SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 11, The Brotherhood of The Harrowing
Esmeralda held onto my arm as we walked toward the exit of the little museum. Her touch was so tender. My heart was flying away. I wanted to paw the ground with my hooves.
Outside she released me to shatter in the sunlight.
“This way,” she said.
“Where to now?”
“The Brotherhood of The Harrowing.”
“Brotherhoods are responsible for the beautiful Holy Week processions, remember? The Brotherhood of the The Harrowing is the one associated with La Paloma Blanca Ministries through our donations.
“What does this have to do with me?”
“La Paloma Blanca Ministries has been invited to carry their float for a portion of the procession route.”
“What’s the big deal?”
“Each Brotherhood cares for and parades a life-sized sculpture of Christ, Mary, or a Saint. Some of those sculptures are over 300 years old.”
We continued up the slowly winding cobblestone street. A young man on a bicycle coasted past going downhill. We came upon Indian girls sitting on the curb. They wore the colorfully patterned Mayan clothing. One was reading a tabloid newspaper, one studied a book, one was sewing, and the two youngest ran towards us clutching trinkets for sale.
“Ah, muñecas de preocupaciones” said Esmeralda, stooping to greet the little girls. “Voy a comprar dos bolsas, por favor.”
“What did you buy?”
“Muñecas de preocupaciones. ‘Worry dolls’. When children get scared they are given a little doll the size of a paper match. They’re made of sticks and colorful threads. They tell their fear to the doll and then place the doll under their pillow. While they sleep the doll takes away their fear.”
The young man on the bicycle came by again pedaling uphill. He was leering at Esmeralda. When he saw me glaring at him he stood on his pedals and showed me his bared ass.
“Making new friends?” asked Esmeralda.
“Could I have a couple worry dolls to stick in my eyes, please?”
“I think you’ll need a whole bag” she laughed.
We continued past a leather shop, several fabric shops, places to eat, souvenir shops, and a jewelry shop. We finally came to a woodcarver’s shop.
“This is it.”
“This is the Brotherhood?”
“Yes. I’m going to introduce you to Arturo Luna who owns this shop and who dedicates himself to this Brotherhood.”
The shop was filled with wood panels, boards, and blocks of every shape and size. The smell was delicious. The floor was carpeted in wood shavings and sawdust.
“Is he in?” I asked.
“Believe me, you would know if Arturo Luna were in” Esmeralda smiled mischievously. “He must be in back at the altar.”
We went through a wide doorway into a room that was cool and dark except for a lighted altar at the far end. The floor sloped downward like a theater. As we walked in, even before my eyes became accustomed to the dim light, I could hear how high the ceiling was. There was a man standing in the candle light down on the altar looking toward us with his hands spread in welcome.
“Arturo,” called Esmeralda in greeting.
Then I saw three figures standing before the man on the altar. Yes, it was Lucas, it was Irma, and it was a guy so big and round that I had to blink twice to make sure it was not two people.
The big man turned and raised his hand to shake mine. His skin was so blue-white it glowed with light from the altar.
“Arturo, this is Alonzo.” Arturo Luna was an albino with big round eyes that were ethereal pink. His hand covered mine but it was warm and he was gentle.
“Well, Alonzo, what do you think?” He gestured toward the man standing up on the altar who had not acknowledged us at all.
“Jesus Christ,” I whispered. He was a statue of Jesus. But not an idealized statue. He looked like a real person with flaws in his shape and complexion. In fact his complexion was dark not white. The skin glistened. His eyes seemed alive.
“You like those eyes, don’t you” smiled Arturo. He whispered conspiratorially, “They are made with black diamonds and diamond dust.”
“Did you…?” I began to ask.
Arturo quickly raised a finger to his lips and looked around.
“…carve Him?” I finished.
Esmeralda laughed and said, “That statue is over 400 years old.”
“How do you know?”
“It was a gift to the first church in La Antigua from the conquistador’s estate.”
“Why is it here?”
“That first church was buried in a volcanic mudflow in the 1700’s. Some devotees risked their lives to rescue that statue. Since that time, it has been in the care of similar devotees who came to be known as…”
Incredibly, as if on Esmeralda’s cue, Arturo rose on his toes and bowed like a ballerina, “The Brotherhood of The Harrowing.”
Lucas spoke up, “Yeah. You might say they rescued Jesus from hell.”
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