The account of Sarah Burleson (age 12) on the recent tragic encounter at Martin’s Texas excerpted from a letter to her uncle.
I had gone out on our old mare to the edge of the old town to try and round up a couple of horses. Being at it was the fourth of July it was pretty hot. I was in a little bit of a hurry. Some folks were coming over to our place to celebrate that evening and I didn’t want to be too late getting back.
The old town of Martin’s I guess was never particularly large by the standards of earlier times: less than 1000 households. It sat near Interstate 35, but never quite had the energy to reach it, falling a few hundred yards shy.
The land is pretty flat, and scrub is pretty high. I was on the old mare, headed out to the Interstate to round up some ponies. You can see the highway overpass over Market Street from well into town. But then the Castle of the Burger King does not seem very king-like either. In any case, there are a lot of weeds and the road surface is weathered to gravel, but the brush doesn’t grow well on the road bed.
The Barbeque Café is on the right. The first side street would be to the viewers immediate left.
I was about 500 yards from the highway, almost to the last building at the edge of town, the old “Barbeque Café.” It is really just an old steel frame building with some of the barn red paint still holding onto its north side. Why they hadn’t called it the Barbeque Barn I couldn’t tell you. Well as I was just starting to come along side of it, and I heard a high pitched whine. I recognized the sound right way. It was a moonshine-trike or booze-bike. Someone had popped out of the opposite side of the café and was coming right at me on a booze-bike. They were just a little too determined to be friendly.
I got the mare moving forward as quickly as possible. Not exactly a plunging leap, but maybe a trot. The scooter went zipping by on my backside. The guy on it was not a real big guy height wise but he looked stocky and strong. He had dark skin like an Indian or a Mexican, and was wearing some sort of heavy plastic clothing: maybe armor. He had a banana clip carbine slung to his back.
He had a hard time coming to a quick stop on the sandy roadbed and gut hung up a little as he slid into some of the sage brush. I had managed to get the mare turned around back in the direction of town and thought I might have a chance at getting away. But with a shiver of dread I saw another one had come running out of the café angling so as to meet me on the road back. Somewhere in this commotion I saw what looked like a dark red blazing sword on a patch on his shoulder. This confirmed my suspicion that they were Gwats.
Gwats are Guatemalans that work with the Mexican Zetas. From the warning leaflets we had received they belong to a group known as Kaibiles, but everyone calls them Gwats. This was the first time they had been seen in town, but it was not a real shock them being here. When they are being nice they work as traders and scavengers for the South Americans. Otherwise they operate as slavers, bandits and murderers.
There was a side street I could have taken, but I thought the bike could catch me there. I doubt they knew I was a girl. They probably wanted the horse, possibly for food on the hoof. But some point the rider was bound to unsling his banana rifle if he thought I might get away. So instead I took a narrow gap in the scrub between the remains of two ranch homes.
This section of town is the edge of a very loose street grid. The guy on the scooter was not too hard to avoid, because he was reluctant to get too far off the road bed. As I could hear him, I could always double back away from him. The guy on foot was a much more difficult proposition. I had my small .32 pocket pistol, but he had some sort of automatic pistol with a long magazine. I did not want him to get to where he was in a position to use it, and he was just about as fast as my mare. Faster on the turn.
Well we bounced around from block to block. With me being up a little higher, I could see where I was going a little better and eventually got through a series of overgrown hedges and came out in the back garden of our house. The one on foot very nearly got me at the end, but he could probably heard voices and commotion and let up. Already a lot of people had showed up at our house for the celebration. I of course dashed in and gave the alarm.
The route home