A Letty Valdez Mystery
Passage from chapter 7 of Daemon Waters:
Letty watched Anselm closely. He was quiet now, lost in his own thoughts. He seemed very sincere. He was convinced his friend had been murdered, and he wanted justice. Also he clearly wanted to protect the natural resources of Agua Caliente Park.
“Do you know the word ‘daemon’,” he asked suddenly.
“Doesn’t that have something to do with software? I don’t know exactly.”
“Yes, that meaning refers to a kind of software program. Unix has a bunch of daemons.”
Letty had no idea what Unix might be so she just nodded.
“But I’m referring to an older, lesser-known meaning. Usually people think first of ‘demon’ which is one meaning. But it also refers to a special kind of supernatural being somewhere between human and godlike. I often think of water in the desert as a daemon. We humans run around as if we were in control of things, but we’re not. In fact, if the water dries up in the Sonoran Desert, we’ll all be forced to move somewhere else. I went once to visit the Atacama Desert in South America. It’s between the Andes and the Pacific, and only gets about half an inch of rain a year. There are very few people living there, and they are mostly in fishing villages along the coast.”
Letty’s eyebrows went up. “Half an inch? That’s not much rain!”
Anselm nodded. “You can understand why ancient cultures gave offerings to rain gods asking for enough water, or not too much in other places. That’s why it’s easy to think of water as a daemon. Water literally means life. My friend Edward knew this.”
“I spent my early childhood on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. It’s drier out there than the Tucson area. I learned early to respect water.”
“So do you think you can take this on?”