THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK NINE:  BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST

 

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO 

 

          Octaviano Solis recovered quickly from the stomach ailment that had felled him in the office of the President. As the Mayan General and his escort, a man the Colonel did not altogether trust, dined on Carranza's roast beef and wine at the airport, Solis experimented upon himself with bread and milk. These having stayed where they were supposed to, he rose from his bed, dressed and departed the infirmary. He proceeded to the Hotel Alameda and, in its bar, called for Tolucan beer, a liquid so greatly appreciated that the Yankees had proclaimed it the beverage to make Milwaukee jealous. He swallowed half a glass and waited for the appearance of any adverse reaction; the sickness returned but when Solis opened his mouth all that emerged was a mighty burp. The patrons turned their heads as one but the nausea had departed and, seeing that he who had so rudely expressed himself was a Colonel with a pistol on his belt, they returned to their affairs. Solis finished his beer and went upstairs to, again, take possession of the Jefe of Quintana Roo.

          The Tatoob, with Almanzar, arrived within the hour and Solis expressed his gratitude to the Corporal for having so ably represented the Republic to its visitor. He offered money and was somewhat surprised when the fellow refused, for he presumed to understand what little there was to know about such as Almanzar. Perhaps the still-purple welt beneath Silvestro's eye was related in some manner to the declination but, for all the Colonel's proddings, the Tatoob would not say a word to the detriment of his custodian, and even insisted Almanzar remain with them.

          "That is impossible," said Solis. "Tonight, we are attending the symphony... we hear the immortal music of French and German composers. And, after, to the conductor's reception. In all truthfulness, the Cabo would be most uncomfortable."

          "Most definitely," Almanzar agreed, twisting his cap in his hands. He had already tried to slip away, but was stopped by a gesture from the Tatoob. The last thing that he wished was to offend Carranza's Colonel. The past twenty four hours had been good to him; he had had all he wished of food and drink, had danced with the incomparable beauties of Mario's, had defended his honor and survived and even had made a fool out of the President. A good day's work but, like a gambler among far more wealthy and cunning men, Almanzar discovered his fortune... not to mention his life... in danger of being swept away in the contention between Silvestro Kaak and Solis.

          "If the Corporal would be unwelcome at this program of dzulob music," said the Tatoob, "what of me? As we are in Mexico, is it not reasonable that those songs to which our ears be opened be that of the Republic?"

          Solis temporized, professing that fully a third of the symphony was Mexican in origin, but the General was stubborn. "Carranza's hooked his simple indian as thoroughly as a fish," he thought, of course to himself. All his importunities were of no avail.

          "The President himself," Silvestro pointed out, "has welcomed me and asked that I sign documents that legitimize my authority in Quintana Roo." And a malicious smile came to him. "Were I to sign them tonight, I would be your superior officer, empowered to make an order of any request." Solis observed a strange look enter the Tatoob's eye. "Besides, of what use is European music to one who is about to fly?"

          "My orders are to arrange to your comfort," Solis said, "and your wishes shall, to the best of my ability, be fulfilled." Even as he placated the General he was, however, consumed by an angry humor. "The damnable savage is outcivilizing me," he thought, though from his tongue came only soft and helpful words. "Where do we go?"

          "I don't know where this place is," said the Tatoob ruefully, for the previous evening crouched, hiding, in his memories like ghosts of the old walls. "Do you?" he asked the Corporal.

          "There?" Almanzar said, knowing full well that it was El Pozo Afligado from which the Tatoob desired to drink again. "Mario's I remember, but nothing of that beyond." He frowned. "It was in the vicinity of the Street of the Coffin-Makers."

          "The very place for officers and honored guests of the Republic," sneered Solis. "You remain adamant? Very well. I shall call a taxi to the Street of Death. From there, you should remember where it is you wish to go."

 

RETURN to HOMEPAGE – “THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ”

 

RETURN to GENERISIS HOMEPAGE