Romance Fiction posted August 10, 2014


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Soni has a visitor.

CHAPTER CUATRO, PART UNO

by barbara.wilkey


CHAPTER FOUR

Around six-thirty the following morning, Alex knocked on Soni's bedroom door. "Soni, there's a man here who would like to speak with you."

Soni, fully dressed, opened the door. "Miguel, I thought you were going to call..." As she saw his badge, her eyes widened and she offered her hand. "I'm sorry. I thought you were somebody else. I'm Sonsee-array Adler. How can I help you?"

Goliath stared at the man before he lay at Soni's feet. Mack followed.

"I know who you are, Ms. Adler." He accepted her hand. "I met with your father, Raymund, a few times. I'm sorry for your loss. I'm Robert Hughes. I'm from Homeland Security." He paused and his eyes met Soni's. "So you know a Miguel Sanchez?"

"Yes, but not very well. Why?"

"His name came up as one of your acquaintances."

"A few months ago, we met at a Cattlemen's Association meeting. Occasionally, he's asked me out, but we've never had a date, only a few meals together. About a year and a half ago, The Cactus Jack Ranch over by El Paso was bought by Rusty Parker. Miguel has worked as their foreman for about six months."

Soni glanced toward the dining room. "Please have a seat." She led the gentleman to the table. "Tatiana, would you get Mr. Hughes some coffee and a plate?"

"Just coffee, please. I've already had breakfast. Please continue eating." Robert sat beside Alex and across from Soni. He immediately took a sip of coffee. "This is good. Thank you."

Soni's coffee cup remained on the table, but both hands surrounded it.

"I need to give you this, authorizing my being here and talking with you." Hughes handed Soni a thick stapled packet of legal looking papers, and then he checked his notes. "I understand you've run this ranch since your father died, three months ago." He stopped and waited for Soni to speed read through the papers.

When Soni finished, she said, "Yes. Alex Garza is my foreman." She pointed to Alex and handed him the packet of papers. "He has worked for the Rockin' A since before I was born." She motioned toward the lady refreshing Alex's coffee. "His wife, Tatiana." She waited for Robert to continue.

"I35 goes through this ranch from mile marker 38 outside of Laredo to mile marker 126 outside of San Antonio. That's approximately ninety-eight miles of I35. The best I can tell, this land has livestock roaming freely and is open to wild life. Plus quite a few oil wells and farmland."

"We have the land fenced off and cattle guards gated. Cowboys ride the fence-line monthly," Alex volunteered.

"The ranch also goes about forty miles outside of Corpus. I'm not sure where you're going with this. Why are we discussing the ranch's boundaries?" Soni scooted aside her coffee cup, still not taking a drink.

"Mile marker 399 outside of Del Rio is another boundary line. There's a good-sized Lipan Apache reservation on both sides of the Nueces River."

The ranch stops approximately where I10 and US277 cross." Alex took a long drink of coffee. "Now, we have the boundaries set, again, why are you here?"

"There are several reasons I'm here. First, let's talk about the reservation."

Soni stood. "Excuse me. I need to get some papers that might shorten this meeting."

Both dogs followed.

When Soni returned, she held a paper enclosed in a clear plastic envelope. Then, carefully pulled out the fragile papers and said, "This document shows two signatures, one from Texas State Governor John Ireland and US President Chester A. Arthur, agreeing that as of July seventeen of 1884 this Lipan Apache's tribe could live on the designated land as long as the Adler family agreed. We have not changed the treaty, and the Lipan Apaches are welcome on the Rockin' A." Soni sat.

Goliath and Mack returned to their previous spots.

Hughes read the entire document. "I understand your mother was Native American."

"She was, and my grandfather, Kuruk, continues to live on the reservation. My grandmother died about seven years ago. This document is open-ended and will remain in effect until we change it." Soni took a long sip of coffee. "Is there another reason for your visit?" As Robert started to speak, Soni interrupted, "Tatiana, I'm sure our guest could use some more coffee."

Robert waited until his cup was refreshed and then took a sip. "Thank you. I understand you have many Mexican aliens working as ranch hands."

Alex raised both hands in the air. "Oh, Dios mio!"

Soni released a deep breath. "That's true but when we hire we make sure they're legal. They are legally US residents. They have social security cards, our accountant takes Federal Taxes out, and they all have health insurance. We have employees from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Is this a problem?" She glared at him as both dogs stood. "Alex and Tatiana, please show the gentleman your social security cards." Soni motioned for the boys to sit.

All was silent while Alex removed the card from his wallet and Tatiana left to get hers from her purse. When she returned, she showed it.

"There's been human trafficking following I35 crossing the borders at Laredo, Eagle Pass, and Del Rio. Of course, many points in between. I'll be doing an inspection during the following four or five weeks to check the areas that concern Homeland Security." Hughes eyed each person as he sipped his coffee.

"Just because we employ a large number of cowboys doesn't mean they're illegal."

"That is true but Homeland Security can't be too careful, can it?"

Soni handed Robert the second packet of papers she'd brought from the den. "I thought these would eventually come in handy. Here's a list of our employees and our accountant, George Wainwright's contact information. He writes the paychecks and keeps track of the money."

"I'll check this out, but I'm mostly curious about wages paid in cash."

"We don't pay any wages in cash. They're direct deposited into bank accounts. We rarely keep cash around."

"What safeguards do you have in place to protect the integrity of your ranch?" Robert took a sip of coffee.

"Once a quarter, we hire independent auditors to trace the transactions. And we have had numerous audits by the IRS. I guess they don't trust large independent ranchers." Soni buttered a biscuit and smiled. "Alex, please pass the jam."

"I hope this ranch is in as good an order as you seem to think it is. I'll be letting you know. May I please have copies of the paperwork?"

Soni stood, took the papers, and then went into the den. "Just a minute." When she returned, she handed Robert the copies. "Here you go."

Alex and Soni's eyes met as they watched Robert place the bottom of his thumb against a rectangular pad on the latch of the metal briefcase and it opened. Hughes put the papers inside, closed it, and set it on the floor.

"This brings me to my next issue."

"Tatiana, did I smell some coffee cake baking a little while ago? I'm sure Mr. Hughes would like some." Alex finished his coffee. "And bring in the pot of coffee."

"I'm fine, really." Hughes held up his hand. "I'm sure you've heard on the news about the problems with drugs coming up from Mexico and traveling the I35 corridor." After Soni and Alex nodded, Robert continued, "Well, again your ranch would be a great place for drug cartels to hide the drugs until they're distributed." He hesitated as Tatiana set a large slice of coffee cake in front of him. "Thank you. Your grandfather is a Shaman, right?"

"Yes, but I don't see what that has to do with anything." Soni's fork dropped to the table with a thud. "Sorry."

"Shamanism uses peyote as part of their healing and as a religious ritual. We know the peyote cactus grows in Southern Texas around the Rio Grande."

"So you've jumped to the conclusion that Grandfather uses peyote." Soni stood, and so did the two large dogs.

Alex motioned her to sit, which she did. The dogs also complied.

Robert continued, "I'm sure you know peyote is an illegal drug. Mescaline is derived from the peyote cactus and is a hallucinogen very similar to LSD, but not as powerful."

Soni closed her eyes and gathered her thoughts together before she spoke, "I'm aware the Lipan Apaches started using peyote around 1885. It's my understanding that the Lipan Apaches who went with the Mescalero Apaches to live on reservations in New Mexico and Arizona continued the practice well into the 1960's. The small group who remained behind never used peyote."

"Have you read the amendment at the bottom of the document, giving the Native American's permission to continue to reside on your land?"

"I had no reason to. Why?" Soni chewed on her lower lip.

"President Arthur added, if any one of the Indians broke a Federal Law, the entire tribe would lose the privilege of living on the Rockin' A and be forced onto a Federal Reservation."

"That isn't a problem because these Lipan Apaches fear peyote for two reasons; first, they believe it has evil powers that would drive them to do evil deeds. Secondly, it causes hallucinations, and they would be unable to perceive and judge reality accurately."

"I hope you're right. If not, you understand the consequences. I'll go out to the reservation personally and look around. Please let your ranch hands know there'll be government agents investigating around the ranch for the next few weeks. They'll be wearing badges, similar to mine, so they'll be easily identified." Hughes showed his badge.

Robert ate the last bit of coffee cake, and then stood. "Thank you for your hospitality. The coffee and cake were delicious. When we've finished our investigation, I'll meet with you again. Good day." Robert turned, and then turned back again. "This is a gorgeous ranch house. I've never seen anything like it. Did your father build it?"

"He did. It's unique because it has Mexican, Lipan Apache, and German influence." Soni stood.

"Would you mind giving me a tour? One of my hobbies is studying architecture."

"Not a problem." Soni, Alex, and the two dogs escorted the agent through the house. He looked into all five bedrooms, six bathrooms, and many closets.

"Your father did a wonderful job integrating each of the different cultures. Thank you for the tour."

After Robert finished, Alex walked with him to the door.

Hughes nodded. "We'll meet again after I'm finished." He opened the door, and Alex followed.

*****
When Alex returned, he said, "Hughes checked the area around the stables and the helicopter. He asked what had been parked beside it. Just as I was about to answer, Gus parked his truck there. I'm guessing he somehow knows about Jim. Not only that, I think he just did a search without a warrant."

"We have nothing to hide. Maybe he's the person Jim was speaking with two nights ago." Soni hesitated and then said, "Alex, call the area managers and Grandfather. I want a meeting at," she glanced at her watch, "one o'clock. We're under siege." She, Alex, and the two dogs went into the den and closed the door.


Recognized


Thank you google images for a photo of a Homeland Security officer's badge. Teachers report on the 15th. I am so enjoying being able to write and review all my friends. As much as I enjoy this the bills need to be paid. I know this is a long post. I can promise you once school starts my posts will be much shorter. Instead of two parts to a chapter there will probably be four. Thank you for reading and reviewing. I'm still making numerous errors and need all of your help. Oh by the way, Raymund is spelled correctly, it's the German spelling, will come up later. Also, this is part of Texas Dream Catcher I have no clue why it did this. Evil Eddie loves me.
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