Monday, February 1, 2010

The Red Scorpion, Chapter 5

SHORT STORY MONDAY

If new to the story, Dr. Comstock is an anthropology professor from the University of Minnesota in the late 1930s. After two days in Cuernavaca, Mexico, he makes a chance contact that will prove more significant than he could have ever hoped for.



The Red Scorpion
Chapter 5a

The American could see that the native, eager to talk, was also frightened. “Let’s go back to my hotel. Are you comfortable with that?”

Chuchui nodded and the two made their way back to the Posada Arcadia where Comstock had a room.

Once alone together, the native spoke with purposefulness. Comstock learned that Chuchui was not drunk, as passersby imagined, but had had a fever. He had been dizzy and ill for about a week. Strangely, the fever left him the moment he was awakened.

“Why are you in Mexico?” Chuchui asked the American.

“I teach at a university. I am here on a research project.”

There was a long pause. They were like card players. Chuchui held a card Comstock needed, but Comstock was unaware of it. At the same time, Chuchui hoped that Comstock held a card that he needed. Both were reluctant to show their hands.

“Do you believe in Fate, Mr. William.”

“William. Call me William.”

“All day I have pondered how it is that I came to fall into your hands. When the fever left me I was... confused. Today I have caused trouble to my family. I did not return to the marketplace. I have been walking and thinking. All day I have wondered.” He stopped.

“Go on,” Comstock said. There was something fragile about the boy standing here in this room, yet a disturbing depth and toughness as well. Comstock could not shake the impression that beneath the surface of this encounter there was some kind of treasure, something of value to be discovered, that the encounter may have been Providential.

“Do you know who I am?” Chuchui asked.

“You have told me. You are called Chuchui. You live here in Mexico. Your family trades in the marketplace.”

“Yes, but do you know who I am?”

“I am not sure what you mean.”

“At least you are honest. I am the last living male in a clan called the Colos. Have you never heard of the Colos?”

Comstock slowly shook his head.

“Of course not. How could you? You teach at a university and have so much knowledge, but do not know things that our people have known forever.” As he spoke his eyes glistened and his voice gained strength.

“And what is it you know, truly?” Comstock asked pointedly.

Chuchui avoided the question. “How much money do you have with you?”

Chuchui stood in the middle of the room facing Comstock who had seated himself on a corner of the bed. Alone in this room he suddenly feared becoming the victim of a robbery or an assault. Without changing his expression, Comstock sized up the native to determine if he could overpower him in a tussle.

“You have money?” Chuchui asked. “If I give you something valuable, you must give me something in return.”

“I have money,” Comstock said reluctantly.

“You must not be afraid of me. I am the one who should fear.”

Comstock sensed the truth in the youth’s words.

“Do you want to tell me about the Colos?”

“The scorpions?” Chuchui laughed as if he had made a clever joke. The name of his clan was the Colos, which means scorpions in Nahuatl.

Comstock didn’t get it.

Chuchui asked why Comstock had come to Mexico and the American said he was doing research on the life and death of Quetzlcoatl.

“Such a strange notion,” Chuchui jeered. “And what have you learned?”


CONTINUED

No comments: