So, I was talking with my buddy JR Madrid (who Will Diaz’s buddy, RJ is based on), and I forwarded him a sample chapter from the Dead Friends. He made an interesting suggestion concerning a situation that occurred in that chapter. Why not move the location a few miles further south. That would:
- Make the site more isolated
- Put it right up against the border between Colorado and New Mexico (and possibly make things spill across state lines)
- Tap into a mind set that seems alien even if it is just over the hill.
My buddy was talking about a little place called Ortiz, Colorado. It’s what we call a “Placeito,” an unincorporated community. I realized he was right. There are people down there who are more like something from the worst stories you hear about hillbillies. Very clannish, they’re suspicious of outsiders (even if the outsiders live two miles away). All that you need is someone playing a banjo on the bridge and you could shoot “Deliverance 2” there.
His suggestion was a masterstroke.
Most of the smaller communities down there are named for natural feature or such. Some of the oldest towns were named after patron saints such as San Antonio and San Rafael. Ortiz is named after a man, and there’s not a whole lot in the history books about it. You might not even find it on most maps. What is known is there were several attempts at settling there as early as the 1840s. It’s possible that the local Native American’s objected and that’s why colonization attempts failed. After all, the area is beautiful, protected in the winter since it’s a small valley, and is rich in deer and other game.
However, in 1890, a post office was established there by J. Nestor Ortiz. Since the community needed a name for the mail to come to, he gave it one. His. I was impressed by the difference between that and other names in the county, and from where I sit, it helped to form an isolationist mentality.
It also set the spiritual stage. Where others founded communities named after natural features or patron saints, it put a man above nature or the things of God. I play that card for everything it’s worth.
While it was nice place to go in to, most of our visits into the area as Law Enforcement were anything but pleasant. We could always count on a good fist fight, and maybe even having to stare down whole families just to preform our job.
The one thing I could never get over was it always seemed like something was watching us. After all, we were outsiders, so I could expect people looking out their windows. But this was something else. Something old and ancient that couldn’t possibly exist. So more often than not we went in, did our job, and got the hell out of there. It wasn’t till years later that I was to learn that ancient spirits, demons, whatever you want to call them, stake out an area and call it their own. Maybe that’s what I felt every time I went in there, because I was sure happy to get out.
Real or not, it became the perfect setting. Thanks JR.