Gold and Death in Mexico – Extended Epilogue

FIVE YEARS LATER

The reporter thought the house and the land of the Bar Double D Ranch was scenic and beautiful. The two-story ranch house, which he had seen once before, was decorated with the finest of furnishing. The gardens were sparkling with the most colorful flowers. Before he had met Ben and Delta Dunlop, he had been told they were rich, but the most down-to-earth couple he would meet.  Ronald Dellums had doubted that. Being a reporter, he had a degree skepticism toward everyone he met and, in the past, he had not many any rich people who he would call down-to-earth. But at his first meeting with the couple, he discovered the description was true. As he knocked on the door, he was expecting Ben Dunlop to address as an old friend.

And Ben did.

A servant opened the door, but he could see Dunlop in the background walking toward him.

“Mr. Dellums! Good to see you again. Come in, Ron,” Dunlop said, almost yelling. He stuck out his hand. “Hello, again. How are you?”

“Doing fine, Ben. And I think you for agreeing to the interview.”

They shook hands. Dunlop shook his arm so hard, it almost loosened his arm from the socket.  Delta walked in, also greeted him and her shake was much gentler.

“Mrs. Dunlop, I thank you too for the interview. It was very kind of you. I know you two are very busy.”

“No, we’re not,” Dunlop said. “We have employees to do all the work. We just sit back and enjoy the day and enjoy the children. And I ride a little. Always did like horses and riding. I’m teaching the children to ride.  Ben Jr. is a natural rider. And his sister Melanie is pretty good too.”

“Come into our study,” Delta said, “and we can start the interview.”

After entering the study that looked out upon the ranch, Dunlop sat behind the desk and Delta sat on a sofa in the room. Dellums eased down onto a chair before Dunlop’s desk.  Dellums pulled out a pad, and grabbed a pen.

“I want to thank you again for allowing me this opportunity to interview you. This may take more than one session because I would like to do a book on you and your trip down to Mexico. But I may have to do it in the form of a novel because….” He stammered for words. Dellums was a good reporter and a good writer – the two are not the same, many good reporters were lousy writers – but he was excellent at both skills.  Even so, he had found a good deal of skepticism when he floated his idea. Few people actually believed the Aztec story. It contradicted what was supposed to be known history.

Which didn’t both Dunlop a bit. He just laughed and went on with his life.

“That’s fine. Do with the interview what you will,” Dunlop said.

“Ben, I realize you and Jake Morgan had been friends for a while before the episode in Mexico happened, but it was Delta who actually told you about the Mexican gold mine.”

“Yes, and she was so beautiful I had to believe her.  And she did have some evidence and a map, the details of which we can go into later, or Delta can tell you. It concerns individuals who had always believed the rumor that Aztecs still existed and were waiting for the day when they would return to conquer and establish a new empire. Frankly, most of our group did not believe the tale until we were in Mexico until the night when we were attacked by them. Then, we could no longer deny they existed.”

“Amazing,” Dellums said.

“The story of how we obtained the maps is a long one. It goes back to include my father and some of his friends at the University of Texas. But I am writing all the details out for you, Ron. It will give you the details of the backstory of the event. It would take me a couple of hours to detail it. And if I told you, I might overlook one or two details.

“So, I decided to write it out, so I can make sure I include everything. You can check that with Elizabeth’s story of the events. They should overlap but you can get a different prospective. But you can read both accounts and, if you have any additional questions, you can come back and do another interview. That will be better than us talking from memory.”

Dunlop laughed. “Would you like a drink, Ron? As I said, this may go for hours.”

“Thank you.”

Dunlop walked to the small bar in the room. He poured liquor into two glasses and took one to Dellums. “After five, my wife will join us. She doesn’t drink before five. Which is probably a good policy but I have never able to adopt it. I try but I always start breaking my own rules.”

Dunlop chuckled as he went back to chair. “You will have to do some traveling if you want to talk to everyone who went on the trip with us. Both Jack Preacher and Yancy Alexander are in California. Yancy always said he was going to California and he made it. Has a big spread out there, plus he also owns a gambling casino.”

Dellums sipped his drink and wondered if he should ask the next question. But he took a deep breath. “Is it true that Alexander was a friend of yours, and that he was an outlaw before the trip to Mexico?”

Dunlop laughed again and nodded. “Both are true. Alexander had a gang back at that time and I bumped into him now and again. We kind of liked each other. He had some rough parts of his personality, but he was never a killer. He shot people but it was in self-defense.  But he was always looking for one big job, one that would set him up for life.  And unlike most folks, he found it. It was in Mexico but he found one. He took the money, moved to California and went straight. I understand he’s on the town council out there, but I forget what town he’s in.” He looked to Delta. “What’s the name of that town, honey?”

“Centerville. He sent us a postcard.”

“Right, Centerville.” Dunlop sipped his drink again. “The thought of Yancy Alexander going honest is a tough thought to hold. But it’s true.”

“And Mr. Preacher, what happened to him?”

“I think he got into business. I think he has a line of hardware stores and is a major investor in a shipping line. He has a house on the ocean, is married now and doing very well. He has a child and in my last letter to him, I told him that he has to catch up. Delta and I have two kids, a boy and a girl.”

“His last letter told us his wife is pregnant and wants several children, so I don’t doubt he will give us a run for the money,” Delta said. “Although we plan to have another child too.  I wouldn’t mind a houseful of children. I love their laughter. My goal in life was not finding an ancient gold mine, although I did get into that treasure. My main goal was just having happy children run around the house.”

“She wants five,” Dunlop says.  “But we have a big house so we could have five running around laughing. I agree that would be a wonderful sound.”

“You ever regret not being on the road, Ben?”  Dellums said.

“No, absolutely not. Listen, I drove a couple of cattle herds to market and spend years as a cowboy. You know how hard trail driving is. You know how hard it is keeping ornery beef in line. Men die on trail drives. It’s not that easy of a profession. I don’t mind leaving it behind. I was always counting my money and saving it until I had enough to buy a little ranch for myself. With the money we got in Mexico, my dream came true, but a ranch came with it. Delta had one and she offered to share.”

Dellums laughed. “How much did each of you received from the gold and silver you took from the underground city?”

Dunlop shook his head. “That is one question that I am not going to answer.  When we finally got out of Mexico and came back here to divide up the gold, we all agreed that was one item we would never speak about.  So, I can just tell you that it was a lot. More than I had made in all my cattle drives. Much more. We thought it was better to leave that unknown. Everyone will be curious but let everyone guess.”

“I must admit I am curious too. How about giving me a hint. Off the record.”

“Off the record? Good thing I trust you, Ron. We took out a wagon load of treasure. We had filled up the wagon with the Gatlin gun, and we had almost filled the second wagon, that was empty before we began loading it with gold.  There was a lot in gold, some in bars, and some in random piles, had a good deal of silver but the biggest and easiest items were the jewelry and gems. For the life of me, I don’t know where they came from. But since going down there, I’ve tried to read some of the history of the Spanish conquest when they traveled from Spain in the sixteenth century. They sailed back on ships full of gold and gems. It had to come from Mexico and the Aztecs but Mexico is not a rich country, not now anyway. Did the Aztecs take all the gold only to have it taken by the Spanish?” He shrugged. “Maybe so. They had jeweled crosses. Preacher got one of them and I heard it alone was worth two million dollars. Two million. Preacher was quiet about it and the buyer didn’t want to spread the word either. There are people in the West and the East making great fortunes nowadays and some of that gold and jewels wound up in their museums.”

Delta smiled. “So, let’s just say we have enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives and to also to amply provide large inheritances to each of the children.”

“I’m sure they will appreciate that,” Dellums said, with a smile.

“Are you going to interview my friend, Elizabeth and her husband, Jake?” asked Delta.

“Yes, definitely.  At first, Mrs. Morgan was a bit hesitant. I gather she is not really fond of crowds. She’s one of those people who have a number close friends, but may be uncomfortable in large groups of people. And I think she is basically a private person. She may have had to go against her basic leanings on the Mexico trip but, all things being equal, she likes to be at home with her children.”

Delta nodded.  “Yes, that’s Elizabeth. But she and Jake were with us every step of the way in Mexican. And Jake handled the Gatling gun until he was wounded. I’m so glad he, like Ben, recovered.”

“Yes, they have been nice enough to schedule an interview next week. I’m going to their house Tuesday afternoon and promised the whole afternoon if needed.”

“They are doing well. They came over here last week for a Sunday dinner and brough the children. We had a great time. Elizabeth and I will be friends for life, and Jake and Ben, I’m sure, will also be lifelong friends. I’m so glad we live close to one another.  This sounds like a cliché, but it’s very true. The best things in life are your family and friends, and your faith. They last forever.”

“How is Father Montez?”

He stayed several years in Mexico, and then began a church in Texas, down by the Rio Grande. He gave most of his money away to the church and to other charitable causes.  And then he also used the money to build his church and provides money to the poorer families.  I know there are some people who say our tales of an Aztec city are fiction and totally untrue. But Father Montez is a priest and he will swear on a Bible and the tales are true. I don’t think anyone has the credibility of a Father Montez. He is not a typical priest, true, but he is a priest and dedication to God and his fellow man.”

Dellums nodded.  “I have written to him and asked for an interview. Hope to have a reply soon.” He smiled. “I’ve found there is a degree of skepticism about the Aztec story so, as I said, my story may be told in the form of a novel. An adventure story suitable to all ages.”

Dunlop laughed. “That might be easier to sell.  Change the names and invent freely. That’s what some people accuse us of doing. And that’s fine. It doesn’t bother us at all.  Does it, Delta?”

She nodded. “That’s true. We have our family, our friends, a beautiful house and a good church. I wake up every day and thank God that we have been so blessed. And the ranch is doing well.  We don’t need the money but it’s nice to know the ranch is prosperous.  And the bank is prosperous.”

“The bank?”

“We are part owners of the bank in town,” Dunlop said. “I always thought it would be a good investment to own a bank. I’m a cattle drover who became a banker. That always sounded good to me.  If I ever get a business card, it’s going to give my name and then state – cattle drover, bank president.”

“That will be unique,” Dellums said.

“Yes, it will. Probably be the only such one in the country.”

“By the way, would you like a better look at the ranch? I can show you around,” Dunlap said.

“Thank you, but not right now.  Have to gather all the facts first.  I wanted to ask you about the MacLean brothers. Have you heard about them lately? Do you know where they are?”

Delight came over Dunlop’s face. “Yes, I liked them. Both Ian and Jack were fine people.  They were also fine conversationalists, very witty and entertaining. They are currently attending the finest poker games in the nation. There are huge poker fests in Denver and San Francisco and New Orleans every year.  You will find them there having a fine time. Think there is one in Texas this year, and the brothers will be at that one too.”

“They’re still playing poker even though they’re rich?”

Dunlop nodded. “They enjoy the game. I doubt they could survive without playing poker.  They have eliminated the smaller western towns from their schedule, but they still play the major tournament, and have gained something of a reputation about poker enthusiasts.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Delta said. “I like the brothers too. They had a charm about them, but they were also very good with guns. They were a great help during the trip to Mexico. They didn’t flinch when we came under fire.  Ben, we should send an invitation and have them drop be sometime in the future. I’d like to see them again.”

“So would I. We can do that. That can fit us in between poker tournaments,” Dunlap said.

“I’ll write them tomorrow and issue the invitation.”

Dellums smiled as he stood up. “Thank you for your time. I wanted to find out what happened to the rest of the group. I’m glad they all are well.”

“Well and kicking. And playing poker.”

“My story will have a happy ending, then.”

THE END


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33 thoughts on “Gold and Death in Mexico – Extended Epilogue”

    1. Johnnie, who does your proofreading? I marked some, but if I did them all I’d still be reading the books! I’m just an ‘old’ lady who loves to read, but gets frustrated at errors! I’m ‘[email protected]
      Live in Texas, moved a lot in my lifetime, but will always consider myself A TEXAN!

      1. I agree. It seemed to get worse as the story progressed. By the end I had to reread sentences and insert the proper word in my head to have it make sense.

    2. Johnnie,
      This book is some of the worst proofing I have ever seen in a fiction novel!
      However is a tremendous plot with a great list of characters! Not since reading my favorite Louis L’Amour novels have I enjoyed a western novel as much as yours, but you definitely need a group of ARC Readers to proof your books before they go to your editor. I am totally astonished by the fact that your editor didn’t catch the plethora or errors in this book!
      I am an ARC Reader for a group of outstanding sci-fi writer Christian Kallias, Scott Bartlett, Brandon Ellis and 3 others. For some of them I also review first drafts of their novels and let them know if the chapters make sense and ‘flow’ properly in the plot of the book.
      If you are looking to establish an ARC Rradrr team, drop me an email.

      Michael Slezak

  1. This was an interesting book. I would like to suggest that you get someone to proof-read your books for grammar and spelling errors as these are very distracting while reading. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

  2. This is a good book and a very interesting story with a display of characters that are determined and courageous to fight the Aztecs for the treasure and to live to tell about it A action packed story

  3. Exciting story but too many repeats of the same thought. Taking something that belongs too someone else is not right.

  4. I really enjoyed the story and all the excitement with it. I agree with Elaine you need a good proof reader. I have read several of your books and will continue to do so. Keep up the good work.

  5. If I were giving out stars, I’d only give you one. It almost seemed like every other sentence had a mistake in it. There were words missing. It was indeed distracting trying to get through the whole book looking and seeing all those errors. I could not publish a book such as this or even put my name on it with all the mistakes floating in and amongst this book. I would just be so embarrassed. The characters were believable and their trials were real enough. But the glare in the headlights were all the missing words. Edit, edit, edit!!!!

  6. Really enjoyed the book. Some of the typos, misspelled words, and using the wrong names for characters were pretty bad. Your editor apparently doesn’t bother with a proofreader.

  7. I don’t know who your proof reader is but they should be fired. Just a ridiculous number of mistakes! I did enjoy the story and the characters .

  8. Well, I have to agree with all the other folks. This was a hard book to stay with simply because of the typos and mistakes. I nearly stopped reading it several times. The story line was good but the whole book was full of mistakes.

  9. Johnnie Glad you changed editors. This one of the best books I’ve ever read. Interesting from start to finish. You did a wonderful job. Best of luck in the future.

  10. I am glad you got a new editor. Really enjoyed the story but my jaw is sore from gritting my teeth at all the errors. I thought who ever typed this was blind and couldn’t speak english. My apology just incase you typed this.

  11. I have to agree about the errors and grammar, however I wonder if some of these are not the result of the dreaded “spellchecker”! It does make for a tough read sometimes l, especially with the similar names Jack and Jake being confusing at times.

  12. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I’m glad you have found a new editor as well. I have read other books of yours that were proof read much better. Still all and all it was a very good book.

  13. Hi, I can only agree with what everyone has said, the book was wonderful but the spelling, missing words, wrong words, etc were the worst I have ever seen… One line (when a man jumped on his “house”) made me laugh, there were many more like it throughout your book. Hopefully now you have a new editor things will improve. A great read spoiled only by these mistakes…….. 👌👍

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