“As I was saying,” Navarre said, breathing a little heavily, “the gold was everywhere—nuggets the size of muskmelons, gold dust in drifts, dunes of it like anthills. On a large anvil, I saw the misshapen coins and lumpy ingots of a small forging operation that stretched farther back into the mountain, lost from sight.
I won’t lie. I plunged my hands into the nearest heap up to my shoulders. I’d been galumphing in rain and muck all day. All I wanted was to roll around in all that dust till it stuck to me like breadcrumbs on a rainbow.
If somebody had piled up this much gold in a cave, there must be mountains of it still out there. Rivers of it, just waiting. Enough gold for me to tell Greeley to go hang. Enough to buy the Tribune out from under him and rouse the whole world with it. Enough to buy out Sutter and give his blamed valley back to the Miwoks, to buy off every American soldier on Mexican soil and—
Mexican soil. Oh, shit.
In a flash, I saw it as if I were there. I saw the Guadalupe-Hidalgo estate, the generals and their secretaries gross from last night’s capons, fingers too sticky from the morning’s pastry to hold their pens upright, signing it away, signing it all away.
Forget the gold. I had to warn Mexico now, be it a thousand miles away…
TO BE CONTINUED,— NAY, ALREADY CONTINUING
Artwork by Jacquelyn Campaña.
David Kipen is the founder of the nonprofit Libros Schmibros Lending Library in Boyle Heights, a lecturer on the UCLA faculty, and a Critic-at-Large of the LA Times. His Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters will be published Fall 2018 by Modern Library. The Américas will be his first novel, and he welcomes your kibitzing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright: © 2017 David Kipen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/