Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 571
The twelve-year-old narrator retells a story that his friend Felipe told him shortly after Felipe and his brother Antonio shot a New Mexico state police officer. The narrator says that Felipe was not a bad person, but was a little wild. Several years older than the narrator, whom he has taken hunting and fishing, Felipe is a former marine who served in the Korean War and has now returned to the reservation.
Felipe tells his story within a story in a serious, sad manner, because he wants the narrator always to remember it. He blames the shooting on the wine he and Antonio had been drinking. They had come to town and were accosted by Luis Baca, who patrolled the state highway near the reservation and who had previously arrested and beaten Felipe. Baca tells the brothers to get out of town, although they are causing no trouble. As they drive back to the reservation in their pickup, Baca passes them in his patrol car and laughs at them.
After following Baca for some distance, Antonio suddenly speeds up and forces Baca’s car off the road into a shallow ditch. While Baca struggles to get his car back on the road, Antonio makes a U-turn and passes back by the patrol car. After another U-turn, they pass by again, taunting Baca. By now, Baca has managed to get his car back on the highway, and he follows the brothers with siren blaring. While Felipe gets out his rifle and cartridges, Antonio turns off the state highway and onto a dirt road running through the reservation, Indian land where Baca has no jurisdiction. That does not stop his pursuit. Antonio drives to a remote area of the reservation near Black Mesa with Baca following, although now at a considerable distance.
The brothers park the pickup behind junipers, which shield it from the road. They get out, find a place where they cannot be seen, and wait in ambush. When Baca slows because of a narrow spot in the road, Felipe begins firing. Although he cannot see Baca because of the sun’s glare in the windshield, he aims at the windshield where the steering wheel would be. Felipe fires four times, hitting the windshield with three of the shots. The car stops and Baca gets out slowly. “He called something like he was crying. ’Compadre,’ he said. He held up his right hand and reached to us. There was blood on his neck and shoulder.” In a gesture of surrender, the wounded Baca tries to unbuckle his pistol belt, but Felipe fires again, hitting him in the belly and knocking him back a step against his patrol car. A final shot to the head drops Baca to the ground.
The brothers approach Baca, who is still alive and moving. Antonio removes Baca’s service revolver from its holster and shoots Baca with his own pistol. As Felipe describes it, Baca made a feeble gurgle like a sick cat and then went to hell.
Felipe tells the young narrator that he knows he will be caught and that he will probably die in the electric chair at the state prison near Santa Fe. He has no doubt that Antonio will be caught too. The narrator does not really believe Felipe’s story until a few days later when he hears his parents talking about it and is convinced that it is true.