THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK TWO:  BOOK of the CAMPAÑA

 

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

 

          Felipe Yama lay three days between the living and the dead.      The population of Chan Santa Cruz was indeed swelling but not, as the Mexicans feared, with stern and desperate guerrillas; instead with refugees from Tabi, Hobompich and Nohpop and a hundred other miserable places. They crawled under the skin of the citadel, which bulged. Now, like an infected wound. Indians crouched in the doorways, reliving episodes of their unhappiness, waiting for a miracle to rise up and smash the dzulob or the rains to wash them away. Food grew short and tempers shorter.

          Silvestro Kaak, with three other Guardians of the Cross, were burning cockroaches in the temple when Miguel Chankik arrived. One of the Cruzob would flip the insect over and a lighted candle would be pressed to its stomach, making it flop about "like a Mexican!" as one Oficiale said. The wizard's arrival was made known to them by the commotion outside. Chankik passed the church, going directly to the hut of the paralyzed chief.

          "To your feet!" ordered Ruben Chim, a Major of the Guard. "Prudencio Pat and his men have entered the house of the Halach Uinic." Cursing, Silvestro drew his machete. Others of the Guard brought rifles and machetes. The small crowd before Yama's door made way for the Guard, then became smaller still.

          "Lay down your rifle, Ruben," said Pat's lieutenant, a tall man named Carlos, hideously scarred beneath one ear. "General Pat calls on the Guard to extend to him the authority of the Halach Uinic."

          "I shall see for myself whether the true Halach Uinic lives," said Chim as the others trained their weapons on Carlos. Pat's lieutenant nodded and turned to the door, calling for his General.

          "What have we here?" Prudencio Pat called out. "Mutiny? I am the senior Oficiale of the Cross, chosen by the plan of Juan de la Cruz himself and the Patron. Do you subordinate officials seek to sweep aside the judgement of the most Holy Cross for your own advancement the way the dzulob kill or betray one another?"

          "Don Felipe Yama is our jefe," Chim reiterated. "If he is living still then he, not you, commands the guard.

          Prudencio Pat sighed. "Very well," he said, "see for yourself. He is alive, but in no position to give commands. You choose two of yours and I'll keep two of mine with me. The rest of you," he barked into the hut... "outside!"

          The Cruzob chosen to escort Rubin Chim were Silvestro and Francisco May, a stepson of Yama. They took up positions at the north and south sides of the hut, machetes tucked into belts. Pat's man Carlos and another stood likewise to the east and west.

          Felipe Yama reclined upon on a straw mat; eyes open, breathing faintly, as he had done these past three days. To one side sat his two surviving wives, on the other was Miguel Chankik who bore the title of xaman for all the Southeast, a term of somewhat more respect than the more common appellation of “brujo”, or wizard, or that of a curandero, who means someone possessing some medicinal skills, irregardless of any commission from God. "Is he dead?" asked Chim.

          "He is not," replied the brujo and his head fell forward into meditation while argument raged.

          "There!" Ruben Chim declared, "the Halach Uinic lives. And as he does, so the loyalties of the Guard and of Noh Cah Santa Cruz, the real town, are with he. Do not test us further, usurper. The Cross speaks with don Felipe only, and what it speaks may prove unfortunate to you."

          "Fools!" thundered Pat. "If he is not dead, he is of as little use as one who is. Is this the man to lead the armies of the Cross against the whites? Can he offer up homage to the One True Patron, to ask his blessing in this, our time of struggle? I am of the Wonderful God. I am Governor."

          "No!" cried Ruben Chim, drawing his machete. Pat reached into his trousers, drawing a revolver, which spoke once, and the major slumped against the wall, falling to his knees. Prudencio Pat trained the gun on Silvestro.

          "Raise your hands if you value your life, boy," said the General, "you too." Keeping his eye fixed upon Pat's, Silvestro slowly raised his hands as the Cruzob called Carlos went to the door while the other removed Silvestro's machete and that of Francisco May. Miguel Chankik remained seated, bowed, impassive.

          Now Prudencio Pat afforded himself a smile. "That's good, very very good. Why should I kill my own Guard... our enemies are the Mexicans, not each other, no? Not that I wouldn't kill every one of you, if I must. Do your job and you might even be promoted, there is a spot to fill." Ruben Chim, coughing blood and gasping, fell face down. "That's as the Cross decrees."

          "Padron!" a weak voice responded.

          "What did you say, brujo? Patron? Was it me that you were speaking to? It was... and you are a fine doctor. A doctor who will live long and be honored among God's people."

          Chankik looked up. "Thank you, General, but it was not I who spoke."

          "Not you?" said Prudencio Pat. "Then..."

          "I am the General Felipe Yama," said the Halach Uinic, rising from his mat. He rubbed his eyes but, when his hand dropped, his gaze was far-seeing with the glint of supernatural possession. "My name," he repeated, as if to convince himself of his own being, "is General Felipe Yama."

          He extended a hand. "This is my temple. No one is going to put up that tower except those that are called English, and those that are called Americans, the red-red men. They will put up the tower on my temple. That is the only truth.

          "I've made it true until the sun is ended. There you will get whatever things you need, there with those who are called English, with those who are called American, red-red men. They are my servants; they are my sacred people.

          "I am Juan de la Cruz!"

          Prudencio Pat reared back, as if lightning had flashed from the Governor's eyes.

          "I am the Noh Cah Santa Cruz Balam Nah!"

          The General drew his machete.

          "There isn't anyone else!"

          The machete of Prudencio Pat flashed, finding the soft place beneath the ribcage of the Halach Uinic. Felipe Yama gagged and a trail of blood ran down his chin. Then with what seemed almost a smile to Silvestro Kaak, he sank back to the mat, eyes open as before. Now, however, the spirit that had occupied them was gone, now he was truly dead.

          "Your turn, brujo," said Prudencio Pat, drawing back his machete to slash the neck of the curandero. Suddenly, the usurper was driven, sprawling, to the dirt floor in a corner of the hut by an invisible blow, a tangle of his own arms and feet. He looked up, puzzled, as Miguel Chankik regarded him from the opposite side of Yama's hut.

          "You must be careful, General, that you do not hurt yourself," advised the curandero. "The Halach Uinic owes, to his good Christians, the responsibility of preserving his health, especially at this difficult time. Mexico is at our door."

          "Did you see how the General's machete," wondered the man who guarded Silvestro Kaak and Francisco May, "... passed right through him?" His own machete sagged and, if he had the wish to do so, Silvestro could have seized it or retrieved his own. But he had seen Pat strike at the curandero; he had seen the General fall and Chankik speak from the other side of the hut.

          He was terrified!

          At the door, the excluded Cruzob raised a commotion and Carlos fired a shot over their head to quiet them. He had not looked back, for to have done so would have exposed him to the fury of the mob.

          The xaman gently closed the eyes of dead Felipe Yama and rose to his feet, pointing at Pat, who cowered against the soft, white limestone of Yama's wall. "An evil spirit must have seized your hand; such beings are awakened during the appearances of Juan de la Cruz, driven from their hiding places. It could just as easily have influenced poor Ruben here." Chankik took the bloody machete from Prudencio Pat and dropped it by the body of the Major of the guard. "So, of course, you tried to save the Governor with your pistol.

          "That is the way some things occur. Juan de la Cruz has accepted you as successor to don Felipe; otherwise your cowardly blow would not have had effect. Perhaps the Holy Patron deems the times require a man of different temperament as Halach Uinic, perhaps a compromiser." His eyes narrowed upon Prudencio Pat. "Or perhaps He has another reason, one we Christians cannot fathom but which will be made visible to us upon its time. Only this, Prudencio, you shall not harm these soldiers of the Cross," Chankik warned, indicating Silvestro and Francisco May, then pointing out Felipe Yama's wives, who had fallen into soft, but profound weeping, "nor offend these Christian women. Remember the example of Aniceto Dzul. In his mutiny against Crescencio Poot, sixteen years ago, he caused many needless deaths and was made blind. Regain your feet, it now is time to proclaim to all the village of the death of the Halach Uinic, and the succession of Prudencio Pat. Don Felipe shall be buried, also Ruben Chim... who shall not be burdened with the reputation of an evil spirit, but shall be remembered as a servant of the Cross. Then, according to the wish of the True God and of Juan de la Cruz... and also according to your own counsel... the Cross shall be made ready and taken from its place. Chan Santa Cruz shall be evacuated and you shall be the one who guides the Cruzob in their exile until your sins are paid for.

          "How?" muttered Prudencio Pat, stumbling from the corner, "how...?" but Miguel Chankik had already thrown open the door to the hut, laying it bare to the gaze of all the villagers and to the sun.

 

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