Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding Her (Muse 3 An Extraordinary Discomfort)

Continued from Muse 2 

At first they look like an ordinary key set, wound onto an unremarkable key ring. Coloured beads, a silver front door deadlock key, a couple of smaller keys for what Rick thinks might be a valise or small padlock, perfectly in keeping with the traveller he thinks she may be. There’s something else, worn, much older. An anodised cylinder, about 8cms long, less than a centimetre in diameter. A whistle - damaged and beaten. At first glance he’s not sure what it is until his vision begins with its piercing shrillness, and belies its true identity.


Her sorrow unabated, Candide has fallen on hard times. Political unrest keeps all but the hardiest of tourists away. A failing economy sees her hard-earned cash evaporate like the morning mist and she has attracted unwanted attention from the Warlord controlling the town's movements. 

Xavier Britica, 'El Captitanana' gazes upon her, and her child, lasciviously on more than one occasion and has demanded that she clean house for him. He pays her with a pittance, touches her inappropriately, intimidates her when she is alone, but so far this is the extent of his attentions. He has bigger fish to fry. As Government forces ramp up their campaign, he spends hours locked in his ‘war room’ with faux generals and lieutenants. She is however, afraid. She's seen the damage his minions can do. Even killing her friend's husband, Giraldo Bedoya, a stalwart of the town, for refusing to send his young wife to the bed of  ‘El Capitanana’.  His throat slit while a young soldier bound her hands and forced her into his vehicle. She was never seen again.

Candide is afraid of the man, but more afraid of the compound in which he lives. She's one of the few 'outsiders' with access.  She’s heard tales of women being used as sex slaves. Seen sad women unable to break free, resigned to their fate. Seen the paraquitos – little paramilitaries – the children of rebels who had forced themselves upon village women, and now raised as militia. Their mothers virtual prisoners, victims of war, pandering to the whims of rapists. 

Pedro Alonso Lopez has an eye for beautiful women. He has hands for beautiful women. He has a mouth that desires beautiful women. He also hates beautiful women. It was a beautiful woman who cast him out, and it's always beautiful women who find his scarred body repulsive, his ugly face disgusting, his violent demeanor terrifying. Then sex is power, and he knows how powerful he can be.  Lopez is the right hand, judge and executioner to ‘El Capitanana’. His black deeds allowing his leader to remain Teflon coated. He is indeed the bad lieutenant. 

Born in Tomia amid the turmoil of the times and when crime was rampant. He was the youngest child and the most debauched. Shunned by a furious mother, after being found fondling his sister’s breasts, his hand across her mouth and forcing her against the wall. His mother threw him into the streets screaming, “Behave like a dog, go live like a dog”.

Desperate and hungry, there was no hesitation when offered the kindness of strangers. Yet his benefactors had their own agenda. Instead of food in his belly and a warm bed, he'd been deceived and was imprisoned in an abandoned building; repeatedly sodomized and unceremoniously returned the pavements of Tomia. He vowed to do the same to as many as he could. He kept his promise since siding with his mentor. The sound of his whistle a daily occurrence as he yells at his underlings in their grisly tasks - restraining young women, taking their men. Those who refused to joint the militia, thrown back limp and lifeless or damaged and broken on the footpath the next day as a warning to others. Lopez and his whistle, evil twins with a dark agenda.

He's seen the 'look' Candide gives him when she catches him staring. A meld of terror and contempt, but never admiration or respect. It's only his leader's interest in this woman that keeps his fist away from her face. His penis out of her mouth. That and the fear she'd probably bite - the vixen. She dresses more demurely these days, covering her coffee coloured shoulders. No skirt exposing still shapely legs. He wonders what she looks like beneath the olive uniform, smells like, feels like. But no, she is Xavier's and not for his pleasure until 'El Capitanana' has finished with her.  It's during one of these wishful moments that he sees the girl. Sitting on the cool steps just outside the compound waiting for her mother to finish work.

About 15 years old and full of the fresh flush of youth. Her crisp white shirt, now slightly dusty after a day of school. Her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands, she's dreaming of far off places, dancing, in a land far away from the poverty and danger of the life she never asked to live.

Lopez feels things stir. He might not be able to take the woman but there's nothing to stop him defiling the girl as long as he remains undiscovered.

For days, he watches her approach the compound, sit on the steps, waiting for her mother. On a couple of occasions, he’s stalked her from home to school. Nothing untoward for a military man to be seen patrolling the streets. He’s cagey and takes an offsider so as not to arouse suspicion. But today, he’s alone. Half-way between school and the compound, lurking, waiting. He’s a Ninja in the streetscape, a landscape with which he is familiar, blending silently into the graffiti’d wall, a viper waiting to strike.

Marique parts with her companion, and the girls head in different directions. She’s happy, it’s Friday and there’s no homework for the weekend. It’s payday which means Ajiaco for dinner or Viudo de Pescado seeing as it’s a Holy day, and salsa dancing on Saturday; how she loves to salsa. She shimmies through the dust, her foot circling forward and back, hips mimicking Byamo por Abajo.

He lunges at her while she’s distracted and a satchel falls, its impact creating a small dust cloud as the heavy books jostle within. He’s strong. His hand across her mouth, his arm pulling hers behind her. She’s dragged kicking with silent screams. One hand desperately trying to release her mouth, the other bent hard against her back. She wriggles loose long enough to grab the small metallic cylinder from his top pocket and thrusts it hard into Lopez’ eye. Blood courses down his cheek and he utters a blood curdling scream, before he belts her hard. Feisty to the end, she attacks again with the whistle, forcing a deafening blow into his ear which halts his slobbering and forces him to the ground. Amazingly he scrambles back from the teenager, as two of Xavier's cronies run round the corner to investigate the scuffle
He rights himself and lifts his gun from its leaning position on the wall, and lights a cigarette. Blood soaking the chest of his uniform and seeping relentlessly from his eye and beginning to congeal. He wipes the crimson deluge from his face with his scarf. Masking his pain in front of his compadres.

“That’s gonna scar you bitch. I’d kill you but La Capitanana, has a soft spot for your madre…a hard spot for her too!  You’re a victim of war! Marique. Grin and bear it. To the victors go the spoils!” He blows smoke into her face and spits defiantly on the ground. “Next time you won’t be so lucky!” 

He casually turns and saunters off, the others in tow. She can’t see the anger on his face and the finger agitating the trigger on his gun. If there is a next time, she’ll be dead. He's not prepared to take it further under the protective gaze of Xavier's minders.

Marique rights herself. The pain she feels in her heart overwhelming the pain elsewhere but she is intact. Unsullied and considers herself incredibly lucky. She dusts herself off and stands. Her blouse is filthy and torn, askew, her skirt zip undone. She will say nothing of it to anyone other than her mother, for recriminations are frequent, repercussions devastating. He is right, she’s a victim of war but she’s not taking it any more. She picks up a small glinting object from the dirt beneath her feet. “That bastard’s whistle….”

Her mother's devastated but not surprised and uses her influence with  Xavier, "If you won't give her a bodyguard, at least give her a weapon, I beg of you." Catching the para in a moment of post coital relaxation was a good idea.

"Fine Chica, if it makes you happy....I'll buy her a gun."

True to his word, on her 16th Birthday, Marique is given a weapon. A pretty, pearlised instrument of death with her initials emblazoned on the handle. 

"Use it wisely child, it's not a toy." Her mother warns, "but if that bastard comes near you again, shoot!"


Rick can feel the graze on his face as his unblemished cheek burns. He eyes the whistle and wonders why she kept it. A grisly memento? A reminder of what she’d left behind? Protection if it should happen again?  If indeed she’d left that life behind. He feels he gun. It's been used but not to kill. He’s exhausted. Two visions in one afternoon has left him shaking and sweating. He pours a Jack Daniels and skulls. The burning of the liquor softened by its flavour and the alcohol rush, “Perhaps one more before bed….This girl is beyond intriguing.”

Written for the River of Mnemosyne Challenge:

Muse 1 A Legacy of Smoke and Shadow


  1. She plunged the whistle in his eye and that's the worst that happened? They are captives, but Xavier gives Marique a gun? I don't know, it's probably just me and my literal mind, but this chapter doesn't play for me. Your description of the compound is very evocative, though. I could see the place in my mind's eye.

  2. i was a bit confused also, not sure how the attack scene totally played out. But very intrigued by all of the characters so far.

  3. Here, the pace is better, but the aftermath of the attack seems too contrived, even a bit non sequitur.

    And, damn... if this is your story so far, what the Hell difference is Muse 7 gonna make? Hahahah!

  4. Okay, I like a lot about this story. But I have to admit if someone attacked my daughter like this, in any circumstances I would go crazy. I would want the man killed. I would want a gun. I would want revenge. I know this character adores her daughter, so her reaction seems very underplayed here. The ideas you have going draw me in, but I think the mother has more depth by what you've already shown about her. Please give her a mother's rage over this for her daughter! My 2 cents.