and
what she had dropped by for.  She's really strange Johnny
continued, she just didn't get the fact we live in different worlds,
and people like us did not fit in with her kind of people.

She is a lot like her mother, Johnny's aunt informed him.

I didn't know you knew Mrs. Cassidy, what do you mean she's like
her mother, how?  Johnny asked.

Mrs. Cassidy was a very tender lady, she wasn't from the valley,
the Senator had met her on a trip out east many years ago and
after a short courtship had married this lady from some big city, a
place called Philadelphia.  When she would come to town, she
loved to visit the old town, of course, it was not the old town then
and would stop and talk to everyone.  The Senator did not like this,
and sometime you could hear him telling her that here in the
valley, the Mexicano were not on the same level as the Anglos.  
Mrs. Cassidy would smile and tell him, Oh husband, we are all
the children of the same God, these are beautiful people, and I
enjoy talking to them.

Johnny's aunt continued, once your mother and I went to the
rancho to take your father some things he had left behind at the
house and to take him lunch.  We walked up to the ranch, it was a
hot day, and after letting your father know we were there, we sat
down on the ground to watch your father break a horse.  

   I remember he had just been thrown off the horse, but your
father got right back up and got ready to ride the horse again.  The
horse was a real mean one, but the other workers were telling
your father to go on.  Your mother was worried, afraid the horse
could hurt her husband.  As we're waiting for him to ride again,
Mrs. Cassidy came out of the house with three glasses of
lemonade and sat on the ground with us offering your mother and
me a glass of the drink.  Both of us were a bit startled, but Mrs.
Cassidy just started to talk with us as if she knows us for years.

I didn't know much of what she was saying cause I knew very
little English at the time, but your mother and Mrs. Cassidy talked
like old friends.  Pretty soon the Senator saw what was going and
came over and pulled Mrs. Cassidy on her feet and told her to get
in the house, he then asks us if we're through with the business
we should be getting to our own homes.  For a few minutes, I was
afraid not only for us but for Mrs. Cassidy, cause the patron
seemed really angry.

His aunt had finished the story and then with a kiss on the
forehead, she said, be careful my hijo this is pretty much the same
here in the valley, especially with the Cassidy's.

Yes, tia I know what you mean, besides I got more important
things on my mind then girls, any girl answered Johnny as he
walked to the kitchen to clean up and get ready for his afternoon of