Previous photo of Nicholas Ivie on duty
The news of the Arizona Border Patrolman killed in the line of duty has been a tough one for me to read and follow, and yet irresistibly I have been drawn to it. I love that country. I have many times driven and walked it. I have known for a number of years that it's dangerous. Our last trip down there in May, to gather photos for Outlaw's Lady, we were alert to what was around us, didn't hang around in arroyos as we did years ago as we were quite aware of the potential dangers.
When I write my books, I write about heroes like the agent killed. They face the bad guy and sometimes get wounded; but in a romance, they always survive. Nicholas Ivie didn't and that 's what's tough about this, why I take it to a personal level that I don't always. It's not only knowing that the country I love is so dangerous, so misused, but also that the heroes I write about don't always survive in real time.
To hear the details of his death as it trickles out hasn't made it easier as it now is said he was killed in friendly fire. Two other agents approaching at night in brushy country and they didn't recognize Ivie-- or he didn't recognize them. Either way they evidently took defensive postures and somehow the guns started firing. Two were wounded. One didn't survive. What went wrong? I hope we find out but although I didn't know him, damnitall, I want heroes to survive. I want men who are good, who have young families, to go home to them at the end of a dangerous day. Life isn't like that and for me this story is a painful reminder of that fact.
Real life love stories don't always end happily. Real heroes face dangers and some die or are crippled. That's life and maybe it's why I like to write romances because somewhere there should be a guarandamntee happy ending.
When I wrote Desert Inferno, I saw it as a tribute to the Border Patrolmen even though it's a romance. I researched it and talked to the Border Patrol for some of the facts I needed. My Border Patrolman hero is all that a romance hero should be. He does a tough job which he knows is dangerous. He faces the bad guys, and he survives. It was painful to have read last week of a hero who was doing that job and died in what it now appears was a tragic accident.
A lot of questions have gone through my mind this week. Why weren't these three equipped with night vision goggles? If they had, might Ivie have gone home to his family that night? If so much money can be spent on building fences, can't we be sure our Border Patrolmen are as well equipped as our military in any war zone?
I have other questions about this shooting but likely the answers will come out. Although the truth is life doesn't always provide all the answers of a romance-- another reason I write them as I like to feel good about how things end.