I thought somebody had planted a tree in the middle of the night but it wasn’t a tree. Not even close. It appeared after a cool, rainy night, nothing prearranged. No way of knowing how it got there. Like mushrooms or graffiti. The next morning it was suddenly there, in the park across the street. The same park where a homeless woman sleeps during the day by sitting upright on a bench with a sheet over her head and a tarpaulin draped over the bench so at first look she appears to be ensconced in a porch swing. I’m not sure why she puts the sheet over her head. Possibly for mosquito protection and possibly just to try to blot out some of the daylight. She’s back over there now but this morning there was only the newly planted tree, which, as I’ve already said, turned out to be something else. Somebody was sending somebody else a message.

It wasn’t a tree with it’s leafy parts still bagged and bundled on top of it. No. It was somebody’s head impaled on a post.A guy with glasses. I guess it doesn’t matter at all but I don’t normally imagine people who wear glasses cavorting with the kind of people who are apt to cut somebody’s head off and lance it onto a pole and stand the thing upright in a park. Clearly, the idea was to keep the glasses on so the person could be better recognized. That’s what I imagine. This was my first experience with public displays of decapitation in my neighborhood.

I live in southern Mexico so this kind of thing isn’t so uncommon as to be setting some kind of precedent even. The Policia Municipial were out there around 10 am this morning taking it down. I guess they got a call from the neighbors. Or maybe they were just driving around aimlessly and saw it. They do drive around aimlessly for most of the day.

My neighbor was walking his huge dog, Napo. He saw the cops and remarked that they must have been disappointed to find just a head. He said something that translates into “How very sad that a head has no pockets for the police to search through.”

The police and the citizens don’t have the best relationship. I think people trust the military more than any of the different classes of police. There are Policia Vial, Policia Municipal, Policia Estado, and Policia Federali. The federalis most recently killed about a dozen protesters in June when trying to clear them from blocking a highway.

I didn’t recognize the head. I didn’t hear anything the night before that sounded like hammering. Surely somebody saw something but nobody is going to volunteer anything. I’m not sure if cartel murders are even counted in the yearly totals or if they are treated differently. It’s not uncommon for a street battle in the neighboring state of Guerrero to claim 20 or 30 lives on a single day. It also happens in the beach city of Acapulco. Once in a while somebody will dump some bodies in the town square or zocalo. Violence is frowned upon, definitely, so the cartels generally do most of their culling in the hills that surround the city of Oaxaca. Sometimes, some upstart will think of a new way to kill somebody, using an off-the-shelf drone or something inventive, but mostly, after half a million murders or so related to the drug business in Mexico, it’s nothing novel enough to put that much thought into.

In ports around the world, even the US, pirates were sometimes beheaded and their heads placed on pikes as a warning to potential ocean bandits.

The police don’t ask questions here. They don’t seek out possible witnesses. A case goes cold as soon as it’s reported, quite often.

Somebody should use the hole that was dug for the head and plant a tree there.

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