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HomeNL-2016-05 Santa Anna

Dispatch from Antonio de Padua María Severino López
de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón
March 25, 2016
David Portz

I am supreme commander and I live under a long wooden dock. In the martial territories under my control the flow of intelligence is not always perfect. My supply lines are now completely severed; each unit forages for itself. I am thick thinned but dislike admitting this. Those in my scattered command must rely on their small arms. Even I survive on my instincts now, which many call primitive. But do not turn your back on my sense of honor.
One of my lieutenants, who also lived many years under a pier, Lieutenant Altamonté, was accused by the authorities of dragging underwater a certain “Sylvester” last July. Altamonté, who spoke English imperfectly, understood this Sylvester to say before jumping into the water in the darkest night, “Fought the alligators!”. Apparently this Sylvester was trying to persuade a senorita to jump into the water with him, whom he had met earlier in a tienda which served tequila. To continue the evening and perhaps be given access to her ventral surface, he had used this approach, emphasizing his fearlessness of the earth’s most potent military prowess. Lieut. Altamonté, having done honorable service in numerous battles, took the shouted exclamation, “Fought the alligators!” as an insult on our nation. It reactivated his heroic spirit. He launched from under his pier, grasped this Sylvester by the leg and took him under, once, twice, and then for good. The onlookers, Texians, were all shocked that this could happen.
Texians not even two hundred years ago recognized our nation as their sovereign. Now they see us not in the context of our long history but as murdering scoundrels with no feelings, only appetites. They think they should never turn their backs on us. It is really we who should never turn our backs on the Texians. Lieutenant Altamonté is no more.

The Texian rabble could not identify Lieut. Altamonté by name or rank. On the day after drowning this Sylvester, the Lieutenant witnessed the gathering of various skiffs and airboats. They cast off with much military fanfare and went all of ten feet. The Lieutenant was still under his pier, standing picket. He was adjacent to his enemy - honor binding the Lieutenant to finish him, after perhaps some period of decomposition. They squabbled over who would execute him. A bullet from a handgun bounced off the Lieutenant’s broad noggin, then a rifle shot closed his eyes, by way of his mouth. The Texian militia then fanned out in the swamp adjacent the marina and executed a number of other seasoned officers, Colonel Cos, Colonel Ramirez y Sesma, Col. Amat, Villalobos, Major Gruñir, Major Rabodura, all twelve to fourteen footers, and also Private First Class Juan Jesus y Diablos, who though only a nine footer, had showed much promise.

Each of these deaths was an insult. Each, yet another enormous grievance we bear.

I am Santa Ana, the familiar name I use in the territorial waters. My full name is Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón. I am 18 ½ feet long and have lived for 196 years. My forces dispersed, I am still their supreme commander, not only in Texas and Louisiana but in Florida - an enormous, potent force in waiting. That amateur soldier Samuel Austin backed my forces into the Brazos River, in which many of my finest troops were forced to lay in their cuirasses, largely submerged. By the terms of a truce signed in 1836, my troops have curtailed their depredations of the vulnerable and delectable Texians and other flavorful Americans. It is due only to our highest sense of honor that we have allowed some of our countrymen to become shoes and purses while not once again taking up the fight. Signatures and seals were used, with all due formalities-- it would be dishonorable and skulking now for Santa Anna to call on all soldiers to emerge and reverse what fortune granted the Texians.

But think of the indignities! At Brazos Bend State Park, my soldiery and their women are the subject of Texian tourism. Civilians walk with their small dogs and small children within five feet of my troopers, showing their cell phones to us, as if this proves their superiority.

Lt. Altamonté would have been reprimanded for eating portions of this Sylvester - this is as we agreed 180 years ago. Lt. Altamonté had never revealed himself in need of discipline. Rather, he lived under his pier and observed the Truce of 1836.

Remember however, in 1836, wars were fought in daytime. This Sylvester took his swim at 2 o’clock at night. Indeed this Sylvester was so undisciplined as to try to persuade a noncombatant to enter the field of battle also. Reports differ on whether the tousle-haired blonde senorita dived into the bayou or did not. My intelligence indicates only that she was left unmolested. We broke no treaty by Lt. Altamonté dragging this Sylvester underwater at nighttime and then eating him. Yet what followed was a clear breach of the treaty: rather than leaving the matter to my own military system of justice, Altamonté was summarily executed, followed by many other ranking officers not implicated in Altamonté’s action.

I, Santa Anna, have formal duties to the Republic of Texas but have also our honor to uphold, and the morale of my troops. Yes by the fortunes of war we have relegated ourselves to the margins Texians know not how to exploit -- bayous, swamps and ditches. You have offended the dignity which is ancient within us, as old as the margin of mud and water. You stand like a velvety white egret above our submerged menace. Should we, rather than sinking slowly underwater, instead address our grievances? No wonder sometimes, in pique, we disappear with violent thrash of tail and vortex of turbid water.

We weigh these things in our hearts each time we see you. You do not want to be like this Sylvester. I begin to think, when hearing of such disrespect, we live an outdated truce.
Antonio Lopez
de Santa Anna
       Antonio de Padua María
Severino López de Santa
Anna y Pérez de Lebrón 
  by David Portz

The author, David Portz