THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT
Octaviano Solis had heard nothing of struggle but, when he returned, puzzled over the absence of not only Maria, but of the hammock. Pablito snarled towards the door and road, and the Colonel, perturbed, poked his head outside just as an old woman chanced to dart across the road with a jug of water.
The thirst brought by Lord Kin had overwhelmed her terror of the nameless days.
"What have you seen here?" Solis asked, thankful to have learned the language and lore of the Territory, though under such distressful circumstances.
"They have taken the blue offering to Chankik," she replied, showing a great yawning grin, with only one tooth on her left lower jaw and its mismatched mate on the upper right. "A fine morsel for the Chacs, who are sure to reward this sacrifice with a long, lasting rain."
This tradition Solis also knew. Scooping up the little dog the Colonel lunged to Silvestro's hut. "You have brought a blue woman to Santa Cruz!" he said, and told the yawning Tatoob of those things he'd learned as Pablito squirmed from his arms and leaped to the door, yapping.
"Chankik?" asked Silvestro, “he is here?” and when the Colonel nodded, the Tatoob rose from his hammock and gripped the pistol that Carranza had presented him, the silver revolver with its flourishes and old inscriptions. From the pocket of his Mexican trousers he withdrew a handful of bullets and selected on, of purest silver. "They will have gone to the old walls. Follow me."
But it was Pablito who led the way, discerning the scent of his mistress. The two men followed the dog until the road gave out and a trail diverged into the monte. "There is a small temple this way," Silvestro said, breaking into a trot. Colonel Solis attempted to keep up but his boots were heavy and his thighs sore, and he fell behind the Governor, even the poodle.
Ten minutes they ran, an epoch which seemed like days to Solis.
"Maria!" Silvestro called, but he spoke forwardly, not to the Colonel who dragged himself on.
The monte abruptly thinned to a clearing. Solis, stumbling forward, panting, saw that a throng had gathered around the old stones. There were Pedro Yoac and Moises Lum, Oficiales whom he recognized, and others... all naked and painted with red and yellow stripes and depictions of unspeakable obscenities. Maria Morelos was tied to the old stones, Parisian fashions strewn to all sides like dead birds. She had been daubed with the blue paint of offering, and writhed before the brujo, Chankik, who had tied the skin of an enormous spotted tiger to his neck, his wrists and thighs. The skull of the beast had been scooped out and its face drawn down over the xaman's own like the cowl of a monk; the tail hung loose and flopped from side to side as Chankik danced before the great red setting sun, throwing off purple shadows that sizzled and shattered into thousands upon thousands of misshapen spirits skittering across the old walls.
"Halt!" the Tatoob ordered, and Chankik turned, displaying the black knife he held between his bleeding palms...
Silvestro raised Carranza's silver pistol.
"Who is it commanding Juan de la Cruz to halt?" the brujo charged, and the painted men muttered their concord. Silvestro's knees weakened, the pistol wavered in his grip. "Who are you?" Chankik asked again.
Then Pablito's barking distracted the gaze of the uay-balaam, the tiger-nagual...
"This is who you are," Solis interposed, drawing, from his jacket, the photograph of the Tatoob standing beside the aircraft. Silvestro took this photograph and frowned. He rubbed his index finger across its surface and looked up.
"I am the eagle, General Silvestro Kaak, Halach Uinic; Governor of Quintana Roo and Jefe Militar of... of..."
"You cannot say it," smiled the brujo. Chankik turned to the painted Oficiales, whispering "he cannot admit the situation of his crime!"
He raised the knife...
"... of Santa Cruz del Bravo," Silvestro finished and fired.
RETURN to HOMEPAGE – “THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ”
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