William Doonan

I write books and stories.

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-One

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July 17, 2011
New York, NY
Duran                   http://www.harqubusier.blogspace9.ex

I dreamed, Vasco.  I dreamed so vividly that I missed my morning bell.  The girl who provides my care grew quite alarmed, shaking me, thinking I might be dead.  I was so startled by the shaking that I nearly confided in her that she needn’t worry; I am unlikely to die any time soon.

Still, it was discomforting for both of us, having grown accustomed to a rhythm of a sort, a momentum.  I pay her handsomely to look after me, and in return, she launders my clothing and empties the tins into which my cigarillos spill their ash. 

We call each other friend, Paloma and I.  She has been my breakfast companion for twenty-four years, though I suspect that without my generous allowances, she might not be quite so eager to dollop cream onto my crepes, attend to my nooks and crannies, or ball my melons.

I mention this only to bring attention to the discomfort I have been experiencing.  I had a fitful night, and I am not accustomed to fitful nights.  I sleep quite well under New York’s moon, hardly the same moon we grew up under, Vasco.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

I am a creature of habit.  I dine well, early in the evening, and then I watch the television.  At the stroke of eight I smoke my last cigarillo, which my night man has laid out for me.  It is a lovely candied treat, dipped in whisky, half tobacco, half something I care not to concern myself with.

I smoked deeply, as I always do.  I have much to forget, so I have become vigilant, careful never to dream.  And yet, close upon morning, I was back by your side, Vasco,  all those centuries ago trudging along that jungle path.  Panama they called it, a fetid swamp of a world if there ever was one.  Nothing but decay, insects the size of a Turk’s ego, who knew it would get worse?

We marched for ten days, then boarded second-hand ships that took us south to Viru, that’s what we knew Peru as.  Viru would make us rich, that’s what Captain Pizarro told each man.  Richer than a count, richer even than a bishop. 

And he kept his word, didn’t he?  Not more than a month later we faced them, the Incas, at Cajamarca.  That was the battle to end all battles, was it not?  How many thousand men did the emperor have waiting in the brush, 80,000?  And the hundred and eighty of us quaking.

No swordsmen were we, Vasco.  Manning the captains guns, do you still remember the harquebus?  A terrible gun it was.  And terrible were the men who manned it.

Rarely do my thoughts or considerations transport me to those times, but in last night’s dream, I traveled further into the past.  We were murderers, Vasco, you and I, not by fate or circumstance or thick of battle.  We were murderers always.

In my dream, I awoke in the dungeon we shared in Cadiz.  It was little more than a cellar, but we found ourselves together, whipped and naked, left for dead and debt, three days without food.  We had each killed men, stealing their coins, their shoes, a cloak in your case, a fine purse in mine. 

Not without skill, but lacking friends, we were quickly turned upon by our fellow brigands who beat us savagely before turning us in to the constables, buying themselves perhaps another night of lucre. 

We were to be executed in the morning, garotted shortly after dawn so as not to disturb the laying hens, but then a man came for us.  Captain Pizarro’s man he was, offering a reprieve.  The captain might be in need of two hearty thieves, he offered, men who would be willing to execute the greatest theft in the history of all humankind.  Would we be willing?

We would, we promised, already feeling the weight of the iron collar around our necks.  I’d seen men garroted before, and I would see it again, and I would have agreed to do anything to avoid that death.  How naive we were.

And so we joined Captain Pizarro and his one hundred and eighty Toledo sword fighters.  We manned the Captain’s guns, but our real task was to hide half the Inca gold, the half the King was never to learn of.

Sorrows, these are, and I regret revisiting them.  But I am reminded, Vasco, that I have no demons to blame for my curse.  I was cursed by my own hand long before I entered that dark dripping pyramid.  And I might suggest that the little imps who bled us therein understood us for who we were.

And though I try never to imagine it, I wonder sometimes if all of us are damned, every last man, every last child.  A murderous race we are.  Who among us would not kill a man quietly in the night if told convincingly that it would save the life of our child come morning? 

A lamentable pitiful race we are, worthy of no grace.  Maybe each of us walks into a pyramid sooner or later.

Vasco, I feel the need to atone.

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Written by williamdoonan

June 15, 2012 at 12:05 am

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