No Redemption Without Damnation

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(Continued from The Colonel Comes Home – Memories)

“You’re Sylvia Palacios?” he growled in a guttural lowland accent.

“Yes Captain”.

Garcia squinted. “You know me?”

“No sir. Your braid is the mark of a Captain. My husband was a soldier, sir.”

“We know. At this moment, that’s the only thing saving your life.”

Garcia flipped his good leg over and hopped to the ground. He loosened the ax from its’ bindings. With a few barked orders the soldiers dismounted and spread through the property and into the house.  She didn’t move as he strode by her, as if immobility made her invisible. “Did you know my Antonio?”

“No. The Colonel suddenly has a soft spot for widows of those who died under his command.”

She jumped but didn’t turn at the crash of the first ax blow. Then the second-she knew what he was doing. A few more then the door, in shards, was tossed aside. A window shattered as a chair flew through it. She directed the men with what sounded like grunts and coughs. The dialect was strange to her, but she thought she heard the word “treasure.”

“Where is the gold?” he asked, suddenly back at her shoulder.

“What gold Captain?”

He leaned and rumbled into her ear. “Remember I said your life has been saved for the moment. It’s a gift that can be withdrawn any time.”

She turned and met his eyes but for a moment. “Bedroom closet. Under the floorboards.”

He turned his head and barked. She heard the rumble of men rushing through her house then the crashing of axes.

“What’s to become of me?” she asked having turned away again.

“If you live, it’s shit-town for you”, he said distracted, paying attention to the two bags that his men were bringing out of the house. The little she knew of shit-town was it was the bottom of the bottom caste. Natives living naked in the jungle occupied a higher rung on their society’s ladder. At least the band of outcasts and ne’er do wells that lived along a downstream slough of the river had a function. They managed the rudimentary sewage runnels that the viceroy had invented years before to relieve the highlands of any town’s most vexing and continuous need. And they washed soldier’s uniforms and the army’s bandages in large boiling pots well upstream from the shit pipes. The other lore she ignored for the time being. She would know soon enough.

He brought the bags to the table beside her and emptied the smaller one. “Not as much here as I thought there would be.”

“I’ve been living off it, since Antonio died.”

“There’s more?”

“There was. That’s all that’s left. I swear.”

They were old coins imprinted with the name of a Spanish king who had rotted away decades ago. Impossible to know when, or where, Antonio Palacios had made them his own. But it didn’t matter, they belonged to the Colonel now he thought, as he put them back into the sack. Most of them anyway. He left enough on the table for his men to pick up. They would notice there were exactly three per man and would take their share. Everyone had ways to ensure a soldier’s loyalty.

“You gather everything you can carry in a pillowcase”, he told her. As she entered the house, the soldiers walked out carrying Laurencia’s clothes. Deadened to what she might see, she didn’t even gasp at the ruin around her. Tables, chairs, dressers, all smashed and scattered. She found another dress, like the one she wore, in a pile. Also trousers. Sandals, underclothing, boots…all jammed into a sack. Turning from the shattered room she saw the captain-silhouetted in the sunshine from outside- standing between her and the door. He was unfastening his belt. “Oh”, was all she said.

“Remove your dress and lay over the bed”, he said simply. That’s when it registered to her that the bed was the only piece of furniture in the house left undisturbed. She turned her back to him and pulled the rough cloth over her head, letting it fall to the floor. “Your rump has all the colors of the sunset, Senora.” She knew as she lowered herself that the bruises were fading but still very much in evidence.

“The Colonel was very thorough”, she said situating herself over the foot of the bed, feet on the floor. “I deserved it”, she repeated her mantra.

“Well, there will be no whipping today”, he said.

She turned her head to look back over her shoulder. His dark cock, long, and slender, pointed to her bottom like a compass needle finding true north. Again, even in her shame, she felt a flutter in her breast. She had nothing not grown in the garden between her legs for years. Her rounded backside was large and heavy enough to well cover her treasures. “Spread these”, he said stepping between her legs. She wriggled to comply and felt his surprisingly gentle finger over her dry slit. She pushed backward trying to open as he wriggled against the opening that seemed impossibly narrow.

“There is lotion”, she said quickly. “If you can find it. It was in a jar on the dresser.”

“You would like that”, he said rubbing back and forth. “It would be easier for you.”

“And for you”, she said. “Would you rather slip through butter or grind through sand?”

She felt his hand on her bottom cheek as he pushed away and shuffled to where the dresser lay, its drawers having vomited their contents in a swath across the floor. She rolled onto her side and pointed to a spot near the wall. “There”, she said. “The green jar.” He picked it up and she settled back onto her stomach.

“And it’s not broken”, he said chuckling. “I’ll have to speak to my men.”

The joke did not register as she pulled a pillow to her face and opened her legs. She gasped as first one, then two fingers, worked their way up and down then, well-greased, entered her. She lifted onto her toes to better accommodate him as he oiled and stretched her with a few minutes of thorough fingering. She felt him move closer against her before he withdrew his hand and roughly grasped her hips. Pulling as he pushed forward, he sheathed himself-in a single slow thrust-as completely as possible into her secreted vagina. He pushed harder trying to get all the way in but her bottom-as pleasant as he found it to rub against-was an impediment to complete penetration.

“Your ass, senora…It is in the way…” he caught his breath and bit his tongue.  Though an older man, he spent little time with women these days and concentrated, concerned that he might come too quickly.

“I could lay on my back”, she offered.

“No”, he said pulling out. “I like it back here. But I think I’ll switch holes.”

Before she could panic at the prospect of being violated in a way she hadn’t for years, the head of his cock was pushing at her tiny brown button. As a child she was told if she opened her mouth wide, it would open her back there. So, feeling the searing burn as the Captain stretched his way into her top hole, she opened her mouth wide and said nothing as he filled her completely with his length and breadth.

“Better…” he grunted pushing deeply. He saw the woman’s hands shaking as she clenched the bedclothes and knew her mouth was full of pillow. His strokes, for the most part, were shallow and quick. Not until he felt himself gathering at the gate did he drive deeply, grinding into Sylvia Palacios’ ass. He didn’t care any longer about coming; would prefer to get it over with. His job here was complete-he could report her well used.

Backside aflame, her ears rang with the slapping sound of skin on skin as he bounced off her bottom. Hurry damn you! she thought holding her breath as he quickened pace for a moment then stiffened with a grunt and shudder. He collapsed atop her as his throbbing cock painted her insides with ill sown seed. He lay still until his breathing recovered then pushed himself off her to stand.

“Come on”, he said after wiping himself with the end of the sheet. “We have to be off.” He picked up the dress and her sack and strode out the door. She knew he meant for her to follow him naked into the yard but she refused, finding a limit to her appetite for punishment. Moving stiffly, she wrapped the soiled sheet around her and shuffled through the door.

When he saw her, he barked a quick order and the soldier nearest her ripped the sheet from her with such force she almost tumbled. “I can’t ride like this!” she cried, her alabaster body gleaming in the sunlight.

He gave another quick order and two soldiers took her roughly and tied her feet and hands with coarse rope that had been thrown over their saddles. She didn’t resist knowing struggle was fruitless and allowed herself to be lifted and thrown bottom up over the saddle like a bag of corn. She watched the ground mutely as they tied her hands to her ankles and with another rope, fastened her to the saddle.

“There”, he said standing beside the burro and patting her upturned bottom strongly. “You think you can ride like this?” She said something he didn’t hear. “What?”, he asked.

“I’m leaking you bastard!”, she whispered raggedly. Knowing what she meant he tore a slice from the sheet and shoved it roughly between the cheeks of her ass. “There”, he said patting her again. “That should save the saddle.” Then, struck by an idea, he stepped to the fire pit and took a piece of charcoal. He brushed her bottom as one might a table to clear crumbs and with the charcoal wrote in fine script, “Sylvia Palacios” and below that “Madre Horrible”. He stood back admiring his handiwork before mounting and tying Sylvia’s burro to his saddle horn. “Now let’s ride.”

The soldier in the lead headed off on a neglected trail that led directly to the river. “Not that way”, the captain said turning his horse to the well-worn path. “Let’s go down through town.”

Her humiliation complete, Sylvia Palacios wept. The Captain leaned over and spoke softly to the back of her downcast head. “There can be no redemption without damnation, Senora.”

(Thus ends Chapter One of ‘The Colonel Comes Home’)

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The Colonel Comes Home – Memories

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(Continued from The Colonel Comes Home – 4)

Sylvia Palacios sat on a hard stool in the courtyard of her home and let her eyes flow over the untended garden and the darkness of the ever-encroaching jungle. Years before, they’d cut many trees in clearing this land. What she knew is that trees, like memories, were never gone. You could drop the thickest tree, cut it into logs and send it down river or burn it for charcoal. With a strong mule and harness, maybe a little dynamite, you can be rid of the stump and with dirt fill, the ground would look fine. Would look strong. Would be strong; for a while.

But over the years the roots below ground would be eaten by insects; would rot. Would disappear and become voids where there was once strength. The voids, unseen on the surface, would create sinkholes that lay in wait to twist a knee, crack an ankle or crumble a house. That is what memories are: voids from the never-forgotten past that open sinkholes in the soul and she had fallen into one and gotten horribly twisted.

She could not grasp why she did what she did. Even now, in the light of day, she could barely remember it. But when she finally awoke this morning and found Laurencia gone, she knew what she had done. She was strangely composed as she changed from her night clothes into an old, shapeless cotton house dress: a fitting garment for her last day on earth. She deserved no better. She wore no underclothes in case there would be another whipping before her execution.

Her long hair was tied in a braid to make it easier for the hangman’s noose or, God forbid, the chopping block. She’d heard of beheadings-horrific stories of tribal warfare-but had never seen one. If they were to shoot her, she hoped it would be against the front wall so the last thing she would see was the garden and the purple mountains beyond. That was her preference, she supposed. Antonio had been shot. In battle, yes. But shot.

These were her thoughts as, with a rumble, the soldiers rode into her yard. The first of the riders, a tall one with gray hair, had an axe strapped to the side of his saddle. Had she eaten anything in the previous days she would have lost it from one end or the other. Idle rumination of one’s imminent demise are one thing; seeing the instrument of your own end riding in, is was quite another. As it was, her stomach empty and feeding on itself, she only stared, bowels roiling.

(Continuing…)

The Colonel Comes Home – 4

(Continued from The Colonel Comes Home – 3)

A short, sharp, duo-tone whistle reached the ears of Captain Miguel Garcia, the head of the Colonel’s house guard. Captain Garcia, a widower who had ridden with the Colonel since the beginning, looked older than he was but he was still older than the Colonel. Still fierce but with a diplomatic side-a trait that made him valuable to the Colonel in a different way than the soldiers garrisoned across the river or the berserk warriors guarding the poppy fields.

Garcia, limping slightly from an old lance wound, materialized at the end of the veranda. He was tall with a proud leonine head and wavy gray hair combed straight back giving him a patrician air that belied his low country roots. He was not the type of man to be summoned by a whistle like a dog but since losing the hearing in his left ear from cannon fire on the savannah years before, it worked.

“You know the girl’s mother, right?”

“Yes. A Rondon. Breed of pigs, you ask me. The young one” he nodded toward the house “is the last of a misbegotten line.”

With a flick of his wrist the Colonel offered wine which Garcia happily accepted. He sat, stretching and rubbing his gimpy leg.

“What do we know of her father?”

“The girl’s? He was one of ours. Died in the Battle of Marzipan some years ago.”

“Did I know him?”

“I doubt it.” He shrugged. “Decent soldier-otherwise undistinguished.”

The Colonel pulled at his lip. As always, more information complicated things. “How did she come to be living in a stone house halfway up the mountain?”

Garcia shrugged. “Maybe he was a thief.”

“You think he stole from us?” he asked sharply, the question rife with dark import.

“No”, replied Garcia. “He kept his head until he lost it. There are endless places for a soldier to steal if he’s a mind.”

“But”, said the Colonel finger raised for emphasis “Doesn’t all treasure won in conquest belong to all of us?” Garcia shrugged uninterested in that debate. Easier to legislate against soldiers shitting than stealing. The Colonel let it lie. “Otherwise he served us well?”

“Adequately. Died well-at the front of a charge.”

“A horseman?”

“No.”

“No?”

“One of the human waves we sent at them, on the Sun Plains.”

“Ah”, said the Colonel. “A glorious day.”

“Not for him.”

“He was probably out in front to get to the gold first.”

“There is that.”

“Serves him right then. Why can’t I remember him?”

“You’ve commanded hundreds—thousands–over the years Colonel. You can’t remember them all. “

“Aye”, he waved it away like a bug. “No matter. Her house is ours now. You want it?”

“I’m happy where I am Colonel.”

“Leave it empty then. Take the doors and windows off so the mountain can reclaim it. Let her collect everything in a single sack that she can carry. Bring the livestock and anything else you can find here. It’s off to shit-town for her. Let them deal with her.”

“As you will Colonel”. He finished his wine in a swallow and stood. “Will she be coming back? Or is this a one-way trip?”

“Up to her, I’d imagine.”

“Very well.” With a nod that could have been interpreted as a bow, Garcia turned to take his leave.

“And Miguel,” the Colonel added softly. Hearing his given name, the Captain stopped and leaned back. “Use her, my friend. You won’t take her house, take her. With my permission. No, even at my insistence.” He would use words like this sometimes to disguise orders.

The Captain nodded and was off.

 

(Continuing…)

The Colonel Comes Home – 3

(Continued from The Colonel Comes Home – 2)

“Fried Christ!” the Colonel grumbled as sweat leaked from his hat band into his eyes. He was glad they had started before sunup but now it didn’t matter. He coaxed his burro over a slight rise then into the darkening cool between two boulders. “Hot!” he called to Diego who was keeping the pace ahead of him.

“It’s good for us, this sun”, he called back over his shoulder. “Wait till you see the crop.”

The Colonel pulled up and lifted his hat to wipe his brow. The poppies weren’t going anywhere-they would wait for him. His foreman went not much farther before realizing he was alone. He turned his burro to find his father drinking from his gourd in the shade. “I’m sorry, Colonel”, he said. “I shouldn’t have…”

“Don’t apologize for doing what every man your age does. Rush forward, run here-run there. It’s your running about-being everywhere at the same time- that makes this estate, and us, rich. Don’t apologize for it. I did it too. Years ago. Now, I sit in the shade when God provides.” Diego took the offered gourd and drank deeply.

Diego had wanted him to see the crop since his return and this trip to the top of the mountain was for him. The boy was proud of his efforts as he should have been. The Colonel liked the flowers, he liked the colors, he liked the clearings hacked, in a single winter, out of the dark jungle-that showed power. But he wasn’t a farmer, this Colonel. None of his people were of the earth. He was a fighter, a soldier, a one-time mercenary, now unquestioned ruler of what once had been the largest regency in the country and owner of the largest estate in the territory. What he liked about this crop was what he liked about everything he touched: the gold that it would eventually yield. His growing fortune. The gold to buy more soldiers. That’s what he cared about. That’s what he had come to see. He sat in the shade until the sweat on his back felt cool then gestured Diego onward.

It was after two when they finally arrived back at the hacienda trudging slowly through the glowing orange trees. He had toured the poppy fields and spent the requisite time with the troops stationed up there. They were always happy to see him and worth the trip but almost nine hours on a burro was plenty for the Colonel and he left his with a groom and turned to Diego. “Join me for lunch? Some wine, perhaps?”

“I would love to Colonel”, he demurred. “But we are slaughtering from the southern herd in the morning. I’m down some caballeros and need to gather stragglers.”

The Colonel smiled and waved him off. “Go to it Diego! We need every cow-it will be a tough winter. I’ll drink enough for both of us.” With a quick, “Adio’” he was off to his cows. The older man walked slowly, straightening a little more each step. Surely, it was his imagination, but he swore he heard his spine groaning like a tree in the wind.

His coming had, of course, been foreseen and the wine, cheese, fruits and bread were at the table. He unbuckled his saber and took off his pistol, thinking about how his hardware grew heavier every year. He was looking directly upward and digging his knuckles into his kidneys when he heard a light tread on the veranda. It was one of the serving girls…Constance, Consuelo…he couldn’t remember. “Yes?” he asked.

“Excellency. The girl…she’s back.” She had nothing else to say.

The Colonel stared blinking then opened his hands to her. “Which girl, daughter? It’s been a busy week.”

“The one whose mother you…whipped.” Her voice dropped at the last word-not wanting to speak it in his presence lest…

“Ah, Laurencia”, he remembered derailing her train of thought. “She’s brought her burro back for a visit. I’ll pet him but not ride him. Enough with burros today. Please, fetch her. Send her to me.” He poured a cup of wine and took it onto his tongue. It was the Rose, served cool from the cellars. He kept it on his tongue before-eyes closed-swallowing slowly and luxuriantly. If the priests served this at Mass he never would have left the Church.

He felt, more than heard the girl cross the patio. He waved to her.  “Come here girl.” Laurencia hung back-only for a moment. Her transformation from almost-woman, back to child was stunning enough that the Colonel had to keep looking at her to ensure that this pretty waif was the same sent to him for carnal pleasure just days before. It wasn’t just the plain housedress either. The girl seemed chastened somehow. He saw something in the way she moved-there was a stiffness. His stomach hardened when he saw what might have been a thickness on her lower lip-as from a blow. He registered it, then ignored it.

The Colonel sat to get down to her level and spread his spindly legs. “Come,” he said, reaching out his hands, beckoning. “I guess there are no eggs for me this trip”, he joked but she didn’t smile. “I’m sorry”, she mumbled. “Come, come”, she took his hand shyly and slipped into the protectorate of his horseman’s thighs. She noticed, of all things, how clean his white canvas trousers were. She whimpered lightly as he turned her but gave into his gentle push to bend slightly over his left leg steadying herself with one hand on the table. She made no sound as he drew up her rough cotton dress behind.

To preserve her modesty, he only pulled the dun colored cloth up her legs but far enough to reveal thick switch slashes that left angry welts and a few cuts on the back of her thighs. He could imagine, but didn’t want to see, what her bottom looked like. His heart raced, and he thought of his saber.

“Your mother did this?”

“Yes Colonel.”

“Why?”

“She was angry.”

“Tell me true girl. Did you misbehave in any way to deserve this?”

“No sir. I was asleep. She awoke me with a stick.”

She was young; inexperienced in the ways of men. She didn’t hear his tone of voice change from sweetly cajoling to hardened steel. He lowered her dress and helped her to straighten. “Buenila!” Being deeply experienced, the old woman recognized the Colonel’s tone and materialized at the edge of the veranda like steam from a fissure in the ground.

“Am I in trouble Colonel?” Laurencia asked timidly.

“No, my dear…Not at all.”

“Buenila, take Laurencia inside, bathe her, dress her wounds…”

“Wounds?”

“You will see them…and feed her. I’m betting she’s hungry, aren’t you daughter?” She answered with a tiny nod. “Go”, he said with a wave of his hand. “Let Buenila care for you. She’s had girls just like you…she’ll know what to do. Go.”

Buenila the crone, barren since birth, never a natural mother, took Laurencia Palacios gently by the hand and led her into the cool darkness of the house. Inside, they moved to the left away from the Colonel’s quarters toward the servants and guest rooms. They passed Buenila’s small cell without comment and came to a room glowing green from sunlight reflected off the leaves through the high window. The bathing room had a handsome teak bathtub, a dressing table, a rattan lounge and small fireplace in the corner.

The girl balked when Buenila tried to undress her, so she left her be and took to filling the tub. The cistern water was warm this time of year but not warm enough so Buenila added from the steaming kettle that was always near to boiling on the fire. The scent of the oils added to the water was as enticing as the old woman’s tuneless humming was calming.

This time, when the old woman pulled at the laces at her neck, Laurencia did not resist and allowed the dress to be pulled up over her head covering her small breasts with crossed arms. Had the Colonel availed himself of what had been so crudely offered he would have found a girl on the cusp of womanhood; her throat long and thin with matted brown hair cascading over almond colored shoulders. Firm as a spring peach, she glowed in the dappled, reflected sunshine.

She pulled back when the old woman tried to pull her arms down. Again, leaving her be, Buenila cupped her hands and reached into the bathtub scooping a deep handful of water into her mouth. Then, cheeks swollen, she looked at the girl, crossed her eyes and pulled her ears spitting a stream of water out of her mouth like a demented swan, splatting Laurencia in the middle of the forehead. The girl froze in amazement then burst into laughter raising her hands to cover her face. Seeing an opening, the crone moved quickly to tickle her under both arms. The girl screeched and, dissolving into giggles, pulled her arms to her sides, her nakedness, at least for the moment, forgotten.

This time, when offered a hand, Laurencia took it and turned stepping gingerly into the tub. The old woman quickly glanced at the crosshatching on the girl’s backside and again raged quietly behind her humming.

“What is that song?” Laurencia asked, wincing as she sat in the tub.

“I don’t know. Mamma sang it. It is the sound of my childhood.”

“That was a long time ago, I bet.”

In my head, thought the old woman, it is still happening. “A very long time”, she said.

The girl allowed her hair to be washed, then to be bathed top and bottom, inside and out.  Stepping out of the tub she stood comfortably, shifting from foot to foot as Buenila dried her with thick cotton towels. Then, led by the hand, she followed the old woman to the couch and lay naked across her lap. The unguent that Buenila applied to the girl’s wounds was an old native concoction made of jungle herbs and weeds.

“This is not so bad”, she whispered interrupting her chorale as she rubbed and ministered to every stripe and mark. “You will be fine…” When finished she moved to help the girl up but heard in her breathing, in her regular and rhythmic snotty, snuffling, that she had fallen fast asleep. Buenila smiled and sat back, her arms protectively draped across the girl.

“That’s all right. Sleep Choochie”, she thought using a name her gramma had called her. “The Colonel will do the right thing.”

(Continuing…)

The Colonel Comes Home – 2

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(Continued from The Colonel Comes Home)

Sylvia Palacios had obviously spent the morning preparing for her audience with the Colonel. The daughter’s hair and cheekbones must have been her father’s but the black eyes came from the one standing across from him. He hadn’t asked her to sit. She was his height, wide shouldered and rounded of hip. Her breasts, no doubt she thought her best feature, were bound up, pressing proudly against her bodice. She was not striking or beautiful as Laurencia was becoming but pretty enough in her own right.

“Did you ride the burro up?”

“No Colonel. I have a pony-left me by my husband. It’s old but knows the trails.” She had walked the pony slowly, so as not to sweat in the oppressive heat of the day. And even if she did, she had powdered and oiled enough not to offend. The breezy deference that she showed upon entering the veranda began to wither as she wasn’t offered a seat. Nor was there a glass for her as the Colonel drank what looked to be wine. She expected a work table full of maps, plans and papers but it was clear and spotless. Just the Colonel’s glass and a pitcher and the wine. She was thirsty and growing nervous.

He looked at her from the side-as if cocking his head from the smoke of a cigar.  “That is some daughter you have there, Senora.”

“Oh yes, Excellency. She is my pride.” So, she thought, this IS about Laurencia. The girl had told her they’d just talked-that the Colonel was too busy to do anything else. Had she lied? She had better not have lied to her.

Muffled shouts from the river below and the buzzing murmur of estate chatter joining the cicadas, birds and monkeys in a blanket of sound made the silence settling between them that much more uncomfortable. “Are you alright Senora? You look to be sweating”, he asked as he poured himself another cup of water. Her upper lip glistened in the sun and a tiny drop slid from her armpit as she watched him drink. “Here”, he said rising. “Let’s walk over to the railing-look out over the river. There’s a breeze.”

He stood aside as she passed but leaned in toward her hair. “Whatever is that scent you are wearing?”

“Guava”, she said surprised and a little confused. Given the cool reception she hadn’t expected a compliment. “I make it…”

“Very nice.”

He led her gently to the railing where the valley and the river from eastern bend to western bend opened to her. “Beautiful, is it not?”

“Yesh”, she slurred slightly, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. Should I ask for water? she wondered.

“Here, here”, said the colonel taking her arms from behind and placing them on the railing, leaning her a little forward. “Breathe”, he told her helpfully. “Take deep breaths.” He sucked air puffing his chest to show her and she followed suit hesitatingly. “Still not enough!” he fussed. “Here”.

He took her hand and placed it along the bracing board below the rail causing her to bend completely over, the rail digging at her waist. “Let your head hang…” She dropped the other hand to the board but uncomfortable, tried to stand. The Colonel lay his hand-as firm as a locust post-across her back.

“You do not move Senora”, he said sternly all cordial pretense gone.

“Colonel…?” she asked trying to look back over her shoulder. She was startled to feel her dress and slip pushed up over her head and the air of the veranda play against her underneath.

“Excellency!” she cried.

He slapped her rump firmly as he might a recalcitrant donkey and she yelped.

“Silence!” he barked rubbing her ass, his calluses catching on the silken undergarments. They were not cheap. Nor too tight. With a yank he loosened them, then worked them down over her bottom. Below her knees, her legs were slender-like a girl’s-but thickened at the top. She whimpered lightly as he ran his hand over the deep dimples on her backside and thighs. Her skin, the color of clam shells, mottled pink with his handprint.

She had clenched her cheeks together so he forced the flat of his hand between her legs pushing and slapping at the inside of her thighs. She reluctantly shuffled her feet apart releasing the soft scent of eucalyptus.

“Colonel”, she begged. “Everyone will see.”

“Yet, you would send your daughter up here for me to use? Would you be so modest if it was she bent over the rail here?”

She flinched at his rough touch between her legs; he squeezed the thickness of them then pressed the side of his hand against her dry slit. “Is this how you would have had me use her? Here? Like this?” He prodded with his finger.

“No Excellency! You are mistaken! I never….”

“Maybe here?” He slipped his thumb into her deep crevice and pushed firmly at her anus.

“NO!! Please…”

“Which of your daughter’s holes would you have had me enter first?” He slapped her again, the loud report echoing. The second handprint-like a discarded glove-appeared over the first as he unbuckled his belt.

She began to blubber when she heard the slithering snap of the leather being pulled from his trousers. It was a sound she remembered too well from childhood. “I’m sorry Colonel” she cried.

“No doubt you are. You will learn from this.” He kneaded her with his left hand. “Do not clench-it will be worse, trust me.”

The first cut of the belt stole her breath-she couldn’t scream as the soft leather stroked equally across both globes with enough left over to snap at the side of her hip. Her lungs filled as the burn spread and she cried out at the second stroke startling a screaming macaw into flight. The third stroke was better aimed, snapping at the center of her right cheek leaving a bright strawberry kiss.

After the sixth stroke she settled into the reality of her thrashing, biting her lip and grunting at each blow. Through her tears she saw peasants across the river pausing to watch the Colonel whip a white woman. Behind her most of the staff had scattered. The women never wanted to be around when the Colonel was in a whipping mood lest some forgotten transgression be remembered. The men nearby might pretend they weren’t watching but would see what they could until their hardness became unbearable and they retreated to the darkest corner of the barn or a willing maid for relief.

Buenila, on the other hand, stood contentedly beside the stone fireplace, bony arms crossing her flat chest. She wouldn’t miss a stroke. If it were up to her, he would whip more of them. If she were capable, it was a job she would be happy to undertake.

While Sylvia Palacios sobbed silently through her thrashing, tasting the copper of blood from her bitten lip, holding still was impossible. She jerked at each stroke, raised on one toe, then the other. Squatted-straightened, balanced on the rail spreading and thrusting-all modesty gone as she revealed herself openly to anyone with eyes. The Colonel, his rage dampened, aimed well, raising new welts and crossing old. The tops of her legs were not forgotten. The senora was bucking like a heifer in a branding cage when he stayed his arm to take stock. Her backend was crossed with pink and red stripes decorated with starbursts of purple. She bent, spent and sobbing, over the rail this time welcoming the respite of his rough hand surveying his handiwork.

“I think my work here is done”, he said rubbing and closely inspecting. He hadn’t broken the skin which was good. This was the jungle after all and any wound was an invitation to infection. The Colonel gently took her slip, then her dress and dropped them over her naked behind.  “Come, Senora,” he reached out a hand. “Arise. Come on. Up, Up…”

She stood on shaky legs and accepted the clean, silk handkerchief the Colonel offered. Her face, as red as her bottom, was smeared with tears, powder and snot. She worked at it, sniffling as he led her to a chair.

“Here”, he said. “Sit.”

She snorted lightly into the handkerchief. “Now you offer me a seat?”

The Colonel’s mouth twitched; the ghost of a smile below his mustache. “It’s canvas”, he said. “Look-it will be fine.”

She smiled ruefully with her eyes at least and sat, lowering herself lightly, gripping the chair arms. It took a few wriggles and adjustments before she could sit, listing to one side.

“There” he said.

Then she noticed the fresh pitcher of chilled water and a cup in front of her. She reached, then stopped. “May I?”

“By all means” He poured himself a glass of Port, also new to the table, and without much prodding heard the story of Sylvia Palacios. At least the rehearsed, well-told story. About how her father had given her for use to her uncle, then when he grew tired of her she was offered to a provisional reagent whose name escaped the Colonel. As she droned on his attention was pulled to her white underpants lying on the dark wood like a dead gull. It was curious that the sight of the discarded silk aroused him more than her naked bottom had.

He had tired of her story-and tired of trying to fathom how much truth was in it.

“Your father”, he asked. “Is he still alive?”

“No Excellency.”

“Your uncle?”

“No. They both died in the last war.”

“Pity. I would have liked to kill at least one of them for you.” Then, after a pause “What do you think about what happened to you today?”

She looked at her hands and tried to fashion words that would have the ring of truth. It took but a few moments. “I was wrong, Excellency. And deserved everything you gave me. I insulted you…”

“Your daughter…”

“My daughter. And should have been whipped. I apologize.”

“Not to me. Go now. Prepare a meal for your daughter and apologize for being such and awful mother.”

“I will Excellency. I will tell her….”

“You will tell her nothing. You will show her-by attention, by doing everything moving forward to show her how important she is to you.”

“Yes Excellency.”

“Now go. I’ve spent enough time this week with Palacios women.”

She rose gingerly and looked toward the rail spotting her underwear. She went to retrieve them.

“Leave them”, said the Colonel, not sure why.

“Yes sir.” She looked away from them like they didn’t exist and with a slight curtsey, disappeared from the veranda, across the patio and was gone. The voices of the house, stilled for a while, began to buzz again.

At the gate Sylvia Palacios wondered about the hard, worn leather of the saddle. She had no choice, it was too far to walk. Placing one foot in the stirrup she put the other one over and sat. No, she thought, wincing, as the pony started to walk. Her bottom felt burned and shrunken. She stood in the stirrups trying to look regal as she passed everyone who knew why she wasn’t sitting astride her little pony.

That little bitch will pay for this, she thought darkly. My shame will be her pain.

 

(Continuing…)

The Colonel Comes Home

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He sat cracking his neck on the veranda overlooking the river. His bed always took some getting used to after months peacefully rocking in a hammock. He might be done with it; the bed, the house, all of it. Pitch his hammock out here and sleep under nets like everyone else. They seemed happy with it.  Why should those with nothing be content with their lot and he feel so fucked all the time?

The river wasn’t a torrent by any means but neither the low green stream he was hoping for on his return. It ran full and brown-café con leche-filling the banks the way it never did in the summer and covering the marsh grass that deer would eat wading in the cool shade in the heat of the afternoons.

A swollen cow floated by, hooves reaching for the sky, then a couple of chickens. The lowland peasants always take the brunt of the weather. Floods this late in the season would mean hunger in the winter-not famine-there would still be food here in the most fecund valley he knew, but less of it. Without their chickens and corn they would be hunting his hills for game all winter. Which was fine, so long as they steered clear of the poppy fields, which they knew to do.

He had gambled before leaving and had the crop planted high on the mountain. Making the new clearings so far from where he usually farmed had been arduous but the rains which would have washed him out on the lowland fields, drained quickly up there. He had ridden through the fields on his way in and the crop was beautiful and lush. Thus did the rich get richer.

The sun peeking over the ridge downstream colored the trees and awoke the woodpeckers and the crows. Everyplace the filtered light touched him burned slightly, like a warm stick pressed against his skin. It would be hot today.

He heard the soft scraping tread behind him and steeled himself.

“More coffee Excellency?”

When he was sure Buenila couldn’t see, he had spilled what was left in his cup into the brown river. The pestilential rains had ruined the coffee crop and they were reduced to drinking chicory which was better than tea he supposed but worse than everything else.

“Yes, Buenila. Thank you.”

“It’s good then?”

“Wonderful”, he said turning his head slightly toward her but not looking back.

“Good…” she shuffled away.

Below him a pig floated by, tits up and mottled by the sun. His stomach gurgled an ominous reminder of his miseries.

“Wait”, he called back over his shoulder “A glass of Port instead. And a piece of the bread you made last evening.” She would know to bring the cheese without being told. Might as well start the day.

The sun was directly overhead when he pushed the last of the ledgers away and rubbed his eyes. He still had the eyes of an eagle, but they, like the rest of him, were only good for short spurts. Most of the morning had been spent with Diego, who was effectively the estate foreman, responsible for everything when the Colonel was gone on conquest or otherwise indisposed. Small and dark, Diego was young enough to be-and whispered that he was in fact-the Colonel’s own son. Neither man remembered Diego’s mother-she was gone when he was a swaddling babe, left to the capable hands of Buenila. To the Colonel-then a striving Captain-she had been one in a long continuing series of couplings.

While his wiry physic and green eyes could have been a give-away, neither of the men seemed to care about the certainty of his lineage. As a boy, and now a man, Diego wanted nothing more than to sit astride whichever mule or horse the day’s labor called for and do his work. “Nothing between my God and me but my hat!” he would smile doffing his well-worn woven skipper.

They had opened the canopy before noon and he now toyed with the idea of stringing his hammock and taking his siesta right here. Just toyed. While there was a breeze, the thick masonry walls that had survived two earthquakes to his knowledge kept his house cool even at midday. He would go inside.

Before he could push away from the table Buenila appeared at his shoulder.

“A girl from the village is calling, Excellency.”

“The village?”

The crone shrugged. To her, everyone not of the estate was from ‘the village’.

He settled back in his chair. “Send her out.”

Good Lord, he thought as he did when confronted by young girls. Is this my daughter? He didn’t think so-she was too young with striking raven eyes and thick straight hair the color of jungle dirt. Her cheekbones were high disguising the baby fat that still rounded her. She hesitated at the edge of the veranda.

“Come, come”, he said gently.

The girl shuffled closer. He could not ignore her full pouty lips. “What’s your name, daughter?”

“Laurencia”, she answered. “Laurencia Palacios.”

“Come, come…” he repeated reaching out a hand. The girl held back-walking in sand. Palacios, he thought. I know that name. “Do I know your father?” he asked.

“He’s gone.”

“I see, I see… What brings you here to see me today, Laurencia?”

“My mother, your majesty. She…”

He snorted loudly. “There is no crown on my head, sweetheart. I’m a simple Colonel.”

“Yes sir.” Her eyes wouldn’t meet his. “My mother says I should come by. I should make myself…an introduction. I mean…I should make myself available to you….”

An icy hand gripped the Colonel’s chest. There were women, God knows, who approached him-who always approached him-wanting to be close to him and share what he’d won. And God also knows he had a weakness for them which is why there were so many of a certain age across the territory and in his service that had his green eyes, his sharp nose, his wavy hair.

He was used to these clingers and grabbers and had done, in his mind, a reasonable job recently of keeping his distance from such hardscrabble paramours. These days, his victories and powers brought a different class of women to his bed; ones who had their own gold and houses-even husbands-and only wanted to share of his essence if for a night or a week or a month. That was one thing. There was a special place in hell for those who would whore their daughters out for the same reason.

“How old are you, Darling?” he asked covering his rage.

He watched the girl freeze-the truth of fourteen colliding with the lie of seventeen her mother had given her. He had sat on too many tribunals to be fooled by a naïve virgin and her conniving mother.

“If you are contemplating a lie to me, just say nothing. It will be better.”

The girl stayed quiet, then, peeking up at him, “Fourteen, your majes…colonel.”

“Ah, fourteen. Very good. Very good.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “You weren’t supposed to tell me that were you?”

The girl blushed and looked away.

“No matter, no matter. I’ll make sure I tell everyone you’re eighteen, is it? Seventeen?”

“Seventeen, Colonel.”

“Very good.”

Regardless of her looks and the beginnings of regal bearing, the girl’s accent was of the mud. It was tough to hear such guttural tones coming out of a mouth as wonderful as this.

“Do you read Laurencia?”

“No, Colonel”.

“Numbers?”

She shook her head.

What is this mother thinking? He didn’t know, but he would find out. The girl brightened when he offered her chocolate and a cup of watered wine. She had come up the mountain alone on a handsome burro that she loved and had all her life. The colonel smiled; there is hope for one who loves a burro as the girl loved hers. The words poured about her burro, then her cats, then the dog, then the chickens-the girl who had slinked up the mountain in fear babbled on happily about the animals in her life. Probably preferable to the people she knew. The Colonel had daughters, both known and unknown, native and mestizo, and knew how to speak to girls. What he thought would be a five-minute interview extended to a half an hour of laughter and simple stories.

“Well Laurencia, it was wonderful to meet you”, he said finally. “But I have work…” he gestured apologetically toward the table.

“Yessir. I’m sorry to have taken your time.”, she said primly and stood. “I will go now. Thank you.”

She bowed formally and turned away her pert bottom pressing against the woven dress. They always mature first back there, he thought before looking away.

“Laurencia!” She stopped and turned. “I want you to…” how to say this? He didn’t want to appear to be offering what her mother had sent her for but wanted to ensure that the girl knew she had a place to come to if she ever needed one. “Stop back and see me. I don’t have the time now, but would love to meet your burro. Would you bring him back to visit?”

“Oh yes sir. And I will bring you eggs-from my chickens.”

“You will never be able to bring eggs up the mountain on your burro”, he teased. “They will all be scrambled when you get here!”

“You’ll see. I know how to pack eggs”, she smiled widely and for a moment he saw the woman she would become.

Dios Mio, he thought. Then with a charming smile that betrayed nothing, “Have your mother stop by to see me, would you? Not you, just her. Same time as this tomorrow. High noon. You’ll remember that won’t you?”

“Oh yes Colonel. I will tell her. And remember, I am seventeen!” She laughed like pearls flowing over pebbles.

“Dios Mio”, he whispered as she strode across the patio and was gone. He didn’t feel guilty for his arousal but rather proud that he hadn’t acted upon it.

 

(Continued)