Saturday, December 26, 2009

Census Decreases By Two After Suicide of Young Woman

By Sandy Bogovich and Jim Parks

Monday, December 7, dawned gray and ugly over Lake Whitney,
a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydroelectric project
completed in 1949 on the Brazos River in Central Texas.

The dam straddles the dividing line between the blackland
prairies, the cotton and grain farms of Hill County to the
east and the rocky flint and limestone hill country of
flatiron mesas, canyons and creeks, cattle spreads and
trophy game ranches to the immediate west.

It's as if Earth's creator scribbled a meandering pencil
line from north to south and thereby decreed that scrub oak
and cedar would stud the hilltops and plateaus of the rocky
west; thence, to the east, mesquite, bois d'arc and
hackberry would fringe the creek banks and cattle tanks on
the black land where they grow cotton and wheat, corn and
milo maize.

Here the Brazos, a lazy, winding river that cuts through
burnt-orange sands and black mud along its twin tributaries
far to the north - two streams that extend like "the spread
arms of Christ" as he was crucified, the Spanish mapmakers
remarked in naming it in the sixteenth century - cuts
between chalky white bluffs of limestone that jut up from
the river's bed far below. After many years of gradually
filling, the lake extends for many miles along several
tributaries. Communities of retirees and weekenders have
sprung up on both sides of river in the past fifty or sixty
years. It's a playland for boaters and fishermen, jet-skiers
and hikers who flood the area on weekends and holidays
trying to escape the crowded conditions of the Dallas-Ft.
Worth Metroplex.

El Bosque.

The Spaniards mapped its creeks and its river system - The
Bosque, which meets the Brazos thirty miles south at Waco -
and called it that on the documents they sent back to

The Woods.

The day before, the weather had been decidedly cool, but not
so forbidding as Monday's anniversary of the attack on Pearl
Harbor. Around noon, the north wind began to blow in snow
clouds and the light sprinkling advanced across the hills to
soon become a line of driving, horizontal flakes flying in
near-whiteout intensity on some of the hilltops and in the
meadows above the canyons in the sub-freezing temperature.

A young, pretty Hispanic woman wheeled her neat, clean
little Dodge Neon into the gravel layby at the gate to the
Soldier's Bluff Corps of Engineers Park that overlooks the
dam on the west side of river. It offers a panoramic view of
the massive sluice gates that control the level of the water
and power the electrical generating turbines buried deep in
the huge concrete and steel structure.

Since it wasn't open yet, she parked outside the gate in a
little gravel area.

She left her keys in the car. Then she locked the doors. As
she took one last look at the ordinary elements of her daily
commute to a Czech bakery in West, located a fifteen or
twenty minute drive south of her home on I-35 in Hillsboro,
and walked away from her life, it was the last time she
would look at that part of her life.

There were few signs of the life she was leaving behind
forever. A partially consumed bottle of water nestled in the
cup holder; there were some coupons for SuperCuts, a chain
unisex barber and beauty shop with many local locations, and
a beaded cross swung hanging from the rearview mirror.

The next day, investigators would pinpoint her whereabouts
that Monday morning when they discovered streaming video
pictures of a lone Hispanic woman walking across the
sidewalk that runs along the top of the dam. The tape in the
surveillance cameras would fix the time at 7 a.m. on Monday,
December 7.

Eira Escobar, 20, of Hillsboro, Texas, simply walked away
from family and friends forever - and she never told them

Her mother was the last person to see her alive at 5:30 a.m.
when she supposedly left to go to work at the Czech Bakery
in the Bohemian and Moravian enclave community of West.

When she never arrived there, her employer called her mother
to find out what had gone wrong.

It was so unusual for her to neglect to call in to say she
was running late or to announce she would absent for the
day. She was a very dependable employee. That's why they
thought it was such a remarkable thing that she never
arrived at work.

Mrs. Escobar called the Hillsboro Police, who put out an all
points bulletin to lawmen to be on the lookout for her
daughter or her Neon. Then she called all her friends and
family to enlist their help in finding her.

Before the end of the next day, the family and lawmen would
have put the pieces of the puzzle together.

It's a grim story.

The loneliness, fear, frustration and confusion that leads
to self murder always is.

But in this case, there was more than one murder.

Bosque Deputy Robert Bleything cruised along State Highway
22 on that raw, blustery and gray morning as his shift began
at 7a.m. As he approached the Soldier's Bluff Park, he
noticed the same Neon he had seen parked there the day
before was still in the same place.

The dispatcher confirmed that it was registered to a woman
whom Hillsboro Police had reported missing the day before.

He started a foot search of the area and soon Bosque County
Sheriff Anthony Malott, Texas State Troopers, Corps of
Engineers Park Rangers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Game Wardens and Texas Rangers joined him.

Within a short time, they had located the battered, deeply
bruised body of Eira Escobar floating in the water near the
rocky bluffs at the base of the dam.

When Justice of the Peace James Zander pronounced her dead,
everyone on the scene suspected murder because of the many
lacerations and huge bruises to the head and extremities.
Suddenly, every lawman there was deeply startled when a
young man pulled up in a red pickup and told them he was
looking for Eira Escobar, his ex-girlfriend.

They detained him and transported him to the Bosque County
Sheriff's Office in Meridian for further questioning.
During a brief relationship that had ended recently, they
had been there together on dates, he said.

He also had a letter she sent him marked, "Open after I'm

He had assumed she meant for him to open the letter after
she left for a planned move to Houston. Further questioning
revealed much about Ms. Escobar that other people did not

In the letter she thanked him for being there for her during
their relationship. She also mentioned her pregnancy.

She and another young man who lives in the Dallas-Ft. Worth
area had broken off a relationship after she became
pregnant. That was seven months earlier.

He said she told him that neither of them, it turned out,
wished to reconcile to raise the expected child together. He
told investigators she could not face her parents with this
sad news. He and Ms. Escobar, too, broke off their
relationship when she planned her move to Houston.

Her mother had phoned him to ask him to help look for her.

That was why he showed up there.

Authorities released him without charges later in the day.

They transported her body to Clifton Funeral Home where they
summoned her parents to identify her. Then they sent her
remains to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office for
an autopsy and further tests.

A preliminary report stated that the examiner found the
extensive bruising and lacerations consistent with a fall
from a height to the surface of the water.

Further tests later revealed her pregnancy and confirmed the
finding of suicide by jumping off the dam. There was a net
decrease in the census by a number of two.

Both the mother and her child lost their lives as a result
of her rash act.

This report is based on the reporting of Sandy Bogovich,
a former staffer at "The Bosque County News."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Red Bow

She sat the conference table, a piece of the cheap scarlet ribbon tied
in a bow in front of her, eyes blazing with hate and her head shaved
as bare as a billiard ball.

She looked like a wood block print of an ancient Egyptian queen, her
smeared makeup running in the severe morning sunlight pouring through
the windows.

"I don't know what you think you're trying to prove."

"I'm not trying to prove anything," I said.

"Yes, you are. You're trying to prove you're smarter than me, aren't

"No, ma'am, I'm not."

I didn't know what else to say.

I just sat there and stared at her.

She stared back.

It was simple enough. She had taken on the responsibility of tying
red ribbons to the radio aerials and rearview mirrors of peoples' cars
because her daughter had been hit head-on by a drunken driver. The
drunk's car crossed the centerline of the two-lane road on the rural
Florida highway.

The girl hadn't been able to avoid the collision because a steel
traffic barrier merely made her tiny car bounce along at high speed,
slamming into it repeatedly at an oblique angle as she panicked. The
pickup lurched into the path of her car even after she had left the
paved surface to skim through the weeds at the berm.

I knew.

At that moment, I knew it as well as I knew my own name.

I had read the highway patrolman's report, glanced at his diagram,
interpreted the grim reality of the measurements. The photographs
told the rest of the story in a grim black and white series of macabre
images, the hood and bumper of the little compact shoved entirely
underneath the seats, the sprays of blood fanning out across the
airbags, the lock of scalp and long brown hair still hanging in the
shattered windshield.

I still hadn't reacted. My face was a piece of stone. She burst into
a fresh round of tears.

"You didn't have to write all that stuff. All you had to do was to
write what I said to write, that I am putting red ribbons on peoples'
cars to remind them not to drive drunk. That's all I wanted."

I hadn't written much. I had merely written a cursory description of
the indisputable facts of how the collision occurred and the fact that
the daughter was killed upon impact.

The driver of the much heavier pickup truck was treated and released
from an area hospital, jailed briefly, released on bond, and placed on
probation after entering a plea of guilty to negligent homicide and
driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, the massively
armored front bumper of the truck was barely dented.

I had no words. The horror of the situation prevented me from
speaking. I continued to sit looking at her with a blank expression.
The chemotherapy had all the hormones in her body raging and fighting,
the organism itself battling the chemicals for survival while the
cancer tried to take over and throttle the will to survive.

The editor, a middle-aged ad sales lady who had learned her trade
working for an Army publication overseas, cleared her throat and spoke
up for the first time.

"Well, ma'am, is there anything materially incorrect or false about
the written report we published?"

"Yes! There is! It's wrong to just go on and on about something a
person doesn't want any publicity about, isn't it? Isn't it wrong to
just keep at it until you drive a mother crazy? Isn't it?"

"Well, ma'am, you told him you intend to sue him. On what grounds
would you have standing to sue? He hasn't said anything false or
misleading, there is no malicious intent on his part. What is the
problem? Is the problem that what he wrote makes you uncomfortable?
Obviously, no one is happy..."

"You'd better not say another word about someone being happy, lady!

She burst into tears again.

The editor glanced at me. Then she pushed a box of Kleenex across the
table toward the woman. She poured some more ice water into her

The woman slapped the glass off the table. It left a trail of ice
cubes and beads of water across the polished surface.

"Let's not do that," the editor said quietly. "I don't think that
will help anything."

She turned to me and said I could go.

I bolted from the room, spooked by the look in her eyes.

# # #

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have seen every sunrise of my life through the mouth of
the cave.

My people have been here since before anyone can remember.
At some point in the past, the people from below and above
began to accuse us of being witches. I would not know
because this is all I have ever known. I have only heard
talk from those who have gone away and returned.

The Morning Star appears promptly and proves that the world
is turning. We mark the seasons by its alignment with the
ceiling of the mouth of the cave. As soon as a hunter is
able to do this, he is ready to join a war party and go in
pursuit of game. I have made six summers now since coming
of age. Four new warriors have joined my troupe during the
last two summers. I have two women. The chief gave me one of
his daughters and I took the second one away from a fool
whom we banished to the canyons.

We live in the third house from the entrance where we make
bow strings from the sinew of antelope and deer.

When the Morning Star comes tomorrow, we will go on the hunt
for our enemy. A scout returned to tell us where he had
seen them and their number.

We have purified ourselves in the sweat bath and consulted
the holy weed. Now, we wait for the time to be on our way.
When the Morning Star speaks to us, we will depart and lay a
trap for our enemy.

It is good.

When the Morning Star has faded today, I will learn if my medicine is strong.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In The Deer Park

Creatures tamed by shelled corn and the warmth of the
morning sun, the group of does strides away from the pond
beside the road, taking tentative steps up the hill, then
pausing to look back at me with curiosity.

Their coloration under the winter overcast matches the tawny
texture of the goat weed, the burnt cast of the grass, the
outcroppings of the canyon's layers of limestone, the gray
of the scrub oaks and the contrasting evergreen of the cedar

With a sudden snort of the leading lady, they flash their
white tail flags and disappear into the brush as if they
were never there.

Around the bend, an eight-point buck, proud and secure in
his role as the dominant male in this family of his, stands
in challenge to my intrusion, walking in a half circle, his
nose point toward me on the road below, then turning in
profile as if to say he is unimpressed with any threat my
presence may offer. As I gaze at him from downwind where he
can't really place my scent, he seems to change shapes and
colors in the morning sun, becoming translucent, then
transparent, only to return to full corporeal contrast and
as I glance away to put the truck back in the gear and drive
away, he steps up, into the brush, and disappears as if he
was never there, after all.

I am sure he is still there somewhere in the trees, antlers
held erect, his eyes boring holes in my profile, ready to
flee at the slightest hint of man threat. He is gone, so
gone, so ready to join his harem that he is a part of some
realm untapped by my mind, only witnessed at odd moments.

This is the deer park, hundreds and hundreds of acres and
acres of land that climbs to a plateau over deep canyons of
limestone piled layer upon layer as if courses of the stuff
had been piled higher and higher by unseen giant hands,
trees and weeds and grass clinging to cracks and layers of
soil blown there from the prairies to the north. High wire
fences surround the area, its three tiers over the valley of
the creek below segregated by gradations that force the
creatures to wind down to water and feed on a daily basis
after their night's retirement in the shelter of brush and
overhanging canyon walls to shield them from the cruelties
of the harsh winds from the north.

Sitting amid the rocks, one finds shells of mollusks from
ancient times unrecorded, concretions in the floor of an
ancient shallow ocean that is no more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This time I'm not afraid of what might be coming...

Virginia Lee is from the South. She lives in Memphis and takes care of her mama and she's up for a job in the music business - blues music. She had the jitters under the moon last night and wrote some things that struck chords way down deep in my soul. - Legendary Jim

Virginia Lee wrote:
...This thing about not knowing what is going to happen next? I've been living that way a very long time. There's a difference with this, however. This time I'm not afraid of what might be coming...And Roy? You, sir, are a goob.

The Legendary wrote to her about Beale Street:

There is a quality of light, the way a girl smiles, the hooting of a whistle, the clanging of a bell through the fog or the way leaves on a tree are reflected in shadows on a brick wall seen through an open window in the gusting wind that gives me a flavor, a feeling, a fleeting sensation of the blues.

Blue blues,
c'est bleu en bleu

He met me on the sidewalk, right on cue:

"See that little house, man?"


"That little house over there? Man, that's where W.C. Handy stay."


"Yeah, man, he wrote 'I hate to see that evenin' sun go down.' Dig?"


"You know why he hate to see that evenin' sun go down?"


He regarded me with mock wonder, an expression of total disbelief.

"Cause he be sleepin' on a park bench like I be sleepin' on a park bench, man!"


"Man, is you a fool from Liverpool?"


"A square from Delaware?"

"Yo, man, I..."

"Come on, man, let me show you..."

We started down Beale Street together, the tourists parting before us like the Red Sea, as if Pharaoh's chariots were in pursuit.