The Discovery of an Outcast

When the Doves Coo

Mary Armstrong

In this prequel to “The Two Valleys Saga,” we find out more about Jesus and the reasons he was sent from his family's farm near El Porvenir, Mexico. While everyone in his family has their jobs and a firm place in the family, Jesus, known by his nickname ‘Chuy' to his family, begins to feel lonely and an outcast. In the end, Chuy discovers a lot about himself and his family, will the doubts linger?

Book Excerpt or Article

“Chuy Messi.”

“No, Chuy, your full name,” said Padre Rosales.

“You know me, padre, why must I state my full name to you?”

“Chuy, this is no different from much of the rest of the learning you have done with me. I am trying to prepare you …” He paused and looked at his hands in his lap.

“Prepare me for what, padre?”

The padre looked over my head at the Virgin Mother and bit his lip before crossing himself.

“For your life, Chuy. Now, tell me.”

“Jesus Perez Contreras Verazzi Messi.”

“Now, is that what you will tell … a Mexican you would meet whom you didn’t know?”

“No padre, I would tell him Jesus Perez.”

“And why would you do that?”

“Because they might be suspicious of my Italian last name.”

“Sí. However, there is nothing wrong with being Italian and Spanish. After all, Spain and Italy are the two most important Catholic countries in the world! However, when you come across someone you don’t know, it is best to give them a name that is common to the region in which you are traveling.”


During our lessons, Padre Rosales rarely spoke about my mixed heritage and he generally avoided any discussion of my father’s naming practice. Had my father adhered to the Spanish convention, my name would have been “Jesus Verazzi Contreras Messi Perez. For according to centuries of custom, the surname of the father would be followed by the surname of the mother. My surname would still be Messi, but Perez would follow it.

My father and the family appeared to be of Spanish descent — my mother descended from Spanish aristocracy — and so I suppose most people assumed that our last name was some kind of alteration of another more familiar Spanish name. My father immigrated from Italy with his parents when he was only five years old after the Five Days of Milan in 1848.

Being raised in a family of mixed heritage resulted in some mixed-language as well and it wasn’t uncommon that Spanish and Italian words became mixed in our family discussions. It made for some interesting results outside of the family.

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Mary lives in the heart of one of the ‘Two Valleys’ in Las Cruces New Mexico, with her husband Norman ‘Skip’ Bailey, Jr. and their Cavachon child-dog, Java. In 2017 she wrote the one-act play, “It is Blood,” which was selected for a performance by the Las Cruces Community Theatre. Whereas the Two Valleys series is a prequel to the notorious and unsolved murders of Albert J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son, her play, “It is Blood,” is a sequel to those events.
Mary has diverse interests but has focused on historical fiction over the last ten years. Her writing is fast-moving, thought-provoking and with just enough wordsmithing to satisfy your artistic hankerings. Since retiring from a diverse career in various planning and design fields, she has devoted herself to writing, being a good spouse, serving her dog Java, and slipping away to the golf course when unchained to the desk.
Her life motto, “I haven’t done it all and I may have done too much, but damn the torpedoes and full spee

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