SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 10, The Conquistador
The next morning we were bounding down to La Antigua in Irma’s Rover. I sat up front next to Irma. I did not look her in the eye. I pretended to study the hills rolling by in the sunshine as I tried to glimpse Lucas and Esmeralda in the back. Lucas was turned toward her saying something and smiling. I could see that she was looking down and smiling. I almost bit my tongue off.
Irma parked on a cobblestone street near the town center. Lucas and Irma headed off up the street. Esmeralda said to me “We’re early. There is something I want to show you.”
She led me up another street lined with little shoulder-to-shoulder buildings each painted a different color. We did not hurry. I wanted time to slow down even more. I begged the sun to stand still for this perfect morning. I didn’t have anything interesting to say to Esmeralda so I just asked, “Do you know Irma very well?”
“You could say that. She’s my sister.”
Esmeralda must have seen my eyes bulge.
“I don’t tell everyone that.”
I was shocked and flattered at the same time. Esmeralda just opened up to me.
“Our family lived in a bad zone of Guatemala City. Irma is my older sister and she was abused by my father.”
“When Irma ran away from home at fourteen we heard that she had become a prostitute to make money. We didn’t really know for sure.”
“My mother took me and went to the United States.”
“Itza is my mother’s sister. She told us that Irma had joined a mara, a violent gang. When my father disappeared Itza assumed that it was Irma’s gang that did it. We don’t really know.
“But I returned here with La Paloma Blanca Ministries and Itza and I found Irma. The Ministry helped us a lot.”
“Irma said she was desperate to get out of the gang so the Ministry got her a job at the Mudéjar orphanage, far from her gang.”
“Irma has been quietly dedicated to the orphanage ever since. She can still seem pretty intense at times even now, I know.” Esmeralda became silent.
I thought to myself, “You still don’t really know, do you?”
I became emboldened and blurted, “What about Lucas?”
“He doesn’t seem much like an apprentice pastor.”
“Oh? And what does he seem like?”
“He seems like someone that a pastor would be counseling abstinence to.”
Esmeralda looked at me and covered her mouth as she burst out laughing. She laughed until tears ran down the faint gold crosses on her cheeks.
“I’m going to short-circuit” Esmeralda sighed as she wiped her eyes, “It’s a good thing we are here.” We stopped in front of a white-washed building with deep set windows.
“What is this place?”
“A little museum. Come inside. I think you will like this.”
Esmeralda paid the woman sitting inside the doorway. I followed Esmeralda as she headed directly to a specific lantern-lit alcove.
“Here we are.”
“What is this?”
She began to lecture me.
“These are personal possessions taken from the Mudéjar estate before it became an orphanage.”
“The estate was given in 1527 to one of Pedro de Alvarado’s conquistadors as a reward in the conquest of Guatemala.”
“The conquistador’s ‘official’ name was Don Gonzalo Contreras but he was actually a Spanish Moor named Abdul Aghrab who volunteered to fight in the new world for a chance at wealth.”
Esmeralda was mesmerizing me with her story. I began to feel light headed.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
I felt like I was going to throw-up.
“Esmeralda,” I saw her name come out of my mouth as if off of a diving board and my mind just ran and jumped.
“I love you, Esmeralda.”
Esmeralda finally took my arm, “Alonzo, you have a lot of bad habits.”
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