(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Juvencio Nava cries out, “Tell them not to kill me!,” pleading with his son, Justino, to help him. Juvencio, who is in his sixties, has just been arrested for a crime he had committed thirty-five or forty years earlier. At first, Justino is reluctant to interfere, fearing that the police or the soldiers may arrest him too or even shoot him. Then there will be no one left to care for his wife and children. He finally relents and offers to see what he can do to assist his father.

As he waits, tied to a post, Juvencio recalls the past events that led up to his present predicament and circumstances. Years earlier he killed Don Lupe, his neighbor and the landowner in the areas of Alima and Puerta de Piedras. The two men had been feuding over grazing and water rights during a particularly dry spell. Don Lupe refused to let Juvencio’s animals graze on his property. After several warnings, Don Lupe finally killed one of Juvencio’s animals for wandering onto his land. In retaliation, Juvencio killed Don Lupe.

Juvencio then bribed the judge to release him and bribed the posse not to follow him, but they came after him anyway. He finally escaped and went into hiding with his son in Palo de Venado. He later learned that Don Lupe’s widow had soon died; their two small children had been sent far away to live with relatives. Therefore, Juvencio thought that he might be relatively safe and that the incident would gradually be forgotten. He still lived in fear of detection, however, hiding out or going on the run whenever he heard that outsiders or strangers were in the area.

Meanwhile, Juvencio’s son grew up, married a woman named Ignacia, and fathered eight children. Juvencio’s own wife abruptly left him one day, but he dared not go searching for her because he still feared capture. He did not want to leave his hiding place to go into town. All he had left to save was his own life. He thought and hoped that...

(The entire section is 793 words.)