Friday, June 2, 2017

Chapter 1 of Book 1 of 3 as a sample read

Demetrio didn't know what had drawn him to his home; he hadn't thought about San Miguel de Allende since Col. Ignacio Allende had lost his head and Father Hidalgo had lost his mind during the War of Independence.  Demetrio thought about the war; sometimes it seemed like just a few weeks had passed since then, sometimes it seemed like far more that 200 years ago.  When this town had been his home he had supported and admired Allende from a distance but there had been no distance between himself and Father Hidalgo. He had loved Hidalgo, faithfully and abundantly, until the good Father invaded San Miguel like the devil himself, then went on to turn Allende’s victories into defeats.  Demetrio never understood the changes in Hidalgo during 1810, but invasions are complicated things and Hidalgo was a complicated man – there were those who called him “Zorro,” the Fox, and for good reason.

Demetrio had often reflected upon their conversations before that fateful September night 200 years ago and he could see now, or thought he could see, that Hidalgo’s hatred of the gachipinos, the wealthy arrogant Spaniards, consumed him, then twisted him into someone else. When Demetrio confronted the good Father with biblical verses intended to calm his loud and ardent hatred, well, Hidalgo could justify anything and could do so eloquently. He would turn the verses to suit his purposes; conversations increasingly became lectures that Demetrio had little desire to suffer.  Hidalgo had been a Jesuit, before their order was expelled in 1767 under the Bourbon reforms, and justifications flow rapidly from the mouths of educated minds. Even so, Demetrio loved the man and grieved his death, and grieved what he had become.  He would have to revisit these old topics with his friend again.  Perhaps tonight, during dinner.

As he stood on the hill overlooking the colorful winding streets and the ubiquitous church domes that rose from the cheerful rabble like beacons of elegance, he felt no nostalgia, just loss.  Where horse-drawn carriages had once slowly ascended the winding, narrow streets of a languid village, now cars too large lurched over the 500-year-old cobblestones.  This wasn't his home; he didn’t belong here, not anymore.  Today he was merely one of the many tourists admiring the quaint beauty of this artisan community.  And, just like a tourist, he pulled out his cell phone and called his old friend Sister Helga, "I'll be home before dinner." Home, he thought, how could you call a place that you have not been in more than a century “home”?

He walked down Correo, the busy street that led to the center of town.  Correo was a crowded thoroughfare 200 years ago and was even more so today.  He was a bit taken aback to hear so many people speaking in English, French, and German.  Spanish remained, but it was a different Spanish.  He hadn’t realized that San Miguel drew so many European tourists, but he did know that the city had become a popular destination for American and Canadian expatriates, usually retirees searching for a cheaper and better way to live the last third of their lives. 

Here in Mexico these northerners could have servants - maids for 3.00 per hour and gardeners for less.  The beige and boredom of the northern suburbs, the banality of reality T.V. and monotony of everyday lives were here replaced by color, magic, art, music, and inexpensive dinners at exquisite restaurants. But with such pleasures also came sloth, jealousies, arrogance, self-indulgence and the whimsical cruelties derived from those with dull minds and full pockets. 

So it was a city of two extremes now – the served and the servers - but it wasn't always that way.  There were certainly pretentious wealthy families in the early 1800's, and with those families came sons eager to distinguish themselves among their cohorts and among the locals, but at least everyone spoke Spanish, and even the most arrogant avoided shaming their families.  The church was powerful then, perhaps too much so, but provided solidarity and often relief from the grinding poverty visited upon the campesinos.  The greatest bond of the community had been, of course, a clear and present enemy:  The gachipinos, but even they would stand down at the slight urging of a priest and subsequent slap across the face by their elegant, pious mothers.  In those days wealthy men conversed about grave matters over lovely dinners but mothers ruled the households.  There was no question.  Children could argue with their father’s, storm out of the room in anger, but never argued with their mother’s and certainly did not depart without a nod of maternal permission.  Demetrio appreciated that kind of respect for the maternal, it was a rather elegant system, but built and maintained on the backs of the powerless over whom the elite ruled. 

Those were the days though, the days to be alive and on fire with purpose and belief - belief that things could be changed for the better and that individuals could bring that change about.  The war seemed ridiculous to him now.  The members of the Literary and Social Club of Queretaro discussed the utopias possible for a Mexico free of Spanish rule.  The club was a jejune and quixotic group of intelligent men made stupid through their association with hope and with each other.  Demetrio himself had lived through many revolutions and many wars and recognized the start the patterns and elements of failure from the very beginning.  Yet, he stayed.

It wasn’t the sorrow and the constellation of bitter memories associated with that failed revolution that had kept him away from his home for so long.  The War of Independence ended badly in this area and most of his friends had been killed, but his reluctance to return came from one source only:  A woman, A woman he loved, Rose, the only woman he had ever loved.  She had run from him in terror and revulsion in 1811.  Since then, Demetrio found it a wretched chore to live under the roof that had sheltered them both during happier times.

Rose had been dedicated to the war and, therefore, so was Demetrio.  His efforts were not only wasted, but they cost him dearly. In the end, he lost her and even worse, he lost her of her own volition. When Rose had died under a Spanish noose, Demetrio brought her back.  He changed her from a human into an immortal lover of the light. That’s what he called his kind, the Children of the Light. He much preferred that phrase to the word ‘Vampire.’  There were so many differences between what he was and the popular connotation of the word.

But, nobody likes to be changed without their consent, even to the light.  Demetrio knew, even as he did it, that he was risking their love. Some say that there is a moment of promise right before you die, a moment your senses can comprehend, a moment of beauty, and Demetrio supposed he had stolen that moment from Rose when he called her back into this world.  Both her fear and hatred seemed out of proportion to his action.  After all, he had only wanted to save her life, but no doubt her initial fear had, over time, amassed unto itself an army of hostility and she would not see that those hostilities were built and housed on unstable grounds.  

Yes, he was selfish, yes; he acted out of selfishness when he brought her back. No, he did not regret it. He could not bear to live without her, still couldn’t, but ironically, he had been without her for two centuries now.  At least she lived, and as long as that was true possibilities remained open. He could sometimes feel her anger coming in from the north, could feel it riding on bitterness and loathing. 

In the beginning he continuously hunted her through the unique frequency that bound him, the creator, to her, the created. Rose could have summoned Demetrio at any time but she refused to do so, she refused to give him peace. Her parting words to him were, “I will always hate you, Demetrio, hate you for what you took from me.”  She had remained true to her word so far, but Demetrio knew that she would be drawn here just as he had been, and that petty resentments would be knocked off the table.

How she could avoid his summons and shield her mind was a mystery to him.  It should not have been possible.  It wasn’t possible, but there it was.  There were obviously things he did not understand about her.  When he stopped trying to contact her she would eventually reach out and pluck at those ties as if to say, “Don’t forget you love me, don’t ever forget that you love me.” 

The last time he had tried to reach Rose he had almost gotten through.  He could hear waves breaking and someone groaning and he could feel her hesitation before she fortified her barriers.  That hesitation ruined him because it gave him hope, and hope was a cruel bitch that destroyed everything she touched. Even so, he knew Rose would soon return to this land because something was happening, something was taking form in this bicentennial year.  A pulsing, a slight drumming, resonated among the seven springs under this town.  Some formless thing careened down the tunnels that linked the great houses and something emanated from the third pyramid just outside of the city.  The commotion in the energy of the land attracted him like the shimmering thickness in the air before a great storm, he could almost touch it, almost form it to his will.

For information regarding the Queretaro Literary Society:

For information regarding Father Hildago:

For information regarding Col. Ignacio Allende:

For information regarding the pyramids of San Miguel:

For information regarding the tunnels of San Miguel: