Monday, March 1, 2010

The Red Scorpion, Chapter 7

SHORT STORY MONDAY

Professor Comstock has now seen the scorpions which guard the final resting place of Quetzalcoatl. Having returned to his hotel, he waits.


The Red Scorpion
Chapter 7

Two days passed before Comstock saw the native again. Comstock had begun to wonder if the boy would return at all. When he did, Comstock’s heart leaped, but Chuchui averted his eyes.

They'd made a pact. No one must ever know of this. Chuchui, betraying the gods of his fathers, felt a great emptiness. Comstock sensed the youth’s struggle and assured him that it would pass.

“You must follow your dream,” Comstock said.

For Chuchui the future was a disconnect from his past, from his native village in the mountains of Guerrero, from all that he had known.

“Do you have the money?” Chuchui asked. “I must see it.”

Comstock said he only had half, that he would make arrangements to have the other half wired to Cuernavaca in three days.

“I will return in three days,” Chuchui said, “with el diablo.”

This is the name they gave to the scorpions: Los Diablos, which means, the Devils. Comstock shivered when Chuchui said this, but he passed it off as a shiver of excitement.

* * * * *

In three days the boy returned bringing with him a small package, slightly smaller than a shoe box. The box was sealed. A small handle had been affixed to the top of the box so that it could be carried. Small punctures had been made for air circulation.

Comstock inquired how Chuchui was able to capture the scorpion but the native wouldn’t say, resulting in a momentary awkwardness.

“Where will you go?” Comstock asked, breaking the silence.

“I believe I will go to Jalapa, the capital of Vera Cruz. There is much money there and a university. I will go to study and perhaps meet my future there.”

Comstock wanted to see the scorpion before handing over the money, but Chuchui did not want Comstock to open the box. The youth was clearly frightened. “Cut a small hole and look through while it is dark. You will see.”

They placed the package on the bed. With great care Chuchui cut a slit near the corner of the box. He wedged the knife into the slit, twisting the blade slowly, enabling Comstock to see the eerie red glow.

“There. You see it?”

“It is as you say,” the professor replied.

Before parting, Chuchui reminded him again that he must beware of the scorpion’s power. “Remember, he is at home in the dark, and afraid of the light.”

“Should I feed him?”

“I do not believe they ever die. Unless you crush it with a bone from a dead man.”

Chuchui seemed anxious to leave, refused to sit, walked in small circles near the door as if torn between courtesy and flight. Comstock had what he wanted. He had no further use for the boy. After paying the boy the agreed upon price, Comstock dismissed him with a wave. He thought with sadness of the youth’s mother who probably had no opportunity to say goodbye to her son, nor the grieving father who not only lost his only son but his heir.

“You may go.”

Chuchui fled from the room as if for his life. Comstock placed the package next to the bed, seated himself and began staring at it as if it were a valuable treasure. For a long time he stared, not knowing what next to do. His last days in Mexico would be meaningless now. He found what he had been searching for, a way to make a name for himself.

CONTINUED

Top right image produced by Susie Newman, Down Home Creator.

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