In my last post, I told how I had a title (Death and the Deep Blue Sea) stuck in my head and how a story grew from that small seed. Well that was not the only time it happened. Another time this title got stuck in there, The Treasure of Arroyo Seco and again a story grew from that seed. Unlike the last story, though, I know exactly where this title came from, more or less anyway.
I am a member of a group that helps preserve land in my town and now and then we also help clean up parks in the area. One day we were working in Arroyo Verde park which is a large property full of hiking trails. You can see the Pacific Ocean from most points of view since it sits up on a foothill. It was hot and dry that day due to the Santa Ana winds being out in full force. It was while I was chasing down a wild plastic bag that the phrase Arroyo Seco came to mind. I had no idea what it meant, but it sounded good. My mind wandered as I picked up the human debris left behind by careless picnickers and as it did it batted the phrase around and somehow the entire title came to me. Now what to do with it? It had a nice lilt to it and I know it was very similar to the great Bogart film The Treasure of Sierra Madre so I thought maybe it would make a nice story–of some sort.
At the time, Detective Anderson did not exist but I was writing a lot of romance stories so I thought that maybe I could do something with this title in that realm. The idea of having the story set in the old west interested me since that would be a first for me. I have read many volumes of Zane Grey’s work and as great as it all is, he never handled relationships between men and women very well. So I thought that maybe I could one up the master in that area.
With that in mind, I set a lonely cowboy, who thought he was running from the law, on a wild ride south of the border to escape the perceived posses that were out to get him. Along the way he stumbles upon a dying hombre and shares with him the last dregs of his water. While the old man lay dying, he hands our hero a map and says something to him in Spanish which he did not understand. When the man finally died, our hero buried him with dignity then set out to find water in a barren desert wasteland.
On the edge of death, he see a village in the distance, he thinks, so by laying on his trusty horse, he makes for it. Finally, he can go no longer and sliding from his saddle, he falls into a pit of darkness. Of course, he wakes up, that part of the plot was a given, but what would he wake up to? Would he find himself chasing a gold mine like Bogie did? No, that would be plagiarism no matter how much I spun it. So what would be the real treasure? Since this story was destined to be a romance, there could only be one true treasure and that would be love.
He wakes up to the stunningly beautiful face of Raquel Deseo which made him think he died and went to Heaven when he really was in a village called Arroyo Seco, which I later discovered meant “dry creek”. So who is Raquel Deseo? In the story, she is a peasant living in a town that is dying of thirst and she is the daughter of the man our hero tried to save. In real life, she is my friend Raquel who is just as beautiful as she is described in the story. Deseo is Spanish for “desire”.
I wanted to add some realistic touches to the story, so I thought I would start his awakening moments with a conversation between Raquel and her mother with the entire narrative being in Spanish. My real life friend Raquel consented to translating my words and thus became the love interest of my lonesome cowboy.
In the end Raquel falls in love him him, they figure out what her father was trying to say about the map, and so they eventually save the town.
This story will soon be added to my collection of work, Angel and the Bear.