SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 13, The Curandero
We all just stared at Irma who was sobbing on top of Garra’s limp body.
Arturo found his wits first, “Irma, he can’t breathe.” Irma instantly rose up on her knees and clasped her hands together in front of her face. Garra coughed and gasped.
“He’s choking on blood!” she cried. Garra began to sit up but inhaled sharply and collapsed back to the floor.
Arturo raised Irma to her feet with his big gentle hands and nudged her over to Lucas. He bent near to Garra’s face and said with terrible calmness, “You have a shattered ribcage and will probably puncture a lung and drown in your own blood. If you try to speak a piece of your face will fall into your lung and you will suffocate. Stop moving. Turn you head to the side and breathe through your nose.”
Garra turned his head and blew a glob of blood out his nose, winced and began taking short breaths.
Esmeralda said to Lucas, “Check the entrance to make sure Garra was alone and be careful.
Arturo added, “And bring back a wood panel to set Garra on. We’re going to have to move him.”
I tried to stand up but I was instantly consumed by vertigo. I plopped right back on my tailbone. Arturo said to me, “You have a concussion. Don’t move yet.”
Lucas returned with a piece of wood panel about the size of Garra. “Things look normal out there.”
“What about Rosalinda?” cried Irma.
“I got ahold of the others. They are on their way to the orphanage right now.”
Arturo supervised the placing of the wood panel under Garra. Arturo lifted Garra’s head and shoulders a fraction of an inch. Lucas lifted Garra’s torso only slightly by holding onto Garra’s belt. Esmeralda slid the panel completely underneath him. They all lifted the makeshift stretcher and shuffled Garra into an adjacent room. Lucas came back for me and held me erect while I moved my feet into the same room. There were decorative carved blocks hanging on the wall. They had set Garra and his wood panel onto a table. They set me in a nearby chair.
Esmeralda said, “We need to get back. Arturo, will you be alright?” Arturo fluttered his hand for them to depart.
“Alonzo, you stay here for now. If you can stand without falling…”
“Or puking,” added Lucas.
Esmeralda continued, “…you can help Arturo, OK?”
I nodded emphatically and I instantly felt like a wave had swept up my head and dropped it back down again. “Whoa!”
“You can believe me that we must go now!” insisted Irma.
So I was left watching Arturo tend to Garra. He opened a box on a nearby shelf and recited to himself, “Calahuala is very good for the broken bones and Ek’ Balam will heal the wounded blood vessels. Chaya will help healing as well. Bakalche’ bark will close the wounded muscles.”
“You sound like my friend Roberto with his ‘medicinal plants’” I said.
“Oh? Is he a Curandero? A healer?”
“You might say that.”
Arturo smiled, “Does he heal the body or the mind?”
“You would say the mind.”
Arturo mashed herbs in a small bowl and then added a dark liquid, “Chacah,” he said for my benefit, I guess, “A bowl of medicinal chocolate to help it all go down.”
Garra was focused on his own fragile breathing. I think our conversation pained him. Arturo finally leaned over his ear and said, “Turn your head slowly and face up. I’m going to drip some medicine down your throat. Hold your breath when I do. Understand?”
Garra raised and lowered his eyebrows in acknowledgement and even that was painful for him.
“OK. Now” said Arturo and he slowly dripped the dark sauce down Garra’s throat. Garra coughed.
“I said don’t breath.”
Arturo set the bowl down and told Garra to turn his head to the side once again and just wait.
“Arturo, where did you learn medicine?”
“When I was born this way,” he made a sweeping gesture with both hands, “it was expected of me. A big fat pink-eyed albino Mayan obviously had to be tight with the gods. It was lucky that as a child I was interested in herbs and medicines anyway.”
“Why do you have a wood carving business if you are, like, a doctor?”
“Doctors heal the rich. Curanderos heal the poor in the name of Ch’ulel. If I wanted to be rich in gratitude and dinners I would have remained only a Curandero. But I need more than dinners. I need dinero.”
“Ch’ulel? Is that God?”
“Well, not yours.”
“Your Brotherhood runs a church for Christ’s sake. Do you believe in all that or not?”
“I believe the world is uncaring. I believe the world is indifferent to its own existence. Mercy, forgiveness, kindness are the flowers of Man and Woman. They are what Man and Woman alone bring into the world. Cruelty and selfishness are already here for the taking.”
Garra moaned drowsily as the medicine took effect.
I said, “Arturo, I’ve met Rosalinda. If this guy is her father, what is her mother like?”
“Irma is Rosalinda’s mother.”
“She was in Garra’s gang. When Irma became pregnant she finally woke up and wanted to leave the gang life. Esmeralda helped her and her baby Rosalinda to escape. Irma was given a hiding place in the Mudéjar orphanage. Esmeralda took Rosalinda to the United States.”
“Why did she bring Rosalinda back here?”
“That is something that Esmeralda will tell you when she is ready.”
This was all too much for me, “Who are you people?” I asked in exasperation.
Arturo made a face of mock indignity, “We are Christian soldiers!”
“So where did Lucas learn to fight like that? I’d like to learn that.”
“Lucas was taught by Pastor Maximón. And Pastor Maximón will be at the orphanage tomorrow.” Arturo winked, “He’s making a TV commercial.”
Arturo handed me a small yellow vegetable pod, “This is for your concussion. Chew it slowly and don’t swallow the fibers.”
I began chewing it carefully in the front of my mouth. It was bitter. After a few seconds numbness began to radiate from my lips in concentric circles over my face, my head, my neck and on down my whole body. Finally I had no bodily sensations left at all. I felt good having no feelings.
Then I heard myself think “The world is my body.”
<For previous chapters, search “scorpion” on my blog>
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