The Hundredth Meridian

A Border Surprise

In the Year of Our Lord 1878, on the sixth day of the sixth month of the year, was born to one Augustín Arango and his wife, Micaela Arambula, humble peasants on the Rancho de la Loyotada in Durango State, Republic of Mexico, a son, Doroteo, known to posterity as Francisco "Pancho" Villa: social bandit, indefatigable warrior, military genius, and savior of his country. In his honor, the Hijos de Pancho Villa assemble yearly on the anniversary of the hero's birth in the town of Namiquipa, Chihuahua State, to celebrate the legacy passed down by its owner to his proud descendants, real as well as imagined. Héctor Villa would sooner have absented himself from an election in which George W. Bush was on the ballot than miss the occasion, himself.

Only this year, there were problems to overcome. Several, such as the high cost of gasoline, were relatively small and of little account. Others, such as the opening of the annual convention of the Border Lands Association of Artificial Intelligence Service Professionals in Tucson, on the morning of June 9, were more troublesome. (Though, owing possibly to its unpronounceable and highly forgettable acronym, BLAAISP was usually so ill attended as to be hardly worth bothering with. Héctor was a firm believer that failure to present oneself at associational meetings amounted to an un-American, as well as unprofessional, lapse.) Far more serious were the...

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