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For All Nails Pt 138a: Broken Regiment

June 1, 1949

Prescott's Point
Angel Island 
California[FN1]

,,,,the Jap flak tore through the big airmobile's windscreen like a fist
through paper. Arango's chest exploded like pink mist as glass slashed through
the building and Walker felt a blow like a punch to his side. He grabbed the
stick in front of him, slick with his pilot's lifeblood, the sight of Niigata
in flames below and the screams of his aircrew behind him blended into a
symphony of pain-"

Walker Bush[FN2] felt a hand on his shoulder and nearly tore the man's arm off.
"Shit!" He spun around. "Dan...don't do that again...wouldn't be prudent." He
straightened his uniform. It didn't do for the town's new sheriff to fight with
his chief deputy in the middle of his office just as the tourist season was
getting full-bodied. There was a reason he'd used his father's name to the
town's mayor, a reason he'd invoked his family for the first time since he'd
gone off to the Air Corps camp in Santa Fe. If he failed here, it was back to
the big house in Jefferson City, or his father's in the Federal District, an
emptiness that felt louder than an artillery shell's scream. 

Daniel Ortega pulled his left hand back. He'd left his right hand somewhere on
the banks of the Amur, along with the Japanese soldier who'd shot it off when
the Mexicans and Siberians first took Manchuria. "Sorry, jefe." Resentment
flashed briefly in his eyes at the word, deliberately obsequious. When Bush had
become sheriff six months earlier, he'd taken Ortega into his office and asked
him if he resented losing the sheriff's job. _Resent? I spend six years pulling
drunk sailors out of bars, keeping the sons of federal bureaucrats from going
blind on methanol, and not punching in the face of punks who call me "Hook" and
the job goes to a flyboy from Jefferson City whose father is a college buddy of
Silva's cousin? No, why on Earth would I resent that?_ "Juarez was on the
radio, he says they found that girl the fumcrano [FN3] reported missing last
night, out on Hermoin where the man said." Ortega paused. "He sounded
very...upset." 

"That's...not good." Vincent Juarez had been a leatherneck before a shell
fragment had taken his eye three years before. The Marine island-hopping
campaign didn't make for soft men. Bush and Juarez had once pulled a high North
American tourist with a knife off a whore he'd been working on for about half
an hour. Bush had smashed the man, an ex-journalist named Thompson, over the
top of the head and thrown him in the back of the locomobile before throwing up
on the newly-paved road outside. Juarez had helped his boss back into the loke,
driven them both back, and worked Thompson over until the bastard was asking to
confess. Bush sighed and threw down his pen. "Let's go." 

The air outside the station was what Bush had come to expect from the tourist
town founded by his great-great uncle; a mix of loke exhaust, fried-banana and
popcorn stands, human sweat, and finally the sand and sea, the two great
constants of his life the last few years. The Walker Bush of 1943 was a man he
could barely recognize; twenty years old and fresh out of Hamilton, so damn
Anglo he could barely speak Spanish and hadn't seen anyone darker than a light
bronze outside of his maid and butler. Basic training had killed that man, and
crashing his burning bomber into the sea and spending two nights watching the
sharks slowly pick off his aircrew before the _Greene_ found him, well, that
had buried him. 

Ortega weaved the loke through the crowd on the streets; the usual even mix of
cherry-red tourists from Jefferson and Mexico and the north, "locals" from as
far away as Durango and Guadalajara, and grey-clad soldiers and sailors in blue
>from the base at the southern tip of the island. One of the young soldiers
caught his eye; he'd been about that age when he'd first gone off to war.
_Madre de Dios, let these boys stay home with their mothers and girlfriends._
He turned to his boss to share the sentiment and saw the man lost in thought,
as usual. _Damn it!_, he cursed and sped up a little. In a fight, in an
interrogation, in an active investigation, Bush was good for a new fish. But
let him sit without a job to do for ten minutes, especially around Mexicanos,
and there he goes._

It had never occured to Bush that being the son of a monied Jefferson family,
that being Anglo back to the Rocky Mountain War, that getting into the Air
Corps thanks to his father's contacts, would pose a problem for relating to
others. Not until his bunkmates had been an impoverished Hispano from Alaska,
an ex-slave from Chiapas, and a full-blooded Maya from a town in Yucatan that
had never seen a loke. _A great way to learn about class. Not to mention
race..._ And here he was, the Anglo sheriff with an all-Mexicano deputy force,
in a town that went from 5,000 fishermen and shopkeepers to 30,000 tourists in
the summer, though hopefully more now that the fighting had stopped.[FN4] Maybe
someday he'd manage to talk to them outside of work. 

The big loke headed its way down a military road that hadn't been repaired
since the day the asphalt was laid down in 1942, and then up over a sand dune
to Benito Hermoin Beach, which hadn't had more than a few (legal) swimmers
since the war began. That's what had made it so very attractive to the
marihuana users over the years; mostly wounded veterans and high-school and
college girls missing their men at war. Juarez was standing at the top of the
next dune. The blood on his hands wasn't surprising; his usually dark face
flushed white was not. "Sheriff! Dan! Over here!" He waved vigorously, and both
men came running. 

Bush stopped at the head of the dune and looked down. The girl was on the sand.
The sun was high overhead, shading sharp colors onto the beach below. The water
was blue. The sand was white. And the body was red. And pink. And black. A crab
scuttled past a hand, a seagull looked up from investigating a broken skull,
something red in its beak. 

"This was no boating accident..."[FN5]




[FN1] Walker's Point is located on what is in OTL Isla Angel de la Guarda, in
the Gulf of California. 
[FN2] Ah, sweet inbreeding.
[FN3] An archiac bit of slang to up-to-date FANers in the swinging '70s, this
is an older regional term for a marihuana addict. 
[FN4] Tourism has, of course, gone quite a bit down thanks to the war, but Bush
family contacts have made Angel Island the ideal place for that class of people
who have money and leisure, war or no. 
[FN5] Okay, keep in mind my lack of reference materials here: How was it?