|Chope's Bar in La Mesa, NM. Restaurant is brown building, center|
Beth Morgan photo.
Ernie is fairly high-functioning, but it's a good thing that Rosie is more than happy to keep an eye on him. He has helped her out of a jam more than once, so she is fiercely loyal to him. He is essentially non-violent, but he is quite tall, and although not obese, he is on the plump side, thus, he cuts a rather imposing figure. His demeanor, at least toward Rosie, is nearly always pleasant, and generally, he's quite sweet. To other people, he probably seems cold or withdrawn; that's not inaccurate. He tends to keep quiet--except when he can't help it. He works as a janitor at the county courthouse, now more a complex than a building, per se, with the Sheriff's Department next door to the south. He's only responsible for the courthouse, and that only part-time. His boss, Chuy, is primarily responsible for the cleanliness of the courthouse, but he has Ernie clean all the men's restrooms three days a week, and he cleans the commissioners' chambers once a week.
He was born and raised in La Mesa, home of Chope's Mexican restaurant. Folks who live in Las Cruces or elsewhere in the Mesilla Valley generally know of Chope's, because they have great Mexican food there and one of the most authentic (and unpretentious) bars in a 30-mile radius. Just like Rosie's parents, Ernie's folks farmed near La Mesa since before the area became part of the U.S., on the occasion of the Gadsden Purchase. His parents raised chile and cotton, and although they are mostly retired, other family members still farm their land.
Ernie is quite intelligent. He's very good at fixing things, both mechanical and electronic, and he likes to read comic books and graphic novels. His favorite comic book is in Spanish and features a Mexican wrestler who moonlights as, if not a superhero, at least a do-gooder with muscles. Sometimes, he and Rosie watch TV together. Robot Chicken is one of their favorite programs. He lives roughly a block away from Rosie with his parents. He doesn't drive, so Rosie often chauffeurs him around.
He's a little neater than some of his friends. He prefers a nice plaid shirt and chinos to jeans and T-shirts. He sticks to athletic shoes, though. He wants to be prepared, in case he needs to help Rosie on a case. And when he wants to be informal, he wears a black hoodie with a burning skull on the back. He also sometimes wears a black T-shirt with the image of his comic-book hero on it. He has several of them.
What do you think of Ernie so far?
© Beth Morgan