Copyright 2012 Dennis Herrick
The events and characters of this short story are fictitious. However, the historical facts about Santiago Pueblo are true, as is the fact that hundreds of new houses are being built around the site now. During excavation of the pueblo in 1934, a Tiwa skeleton was found there with the copper point from a conquistador’s crossbow in its chest cavity. Cover illustration by office.microsoft.com/en-us/images.
by Dennis Herrick
Ruben Cherino of the Puaray Pueblo Police looked at the 2x4 boards on the ground at his feet. They were still in a shape like a child’s sand box. For a second it seemed to him that the ancient skull was still there half buried in the sand. Stained after almost five centuries, it had been punctured above the left eye socket by a copper point from a conquistador’s crossbow.
Ruben blinked—and the skull was gone.
Everyone in the crowd of twenty or so people standing around him babbled in English as he retreated into thoughts in his native Tiwa language. He turned his round Pueblo face toward the sight of Kee Bien Ob, the New Mexico mountain that whites called Sandia. His own people knew it as Turtle Mountain. At least some did. To see it, he had to look over the tops of cottonwood trees gleaming gold and green in autumn’s early morning light along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque.