THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK EIGHT: THE SECOND of the BOOKS of CHANGE
CHAPTER FORTY FOUR
Now came a precarious few days in which the forces of law and those of infection struggled for the soul and body of Arturo Garcilazo. Alvarado was disinclined to hold a public execution... a grand spectacle, which might be tarnished by the obvious incapacity of its star performer, but no order he gave could stop the infection from consuming the former Governor of Quintana Roo. On the eleventh of July, informed that his enemy might not survive another night (and that the skies would remain dry until sundown, at least), a hurried execution was declared. The incoherent Garcilazo was strapped to a chair, naked, for such was the extent of inflammation that his legs were also swelled like gray and purple sausages, and neither trousers nor boots could be found to clothe him.
The Chief of Police and the kindly Warden urged Alvarado to take the wretched Garcilazo out somewhere behind a building at the edge of town and shoot him there, but the Governor had promised a public execution... and the people would have one! But with the churches and the bullring closed, with political meetings banned and even the smallest gatherings harassed and spied upon, Alvarado's only recourse to draw a crowd was to conduct the execution between the innings of a baseball game... one of the few venues of public expression still permitted... and the only such gathering expected within the expected lifetime of his prisoner.
Next to Marx and above even the venerable Classic authors, Alvarado... in concurrence with the visiting American explorer who hailed "Sport - greatest of all promoters of entente cordial, which disciplines the savage and the youth to curb his temper and to follow orders!"... esteemed Abner Doubleday and had, in fact, made the largest of Merida's bullrings over into a baseball diamond with a pitchers' mound and bases, home plate and foul lines of powdered limestone. Due to the length of games, baseball was unsuitable for gambling and, as the Governor gave his personal encouragement to the sport, every underground entity from political societies to criminal gangs now met in the guise of baseball societies. Alvarado himself sponsored a team of young officers that never tasted defeat, and sometimes even took his turn at pitching, knowing well that no opposing batter would dare even hit a feeble pop fly or ground ball.
The game of the eleventh of July was contested between the Literary Society and the Circulo Popular Benito Juarez, and the former led by a single run when, at the end of the seventh inning, Alvarado called the players off the field and Garcilazo was carried onto the field in his chair. The Governor seemed already slumped in death but, as the chair was placed on home plate, rallied briefly, moved his head from side to side and called for his wife. His nakedness had been clothed by a bedsheet from the waist down, giving Garcilazo the aspect of a debauched Roman emperor whose laurel and olive crown had fallen off and, in a gesture of anticlerical inspiration, the commanders of Vigia Chico and Payo Obispo were tied to stakes to either side of him as Roman thieves to parody of the Crucifixion. Six officers with rifles marched towards the pitcher's mound and those spectators behind the batters' boxes scrambled for safety.
Alvarado, marching from his box, began his address but so pitiable were Garcilazo's cries that he concluded abruptly and gave an order to fire, whereupon a most distressing event occurred... the bullets striking the Quintana Roo Governor's swollen form caused his stomach to explode, scattering blood, entrails and putrid, viscous matter for a meter around the vicinity of home plate. So revolted were the spectators as the bodies were dragged away that some rose to depart, but were chilled in their seats by a glance from Alvarado who summoned forth the baseball players with his finger. These walked to their stations like the living dead, and the first two batters of the Circulo hastily swung at balls nowhere near the plate, for the catcher of the Literary Society had positioned himself well off to the right, away from the puddle of corruption which now lay an inch deep atop home plate. The next batter, Duran... whether from pride, or out of fear at Alvarado's disapproval, stroked a two base hit and to the batters' box came Torres, the premier batsman of the Circulo.
The pitch was well outside the plate, the catcher being still off to the right, but Torres reached over and tapped the ball into right field. Duran, a fleet man, rounded third base and sprinted home while the Juarez outfielder gathered up the ball and hurled it towards the catcher. Inventive slides were just coming to fashion and roundly popular, and Duran spread his arms wide to dive headfirst beneath the tag... but saw the juices of Arturo Garcilazo waiting for him. Losing his courage, he stumbled forth into the tag and ran off the field, a hand over his mouth.
"Fuera!" the umpire cried and fled also, for the cloaca of Arturo Garcilazo was a putrescence that inhabited every crevice of the brain and would not be removed.
The spectators, several hundred in number, also began to slink away, none expressing a word of what they'd seen. In his box, with the thunder of another approaching storm crackling over the cornfields and henequen estanciónes, Alvarado began making another of his lists of persons to be taken to the Penitenceria Juarez and, atop it, he inscribed the name of the faithless baserunner, Duran.
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