"And like young lions we ran after Death, its dark pelt blotched with pale crosses as it escaped down the vast violet living and throbbing sky."


- Filippo Tommaso Marinetti


        Vain as an archbishop in the full regalia of his office, the zopilote strutted to and fro upon a table in the General's quarters in Santa Cruz del Bravo. The mirror that Bravo had erected and subsequently cast down had been replaced and repositioned by Manuel Rivera for his use and that of the territorial commanders succeeding him... the dashing but tragic Garcilazo, who had passed many hours admiring his features ruined, now, by infection, bullets and the grave... aged Carlos Plank, who had measured the lines of time growing longer and deeper. But these and the rest were gone, now, and the only remaining inhabitant of Santa Cruz was this ungainly buzzard, plump with carrion and still holding a scrap of bloody meat in its beak, drunk with infatuation for its replica reflected in Bravo's mirror. "What a beautiful bird that is," the buzzard thought, for such have little understanding of the concept of a mirror; it approached to fight or mate depending on the circumstance but, from somewhere outside, came an interruptive clatter of wood and metal. The zopilote hopped a few inches but settled down... nothing living ever came to Santa Cruz, nothing dangerous, at any rate. True, there were a few pigs and some dogs and chickens that remained behind... seeking the memory of a meal, perhaps... although such meals were now only to be made upon one another. Far more wonderful was the city for a zopilote... a playground of mirrors, shiny buttons, interesting mounds of twisted metal for endless amusement and, for a creature who ate dead flesh without consideration as to what its cause of death had been, an endless, varied banquet.

          Fortunate bird in Paradise! How had this come about?

          Many events and many persons had passed in the months since the arrival of Rivera... whole empires in distant Merida and Mexico City had risen and fallen, mighty armies clashed... and battled, still. Enemies became allies, old friendships dissolved into mortal opposition and finally, swooping down on black wings to gather the weary warriors came Santa Viruela and Lord Blood Vomit. The whites had fled back to the battlefields of central and northern Mexico, the mazehualob to their villages in the monte, but both groups carried away plague as their souvenir of the territory. In Quintana Roo whole villages lay desolate; the dead and dying abandoned in hammocks to face don del Muerte or the zopilote's beak, whichever found them first. Two generations of the Cruzob fighters and priests were swept away; children beneath the age of seven... for whom the freedom of the Maya had been so fiercely pursued... and those old men and women who remembered Felipe Yama and other heroes of resistance to the Mexicans. The old chiefs who died in the company of their fellows were at least buried decently, but authority over the mazehualob and, ultimately, possession of the Talking Cross was delivered into the hands of younger, stronger men who clung to life with desperate fingers, surviving with pockmarked faces and fevered brains... contending for position with that special fury which is found among those stranded between worlds.

          So, to the tribulations of nature and smallpox were added the depredations of civil war, in the territory as in Mexico. The rifle spoke its orders... the trembling finger of a fevered brain pointed out the target.

          The katunes of the ahauob had rotated to the days of treachery, echoing the fifteenth century fratricide of Cocomes and Xiu, the contentions of the eighth century between Bacalar and the Peten.

          Wheels of grinding, crunching stone...

          Pascual Orozco's candle was pinched out on the next to last day of August, 1915. A historian of Ciudad Juarez, Benjamin Herrera, recalls that, when his body was brought back to El Paso, the casket carried a sign that said "Mexican cattle thief".

          The previous afternoon, a cowhand on the Dick Love Ranch in the mountains south of Van Horn reported that some Mexicans had paid him thirty cents for shoeing their horses and a meal, which was interrupted when Love and two others, including a Deputy Sheriff, approached in a car. The Mexicans took off and the Americans... angered by reports of cattle rustling in the Big Bend country... raised a posse of sixteen, including U.S. Customs inspector Herff Carnes and Culbertson County Sheriff John Morine. According to Carnes' official report, the posse trapped five suspected rustlers in a canyon and, after a short battle, killed them all, with no casualties to themselves. Carnes justified the shootings because, he said, the Mexicans had butchered a calf on the Love Ranch and their horses were stolen. The dead... including Orozco and Huerta's personal secretary, General Delgado... were returned by train to El Paso, where Mayor Lea called out his entire police force to prevent demonstrations.

          His sister, Serafina Orozco Blanco, disputed the story of the ranchers and Texas Rangers and her son, Servando Blanco... who would become El Paso's deputy chief of police many, many years after... recalled: "Here's a group of guerrilla fighters, expert shots - they'd made it through the revolution. The others didn't get a scratch, yet they wind up dead."

          An illustrated "Historia Grafica de la Revolucion Mexicana" shows three Anglos on horseback, each holding a rope tied to a corpse on the ground. One is alleged to be Orozco, but the bodies are so mutilated that it is impossible to verify the claim. Servando Blanco said his mother "...saw bruises on his face and body and one indentation in the forehead, apparently like a blow with a rifle butt. She saw indentations of handcuffs on wrists."

          Benjamin Herrera alleged Orozco had gone to the town of Marfa with fifty thousand American dollars to purchase guns and ammunition; the gun-runners decided to kill Orozco and keep the money.

          Rumours that he had been accompanied by a man in a brown hat during skirmishes on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande never were confirmed.

          Woodrow Wilson finally recognized Carranza on the nineteenth of October... three days later, Germany set nurse Edith Cavell before a firing squad for having aided the escape of wounded Allied soldiers at her hospital in Belgium, denouncing "weaklings" who protested the legality of the execution. American isolationists lost ground as, for an example, the New York Times reprinted a composition of Leipzig, "Chant of the German Sword", part of which was translated as follows:


"It is no duty of mine to be either just or compassionate; it suffices that I am sanctified by my exalted mission, and that I blind the eyes of my enemies with such streams of tears as shall make the proudest of them cringe in terror under the vault of heaven.

"I have slaughtered the old and the sorrowful; I have struck off the breasts of women; and I have run through the body of children who gazed at me with the eyes of the wounded lion.

"Day after day I ride aloft on the shadowy horse in the valley of Cypresses; and as I ride I draw forth the life blood from every enemy's son that dares to dispute my path.

"It is meet and right that I should cry aloud my pride, for am I not the flaming messenger of the Lord Almighty?

"Germany is so far above and beyond all the other nations that all the rest of the earth, be they who they may, should feel themselves well done by when they are allowed to fight with the dogs for the crumbs that fall from her table.

"When Germany the divine is happy, then the rest  of the world basks in smiles but when Germany suffers, God in person is rent with anguish, and wrathful and avenging. He turns all the waters into rivers of blood."


          Fifty automobiles formed a funeral procession for Pascual Orozco when his remains were finally released for burial on All Saints Day and placed in a vault in El Paso's Concordia Cemetery. Mourners heaped chrysanthemums on the grave and made speeches in his memory.

          A week later, the Nobel Committee divided its prize for physics between Thomas Edison and his bitter rival, Nikola Tesla. Speaking in London, Tesla predicted a future of unlimited energy, without wires...


"We will deprive the ocean of its terrors by illuminating the sky, thus avoiding collisions at sea and other disasters caused by darkness. We will draw unlimited quantities of water from the ocean and irrigate the deserts and other arid regions. In this way, we will fertilize the soil and derive any amount of power from the sun.

"I also believe that ultimately all battles, if they should come, will be waged by electrical waves instead of explosives."


          The quarrelsome Edison, notified of his share of honors and his adversary's opinions, could not help but fire back a fusillade of his own...


"I don't look for electricity to play such an important part in this newer slaughter. It's going to be a struggle of explosives. That will be the all important element.

"Science is going to make war a terrible thing - too terrible to contemplate. Pretty soon we can be mowing men down by the thousands - or even millions - almost by pressing a button. The slaughter will be so terrible that the machinery itself will virtually have to do the fighting."