The majestic Santa Catalina Mountains predominate the desert landscape of Tucson, Arizona. Dubbed “La Iglesia,” the Church, by the Spanish soldiers stationed at the Royal Presidio of Tucson in the late 1770’s, the Santa Catalinas are revered for their beauty, their ruggedness and their potential dangers. These mountains glow in pinkish hues as the setting sun shines its last rays upon them for the day and, above them in the summers, mighty monsoons form and lash out their thunderous fury upon the land. The Santa Catalinas played as much a central character in the history of the region as Man.
I, Venetia Hobson Lewis, am most fortunate to live in this wonderful area, where “The West” vividly took place. As a writer of historical fiction, the goal for my short stories and novels is making these imaginings as indelible and vibrant as the true happenings.
Two recent short stories, “The Laundress” in 2013 and “The Devil, As a Roaring Lion” in 2016, were awarded Honorable Mention in the Art Affair Annual Literary Contests, Western Short Story. “The Next Rising of the Sun,” my latest short story, is featured in the Oro Valley Writers Forum Anthology, Monsoon Madness, currently available for purchase online at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1095304615.
Also in the works for me is a novel that folds in fictional characters, representative of those persons whose names were unrecorded, with true life characters in an infamous episode for Tucson during The West.
As time goes on, I’ll be adding bits of interesting historical facts and/or updates of events. I hope you’ll periodically check in on this website. If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
“The Laundress” by Venetia Hobson Lewis
That dirt floor looks better’n him. Rebekah was mindful that his eyes crawled over her features, the way they had strayed on her that forenoon when she threw clumps of hard-caked soil on top of her mother’s wooden box, so shoddy and quick built that through the gaps in the slats, she seen her ma’s hand jostle when the box met its destination. One last dressin’-down reachin’ out from the grave.
The closest neighbor, boastful of his Bible schooling, said some words over her mother that would not make the journey to heaven peaceful, but life on earth had not shown her ma any grace. So maybe them words is fittin’.
She snatched her stepfather’s plate from the table and dunked it in the washbasin. When she sniffed putrid body odor and the faint smell of cow dung, she knew he was close behind her. He touched her left arm. She jerked her arm away and then snapped the wet dishrag across his torso.
“The Laundress” copyright 2013 by Venetia Hobson Lewis
“The Devil, As a Roaring Lion” by Venetia Hobson Lewis
We blindly crashed through the mesquites, that ol’ man moon hidin’ in their branches, the dogs’ sharp barks our only guide. It was then we heard the mountain lion’s low growl, which sounded like rocks tumbling together under our feet. Them dogs yapped with fury, louder and louder. We were closing in. But for the damned gnarly trees with branches catching us, tearing gaping holes in our shirtsleeves, and clawing at our skin, we’d be there.
Up ahead of me, Conroe Lauer burst out of the ‘squites and out into the open, the moon’s light, dimmed by thin clouds, hitting him full in the face. I stumbled on, fell headlong over a big protruding root, banged my knee and elbow all to hell, and looked up.
Conroe had already settled into his knees, his wiry form bent at the ready, taut as iron bands. Slowly, I gathered myself into a crouch. Only fifteen feet separated us from our prey – a magnificent mountain lion. Its green eyes blazing, that big, beautiful cat prowled in front of a huge oak tree. Our passel of dogs jumped and snarled and circled Conroe and ran forward toward the mountain lion, only to be swatted at by the biggest paw you ever seen. And the claws, Lord a-mercy.
“The Devil, As A Roaring Lion” copyright 2016 by Venetia Hobson Lewis
“The Next Rising of the Sun” by Venetia Hobson Lewis
One among many, Librada Ysleta trudged over the Sonoran Desert toward Tucson. She had travelled by foot with others many times, dragging her belongings with her as those currently around her did. Yet now, Librada lumbered alone and without possessions. For the last twenty days, in her knee-high leather moccasins she walked beside, yet apart, from these women. In the beginning days, the others chattered among themselves for comfort. As the days lengthened, they too fell as silent as Librada.
A woman close to her tripped on a small, unseen barrel cactus. Librada hurried to grab her arm, righting her. In the young woman’s face Librada saw lines etched by the numbing days of walking, little food and the disruption of their lives in Mexico. She also saw coldness creep into that woman’s features that became as hard as the granite mountains looming nearer with each passing day. Librada released her hold. She walked on.
Soon, one of the Mexican men on horseback, who followed the poor assortment of thirty-eight women, kicked his animal’s protruding ribs and rode to the front. He signaled that their day’s walk was over.
Where they stopped, most women sank to their knees and whispered a prayer of thanks or groaned quietly. Others swayed, shoulders drooping, and stared dead-eyed ahead, their children whimpering.
“The Next Rising of the Sun” copyright 2019 by Venetia Hobson Lewis