Last week, we learned additional information about some of the people who populate The Zozobra Incident. In addition to BJ, our protagonist, we took a look at Hazel Harris, his secretary, office manager, and surrogate mom. We also looked at Del Dahlman, BJ’s first love and first bitter disappointment, who was now a successful Albuquerque attorney. And finally, we gained some insight into Emilio Prada, the handsome gigolo responsible for breaking up BJ and Del. This week, let’s look at some of the other characters.
Detective Eugene (Gene) Enriquez was just shy of his 41st birthday when we first met him in The Zozobra Incident. A local (he was born in Bernalillo, a town 15 miles north of Albuquerque) he was stocky, five-seven, and weighed 155 pounds. A Hispanic, he had vaguely Polynesian features a lot of women find attractive. After his army service, he went through the Albuquerque Police Academy and was sworn in as an officer. He walked a downtown beat, and even rode horse patrol for a short period, but his interest was in becoming a detective. Some years after he achieved his goal, he found himself assigned to a new partner…a gay partner. B. J. Vinson. It bothered him at first that BJ, who could have passed as a hetero, didn’t bother to deny his homosexuality when asked about it. Before long, he came to admire his new partner’s honesty. The guy was gay, and that was that. Once Gene learned he could trust his partner’s judgment and instincts, they got along professionally and socially. Gene took some flack from other cops about riding with a queer, but he was married to Glenda, an attractive woman with whom he had five kids, and he figured that provided all the cover he needed. He took it hard when BJ nearly died while they were apprehending an accused murderer, but he kept in touch when his partner took medical retirement and opened a confidential investigations office. He was one of the few people who knew BJ inherited a fortune upon his parent’s death.
Paul Barton looked Hispanic to Anglos, and Anglo to Hispanics. When BJ first met him, the family name “Barton” took him by surprise. He expected it to be Spanish. But it was Paul’s mother who carried the Latin blood. Paul was born on June 13, 1985 in Albuquerque’s South Valley. That made him twenty-one at the time of The Zozobra Incident. BJ first spied him with a cowgirl on the dance floor at the C&W Palace, the city’s biggest boot-stomping joint, and was drawn by his good looks and lean frame. BJ later realizes the kid was the new lifeguard at the North Valley Country Club where he swam as therapy for the bullet wound in his thigh. Once he made the connection, the mutual attraction soon became evident. This was the first time BJ has been tempted since Del’s betrayal. But Paul was not only a lifeguard, he was also a full time student at UNM pursuing a degree in Journalism. He worked in the school’s cafeteria so he can live on campus his senior year. Paul was 5’11” and weighed 155 pounds. He had brown eyes, brown hair, a swimmer’s build, and has a small dragon tattoo above left nipple. Fiercely independent, he drove old Plymouth Coupe even though BJ offered to buy him a more recent model. He was an expert swimmer, played soccer and golf, and loved to dance. His father, Paul Barton, Sr., was a carpenter who died of TB when Paul was ten-years-old. His mother, Luisa Maria Arrullar de Barton worked two jobs thereafter to raise her son. He was exposed to gang activity in the South Valley, but resisted temptation to join. Once Paul and BJ get together, Paul was absolutely devoted, even though there were some stormy times ahead.
And then there’s the fun character, the surprise, the widow. Mrs. Gertrude Wardlaw has lived across the street from BJ for as long as he can remember. He considered her as this frail diminutive old woman who wore her white hair like a helmet and spoke in a thin, tremulous voice. But when the chips were down, he learned she and her late husband Herb (whose ashes rested on her fireplace mantle) were both retired from the DEA, and she still had the spirit…as well as the will of a fighter.
Next Week: We’ll have to wait and see.