I tell this story through the author. I am Jicarilla Apache, and this is the tale of my early life.
For some reason unbeknownst to me then, as now, I was gifted with the ability to retain large amounts of data and to replicate that data in a logical manner. I was in St. Francis School on the Jicarilla reservation where I lived when my teachers noticed this ability early on in grade school. They contacted the administration of the Santa Fe Indian Schools and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic schools to have me tested. A special advanced curriculum was designed specifically for my education and learning.
This is the background of how I, Tommy Jon, entered Harvard from the Jicarilla reservation and then went on to Harvard Law School. The odds against that happening to a young Indian boy from a Rez with a population of 3,300 and a history of devastation must be tremendous.
I have to tell you that the culture shock of going from northern New Mexico to the East Coast to live and learn is almost more than one can bear. I spent the first couple of years dodging conversations and in constant social fear. But to really understand how that could be, allow me to tell you a little about my heritage.
My home, the Jicarilla reservation had a land area of 1,364 square miles. That sounds like a lot for such a small tribe, but the land was not suitable for agriculture. The only available income was from the sale of timber. In 1907, additional land was secured for the reservation that was suitable for sheep ranching, which became profitable in the 1920s. During this period, many of our people suffered from malnutrition and up to 90% of the tribe had tuberculosis. By the 1920s, there was a great chance that the Jicarilla Apache Nation may become extinct due to trachoma, tuberculosis, and other diseases brought from Europe. Somehow, we survived all of this.
The term “Jicarilla,” pronounced “heek-ah-Ree-ah,” comes from Mexican Spanish meaning “little basket.” Neighboring Apache bands like the Mescalero and Lipan are known as “Kinya-Inde” (“people who live in fixed houses”). We call ourselves “Haisndayin,” which translated means “people who came from below.” My people have colorful mystic beliefs that we honor. We believe that we are the sole descendants of the first people to emerge from the underworld, which was the abode of Ancestral Man and Ancestral Woman who produced the first people. You could say that this our Adam and Eve story.
My ancestors lived a semi-nomadic existence in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and plains of southern Colorado, northern New Mexico and into the Great Plains beginning some time before 1525 CE. They lived a relatively peaceful life for centuries, traveling by season to traditional hunting grounds, gathering grains and cultivating along riverbeds. This history has always meant a lot to me.
By the early 1700s, colonial New Spain had been created with the Pope’s mandate to conquer and colonize. The Spanish were constantly pushing forward and establishing churches, colonizing and propagating. While this placed some pressure on native food sources, it wasn’t until the massive western expansion of the Europeans in the late 1700s and forward that the native food sources were literally destroyed. Native American tribes who had lived together for centuries began to fight each other for territory and access to hunting and gathering grounds. Native American tribes like the Comanche, who had acquired guns from the French Canadian allies, raided both settlers and other tribes alike. Tribes such as the Jicarilla faced significant loss of property, removal from sacred lands, and ultimate devastation of tribal members from Western disease and loss against both Comanche and the US military. Finally, forced relocation took away the last remnants of the natural bounty the Jicarilla were used to.
From the Jicarilla creation story I mentioned earlier, our land was bounded by the four sacred rivers that were provided to us by the Creator. There were select places for communicating with the Creator and Spirits, sacred rivers and mountains to be respected and conserved. There were very specific places for obtaining items for ceremonial rituals and a reverence for the dead, as you will get a sense of from my story.
Taos is believed to be the “heart of the world.” The Jicarilla leader Victorio, who defeated many US cavalry and Mexican army troops, traveled in Northern Mexico and West Texas along the Rio Grande with his band. This area became their country, and they lived, and fought, and died there. There is much more that can be told about the Jicarilla, but that is not this story.
My story picks up today in the modern 21st century. It is the story of a young Indian boy thrown into white academics and judicial culture, or clutter, as it were. It is the story of being charged with murdering a Supreme Court Justice, with ample motivation to do so. It is a story of how one religion takes over Congress and the judiciary. It is a story of love dreamed of, lost, and re-found, a story of either natural death or murder and of a forced prosecution to reach an answer. You can accept it for what it is and make your own judgment. But above all, this is my story of a young, intelligent Indian man learning what the real world of law and politics is about.
Of course, there were things happening as these events occurred that I learned about later. The storyteller tells of them as they happened. While this is my story, it could not have happened without those who played their part. There is Justice Anton Sacerdozio of the Supreme Court, his clerks, the beautiful Catherine Welch, the arrogant Tim Bulgari, and me. You will meet the throwback Apache, Rio, who lives in the wilderness mountains of West Texas. Then, there is the Sheriff from Sierra Blanca and his buddy from New Orleans, detective Jacob Stern, and finally, you will watch the trial lawyer, Jonathon Boudreau, in action.
I leave you with this thought before the storyteller begins. Washington DC is a terrible place to be if you have a heart or one iota of ethics. You shall soon see. But you shall also see that the scale of justice is tipped not by a preponderance of evidence but by the political view of the appointment of a justice in the halls of power and influence. It begs the question, “How will real justice survive under the judicial appointments of the new administration?”
THE CURSE OF SACERDOZIO
Judge Anton Sacerdozio of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) requires mandatory clerk roundup meetings at 2:00 PM on Thursday and Saturday of each week unless the court is in session. The meetings have no scheduled closing point and can last until midnight, as they occasionally do. The three Sacerdozio court clerks, Catherine Welch, Tommy Jon and Tim Bulgari spend long hours each week on separate research assignments in preparation for the roundup meeting. Judge Sacerdozio takes each one on in debate and examination of their respective research. It is a weekly grueling process often dreaded by the clerks but looked forward to by the judge.
This week is no different. The clerks gather around the roundtable where they sit with the judge in an anti-chamber next to his office. Their laptops and typed notes at the ready, Judge Sacerdozio comes in and sits down. He is a large man, so he requires a larger, padded seat at the table, while the clerks sit on an un-cushioned restaurant-like chair.
“Catherine, your primary research assignment was to take my reasoning in the holding of United States v. Navajo Nation where I posed the question, ‘Can the US be held liable for a breach of trust with Indian tribes in connection with the negotiation of a mining lease on the US lands reserved for Indian tribes?’”
“Your Honor, while the court below reasoned that Indian nations are a dependent of the United States, and therefore through governmental act, there is imposed a broad obligation to look after the well-being of the tribe, there is no such…”
Catherine suddenly turns white, throws her hands to her mouth to cover it, as if about to vomit, but gets up and runs to the nearby bathroom located in the “clerks’ room” close to the roundtable. The bathroom is not soundproof, and the men can hear Catherine throwing up.
“She’s pregnant!” Tim Bulgari says with a half-giggle and meant it to be a joke. Tommy, whose ingrained cultural habit is avoiding eye contact suddenly stares Tim down with a non-blinking hard-eye.
“Is that right?” The judge said with a raised black bushy eyebrow. “I will deal with Catherine later.”
Catherine comes out of the bathroom still white and trembling. She excuses herself and says she must go home but will return as soon as she can.
No one responds, but she feels the stare of each man as she glances down with embarrassment. She turns to the door to leave, realizing her hand is shaking while she is trying to turn the doorknob. It doesn’t turn to open, and she walks straight into the door. Tears well up, but she is determined to keep her composure. She tries again, sure that those dark, demeaning eyes of the judge are boring into the back of her head. Finally, the knob turns and Catherine escapes.
Judge Sacerdozio returns to the business at hand.
“Tommy, you were assigned the holding in Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) and its progeny, which enshrined the Doctrine of Christian Discovery as the basis for the United States to have title to all the Indian lands. If that is the case, and this nation was first settled by Christians, how can the United States have a duty to care for Indian lands when it negotiates mining contracts?”
Tommy is silent for a few minutes before he speaks, a habit the judge, who impatiently waits, has become used to. Tommy is shaken from what just occurred with Catherine, and Bulgari’s attempted joke. He was trying to settle himself. He knows that an intense debate is about to ensue.
“Since the 1950s, the water of the Apache and Navajo nations has been poisoned by uranium spills from mining and the radioactive tailings that leak into the rivers and seep into the sub strata aquifers. The coal and copper mining on the reservations, as well as the three coal-fired power plants in the four corners region, are a constant source of pollution. There has been a consistent congressional and industrial attack on Indian lands. Since the 1950s, the poisoning of Indian country by corporate polluters has produced many medical problems linked to cancer, genetic defects, neuropathy, and increased mortality. The 1823 case and subsequent legislation and jurisprudence had no way of anticipating a Cold War and the proper use of these minerals. Science has since proved their danger beyond doubt. Acknowledging this, the question becomes, what would the words of the founding fathers mean when they had no knowledge of the minerals we rely upon today? How can we adapt those words to modern society and industry and where does a duty of care by the US government begin and where does it end with what we know today?”
“More apt to the argument, Mr. Jon, is the question of does the government have a duty at all? Your bleeding heart as to emotional facts is not the place for constitutional analysis. I put this to you. The Indian nations were not a party to the Constitution, so how can it be said that they are a dependent of the government, that they have a constitutional right as a dependent, and we, therefore, have a duty to them in negotiating mining contracts and monitoring mining company operations?” the judge rebutted.
“Your Honor, what about the many treaties signed by the Indian nations? What about the umbrella legislation by Congress which sets up a putative trust with Congress serving as trustee for the benefit of the Apaches over their lands and all Indian lands?” Tommy questioned.
In his mocking manner, the judge responded, “We are not talking here about a father – child relationship, taking care of the Indians as if they were children. This case, Apache Nation v. United States is, in part, about whether Congress can give nearly 2400 acres of coal-rich federally owned land to Eagle Coal & Oil, Inc., in exchange for receiving from the mining company more than 5000 acres of company-owned land”.
“Your Honor, water is the ultimate sacrifice when it comes to any mining operation. This is the desert. The runoff goes directly into the rivers and flows through Indian lands and deep aquifers that flow through the vast Southwest. But even if the government does not have a duty to Indian water, this acreage swap also covers Oak Flat. It’s an ancient holy place of the Apache, where coming-of-age ceremonies have been performed for many generations. Both President Eisenhower and President Nixon banned mining in this area. Now, Congress proposes not only to allow mining but to give the holy land away to a mining company,” Tommy argued.
“Mr. Jon, perhaps you should be a congressman instead of a SCOTUS clerk, although I would greatly fear that. Our duty is to interpret the Constitution, not try to legislate proclaimed wrongs by Congress. This ‘Holy Land’ is what the Indians always say when they don’t want the government to do something on their reserved land. My God, you would think these savages that ruthlessly fought the European settlers were the most religious bunch in the world,” the judge rebutted.
“No, Judge, I’m sorry. If you studied the history of these mystic Apache sites, you would clearly see their beliefs and their search for spiritual healing. It’s just not right for the government to give Oak Flat away for destruction in order to profit. The Apache were not partners in the assignment of the Oak Flat land swap to Eagle. In fact, the swap was kept secret by Senator John McCain until it was already done,” Tommy argued.
“Tommy, you miss the point. There are other ways to handle arid water sources and pollution. When the framers of the Constitution met, this Southwest was not even part of the government, nor were the Indians. On a very basic level, the Southwest region is the spoil of war against the Indians. We do not have a duty to them beyond any other naturalized citizen, and the original case of Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) still stands,” the judge concluded.
“Do you want me to rewrite my research paper, sir?” Tommy asked.
“That! And, I want you to go find Catherine and tell her to come see me. I want to know if she is really pregnant. Between Indian tribes with their absurd appeals, and clerks who can’t see the point, and a clerk who may be pregnant, I feel like I’m herding a group of children.”
Judge Sacerdozio pushes his large body and his large chair away from the table, rises and goes to his chambers, slamming the door behind him.
Bulgari looks across the table to Tommy and says, “Damn, man, I thought I was making a joke. I didn't realize…” His voice tapers off.
Tommy had already left the table and had no response. There wasn’t anything that could be said at this point. He got his laptop and notes and headed out to find Catherine.
Catherine Welch was unusually witty and smart. From early childhood, born in St. Louis, she went through grade school and middle school at St. Margaret of Scotland in St. Louis. She came from an educational background, her father being a high school teacher and her mother a Montessori teacher. The administration at St. Margaret’s was well aware that they had something special in Catherine. By the time she finished her ninth grade curriculum, St. Margaret’s principal arranged a scholarship at an Eastern girls’ preparatory school where Catherine again excelled. From there, it was straight off to Harvard for an undergraduate degree in political science and then to Harvard Law School.
It had been a long, hard day at SCOTUS clerkship. Catherine sits down at the pizza parlor to meet Tommy Jon. For both of them, there had been little room for social networking through undergraduate and graduate school. They had met each other during their sophomore year in the library at Harvard and basically became “library friends.” Both were dedicated students and were well aware of their humble backgrounds. They also understood the necessity of maintaining their scholarships and that the welfare of their future depended on upon their grades and the SCOTUS clerkship they had been honored to receive. Now, that friendship had bonded into something much more.
Tommy arrives and sits down. He says nothing, nor does Catherine. Catherine stares at the napkin she has twisted into an origami bird, fidgeting back and forth with the paper. She is lost in thought, remembering a night two months before. It had been cold and snowing in DC and the clerks had worked late on an intensely disturbing case regarding the use of DNA in a capital punishment death case. Tommy walked Catherine to her efficiency apartment where she used the couch in the front of the television both for sitting and sleeping.
They walked by the pizzeria on that night to get to the apartment and picked up a pizza. By the time they reached the apartment, both were cold and frozen. Catherine invited Tommy in, turned the heater on high, and turned on the TV. The two held each other, sitting on the couch, trying to get warm. Soon they were fast asleep, only to awake to an overheated apartment. They started shedding coats and scarves. Once they started they didn’t stop there. They laughed and joked and kept taking off clothes down to underwear and Catherine’s bra.
Suddenly, it seemed a little more serious. Catherine looked Tommy in the eye as if questioning, removed her bra, and as Tommy looked at Catherine’s breasts, he started to touch them. She took his hand and placed it on her nipple. She felt hot and wanted to feel him. Was it possible she could want to have sex? All the way through St. Margaret’s the most important thing for a girl was to “protect her reputation.” At the prep school, there were no boys. At Harvard, there was no time. Both of them had felt so lonely for so long, except with each other.
Tommy pressed his hard penis into Catherine’s vagina. He was gentle, and while there was some pain, the slow stroking back and forth felt good. At prep school, everyone was saying, “you will be really scared the first time,” but Catherine wasn’t. She knew she loved Tommy, and though he didn’t know how to say it, she knew he felt the same way about her. Catherine felt really close to Tommy, now, close to his very soul, and she could tell he felt close to her.
All those lonely years of being away from home, dedicated to one goal that required no emotion, just brain activity, suddenly vanished in this moment. Tommy could feel the moist, warm inside of Catherine, pulsating. In a sudden moment, all of the months of loneliness vanished, and Tommy felt one with Catherine. Life had hope, and pent-up tensions were released.
That was two months ago. Now, as they sat in the pizzeria, they were even less hungry than they were on that beautiful night, for a different reason. Catherine was pregnant. The thought had entered her mind on that erotic night that she should have protection, but it was all so spontaneous. She had heard stories about a girl getting pregnant the first time, but quickly rationalized that the odds against that must be one in thousands.
Two months later, the two of them sit silently in the pizzeria distressed with what they faced. Tommy had earlier gone to Catherine after her morning sickness spell and told her that the judge wanted to speak with her. She had complied with that demand and was now ready to tell Tommy the outcome of the meeting.
“Did you tell him? Did you tell the judge?” Tommy asks.
“Yes,” Catherine answered without making eye contact. She wasn’t sure how to explain the guilt that the judge made her feel.
“What did he say?”
“He blew up. In a rage at me, he said he didn’t tolerate sexual encounters among his clerks. Tommy, I was so afraid of him.”
“Surely, Sacerdozio doesn’t think this is the first time such a thing has happened among his clerks. Did you tell him we needed his support, his help?” Tommy asks.
“First, he complained that here we are in the middle of Apache Nation v. United States and that the liberal judges might get some traction against his ‘Original Meaning’ philosophy. He needed a monumental amount of research from each of his clerks. Second, he said that he felt sabotaged in that you and I would bring disgrace to his chambers on the one hand and be so irresponsible on the other. He said going forward with just one clerk was a formula for failure,” Catherine explained.
“What did you say to him, then?” Tommy continues.
“I said I could continue to handle the workload and so could you. Then he asked when the baby was due, and I said that you and I had talked long and hard about it and that the time just wasn’t right, even for a baby,” Catherine said.
“I should have been with you. He hates me. He thinks it was a mistake that I was allowed to be his clerk, since, as it turns out, my philosophy of constitutional law is at odds with his. He doesn’t see that our debates make him sharper. He just resorts to silly verbal quips and veiled personal attacks. It may have made the meeting worse, but I should have been there, Catherine. I’m sorry.”
“It could have made it worse. He bellowed, ‘You're going to have an abortion? You know that I am a leader in the Archdiocese of Washington. You know how I have fought to limit Roe v. Wade. You can’t do this. You are out of your mind!’ By this time, I was crying and just wanted to leave. I felt so ashamed. Tommy, I am afraid of him.”
“I’m so, so sorry, Catherine.”
“It’s worse Tommy. Sacerdozio wants our immediate resignation and our promise to say nothing about this. Our careers are ruined. If we resign, there will be all sorts of rumors and suspicions about us in judicial circles and major law firms. Sacerdozio will not help in any way,” Catherine said as tears began to well up in her large beautiful green eyes.
Catherine sits in her tiny apartment in DC, excommunicated from Justice Sacerdozio’s chambers. She had the abortion, yesterday, and she is feeling down, not so much about the abortion but just in general. It is a gray day outside, and that seems to contribute to the feeling. She decides to call her mother in St. Louis. That usually helps.
“Hi darling, did you do it?”
“Yes. Yesterday. Everything is fine,” Catherine answers.
“Are you okay?” Mom asks.
“I am in that regard. In fact, I’m quite relieved. I knew in my heart it was the thing to do. A baby, now, would have meant emotional and financial devastation for the baby, Tommy and me. We are just on thin ice professionally and personally, right now,” Catherine answers.
“I know. I’m so sorry that the judge is acting the way he is. I wish there was something I could do. When I explained all of this to your dad, it upset him terribly that a Supreme Court justice would treat his daughter like this. He wanted to write him a letter setting him straight, but I told him it was best we stay out of your and Tommy’s business.”
“You’re right, mom. I’m a big girl. I must handle life on my own now, but it always helps to talk to you, and it just makes me feel better. I miss you.”
“Do you remember when you were at St. Margaret’s of Scotland, and one day you came home crying because a boy pushed you down at school, and you skinned your elbow?”
“Oh yes, I remember. You and Dad told me that I must go back the next day, stand in front of him and stand tall, and tell him that was no way to act. He must respect the other students and me. I did that and felt better. In fact, after that, the boy and I were friends.”
“Well, darling, as complicated as life relationships and occurrences get, at their simplest level, that is usually the best approach... Are you doing any briefing for the judge?”
“No. He won’t let me. I’m just sort of in limbo. How is your retirement going?”
“I’m enjoying it. I’m writing... A romance series, if you can believe that. It’s a lot of fun. Getting into the characters’ heads is a hoot.”
“You asked if I had been doing any briefing. Actually, I have. You know, Mom, when Tommy and I came out of Harvard to clerk for Justice Sacerdozio neither one of us had been exposed to interpretive ideology, although we did have the academic ability to get there.
“I have served most of my clerkship year under Justice Sacerdozio and have learned that I just can’t agree with the strictness of what he calls ‘original meaning’ constitutional interpretation.
“I feel guilty about that, just like I feel guilty for getting Tommy and me in trouble. After all, I was Justice Sacerdozio’s clerk. I should’ve had his same view,” Catherine explained.
“Well, Catherine, I see what you’re saying, but is working for someone on one level mean you cannot have your own independent critical thinking? What legal interpretive approach do you lean toward?” Mom asks.
“To be exact is impossible for me. We are Catholic, and I have always felt we were religious, and accepting of other religions. But Justice Sacerdozio comes on strong, demanding that if you read between the lines of what he says and writes the effect would be to see America as a Catholic state, or at the very least, subservient to Catholic cannons,” Catherine explained.
“Really! I had no idea. So, what do the other justices think about that? I’m afraid I have never kept up with their opinions.”
“I know. No one in the public does, and they don’t seem to realize that those opinions are the ‘Supreme Law of the Land’. With the work I have done for Justice Sacerdozio in his text-driven approach, I see that it is designed similar to that of our Catholic catechism. It is the attitude of self-assurance toward discerning God’s intent displayed by fundamentalist interpreters of the Bible.
“Just as Bible interpreters like the judge believe they know the intent of what was written in the Bible, they claim to know the intent of what the Founding Fathers said or wrote. Determining someone’s intent regarding the words they used, especially words spoken or written over 200 years ago is certainly not an exact science, although in Justice Sacerdozio’s opinion he would try to lead one to believe that.”
“Well, darling, I’m afraid you’re getting over my head, now. Remember, I’m on the romance level. You never told me what justice you agree with on these religious issues,” Mom said.
“Okay. Justice Souter. He played a significant role in ensuring that the Court maintained a robust interpretation of the Establishment Clause, the government cannot establish a religion. The court has held for a long time that the Establishment Clause not only prohibits the government from favoring one faith over another but also from favoring religion over non-religion. Justice Sacerdozio does everything he can to undermine that concept,” Catherine explained.
“How does that affect Tommy Jon?” Mom asks. “I know he grew up Catholic, but he’s really a humanist and naturalist, I believe.”
“He struggles with it, but somehow he can separate things in his brain. He can write a brilliant research paper taking a certain stand when he doesn’t agree with it at all.”
“I have heard of people who can compartmentalize in their brain. It has been said that President Clinton was adept at that.”
“Well, Justice Souter joined decisions prohibiting public schools from organizing prayers at graduation ceremonies and football games, when it was clear that what was behind them was to convert nonbelievers. That became a federal question because the government funds public schools. Justice Souter wrote an opinion banning the government from posting the 10 Commandments when it was plain that its predominant purpose was to advance religion. He supported requests by religious groups to have the same access to state property as other nongovernmental groups.”
“Wow. That’s a lot.”
“He wasn’t against religion, just against government favored or forced religion. He often quoted James Madison, who warned that ‘the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one religious establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever,’” Catherine explained.
“It sounds like Justice Souter was a good man. I’m not sure about Justice Sacerdozio. He seems to have a pretty dark agenda.”
“Mom, I love you so much. I will keep you posted. Give you a call tomorrow.”
Catherine sat in her apartment and had to laugh, in spite of how dire things looked, at how a simple ritual, like getting a pizza, can change a life.
She had just returned to the Harvard campus to begin her second year of college. She had spent her summer at home in St. Louis with her parents. Her father, a high school teacher, was retiring. Her mother intended to teach grade school another year or two.
Catherine’s older sister had married the summer before and now had a baby girl. Catherine was a proud aunt and doted on the baby, at the same time laughing and having silly fun with her sister. It had been a good summer, but it was now time to get back into the academic grind. Catherine had an academic scholarship to Harvard, and she wasn’t about to let anything happen to it. Her family was extremely proud of the maturity she had shown in putting her studies first and in the success she was achieving.
Catherine enters the Widemer library and notices a tall, medium build, young man looking up through the stacks and high ceilings, as if in total amazement. Somehow, you can always spot the green freshman.
“Hello, my name is Catherine Welch. I am a member of the Library Council on Student Experience. Can I help you get used to this place?” Catherine inquired.
That was Catherine’s first encounter with Tommy Jon. She found that he was not very forthcoming, and she had to drag out of him what he needed, where he needed to research, and whether he was beginning to feel comfortable. Over the next hour and a half, she led Tommy around, explained things about the library, whether he asked or not, and set him up with a study carrel space. She did notice that he stayed glued to her every step of the way, showing no desire to go off on his own.
At the end of the show and tell session, it was time to separate, but there was this awkwardness. Tommy Jon just stood there, even though Catherine had said goodbye. When she moved, he moved, but didn’t say anything. Catherine wasn’t sure if he was confused or scared. Finally, she said:
“Would you like to go get a pizza?”
Tommy indicated that he would, so they walked to the student center, ordered a pizza and sat down. Finally, through Catherine’s questioning, Tommy began to open up, a little. Once she learned that he was from a reservation in New Mexico, she began to understand his shyness.
“Tell me what it is like where you live,” Catherine requested.
“There are mountains and valleys. Its beauty is nature, not man-made structures. I already miss it. I have never been in a place like this,” Tommy responded.
“What is your family like?” Catherine asked.
“My mother and father are older. My father was in construction until his leg was broken in an accident. I have two sisters. One is a secretary at a casino. The other teaches grade school where I went.”
“Are there a lot of people where you live?”
“What is the closest big town?” Catherine asked.
“I don’t know. It may be Taos, but no large town is close.”
So it went with Catherine dragging it out of him. Two college students getting to know each other. Tommy quickly grew to like Catherine and felt he could depend on her. She seemed strong and knew what she was doing. He, on the other hand, always felt confident about what he studied, but anything that required social engagement was a total loss to him.
Tommy felt a great ease of stress when two days later, he arrived at his carrel desk with his books, to find that two stacks down was Catherine’s carrel.
It was the beginning of a long study buddy relationship that each assumed would end with graduation.