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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Las secuelas ((solo))
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:38 pm GMT 
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Jalisco

March 1920

Dusk in Mexico came slowly. It began as a gradual softening of the landscape, a dreamy haze that descended over its lines and contours. Darkness deepened under the trees which shaded the rock-strewn little riverbeds crisscrossing these valleys, the sorts of places where he'd stop to shave and occasionally wash his shirt. Patches of colorless brightness still reflected off the surface of the still brown waters where the sky peeped through the branches overhead. Sparrows massed and swirled far above the fields and trees, black specks twisting in organic formations. He paused just long enough to watch them, and moved on.

Just below the crest of the ridge, he stopped again. The road ran along its spine, little more than a donkey track strewn with gravel and the occasional scraggly patch of weeds. Still, you couldn’t be too careful. He looked left and right, still lying at the edge of the trees, flat on his belly like a soldier. Dust clung to his skin where he'd been sweating. The heat of the afternoon had softened into a drowsy cool, and the only sounds to reach his ears were the faint stir of wind in branches, the distant bray of a mule, the whine of insects. Straightening up, he brushed dirt off his clothes and scrambled up the last bank to stand on the road.

A soft paf and a kick of dust a few inches from his right foot first alerted him that he was being shot at. The crack of the rifle didn’t reach his ears until he’d already dived into the low trees on the other side of the road. Cursing under his breath, he pressed himself against a tree trunk and drew the gun strapped to his side. His hands and face were already scratched from his earlier trek through the underbrush. A mosquito buzzed near his ear, and he shook his head reflexively, brushing it away. He waited for ten, maybe fifteen minutes, drawing shallow, soundless breaths. Adrenaline kept the blood thundering through his body at far too fast a clip. The silence stretched on. Night fell faster under the trees, a deep lavender hue and the fuzziness of charcoal.

At last, he felt sure that there would be no further attack, no gun battle or pursuit. It was easy to die here; casual bullets were dispatched one or two at a time to enemies and unknowns alike, for little reason or sometimes none at all. For him, it would mean another miserable night without fire. Food and warmth had begun to feel like luxuries. At least it gave him something to hope for. These days, he mostly lived like an animal: out of habit. He holstered his gun and walked until the darkness became too thick to go on. He could make out the configuration of the underbrush just well enough to find a clear place at the base of a tree. As soon as he’d crouched down and leaned his back against the trunk, the ache in his feet started up again.

He wouldn’t take off his shoes, even to sleep. Now, traveling alone in unknown territory, he found himself jumpy and unaccustomed to the thickness of the silence. Vulnerable, an animal without its pack. He unholstered his gun and laid it beside him. His hand closed over it, fingers curling naturally against the trigger, the grip. He’d been sleeping this way for almost two months now. He’d been alone for a long time, before, but he’d gotten careless. Had thought he could rely on someone other than himself. Two months ago, that mistake had nearly killed him.

“I’d murder a man for a cigarette.” The sound of his voice was foreign, unfamiliar and hoarse. It was too loud for this place and the solitude that smothered it. He laughed to himself—brief, humorless, quiet—and lapsed back into silence. A short time later, Sascha Dautzenberg slouched down in the dirt and drifted into an uneasy sleep.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Las secuelas ((solo))
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:32 pm GMT 
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Michoacán

November 1929

The journey on horseback had taxed him, due in part to his uneasy coexistence with animals of all stripes. The smell and noise of the animal, and its occasional perverse disobedience, wore down his patience. Apart from his distaste for the horses, there was the question of his injuries, which had healed slowly. The wounds had closed, but they still ached, and the weakness lingered in him even now, almost two months later. The nights in Michoacán were cold this time of year, and he could feel that cold seeping into him through the fresh scars the knife had left in his body. As they rode, he could feel Raphael's eyes on him. He'd been watching Sascha like a hawk these past two weeks. He hadn't wanted to come so soon; he'd wanted to wait, he'd said, until Sascha had fully recovered. They'd fought about it, Sascha had insisted, and here they were.

The morning was still crisp and cool. Occasional wisps of steam rose from the horses' broad nostrils as they nickered back and forth in the quiet dawn. As the sky lightened overhead, huge swathes of white cloud caught the pink glow of sunrise, sweeping all the way to the horizon.

"Aquí." He reined in his horse and dismounted, his body still stiff from the cold and the long days of riding behind them.

Raphael followed suit, his movements fluid and full of easy grace. He was good with the horses, too, and had managed to keep them from bolting during a thunderstorm a few days into the journey. In the saddle, he moved naturally, swaying gently with the rhythm of the horse's steps. Every now and then he would split away and let his horse break into a canter, sunlight glimmering off its flanks and both of them radiant with the joy of wind rushing through their hair. In those moments, Sascha would pull his horse to a stop, light a cigarette, and just watch him go. It wouldn't be fair to say he envied him that freedom; Sascha himself was no less free, in his way. But if Raphael was like a wild horse turned loose on the plains to run for the sheer joy of it, then Sascha was a coyote, a lone scavenger. He could choose to go where he pleased, but rarely did so beyond the push and pull of necessity. His inclination was to keep to the shadows. It always had been.

They tied up the horses at a respectful distance from the wrought iron gates, though not so far that they couldn't keep an eye on them. The revolution had been over for nearly a decade, but this part of the country, like many, was far from settled. They both carried guns; again, Sascha had insisted.

They passed under the arched entryway, dripping with garlands of marigolds. The air here was thick with the scents of beeswax and incense. From the corner of his eye, he saw Raphael cross himself, an instinctive gesture. The cemetery lay at some distance from the town, but the whole valley was quiet after the previous night's celebration. A small red bird flickered through the branches of a tree overhead, and they could hear the horses snort or occasionally whinny. Otherwise, they were the only signs of life.

Sascha led the way over patches of yellow grass and soft, damp earth which clung to their boots. They wove between graves bedecked with marigolds and yellow petals, towering palm fronds and cane altars, forests of blackened wicks and candle stumps in cold pools of melted wax. The graves were still littered with the offerings of the preceding days: oranges, lemons, bottles of beer and tequila, sugar skulls made gooey by the morning dew. Here and there, a tiny grave bore ofrendas of children's dolls, baby shoes, toy soldiers. Loaves of pan de muertos dangled from altars, twisting gently in a breeze which also stirred the flower petals and rustled the scraps of colored paper which were strung in the branches of the trees. The smoldering remains of scattered campfires bore witness to the vigil from the night before.

They walked in silence between haphazard rows of iron crosses, lettered crookedly in white paint. At first he'd been watching Raphael out of the corner of his eye, but as they moved deeper into the cemetery his attention was drawn away. He stopped then, abruptly. It wasn't where he remembered it, this simple grave. Someone had been here; he could see footprints in the bare, soft earth. The remains of a few candles surrounded a cross made of marigold blossoms--beautiful, but easy to miss in this sea of orange flowers. Sascha stood in silence, looking down at that grave. He'd been gone a long time. Feeling a presence at his shoulder, he turned to see Raphael, and offered him a wan smile.

"¿Es suya?"

"Sí. Es suya."

Another breeze whispered through the leaves overhead, a cool caress against his face. One of the marigolds fluttered free of the cross, and Sascha bent down to replace it. Straightening up, he reached into the deep pocket of his overcoat and withdrew a bottle of tequila. The blue label was faded, but the name was one he'd known, back then. He uncorked it and took a swig before passing it to Raphael. He felt those eyes on him, felt the question lingering there, but for once chose not to acknowledge it. In the days to come, there would be time. Raphael drank, suppressing a grimace, and handed back the bottle. Sascha upended it, poured the rest into the earth at the foot of the grave, and raised the empty bottle in a silent salute. Then he turned and walked out of the cemetery, back to the horses. Raphael was only a few steps behind.

_________________
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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Last edited by i_heart_dvorak on Fri Feb 12, 2016 6:53 pm GMT, edited 2 times in total.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Las secuelas ((solo))
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 3:32 pm GMT 
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Jalisco

October 1920

The sky was a fierce, bright blue. The earth splayed out beneath it was a striking amalgamation of rolling green hills and the red earth beneath them, which had been stripped bare to make way for the agave fields. Those orderly, geometric rows looked to Sascha like flesh with the skin flayed away; out of that wound rose the agave, silver-blue, malignant-looking. As the wagon drew closer to the gates, he could see the fields full of workers in their thin, grimy garments and red sashes. With flat, circular spades they hacked fleshy leaves off the agave plant. Stripped down, the heart of the plant resembled the piña which was its namesake. Sascha's wagon joined the loads of agave piñas trundling into the white-walled compound, through the worked iron gates. The guards recognized him and waved him through; a few raised their rifles or touched the brims of their hats.

Inside the distillery, the air was thick with the smell of alcohol and the agave's heavy sweetness. His footsteps were muted in the dense air. On the route, in particular, he'd made a cursory effort to blend in. He wore boots and a dark jacket, both stained with the dust of the road, a bandanna around his neck and a bandolier across his chest, a broad-brimmed hat to protect him from the unforgiving intensity of the late-summer sun. This latter he removed, ruffling a hand through his dust-thickened hair as he forged deeper into the shade, his path winding between massive copper tanks and vast stores of oak barrels. To the side of a broad veranda, he found a walkway which took him past the bolted doors of the roasting ovens. At last he found Don Fulgencio around the back, supervising laborers as they loaded crates into rickety-looking trucks.

The distillery owner was a man approaching the upper limit of middle age. His light brown hair and trim beard were run through with gray, and he was pale, his skin whiter even than Sascha's. Tall for a Mexican, he was nonetheless a head shorter than Sascha, but he was broad-shouldered and barrel-chested and carried himself with a bearing so stately and commanding that his presence swelled to fill a room.

Hearing footsteps at last, Fulgencio turned around and caught sight of Sascha. "Alejandro!" he boomed. He'd misheard Sascha's name at their first introduction and no one, Sascha included, had ever bothered to correct him. Springing forward with incongruous agility for a man of his age and stature, beaming, he seized Sascha's hand in a strong grip and shook it vigorously.

Within minutes, he was ushering Sascha into his office, a room elegantly furnished with baroque wooden furniture, thick carpets, and the requisite portraits of Don Fulgencio's forebears arrayed behind the desk, against a backdrop of imported wallpaper. Standing in sharp contrast to Fulgencio's silk tie and embroidered waistcoat, Sascha looked sorely out of place. He was sun-browned and travel-stained, filthy with the dust of the road. He came in lean and tall and hungry, his face sharp, something burning way back in the deep part of his eyes. Still, a seat was offered to him, and he took it, slouching down and stretching out his legs. At first, Fulgencio's enthusiasm and apparent affinity towards Sascha had made him wary. He had enough clarity to recognize himself as a fairly unsympathetic figure. When anyone took a shine to him, his first instinct was suspicion. Now, though he couldn't have claimed to understand it, he had simply accepted it as the way of things.

Don Fulgencio's goodwill was accompanied by certain privileges. These, too, Sascha had come to accept. Standing behind his desk, the distiller poured two glasses of rich dark tequila añejo. Handing one to Sascha, he then passed across a box of imported cigars. Sascha took one, more from politeness than preference. Then Fulgencio rounded the desk and sat down opposite Sascha. The two men raised their glasses in a silent toast and drank.

"So." The more ritual aspects of hospitality complete, he leaned forward in his chair and raised his bushy eyebrows. As always, they spoke in Spanish: Fulgencio's educated and refined, Sascha's still full of Argentine lilts and colloquialisms, though almost a year in Mexico had taken the worst edge off it.

"Your last order is secure," Sascha informed him. "Had it built into the wagon bed in Veracruz. Lalo and the boys are out there dismantling it now. Rumor said there'd been trouble on the roads, so I left the other half of the cache outside Teuchitlán. It's buried in the cemetery. The schematics are with Lalo."

"And how did you find Europe?"

He shrugged, his face a mask of apathy. "Cold, depressing. Even now, the extent of the devastation is..." Stopping to take a drink, he allowed Don Fulgencio's imagination do the rest. "Still. The exchange rate it as good as it will ever be, the guns are cheap and plentiful. I can't complain."

"And the women?" The older man grinned slyly and twisted the corner of his shapely moustache. "How do they compare?"

Sascha snorted and drank again. "Calm down, you old goat. We both know Mexican women are the most beautiful in the world."

On this subject there was a great deal more he could have said. He chose to omit the hunger and desperation he'd encountered in those gray cobbled streets. Nine times out of ten, he wasn't read as American. Sometimes, though, someone would guess from the state of his shoes, or catch a hint of his accent when he spoke German. More often than not, the desperation that followed, that hunger for foreign currency, repelled him. He likewise omitted the fact that most of the Germans he'd fucked had been men. The more exotic offerings of post-war Berlin had not entirely failed to pique his interest.

He'd gone to Europe for two reasons: to buy guns, and to forget. In the first, he'd succeeded handsomely. In the second, he'd attempted, and had failed.

The conversation had moved on without him. Don Fulgencio was talking now, talking about Europe, and about business, and the current state of the so-called Revolution. Sascha let the words slide past his ears, nodding occasionally when the time seemed right. He drained the rest of his glass.

"--which reminds me. When did you get back?"

"Two weeks or so."

"Then you won't have heard." Fulgencio leaned back in his chair. The air in the office was thick with cigar smoke. Afternoon sunlight filtered in through the slatted blinds.

Sascha shot him a questioning look, his brow knitted.

"They say Francisco Pérez Hinojosa is back in Jalisco."


The rest of their business was concluded quickly. Sascha's tolerance for nostalgic banter, never high, was soon spent. He took his leave of Don Fulgencio and made his way out through the agave-sweet air and white-washed labyrinth of the distillery. Lalo had readied a fresh horse. Sascha walked with long strides, feeling the dust and bone-rattling weariness of the trail already falling away. Don Fulgencio had sent him off with another gift, apart from the horse and the payment they'd negotiated in advance: a bottle of tequila, stamped with the distillery's distinctive blue label. He slipped it into one of the saddlebags, said a cursory farewell to the boys, and steered his horse out through the iron gates into the vast and rolling country beyond.

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


Last edited by i_heart_dvorak on Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:15 pm GMT, edited 2 times in total.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Las secuelas ((solo))
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:48 pm GMT 
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Location: proper tea is theft
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Michoacán

July 1920

In spite of the war, life went on. Sascha's horse loped into town on a bright, scorching summer Sunday. He'd timed his arrival to coincide with the end of mass. There were still certain self-imposed boundaries he couldn't muster the will or interest to cross. His hat was tilted down over his eyes, casting dark shadows over his face. As he neared the house, skirting the edges of the town, he tilted the brim back far enough to reveal his face.

Before he'd even reached the gate, she was running out to meet him, her thick braid slapping against her back and her boots kicking up the dust. Squawking chickens flapped and scattered out of her path. He dismounted just in time, and she crashed against his chest, throwing her arms around him. The momentum knocked his hat into the dirt and very nearly winded him, but he grabbed hold and spun her around instead, her shrieking a little and him laughing in a breathless, crazy kind of way. Her small hands slid up his shoulders to cradle his dusty, unshaven face for a beat before she pulled him down by his collar into a kiss that tasted like the road.

The family was making tamales in the expansive white-washed kitchen. Once he'd rinsed the dust from his face and hands, Sascha allowed himself to be drawn into the assembly line, sandwiched between the abuelita whose knotted brown hands sealed the dough and Juana's mother, a robust, tough little woman with Indian features and thick black braids of her own. Sascha was charged with wrapping the tamales in corn husks; Juana's mother inspected his handiwork, occasionally forcing him to start over when carelessness or distraction caused his fingers to slip.

It wasn't hard to lose focus. Even in the sweltering kitchen, he could feel the heat of Juana's gaze on him from across the table where she was pounding corn flour into the dough in anticipation of the next batch. He was already counting the minutes until this task would conclude and the two of them could slip away. Their eyes met, and a faint smile played over her mouth before she returned her attention back to work and scattered more flour across the stone tabletop and began to knead again. Sascha's eyes lingered on her even after she had looked away, taking in her broad, dark face, her full mouth which seemed to turn down at the corners. Because of this, she always looked a little sad, even when at peace. A single strand of hair escaped her braid and fell forward across her face. He found himself strongly tempted to reach across the table and brush it away.

A gentle slap to the back of his head snapped him out of his reverie. "Hay que centrarse, güero," Juana's mother informed him and, with a stern fondness, pointed to the growing backlog of tamales awaiting attention in a pile at his elbow.

After dinner that night, when the sun was just beginning to set, they climbed the hill behind the house and stood overlooking the valley. Sascha produced a bottle of Don Fulgencio's blue-label tequila from the recesses of a coat pocket where he'd secreted it away. They drank together in the gathering darkness as the sound of crickets rose up from the tall brown grasses all around them. They held hands for a while and watched the glow of lamps being lit one by one in the town farther down the slope. Then they kissed, and did not break away. He drew her down with him into the grass.

It had been a long run, and a dangerous one. Unbuttoning his shirt, she immediately found the bandage on his ribs where a bullet had grazed him, and let out a small cry of alarmed dismay. He brushed her hand away and kissed her harder, nearly fumbling in his haste to open her blouse. In the light of the rising moon, her smooth brown skin shone a perfect lavender blue. She wore men's trousers cut from rough material; all afternoon he'd watched the strain of the seams against her full body, the curves of her hips. But when he reached for her belt buckle, she stopped him, gripping his arm with a callused hand so small she could scarcely encircle his wrist. Then the iron in her grip softened and she guided his hand back to her chest. The moment passed briefly and in absolute silence, though the memory lodged itself like a slow-burning coal somewhere deep in Sascha's chest.

That night, for seemingly no reason in particular, they found themselves dallying. Both of them still half-dressed in the deepening evening, Sascha leaned his back against a scrubby tree and put his arms around Juana as she curled up against his side. He stroked her hair and bent occasionally to kiss her face or the soft curve of her bare shoulder. The tequila bottle made a second appearance and they passed it back and forth in tranquil silence.

Under ordinary circumstances, a woman of Juana's age and position would never have been permitted to leave alone like this with a sharp-faced scavenger of unknown parentage. Sascha, for all his familiarity with Juana's mother and grandmother, was still very much a stranger in every respect. War, though, had changed everything, and had made a matriarchy of Juana's family home. Revolution had swept the country. Fathers and brothers and sweethearts disappeared into the great furnaces of battle. In their absence, life went on. It always did.

She leaned her head against his shoulder and breathed a quiet sigh. Her fingers traced slow circles against his chest. The sound of the crickets rose up all around them. Slowly, the indigo dome of sky deepened to blackness, revealing thousands of scattered stars that dipped all the way to the horizon. A strange feeling stole over him, and he found himself wondering whether this was the sort of thing you could make a life from.

"Juana." His voice was low and cautious, equal parts apprehension and an unwillingness to disturb the evening's peace. "Deberíamos casarnos."

Beside him, the woman stilled. Then she socked him in the solar plexus. "<That's not funny, you bastard.>"

He gasped and swore, jerking away from her to clutch at his ribcage. "<I'm not joking,>" he managed momentarily. "<I'm serious. It makes perfect sense.>"

In the dim moonlight he saw her pulling on her shirt. "No."

"<What the hell do you mean, 'no'?>" he demanded, suddenly irate. "<I'm not good enough for you? Is that it?>" He made a grab for her arm, but she snatched it away.

"<That's not it,>" she replied. As Sascha grew more agitated, she slipped deeper and deeper into a distant, inaccessible calm. "<You don't want the war to end; I do. My life is on hold so long as I'm responsible for the defense of our home, our animals, my family. Until my father and brothers return, all that is in my hands. I can't go running off, chasing blood money with some foreign vulture.>"

"<What the hell is that supposed to-->"

She rose to her feet, methodically brushing bits of dried grass from her clothes. Sascha was left speechless, seething with indignant rage, the taste of her still on his lips.

"<Stay here with me. Help me to defend this place. Show me you're serious about something other than turning a profit. Then ask me again.>"

Before he'd recovered his composure enough to speak, she turned and cut swiftly down the hill, leaving a trail of whispering grasses behind her. And long before the sun's first rays glimmered on the eastern horizon, Sascha was on the road again, riding hard towards an unknown fate.

_________________
Image
"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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