Two hundred miles north of Phoenix in the north eastern part of Arizona is a town of 2,000 people: Called Concho by most or Old Concho or Concho Valley – the neighboring town is St. Johns where George’s father, Almighty, was left behind one night fifty-five years ago when his grandmother, Margarita, who was the cook and housekeeper for the Thompson’s ranch in St. John’s, died from the polio virus. Margarita called her beautiful son Almighty even though he was named, Juanito by his father. Margarita renamed Juanito as she was certain he was a gift from God as he kept her life going. Everything Margarita did was for the Almighty God in her brain, for the Almighty son in front of her, and the invisible one on the cross as the Almighty’s, or any Almighty had become her purpose, her cross to bear to take care of and give thanks to as any one of them was a memory of her husband. The golden cross that she kissed hundreds of times a day as it swung from the front of her dress was a wedding gift from the senior Juanito. The cross clung to her skin in the dry heat and reflected a point of light when she was in the fields chasing prairie dogs. When she succumbed to the virus with the last dust particle in her laughter and waterless kiss to her human Almighty, she gave him her cross. Her lips were dry. Her eyes closed. The Almighty son took the gold from his heavy knuckled mother, kissed it then when he was 14-years old gambled it away in a card game to a rancher twice his age. An hour later he stole it back after he watched the winner stiff it into his jacket pocket. The Almighty son had the money and Margarita’s cross and as he put it on his neck for a second time, he swore he would wear it to his grave and that he would make her proud of her son the Almighty.
Concho is a drive through the plains of the White Mountains. It doubles the vision for the weary-eyed traveler and for the locals who use Route 61 as a connection through a Concho, to St. Johns trip. It is a landscape of dry golden whistles of dead cowboys. Concho dips and rises into green hills that show life from fifty miles away. Visible, is the Thompson ranch which is an old rusted pot on a dirt road location. Fenced in by one-hundred year old tree trunks and wire mesh it now belongs to the Almighty son and his George. George, the son of the Almighty who never kissed the cross around his neck instead gave homage to the Mexican horse reins and American Indian arrow heads. The Thompsons promised Margarita that if they had remained childless when they died they would give the ranch to her Almighty son. And so the Almighty who was not on the cross, and had not kissed the cross, grew into the owner and rancher at the base of the White Mountains.
It is cold this morning in Concho at the base of the mountains. As the early sun performs with morning glory’s opening in red around the ranch posts, three horses, including George’s Mustang, shook their manes in anticipation of flies from the heat. Here, cedar rocks from lava deposits own driveways. Orange and sun baked maroon stones that were chipped away like old fossils; keep the mud from entering holes in the soles of an old man’s boots.
The golden cross, and the Almighty son, had become inseparable. In Arizona, turquoise is the bouillabaisse and potpourri of gem consciousness. The poor workers like Tony, among the poorer workers who can’t write English, graze in the black night sky as the light from the stars and planets Venus and Saturn, beep and flash at them. Horses and cows sleep and hired help dream into vodka, Miller beer, and whatever they can get cheap at Wal-Mart. Prayers are made in the belief that their dead mothers will hear them and the grown up children of the worn will be heard. Drinking in the cold nights helps their frozen hands disappear into believing that their dreams will happen. When the sun fades as the earth moves without shaking, the broken hearted and drunken workers rejoice at the impending peace. The drifting sun and the slow dry baking of their skin toward the bridging sunset have been set into motion. The sounds of hooves have now stopped. The signs are everywhere. The day ends and the lives of the migrant worker can now begin.