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A Memoir of The Notorious Fountain Murders of New Mexico

The San Augustin

Mary Armstrong

Jesús continues imparting his memoir journey, hoping to find solace, and understanding about the events that led to his uncle’s and young cousin’s heinous murders. His coming-of-age story reveals the trials, tribulations, and torment of an adolescent’s life as he attempts to claw his way to manhood while discovering life and love and excelling in the legal arena. His uncle, Colonel Albert J. Fountain, continues to mentor Jesús, drawing from his legendary court tactics and antics.

But along with the tutelage comes a budding awareness of the not so pleasant things that go along with the Colonel’s notoriety as one of the most sought-after lawyers in the Southwest.

Book Excerpt or Article

I proceeded to tell Miles about Lucia’s letter, and Carlos, and about how I figured the only solution was to marry her. He listened closely and didn’t say a word.

“Don’t you have anything to say to me?” I asked.

“Seems as though you have made up your mind.”

I put my hands over my face and tried to clear the whiskey fog from my brain. “Well, I wouldn’t have come here if that were so. I know you and everyone else has told me we are too young, but I can’t risk losing her. Why did you get married?”

“Which time? Been married three times, four if you count the first — we just shared bed and board.”

While Miles scratched his ear in thought, I was astounded to hear anyone could be married that many times.

“Lookin’ back, it’s all so clear now,” he began. “The first one was for beauty — and a’course she was havin’ my baby. Inga was her name. My oh my, what a beautiful young Scandinavian thing she was!” Miles looked above my head as he remembered her before shaking himself back to the present. “Inga died in childbirth. The second was for money — and motherin’ my daughter.” He paused in thought. “Ya know, Jesús, cash, and motherin’ make up for a lot of homeliness. Berta left me when she realized I just wanted her money and my daughter cared for. The third — I imagine you are shocked at how many women I’ve had. Anyway, the third was Meg. I married her for the respect I got from her father being the governor of Illinois and because I still needed a mother for my daughter. Meg died of typhoid.”

“What about the fourth? Are you still married to her?”

Miles held up a finger, signaling patience. “After Meg died, I came west with my daughter and didn’t take an interest in marrying again. When I got here, my little girl was turning into a young woman and so, instead of looking for a wife, I hired a young Mexican woman to watch over her and help her through those horrible things girls go through.”

I still wasn’t sure what ‘horrible things girls go through’ was about.

“Anyway, I hired on Carmela to live with us and take care of my daughter and the household. She was young herself, no more than twenty, but I could see early on that we could talk to each other without our emotions interferin’ — you know what I mean?” My expression must have revealed a lack of understanding, for he continued, “No, I suppose you don’t. Maybe it was because I was her boss ... no, that wasn’t it ... you know, Jesús, you have forced me to think about this and I honestly haven’t considered the whys for our relationship. I just know it’s as close to perfect as it can be. I also know it’s because she brings out the best in me ... and I think she would say I do the same for her ... and that’s another thing, I could never know that about any of the other women I was with.” He shook his head in wonderment. “It’s magical, Jesús, but it took time, and the only reason I let it take the time was that I needed her to work for me. You see, all those other things that go with being married didn’t get in the way. Ya know, folks would probably misunderstand this, but it’s a lot like having a best friend. You would never lie to them and you would trust them to the core, and you could talk to them about anything, and they would just listen ... and somehow know what you were feelin’ and the sharin’ ... life is hard, Jesús and having someone that close to you makes it a lot easier.”

Miles played with the large locomotive nut paperweight on his desk. I was about to thank him because, while he hadn’t given me a straight answer, I felt like I knew what he was talking about. I started to thank him, but before I could say anything, he started again, elated by realizing why and how his relationship with Carmela was perfect. “Jesús, I probably didn’t answer you directly and I know you are probably experiencin’ wondrous things in your drawers and ... and well, I’m sure folk has told you not to lay with your girl before marriage but, Jesús, I just have to tell you that before Carmela the release of that white fluid was just a thing I had to do. It didn’t matter who or what I used.” He looked out the window at the back of the shop as darkness enveloped the little town. When he looked back at me, his eyes were glassy with emotion. “That all changed with Carmela and ... and it’s just a beautiful thing now ... and sometimes we talk about it after and share what it meant to us.” I thought he had finished, and I opened my mouth to thank him, but again he started. “And my daughter? You know I love her, and she has moved on and is married herself, but our little boy? Robby is the result of love. I see it in his little face and I feel it in my heart every day when I look at him.”

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Mary, her husband Norman ‘Skip’ Bailey moved to the heart of one of the ‘Two Valleys’ in Las Cruces New Mexico from the Boston metro area in 2010. Their Cavachon child-dog, Java joined them in 2014. Mary’s journey to the release of “The Mesilla” in 2021 was the culmination of a fascination with the life and death of Colonel Albert J. Fountain and his young son. As she became more familiar with the area, she noticed a barely below the surface grating dislike between “The Two Valleys” and the saga to discover the root of this discord led her to “The Two Valleys Saga.”
Mary has diverse interests but has focused on historical fiction over the last ten years. Her writing is fast-moving, thought-provoking and with just enough wordsmithing to satisfy your artistic hankerings. Since retiring from a diverse career in various planning and design fields, she has devoted herself to writing, being a good spouse, serving her dog Java, and slipping away to the golf course when unchained to the desk.
When asked where her writing comes from, she replied, “I haven’t done it all and I may have done too much. Life is full of stories. All you have to do is live them.”

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