SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 5, Mudéjar

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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 5, Mudéjar

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          At night Mudéjar is illuminated with only occasional lanterns.  The village road was sometimes dirt and sometimes cobblestones.  I could see a mixture of tall ornate colonial ruins and small simple houses.  Some of the houses had portions collapsed.  The bus turned down a tree-lined alleyway between low stone walls of residences.  The bus stopped.  It was very quiet.

          An older woman came out of the nearby house and approached the bus, waving.

          The bus door opened and Rita stepped out, “Itza!  We made it.”

          Itza came near and Rita hugged her, saying something into her ear.  Itza was short and dark and she smiled but with narrowed eyes.  She looked toward the back of the bus and because I saw the glistening of her eyes I swear she stared at me.

          Rita got back on the bus and led the group in a short prayer of thanks.  Then everyone grabbed their duffle bag and exited the bus quietly.  We filed through Itza’s wooden gateway.  There was a dog on her flat roof looking down at me.  I stopped for a moment.  The guard sauntering behind me laughed.

          Itza’s house did not seem small on the inside.  The soft lantern light on the pale yellow walls made the rooms seem larger.  There were very few items of furniture or decoration.  But there were mats prepared for all of us to sleep on.  It didn’t feel crowded, it felt cozy.

          Rita asked for attention and said another little prayer.  Then she freed everyone to pick a mat upon which to place their duffle bag, to freshen-up, and to explore the property.

          Most of the workers wanted to go out into the yard after the long uncomfortable bus ride.  My guard sat down on a mat and proceeded to ignore me.  I went outside.  No workers had spoken to me since we were released from the airport.  I looked for Esmeralda.

          When I wandered around to the back of the house I noticed shadows in a room.  I peered into the window and saw the apprentice pastors holding hands in a circle.  The faint gold crosses with the “nail” on their cheeks returned lantern light and seemed more obvious.  Each of the apprentice pastors would mutter something in turn but they kept their eyes open.  I was soon just staring at Esmeralda who was facing in my direction.

          Suddenly they all turned toward me.  I quickly stepped back into the darkness.

          Esmeralda found me minutes later.

          “Alonzo, you have a lot of bad habits”, but she smiled at me thank God.

          “I am so sorry, Esmeralda.”

          “I know you are.”

          “I spoiled this for everybody.”

          “Well, …… not yet anyway.”  That smile again.  She could flail me with that smile and I would be happy.

          I asked, “How does Itza feel about a guard with a rifle in her house?”

          “She has seen a lot worse.  She will be fine.  Don’t you worry about Itza.  You just worry about yourself.”

          Esmeralda turned and walked away.  I stayed in the darkness.

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