Sunday, October 23, 2016

WheN LeAves cHangE CoLor and the PUeBLo rEvOLt

Figure One - Painting from buffalo hide depicting Pueblo Revolt of 1680. 
Most  Americans believe the American Revolutionary War of 1776 was the first revolutionary war in the United States, but there was one that was much older, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Let me give you a summary of what happened.   

When the original Spanish conquistadors explored what would become New Mexico and Colorado in the late 1500s, tensions between the Spaniards and Pueblo Indians were palpable. The Spaniards had new and dazzling items that the Pueblo Indians could use and covet while the Indians had more than enough land and minerals to share with the Spaniards.

As the years advanced, the tension between the Pueblo Indians and the Spanish settlers rose.
As new Spanish settlers arrived in the New Mexico territory, they brought more cattle and an increased hunger for land and minerals. Then, the weather gods struck. At the beginning of 1660, a long sustained drought swept across New Mexico. Rivers dwindled into streams, and streams became dry washes. Winds carried desert sand high into the brown skies. Cattle suffered and crops failed. Famine swept across
Figure Two - Po'pay unveiled at
U.S. capitol. Cliff Fragua (artist).  
the Pueblo Indian nation. At the same time, raids on the Pueblo Indians from nomadic Indian marauders became more frequent and daring. The Spaniards provided little relief for the Pueblo Indians who expected the Spaniards to help them. Disease soon followed famine and in 1671 an epidemic killed many people and most of the remaining cattle.

The Pueblo Indians were highly religious. With drought and famine set upon them, they wondered why their gods were punishing them. Perhaps, they were being punished because of the Spaniards? The Spaniards were pushing to convert the Pueblo Indians from what the Spaniards thought was paganism to Christianity and Catholicism. The Spaniards went about this conversion by expunging the symbols and beliefs of the Pueblo Indian's religion. The destruction of the sacred Pueblo kivas and kachina masks in the Spanish-led purge in 1661 added to the growing discontent of the Pueblo Indians.        

By 1675, tensions between the Pueblo Indians and the Spaniards became insurmountable. Governor Juan Francisco Treviño ordered the arrest of forty-seven Pueblo medicine men, charging them with sorcery. The Spaniards convicted four of the medicine men to death. The Spaniards hung three of these men while the remaining medicine man took his own life. The Spaniards publically flogged the rest of the medicine men before sentencing them to jail. 
Outraged, the Pueblo Indians moved against the Spanish capital city of Santa Fe and forced the governor to release the surviving medicine men from jail. The Spaniards knew one of these medicine men as Po'pay. In the eyes of the Pueblo Indians, Po'pay was powerful magic. After his release from jail, Po'pay took up residence at Taos Pueblo. For the next five years, Po'pay and others planned the destruction of the Spaniards. 

Figure Three - Map of key Pueblos at
beginning of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.  
Po'pay accomplished something that no other Pueblo Indian had ever done before. Po'pay united the separate nations of the Pueblo Indians. Most of the estimated sixty or more pueblos had fewer than four hundred individuals with a couple of pueblos have two thousand or more people. Each pueblo lived more or less autonomously. Po'pay created a coordinated and united front within the Pueblo Indians against the advanced weaponry and horses of the Spaniards.  

On August 10, 1680, the

Pueblo Revolt began.

My novel WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR commences thirty days prior to the start of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. In the scene below, a rich Spanish landowner named Juan Pablo Ortega is attempting to convince the Spanish government of New Mexico that they have pushed the Pueblo Indians too far. Here is how that went.  
The date was July 9, of the year 1680. The location was the province of Nuevo México, or New Mexico, in the provincial capital of Santa Fe. A distinguished elderly man with a white beard sat in an overly ornate chair in the provincial governor’s office. The massive chair dwarfed the white-bearded man, who sat across an opulent desk from Señor Governor Antonio De Otermín, the Spanish ruler over all of New Mexico. The governor had personally handled all of the details of decorating his spacious office. Governor Otermín imported from Spain the hand-carved chairs and the massive oak desk he sat behind, a far and costly journey for mere pieces of furniture. The white-bearded man was holding onto the last thread of his temper, taking out most of his pent-up anger on the wide brimmed sombrero twisting in his hands. His face could not disguise his frustration and fury as the governor continued to talk down to him, as if he were a child. Sitting to the right of the white-bearded man was another government bureaucrat, a man named Francisco Xavier, the arrogant Secretary of War. The white-bearded man had just concluded another intense argument with the governor. The old man’s face was flushed with anger, a stark contrast to his ghost-white beard. The governor sat smugly behind the king-sized desk, knowing that he made all of the final decisions related to the running of the province. Señor Governor Otermín glared at the white-bearded man with an expression somewhere between dislike and calloused indifference.

The white-bearded man was not going to give up easily. He circled around for another attempt at convincing the governor of his original argument. “Señor governor, we must allow the Indios de Pueblo the freedom to practice their beliefs…their religion, without interference from the Franciscan priests—”

“Señor Ortega, you are very wrong on this issue!” Secretary Francisco Xavier interrupted the white-bearded man. “We cannot let these people decide their religion for themselves! What they have is not a religion. The Indios de Pueblo do not even believe in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. How can you call what they have a religion when it does not include our Savior? What they have is nothing more than pagan rituals. The Indios believe in many gods, not one God! Our God! The priests…our priests are attempting to convert them to the right belief, that there is only one almighty God…our God…my God, señor.”
Juan Pablo Ortega avoided looking at Secretary Francisco Xavier. Juan Pablo had traveled to Santa Fe and the Governor’s Palace to meet with the governor, not one of the many lackeys the governor had surrounding him.

“The Indios de Pueblo are suffering from starvation and they need protection from the other tribes who are preying on them,” Juan Pablo continued. “Perhaps if we helped them with food and protection, they would be more open to looking at other religious beliefs.”

“My dear Juan Pablo,” Señor Governor Otermín jumped back into the debate, unable to disguise his contempt for Juan Pablo Ortega. “When the King of Spain gave this land to me…gave this land for me to rule over, one of my goals was to civilize the Indios. The only way to civilize them is to convert them to the one true religion, Catholicism. This is what the King of Spain intends for me to do and this is what I shall accomplish. I do not care if the Indios de Pueblo are hungry, in fact, this only makes them more dependent on me. I do not care if the Apache and the Comanche raid the pueblos. This only makes the Indios de Pueblo more dependent on me. This is exactly the way I planned it.”

I think you get the picture. The Pueblo Revolt throws the family of Juan Pablo Ortega into the raging fires of war. You will have to read WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR to find out what happens to the Ortega Family AND to New Mexico. You will be surprised at the outcome of this story.  

Figure four - WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR by John Bradford Branney


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Bartender in CLOCK STRIKES THREE, a John Bradford Branney Novel

Figure One - Lloyd, the creepy bartender from the movie The Shining.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) confided in Lloyd. Big mistake.  
How many of you have ever befriended a bartender? Okay, how many of you have confided in a bartender, told them some of your more personal information? Have you asked your bartending "consigliere" their advice on important decisions in your life? Okay, hands up…let me do a  count….hold up your hands high if you have befriended a bartender and confided in them…

Yep, you over there! There's one. How about you? Did you befriend a bartender or are you scratching your nose? Yep, okay. You...and you in the front row and you in the back row, that’s right, you! Yep, there are quite a few people in the audience who have confided in a bartender. It may have something to do with the tongue-lubricating liquor served in these establishments.      

When it comes to discussing important issues in our lives, most of us would rather consult family, friends, or maybe a close coworker. However, as you can see from the show of hands, some people confide in their bartenders. These same people may not have friends or family to confide, or perhaps, they are too embarrassed to confide with friends or family, or perhaps, they have just become friends with the bartender. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bouncing ideas off your local bartender.     

During my own lifetime, I have frequented many bars and drank at the bar while watching a sports event or conversing with friends, but I have never befriended or confided in a bartender. I am a very private person, that might have something to do with it. My father was the exact opposite. He owned vending machines, such as pinball machines, bowling machines, candy machines and cigarette machines. He put many of them in bars and businesses around several towns. He would get to know the bartenders since in many cases they were his customers. There were a few of these bartenders I remember my father actually quoting and talking about. I am sure he reciprocated and spoke to them about what was going on in his life.   

Figure Two - Sam Malone from the TV comedy,
Cheers. Everyone trusted Sam.
In my most recent book entitled CLOCK STRIKES THREE, my main character, a young man named Joey Gellar, befriended a bartender, an ex-police detective named Hank. Joey had a pretty tough upbringing and so far, life had dished out some pretty rough times for Joey Gellar. In the passage below, taken from my book CLOCK STRIKES THREE, Joey just entered his friend’s bar and is instantly interrogated by Hank, the bartender and owner of the bar. Joey has to explain to his much older bartender friend why he was seeing a psychiatrist. I will catch you on the other side of the dialogue.

            “How are you, Joey?” Hank welcomed his friend and patron. “You are a little early to begin drinking today. Did your boss let you off early?”

“I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and decided not to go back to work,” Joey explained.

“Doctor’s appointment?” Hank queried. “Hope everything is all right, amigo.”

“Yeah, the judge ordered me to go to a doctor as part of my sentence.”

Hank looked confused. “The judge sent you to a doctor?” he asked. “Are you talking about the legal issue you had with those bikers?”

“Yep,” Joey declared and then added, “Double shot of Early Times.”

Hank turned around and retrieved the bottle of bourbon from the counter. He turned around with the bottle and fetched a fresh glass. “Rocks or neat?” he asked Joey.


Hank poured and handed the glass to Joey. “The judge has you going to a doctor?” Hank repeated his question, his curiosity mounting.


“What is the doctor supposed to do?” Hank asked with tongue in cheek. “Remove your head from your ass?” 

“Ha, ha, Hank, aren’t you funny?”

“Seriously,” Hank said with a grin. “Why would the judge send you to a doctor? It makes no sense. Did you get a hernia lifting those Ferrari wheels?”

Embarrassed by the questioning, Joey downed the double shot of bourbon instead of answering. Hank stood behind the bar, his arms braced against the counter, waiting for Joey to reveal the mystery. “Those bikers hurt you or something?” he probed. 

 Finally, Joey felt enough pressure to get Hank off his back. “All right,” he mumbled, barely above a whisper. “The judge thought it would be a good idea if I went to a psychiatrist. Now, are you satisfied that I answered your question?”

“HA! HA! HA! HA!” Hank burst into laughter loud enough to raise the heads of the two drunks in the corner, temporarily, at least.  

“C’mon, Hank, quit laughing!” Joey implored. “It ain’t funny!”  

“HA! HA! HA! Bullshit, it ain’t funny!” Hank roared. Finally, Hank calmed down long enough to ask Joey for confirmation, “Let me get this straight, young one, the judge ordered psychiatric treatment for you? What does he think the bikers screwed your noggin up or something?”

The questioning embarrassed Joey. He wanted to scream. Joey did not need any more questions or critiques from the peanut gallery. He felt insecure enough without Hank’s help. Finally, Joey answered the question in a very measured tone of voice. “The judge thought my bad childhood messed me up or something like that,” Joey recalled. “He told me I was a magnet for bad people and trouble. He thought that a psychiatrist could help me deal with my bad childhood and help me figure out why I attract so much trouble.”

“I am sorry, kid,” Hank apologized, suddenly very solemn.

In CLOCK STRIKES THREE, the relationship between Joey and his psychiatrist is something that Joey and Bartender Hank have to revisit often. Hank always looks out for Joey and Hank does not like what is going on with the psychiatrist's treatment. Hank does not mince words when expressing his concerns to Joey. How does this triangular relationship between patient, doctor and bartender work out? You won't believe it if I told you. You are just going to have to read CLOCK STRIKES THREE to find out for yourself.

In the meantime, you can order CLOCK STRIKES THREE on the link below. Please enjoy. Above are some bartenders you just might remember.

CLICK for CloCK sTrikeS THree