From the St. Louis Post Dispatch of October 24, 2006:
Jaime A. Garcia, 27, of South St. Louis, was found dead of multiple stab wounds at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday just off Water Works Road, located between Interstate 270 and West Chain of Rocks Road on Chouteau Island.
Did I know anything of this before today? No. Mr. Garcia was just one of hundreds murdered in the St. Louis area. Murders so common they rarely make any headlines at all.
Would I have known anything of this at the time? No. Mr. Garcia was a Mexican immigrant murdered by two associates. He lived in South Saint Louis, home to the majority of Mexicans in the area. A world that never impinges on my own unless I walk down Cherokee Street for the Cinco de Mayo festival.
So when I came across this memorial next to a rarely traveled track on Chouteau Island, my first thought was that this was a mark of a road accident. Except it made little sense for a road accident on this potholed dirt road used mostly for farming. Perhaps that's why I looked up the name and came up with the news of the murder.
I can be thankful that all I found was the marker. Not for me the horror that greeted the deer hunter who found the dead body.
Still - it's disturbing. Shouldn't it be? How could it not be? Today I looked onto the spot where Mr. Garcia was dumped, bleeding, maybe lifeless, maybe not. Did something of his spirit follow his blood into the earth? Nonetheless, I felt no shiver, no frisson of doom as I photographed this cross. Why not? Am I that innoculated?
Maybe not. Maybe it was a sense of a deep disturbance that led me to Google Mr. Garcia's name above and beyond any puzzled curiosity. After all, I've seen plenty of named roadside accident memorials and never felt any desire to follow up.
It was a beautiful day today on Chouteau Island. It was before I found the marker and it was still so afterwards.