Belmont Club

The Dead of the Night

One big story that hasn’t yet made it across the Spanish-English divide is the epic of Don Alejo Garza, an elderly farmer who fought a one-man stand against a drug gang.  When they gave him a deadline to leave his property or else, Garza sent his ranch hands home and armed himself. There he waited. When the gang came in the dead of the night he met them with a fusilade and killed four and wounded two before the numerically superior drug enforcers finally took him out with gunfire and hand-grenades. The Mexican Marines arrived on the scene to find  bodies all over and an old man at the center of it all.

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Garza’s epic stand recalls the efforts of Lance Thomas, a watch dealer in Los Angeles, California who killed five armed robbers in four separate shootouts as they tried to rob his store. On two of these occasions Thomas was himself shot, but kept firing until he was the last man standing. Although Garza is dead and we will never know why he made up his mind to face off against the gangsters, Thomas was asked why he chose to repeatedly fight instead of giving the criminals what they wanted. He answered that if he did that — submitted — then his survival would be someone else’s choice.  He wanted to make the call on whether he would live or die.

In so doing both recall one of the great cinematic epics of the 1950s.  “High Noon” resonates in part because it depicts the life of a man who we all sometimes want to be when we’re not thinking straight. Every now and again someone actually does the foolish thing. And when they do, we can’t help but sit up and notice, almost as if it is the least that we can do.

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