I've just completed my 21st short story featuring this guy; it's a story I've been wanting to write for a couple of years but didn't have an angle on... The previous Leon Cazador story was written about 18 months ago and it was great to get reacquainted.
Nineteen of his stories have been published commercially and a couple earned prizes in competitions. At present I'm going through the collection and beefing up the stories for a collection; most commercial word counts don't allow for much in the way of atmosphere, character description and detail that provides additional realism; I'm hoping that my editing can enhance the existing stories. The collection is tentatively called Spanish Eye. I expect I'll be writing another four or five stories to get to an appropriate wordcount. Here's the Introduction to the Collection:
In the middle of 2005, I received a telephone call from a Spanish private investigator, Leon Cazador. He’d heard of my efforts with a novel, Pain Wears No Mask, and wanted me to write about some of his cases in a similar vein – first person narrative. I’ve lost count of the number of approaches I’ve had from people wanting me to ghost write their autobiographies; it’s gratifying but any such venture entails many months of intense work and distracts me from other planned projects. I was inclined to turn down Señor Cazador, until he said, ‘I thought you captured the voice of Sister Rose perfectly. I feel you could do it for me, too.’ Suitably flattered, I arranged a meeting. I found that he was a fascinating raconteur and, more importantly, he had a good story to tell. As a result, I began writing Leon Cazador short stories, all of which seem to have been well received.
For thousands of years, evildoers conducted their business during the dark hours. Night offered concealment. The innocent and god-fearing slept in their beds while unsavoury characters went about their nefarious business under the cloak of darkness. But in recent memory all that seems to have changed. Now, muggers are quite blatant, attacking their victims in broad daylight. Burglars boldly break in during the day when the house owners are out at work. The law’s sanctions against criminals no longer appear to be a deterrent.
Darkness not only obliterates light, it permeates the mind and soul too. Is this an enlightened society we’re living in or one that’s about to implode? I don’t know, but I do feel that the silent majority will only stand for so much and when that limit is reached they will turn like the proverbial worm and rebel. Until that time, the world needs brave souls like Leon Cazador who is not afraid to bring the ungodly to justice and so help, in his own words, ‘to hold back the encroaching night of unreason.’
‘My allegiance is split because I’m half-English and half-Spanish,’ he says. ‘Mother had a whirlwind romance with a Spanish waiter but, happily, it didn’t end when the holiday was over. The waiter pursued her to England and they were married.’
Leon was born in Spain and has a married sister, Pilar, and an older brother, Juan, who is an officer in the Guardia Civil. Leon Cazador sometimes operates in disguise under several aliases, among them Carlos Ortiz Santos, his little tribute to the fabled fictional character Simon Templar.
As a consequence of dealing with the authorities and criminals, Leon has observed in his two home countries the gradual deterioration of effective law enforcement and the disintegration of respect.
At our first meeting, he said, ‘When I was growing up in England, I never imagined there would be no-go areas in those great cities, places where the shadow of light falls on streets and minds. Now, at weekends, some sections of many towns seem to be under siege.’
Now that he has returned to live in Spain, he finds that it is not so bad here, though he admits that he has seen many changes over the last thirty years, most of them good, yet some to be deplored. ‘It is heartening to see that family cohesion is still strong in most areas; but even that age-old stability is under threat. Yet some urbanizaciones more resemble towns on the frontier of the Old West, where mayors can be bought, where lawlessness is endemic and civilised behaviour has barely a foothold. Even so, most nights you can walk the streets and feel safe here in Spain.’
Leon has led an interesting life. As Spain’s conscription didn’t cease until 2001, he decided to jump rather than be pushed and joined the Army, graduating as an Artillery Lieutenant. About a year later, he joined the Spanish Foreign Legion’s Special Operations Company (Bandera de operaciones especiales de la legión) and was trained in the United States at Fort Bragg, where he built up his considerable knowledge about clandestine activities and weapons. Some months afterwards, he was recruited into the CESID (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa), which later became the CNI (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia). Unlike most western democracies, Spain runs a single intelligence organization to handle both domestic and foreign risks.
He is one of those fortunate individuals who is capable of learning a foreign language with ease: he grew up bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, and soon learned Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Part of his intelligence gathering entailed his transfer to the Spanish Embassy in Washington, DC. Here, he met several useful contacts in the intelligence community and at the close of the Soviet occupation he embarked on a number of secret missions to Afghanistan with CIA operatives. By the time that the Soviet withdrawal was a reality, Leon was transferred to the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo, where he liaised with both intelligence and police organizations. Secret work followed in China, the Gulf and Yugoslavia.
In 1987, Leon was attached to a secret section of MI6 to assist operatives in Colombia. Although he has been decorated four times in theatres of conflict, reports suggest his bravery justifies at least another four medals.
A year after witnessing the atrocity of the Twin Towers while stationed with the United Nations, he returned to civilian life and set up a private investigation firm. During periods of leave and while stationed in Spain, he had established a network of contacts in law enforcement, notably the Guardia Civil. One of his early cases resulted in him becoming financially set up for life, so that now he conducts his crusade against villains of all shades, and in the process attempts to save the unwary from the clutches of conmen, rogues and crooks.
These then are some of Leon Cazador’s cases, in his own words.
Nik Morton, Alicante, Spain
The beginning of the latest story goes something like this:
Fireworks in daytime are not particularly spectacular, but that doesn’t deter my Spanish compatriots from setting them off. The clear blue sky was momentarily sprayed with silver and red stars as the single rocket exploded above the town square. Minutes afterwards, a profusion of colours darted above our heads, but this display wasn’t the transient starburst of another firework. The palette that soared in the sky came from garishly painted pigeons released from patios, balconies, rooftops and gardens. In the next few minutes the number of male birds increased to perhaps seventy.
‘My prize bird has been stolen!’ a man shouted from a balcony on the opposite side of the street. He gestured at us and added, ‘Pilar, tell your brother I need his help!’