(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…”
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.
“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. 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…”
“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.”
“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.