I have an eighty-four year-old friend who has grieved the murder of his childhood friend for fifty-seven years. Until Friday, December 8, 2017, justice was on hold. A jury in Hidalgo County, Texas found her murderer guilty and sentenced him to fifty-seven years in prison. The man is now a frail 85 year-old man, so it is a life sentence. This is appropriate because, he lived his life after taking hers in a heinous way.
Irene Garza was a twenty-five year-old school teacher who had challenged the racial barriers in the South Texas community in the late 1950’s and won the beauty contest, earning her the title “beauty queen.” According to my friend, she was so much more than that. He says that her personality was the most beautiful thing about her. I can see the pain he feels whenever he speaks of her. He says he spoke to her on the phone while he was in town a few days before her murder. He had to return a few days later for her funeral.
The man who killed her was a Catholic priest. She went to the church to go to confession on April 16,1960 and was never seen alive again. Her badly beaten body was found a few days later in an irrigation ditch. The autopsy showed she had been raped and smothered as well as beaten. The murderer had scratches on his face and his slide viewer was found by her body. He was always a “person of interest” in the case. In spite of his having been fined for a similar assault that the woman survived, officials decided to do nothing at the time.
Now, as Prosecutor Michael Garza (no relation to the deceased) said, “I can say this: Pigs are flying, and Irene is resting.” Justice had her day before it was too late for the man responsible to see it. May the cold arms of Justice give him no comfort. May Irene’s family and friends find what comfort there is in knowing that, however late, Justice was served.
My backyard is a challenge for me in that it is a semi-tropical jungle back there. Over the years, I have dealt with over growths of all sorts of plants. My most hated is the hybrid blue morning glory vine that tries to smother everything. I tear it out by the truckload only to see it growing through the grass to strangle yet another plant. Seed companies sell the seeds as annuals. They are…in the Arctic Circle and the Dakotas where the roots freeze in winter. Here in Southeast Texas, they are a perennial pestilence, killing even the small wild morning glories I love.
Beyond that, I have made peace with another wild flower, the common lantana that blooms to provide nectar and pollen to bees and butterflies. The lantanas are more easily contained than the vines and provide food for the Mockingbirds. The mockers relish the black berries that follow the lovely pink and yellow flowers. The bushes provide privacy from the parking lot next door.
Other plants grow where they want at such a rate that I cannot keep them cut back or ripped out. Pondering the need to tear out a patch of plants rife with seed, I noticed my loud bird neighbors, the Mockers, bobbing about in the bushes, gobbling the tiny berries. Hmmm… Weeds or food for the birds? That is the question. Right now, they are food. Next week they may be piled out front for the City to haul away to the municipal composting grounds.
In this jungle there are lions, leopards, panthers, and tigers who lounge in the yard chairs and occasionally pounce at birds and lizards. I try to manage this crop too, but they are wily creatures who wriggle their way into the fabric of life at my place and bloom among the weeds and wonders.
Another trip along the coast. This time, I stopped in Dickinson, Texas to visit a friend from nursing school. She has a lovely bit of the swamp that fools the senses into believing one is well away from the throngs of civilization. Nestled along the banks of a gully, the house is shielded from the surrounding neighborhood by rampant dense growth of new and old forest. As pleasant as hanging out there was, I had to get on down the road home to feed my clowder of cats.
By chance, and my innate GPS, I found State Highway 3 and headed South toward Galveston. The road took me through Texas City, to League City. Along the way, I enjoyed the light traffic and out-in-the-country feel of the area I passed through. Neighborhoods occasionally bordered the highway, and light industrial businesses popped up just off the road in places. Flowers bloomed all along the way even in those areas disturbed by the presence of humans.
The terrain grew lower and swampier just as I came upon I45 into Galveston. A short drive later, and I was crossing the sparkling waters of Galveston Bay under a flawless blue dome of sky. I marveled at the feeling I have when at abject sea level. I love the feeling of being at the point where the earth goes from aqueous to gasseous. A touch down on Broadway, and I cruised until I came the Old Cemetery. At this time of the year, it is awash in wildflowers. I had to stop.
I pulled into the cemetery on the street that runs through it and parked. Thanks to the camera in my phone, I got photos.
In person, the brilliant yellow flowers almost overwhelm the eye. I took close ups of some growing in seams of the sidewalk..
I got back on the road and drove straight onto the ferry. As luck would have it, It was the Robert C. Lanier again. I tried to get a photo of the name, but I was blinded by the sunlight and had to guess what was on my screen. I did get a nice shot of a pigeon and a grackle riding across from island to peninsula as well a bit blurry shot of the seagulls following the stern.
With Galveston in the rear view mirror, I cruised up Bolivar and once again saw a flock of roseate spoonbills working a tidal ditch. Their bright pink bodies above the water on their long legs resembled tropical flowers as they filtered the mud for crustaceans.
No time to stop for photos. I felt the pull of home and my cats, so I followed the road until it led into my driveway. Happy cats greeted me, eager for a pet and a cuddle.
I’m posting this because several friends encouraged me to do a travel blog. Yesterday, Monday, I took the long way home along the coast of Texas and wrote a short piece about my trip. Here it is.
I had a great Easter in Bay City. I spent Monday morning jaw-jacking with my sister. I decided to take the scenic route home rather than deal with all the construction on all the various roads I used to get there. I took State Highway 35 from Bay City to Houston. Loved being out in the country and saw lots of wildflowers. Also caught lots of red lights in the little towns and the middle of cow pastures. In Houston, I got on interstate 45 South to Galveston. Glad I was going South because North was a parking lot in many places. A long drive later, past NASA, I came to a sight that made me smile. The Gulf of Mexico sparkled in the shallows of the bay as I drove over the bridge to Galveston Island. I 45 turns into Broadway Street and I loved every minute of the roll down that historic street. At the end, I navigated the jog onto Ferry Road and drove straight onto the Robert C. Lanier. One vehicle later, the ferry took off across Galveston Bay to cross The Roads on the way to Bolivar Peninsula. Lots of oilers and freighters on The Roads and one Cruise ship departing for the Caribbean. We landed, I departed the ferry, and started driving. I spotted Roseate Spoonbills in the tidal ditches along the way. Across the coastal prairies to Winnie and onto State Highway 73 to get to the road that would ultimately take me home. Highway 124 took me down memory lane, through Hampshire, to Fannet, and finally to Cardinal Drive. When I pulled into my driveway, it had been four hours on the road. On my usual route, it takes me about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I took a little vacation on the way home.
We had a three day winter back in January. The temperatures dropped below freezing just long enough to nip back the accursed morning glory vines that try to smother everything. Now it is the end of February and I wear shorts, go barefoot, and run the fans. Everything is blooming. Redbud flowers dapple my car, bright red quince draw the bees, the Formosa azaleas work to bloom over the entire bushes, paper white narcissus send out their heavy scent, and shy violets are not so shy. To add to the beauty are the pats of butter fluttering by in the guise of Sulfur butterflies. Pipevine swallowtails dive and flutter, showing off their velvet black wings decorated with gem-like dots of blue and gold. Even an early Gulf Fritillary showed up and made me think of the Monarchs who will drift through later. Not bad for mid winter.
I needed to caulk a seam on one of my windowsills, so I bought a tube of caulk yesterday. This afternoon, I went to the garage to get my caulking gun. I unlocked the door, opened it, and found the very dead body of a possum just to the side of the door.
I knew I could not play the “girl” card. I knew this was on me. So, I gloved up, got several plastic grocery bags, and opened the front door of the garage. That let the wind blow the wretched reek of death out the back door. Armed with my flat nosed shovel and the aforementioned bags, I removed the possum corpse, quadruple bagged it and tossed it in the trash.
With that done, I found my caulking gun and filled the problem area well ahead of the coming rain.
Another day as the Princess Regent of Trestleburg. Long live our ruler, (in absentia) Prince Alton LeBeau, the Frog Prince!
Slant Well is hot off the e-press at Smashwords. This is my second novel to be published. It is the first I have self-published. A Texas tall tale set in my hometown and surrounding swamps, it is non-stop action. Magic, murder, and mayhem with a dollop of sex and love.
Here is its first review:
From the first page, you are riveted. You’re drawn into a “magical” world of murder, mystery, and a very special touch of “magical” love. MR brings each character to life in such a way that their various personalities will enchant you, instantly. A few of the characters you’re going to love from the moment you open the book but there are a few, you’re going to love to hate as each character plays their role perfectly throughout the story.
Who knew oil rigging could be so troublesome? Who knew one little woman could cause so much trouble and turn a hardcore PI so soft, and hard, almost simultaneously? This book will captivate you with Texas oilmen, PI’s, Russian mobsters, eagles, hawks, dragons, magic and love. I can’t recommend this book enough. My review couldn’t possibly do it justice. You have to read it to believe that all the above-mentioned things work so exceptionally well together.
Read it now and thank me later,
Rose M. Brate, author of: Broken Promises, A Promise Kept, and My Promise to You.
A tale of murder, magic and mayhem in the oil fields of Southeast Texas, Slant Well combines a quest for justice and revenge with characters you’ll love and love to hate. An oil well explodes, shapes shift, a dragon is unleashed, and a goddess finds love.
Available on Smashwords and other fine ebook sellers.
Slant Well, a tale of magic, murder, and mayhem in the oil fields of Southeast Texas is ready for preorder prior to the launch date, July 19, 2016. Smashwords and all the other ebook distributors will be glad to set aside your copy.
To break the ennui of his interminable existence, P.I. and occasional hit man, Allyn Jones takes a job in Texas oil country. There, he faces the greatest challenge of his life…a woman. Beautiful and lethal, Evelyn Eden wields ancient magic and easily rids the world of those who would kill her. Something about tall ginger Jones makes Evelyn stay her hand. She needs him. She wants him. But, for what? Hunter and hunted, will he survive the deadly power she commands? The murderous oil thieves who sent him up their game when they realize he is working with her. Arsonists go to Hell, hit men vanish, shapes shift, and an oil well explodes before a dragon is unleashed. The FBI gets involved, a Russian mob enforcer shows up, and guns blaze.
Slant Well will be available to read on July 19, 2016. Sample for free.