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The Second Conquest of the Incas

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Late that night a primitive urge to commune with nature made us grab our bottles and walk outside. We sat down on the front step. Charly leaned against the post and clutched the bottle against his chest. “This is good, compadre,” he said. “This is what I have always needed.”

“So you are happy, Tocayo?”

Charly sighed peacefully. “Everybody should feel like this.”

“Tocayo, I think everybody does.”

“They do?”

I nodded.

Charly looked at me, then took another swallow from his bottle and looked around. When he looked back, I wasn’t beside him anymore. In a sweet fog he wondered why. He raised the bottle to his lips, careful not to drop it, and took a great big swallow. I had gone somewhere. That was alright. Everything was alright. A little later Charly noticed that the noise level inside the bar had increased. I better check it out, he thought, and stood up.

He stepped inside. At the bar, I had a bottle in each hand and was pouring both of them down my throat together. The indians were yelling encouragement as best they could under their condition. Half the alcohol ran down my neck and into my clothes, but I kept guzzling.

From the door Charly chuckled. That was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. He turned around and walked unsteadily out to his step, then sat down carefully, leaned against the post, and cradled the bottle in his lap. The night was beautiful. So many stars. He sighed and took another swig. Eventually the bar quieted down and little by little the patrons began to emerge, carefully maneuvering down Charly’s step, sometimes using his shoulder as a guardrail. Glad to be of service, Charly thought to himself, and watched the indians walk slowly away, stumbling and weaving their way home, keeping track of the road by tripping against the rocks along the edge.

A little later the double doors opened with a loud smack and I came tumbling out. Just as I reached the step, I wrapped both my arms around the poles to arrest my forward motion and with a tremendous groan hurled a stomachful of vomit over Charly’s head in a fine arc onto the hardpacked mud of the street.

Excerpt from Chapter 42, Part Two of Tocayos.

Image courtesy of https://www.arts.gov/art-works/2014/painting-grit.

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