chapter 10

10.  The Face of Treachery

He slipped back into Zipaquirá under the cover of darkness and wasted no time lingering about in the streets. Enrique was on a mission. He had formed the plan in his head when he heard the stories about rebels and rebel leaders being executed for treason by the Spanish army.

Once the revolution had been crushed, Morillo, general of the Royal Army of Spain, wanted to make certain that the rebellion was completely eliminated from the minds of the people of New Granada. His first order of business was to round up any and all commanders of the revolutionary forces and either hang them or have them shot in public. By doing this he hoped to give a stern warning to those who had fought to overthrow the government of Spain.

He also pursued and executed those who had publicly defied him through writing or speeches, because he understood that to quell a rebellion completely, one must not only cut off the head, but rip out the heart as well. He also understood another key factor. He knew that the cities surrounding the plain of Bogota were very independent and had grand ideas of independently ruling their own small part of New Granada, thus, he believed that he could drive a wedge between those who had once united against a common enemy by again turning them against each other.

The success of Morillo’s reign of terror was due in part to the independent cities turning against each other and giving information about who had led the rebellion in their rival cities. Not only did cities turn against each other in order to attempt to better their own position and dispose of their rivals, but individuals began to turn against other individuals in order to bring about their own personal gain. Enrique had recognized the opportunity to have what he wanted in Morillo’s plan as well.

The officers from the Spanish Royal Army who had moved into Zipaquirá were not hard to find. They had taken over the Governor’s Palace at the Southwest corner of the plaza. Consequently, the plaza had become vacant except for on Sundays before and after mass and the crowds were cleared out less than half an hour. No one wanted to be seen speaking to anyone else for fear that they would be accused of plotting against the Royal Governor of Spain.

Where once Zipaquirá had been alive and vibrant, it now resembled an empty kitchen across which the occasional rat or cockroach scurried from one hiding place to another. It was exactly what Morillo desired to see happen. With everyone scurrying about like rodents, it wouldn’t take long to break their spirit and have them back into complete subjugation to the crown.

It was across the empty plaza that a cockroach of a different kind scurried that night. His mission was to report to the Spanish officer stationed at Zipaquirá of the location of one of the rebel commanders. He was stopped at the door by one of the two armed military guards which were stationed there.

“State you business!” the guard demanded sharply, scanning Enrique’s filthy appearance and wrinkling up his nose as though he had actually come into contact with a filthy pest.

“I am here to see Major Lopez,” he replied attempting to put on an air of confidence and sophistication which went beyond his appearance. He was after all an important person who was aiding the Royal Governor of Spain in an essential duty on behalf of the crown.

“Why do you need to see Major Lopez?” the guard questioned, still not impressed with the sophisticated airs of the foul smelling Enrique.

“I have an important bit of information concerning the location of an officer of the rebel army who committed treason against his majesty,” he replied, pushing his nose into the air a bit further to emphasize his importance and lend a little bit to his stature.

He reminded the silent guard, who was watching the entire exchange from the other side of the doorway, of a small rooster strutting about the chicken pen with his feathers puffed out and trying to convince the other roosters that he was a formidable adversary. He choked back a laugh for only so long and then finally had to snort in derision when he could restrain himself no longer.

The snort brought a half-smile from the guard who was attempting to remain stern and formal with Enrique, but he quickly changed his expression and opened the door for the major’s guest.

Once inside, Enrique was escorted by another armed guard to the stairway, allowed to pass up the stairway under the watchful eye of four guards stationed at each side of the bottom of the stairway and each side of the landing where the stairway split and continued upward in opposite directions.

“Where?” one of the guards on the landing asked as he stepped onto the landing.

“Major Lopez,” he replied, again puffing himself up.

“To the right,” the guard responded.

Enrique took the stairway which led upward to the right and noted that two more armed guards were stationed at the top of the stairwell. A third junior officer was standing against the wall at the top of the stairway.

“State your business with the Major,” he commanded sharply. He too wrinkled his nose as he took in the state of Enrique’s clothing, his filthy hands and face and caught a scent of his foul odor.

“I am reporting to Major Lopez concerning the location of an officer of the rebel army who committed treason against his majesty,” he had rehearsed the line enough times that it rolled off of his tongue with a sophistication that was far beyond his level of intelligence.

“This way,” the officer said, turning sharply and leading him down the hallway to a large, wooden door which was closed. “Wait here,” he said and then rapped on the heavy wooden door.

“Enter!” a stern voice from the other side of the door called out. The junior officer entered, closing the door behind him. He was gone for less than a minute and then opened the door and reappeared.

“The Major will see you, Mister…” the officer lingered on the word while he awaited the response, still wrinkling his nose at the unpleasantness of speaking to such a filthy creature. It was all in the line of duty to the crown he supposed. When you were hunting for scum, sometimes you needed scum to guide you to them.

“Barrera,” Enrique replied. “Enrique Antonio Barrera Orinoco.”

The officer stifled a snicker as he heard the entire name, knowing that the dirty scum was attempting to impress him. He turned away from him pushing the door open to reveal the office that Major Lopez was occupying and addressed the Major. “May I present Mister Barrera, sir.”

Major Lopez remained seated behind the desk and merely glanced up as Enrique entered. “Please take a seat,” the junior officer directed.

Major Lopez continued with the work that he had before him and the junior officer took his position to the right and slightly behind him. From that position, the junior officer stood, taking in Enrique with his face wrinkled into a condescending sneer. After a few quiet moments, Major Lopez wrinkled up his nose and sniffed several times. “Mister Herrera,” he barked. “What is that awful stench?”

“I’m afraid that it is your guest, sir,” came the quick reply.

At the response, Major Lopez looked up and took in the appearance of the man before him. “I could have you shot for presenting yourself before me in such a filthy state,” he snapped. “I’ve half a mind to shoot you anyway.”

The junior officer smirked as the major made his opinion of the man before him known in a very clear and concise manner. The smirk infuriated Enrique more than the sharp words of Major Lopez.

“I apologize, sir,” Enrique answered, doing well to maintain his temper which was on the edge of breaking. “I was tracking down an officer of the rebel army who had committed treason by leading men at arms against his majesty’s Royal army. I thought it best to come directly to you when I returned. I did not have time to clean up from my journey.” He actually hadn’t taken a bath in several days; it was his custom to bathe twice per week, once for mass and another time mid-week.

“Very well,” Major Lopez replied. “State your business and be on your way so that we do not have to endure this foul stench any longer than necessary. Where is this rebel scum located?”

“He is hidden in the woods with two others,” Enrique began. “I can lead you to them. The one was a captain of the rebel army, one is one of his soldiers and the third is a woman who is no doubt entertaining the two of them.”

“Fine,” Lopez snapped. “You will accompany Lieutenant Herrera at daybreak and lead him and his patrol to this rebel. However, please present yourself before him after having a bath and putting on clean clothes. A pen of swine has a sweeter smell than you. That is all.”

The major signaled to have the lieutenant escort Enrique out of the room and returned to the paperwork on his desk.

“I have a request, sir,” Enrique said, ignoring the approaching junior officer.

Major Lopez looked up at him impatiently. “Mister…”

“Barrera,” Enrique filled in the space as Major Lopez began to launch into a thundering tirade.

“I don’t want to hear about your request! I don’t want to ever see you again or smell you again. I want nothing more to do with you! Is that understood?”

“I just want the woman!” Enrique shouted. “I will teacher plenty about being a whore for rebel scum!”

The look of pure rage which was upon the face of Major Lopez froze, though his flaming eyes burned a hole through Enrique that nearly caused an explosion. He would not tolerate such insolence from any man. He only tolerated Enrique’s outburst because the man was useful in the completion of his orders. When he spoke again, his voice was low and threatening and he annunciated the words slowly through gritted teeth. “Listen carefully. I will not accept this form of insolence from you or any other man. I am only allowing you to walk out that door because you are useful to me. If I or any of the men under my command ever see you again after you have completed the task of guiding my men to this rebel scum, they will be ordered to shoot you on sight.” He finished speaking, but continued to stare into Enrique’s eyes until Enrique turned his face away. “Mister Herrera, let him have the woman. Scum ought to breed with scum and I don’t want any of the men to be tempted or led aside from their duty with her. Make certain that the men also understand that this man is to be shot on sight if he is seen again after tomorrow.”

“Yes sir,” Lieutenant Herrera replied. He looked down his long nose at Enrique. “Come,” he snapped.

As Enrique was being led out of the room he heard the major muttering under his breath. “This entire continent is littered with insolent swine.”

Enrique was escorted out with little decorum. He understood what was expected of him and though he felt like he was treated with much less respect than he deserved, he was willing to accept the abuse that he had undergone in order to obtain the twofold prize which awaited him at the end of the ordeal of leading the Royal army to the hide out of Captain Vasquez.

He smiled as he made his way home, eager to have a bath as he considered what would happen the following morning. He would orchestrate the death of Maribel’s pretty, soldier boy and have her as his own, to do with what he had desired for years. He might even be able to sneak away with the silver stallion and that golden palomino mare. They were both prizes that would bring a significant price and set him up for a long time to come.

He would tie Maribel onto the back of the palomino and ride away to the north upon the back of the silver stallion and they would disappear into the mountains. He licked his lips as he considered what he would do to her. He imagined her full, round breasts bared before his eyes and the smooth curves of her youthful body with her slender young thighs spread; his for the taking. Perhaps she would learn to do his bidding and shape up to be a good wife. If not, he would simply use her until he was tired of her and then discard her.

He bathed and then settled into his bed for a restless night with little sleep. His mind would not allow him to rest until he had the object of his desire clearly in hand and ready to carry out his bidding. He replayed the fantasies of taking her by force through his head over and over throughout the night and slept only in fits until he looked at his watch and saw that it was near dawn.

Enrique dressed in the best clothes that he owned and packed the rest in a sack which he slung over his shoulder and walked out of the door of his shack for the last time. He marched to the square with his head held high and his own self-absorbed importance on display as he neared the Governor’s palace where a patrol of armed men were gathered awaiting him. There were three horses saddled which had no riders on their backs and he was confused at first until the Lieutenant exited the palace and hurried down the steps. “Mount the grey,” he directed without greeting Enrique.

Enrique put his foot into the stirrup of the horse indicated and swung up into the saddle. The command to move out was given no sooner than his butt had made contact with the saddle seat. The Lieutenant was going to waste little time as the patrol moved out at a high trot which turned into a gentle cantering as soon as they were on the road out of town. Enrique was called up to the front of the column and the Lieutenant rode alongside him without speaking.

The Lieutenants features were stern and stoic as he carried out his duty riding at the head of the column. He had no desire to interact with Enrique in any way beyond carrying out the orders that he had been given by his commanding officer. The men behind him rode in the same manner, eager to do the bidding of their leader without question.

The sun was above the ridge of the Eastern horizon and was spreading slowly across the valley, reeling in the shadow of the night when the column of twos strung out into a single file line, and they pulled off of the road and onto the trail which lead up the ravine and then broke out onto the slope of the mountain and worked its way back into the thick woods on the mountain’s slope. With Enrique in the lead, the serpentine line of Royal soldiers in full regalia, wound its way further up the mountain and deeper into the forest.

When the trail reached the rockslide, Enrique pulled up. “They have a cave on the other side of this slide and a little bit down the slope. I would advise…”

“You will advise nothing!” the Lieutenant snapped. “Lead us to the cave and I will deploy my men as I see fit.”

Enrique heard the unmistakable sound of the cocking of a pistol which was pointed at his back by the steady hand of the Lieutenant. What was the meaning of that? He turned to meet the eyes of the Lieutenant; the question lingering in his mind was soon answered.

“If you are leading us into a trap,” he snarled. “You will be the first to die. What is the name of this rebel scum?”

“Vasquez,” Enrique replied. “The other is…”

“I don’t care about the names of the others,” he replied sharply. “Now, you will go along quietly and don’t call out or you will quickly have a ball of lead buried in your back. Is that understood? From here on in, you need to be on your best behavior Mister Barrera.” The way that he pronounced his name gave little doubt to his distaste of the man who bore it.

Enrique nodded his consent and then turned back to lead the column to the hide out. He was enraged by the way that he was being treated, but he kept his composure. He was very near obtaining his prize and he did not desire to have a musket ball buried in his back instead. It had been a long wait, but in only a few hours, he would be able to exactly revenge upon Maribel for kneeing him in the groin and at the same time taste the pleasures for which he had lusted. Only a little bit more time now.

After crossing the rockslide and easing down the slope, Enrique pulled up on the reins of his mount and indicated the location of the cave below. The Lieutenant waved to his men to fan out to the right and left, creating a semi-circle with the cave forming the center. When the men were in position, the Lieutenant made another motion with a wave of the pistol and rifles were suddenly brandished in the hands of the soldiers.

After casting one last glance toward the positioning of his troops and their readiness, the Lieutenant called out in a thundering voice. “Mister Vasquez! I am Lieutenant Herrera of the Royal Army of Spain in service of his majesty. I command you to surrender yourself and submit yourself to be tried for the crime of treason against the crown!”