There was no pattern to days here, the ranch work itself seemed haphazard, sporadic and at best occasional. Siesta times ran on into early evening with cow-hands and farm workers appearing and disappearing throughout the day. Everybody was however fed on a regular basis, outside in the evenings, under the sun porch at lunch time and breakfast was an open running buffet in the kitchen. There was a general air about the place of us all waiting for something to happen.. That something was very much dependant on Ernesto as the eldest son and the eventual ranch owner, once this generation had petered out. His father Raol made no secret of this, now approaching sixty, still in good health and with a perpetual twinkle from the soul into the eye he had no long term appetite for the ranch and looked forward to passing the burden on. Of course Ernesto was not looking to accept this responsibility and that was a regular source of wine induced friction.
The next morning I awoke suddenly aware of a commotion out in the yard through the thin glass of the bedroom window. A white and black police prowler was parked outside, its crew in a deep and noisy discussion with Raol. Then I heard their heavy feet clump across the floor of the house and doors slamming and more voices raised. There has been a burglary. I dressed quickly and orbited the group of four of five people who were discussing the crime. The policemen had their note books out and their one radio was cackling. I had the feeling that not much progress was being made by any party as the hot mixture of anger and shock felt by the householders congealed into something solid.
After a short time it became clear that two antique shot guns had been taken, some cash and
Some jewellery. The shot guns had the most monetary and sentimental value and were still working firearms. They had looked down, crossed like the cross of Andrew from above the study fireplace and Raol was infuriated and frustrated by their loss. He was also in the process of blaming several neighbours for their theft, based on fall-outs, land boundary issues and cracked conversations that had occurred sometime over the last thirty years. The police were of course reluctant to follow up this line of enquiry until they had understood the full nature of the burglary and gathered any proper evidence. Ernesto was acting, as best as he could as peacemaker between the parties.
The guns themselves were fine pieces, or at least had been. European in origin, well crafted and probably from the middle of the last century, quite prize and not something that any, strange or purely opportunistic burglar would have expected to find. It did strike me that local knowledge and planning were involved. And Raol was particularly keen to pursue this point rather than watch them slowly pick across the means of entry, damaged window shutters, footprints in the yard dust or anything else that might have been broken or disturbed. Eventually Raol was wheeled away by Ernesto and the police got on with their work. Ernesto flashed a knowing wink, “we may have to wait a few days until this matter is resolved.”