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Books by Art Rodriguez

"Coming of age in Latino life, Art Rodriguez's true tales give readers an inspirational life"


 

Art Rodriguez


The Monkey Box

Book Description

Excerpts Chapter 15 - "Treason"

wo days after arriving home, Luzita was preparing to leave to purchase food for their evening meal. Romulo was in his office attending to the usual line of people who stood outside waiting. They held their chickens, small sacks of frijoles (beans), and queso (cheese) to pay the doctor. It was the only way they could compensate him.

ll of a sudden from down the street, 15 men on horseback rode towards the doctor's office. The patients were surprised at the speed the horsemen were traveling. They watched with anticipation to see where they were going. As the riders approached the doctor's office, they came to a sudden stop. The soldiers dismounted and scanned the line of peasants, making sure things were safe. They wore ammunition belts across and around their chests and had big sombreros. Almost all wore big mustaches that reached from one side of their faces to the other.

rom inside one of the rooms, Romulo heard the many horses. He wondered what was taking place outside and thought it was possibly the federales who came into town with their wounded. He did not like it when this happened because they made all the people leave while they took all of his time. They never paid for his services; however, they told him once the war was over they would make sure he received a commendation for his services during the war. Romulo never replied to the offer because he did not want any commendation from either side.

omulo heard commotion coming from the front door of the building. People were yelling, demanding to know where the doctor was. "Excuse me, señorita, I will be right back. Let me see what is going on. Sit here and make yourself comfortable," Romulo said, not really knowing if he would return. He was anticipating the federales.

ust as he was going to open the door, it burst open. A large man stood at the entrance of the room and pointed his rifle at Romulo. The soldier stepped into the room with another soldier right behind him and asked, "Dr. Romulo Rodriguez?"

ho are you, and what do you think you are doing? Romulo questioned with a loud voice. He did not like these men barging into his office, demanding his services and taking over.

re you Dr. Rodriguez? the big man asked again. Romulo looked at him and was reminded of his friend Daniel. He knew if these were the same men who took Daniel's life, he had better be careful how he handled the situation. "Yes, I am Dr. Rodriguez." "Dr. Rodriguez, you are under arrest! Come with us!" the big soldier demanded. He moved his rifle back and forth, indicating for Romulo to proceed out of the room. They would follow.

hat is this about? Who are you? Who do you think you are arresting me? These men were not wearing uniforms. Romulo could not believe he was being arrested by men who did not represent the federal authorities or the local authority.

e are here under the orders of Capitán Alfonso of the revolution army. Now come with us! he demanded once again. He continued to move his rifle back and forth, directing the doctor to move.

efore moving, Romulo asked again, "Under arrest? For what? May I ask?" "Doctor, you are going to be hung for not surrendering the maíz (corn) as you were instructed. You are under arrest for treason! Now move, or you will be shot here! Those are my orders!" the man declared with a voice that suggested Romulo was going to receive a bullet if he did not comply. Romulo did as he was told. He walked around all the people, not saying anything. An old woman waiting in line started to cry. Another old woman gave the sign of the cross and called out, "Ay, Doctor, we will pray for you! ¡Dios vaya contigo (God go with you), Doctor!"

efore Romulo mounted a horse that was brought to him by the revolutionaries, the soldier in charge told Romulo to stand still. He tied Romulo's hands together in front of him. Romulo felt the rope squeeze his wrists so tightly it felt as if his skin were burning with fire. He wondered if he was going to be able to ride in this condition. One of the soldiers helped Romulo mount his horse, almost throwing him over its side. People stood shocked in the street as they rode away on the cobblestone avenue. As they departed, Romulo seemed as if he were going to fall off his horse.

omulo did not know where they were taking him. After riding a few kilometers, he determined he was being taken to the rancho. As they were traveling, Romulo recalled his conversations with Luzita regarding the maíz. He knew Luzita hid the maíz, but he had no idea where. Rancho U-Chem spread over many thousands of acres. He was going to ask her exactly where she buried it, but he had never followed through with this question. He thought, "I should have taken charge of the situation. Ay, I hope we can fix things. I do not want to lose my life over this."

ost of the people at the doctor's office did not know what to do. Some ran to the federal building that consisted of a small office on the other side of town. It was guarded by two officers who would not leave the building unless there were other federal soldiers in town, fearing revolutionaries would ambush them.

he federal soldiers were sitting and sleeping in their chairs when several women burst into the office. They frightened the soldiers to their feet. Startled, one asked, "What? What is it? What happened?" "Please, quick, you have to come. The doctor has been kidnapped and taken away on horseback. Soldiers from the revolution! You need to go after them!" One of the soldiers glanced at the other and then looked back at the woman who was speaking. He said, "Why did they take him? What did he do?" The woman was feeling frustrated because the soldiers were asking questions and not leaving, giving the kidnappers time to get away. "They said he is under arrest for treason! They said he will be hanged! You need to hurry and go after them before they get away!"

rying to stall for time, the soldier asked, "How many are there?" One older lady answered, "There are 10 or 15 men on horseback." "Who do they think they are? They do not have authority to arrest anyone! Did you recognize any of them?" the soldier asked. "No. You need to hurry! Every minute we stand here, they are getting farther away!" another woman exclaimed.

hey do not have authority to arrest anyone in Chiapas! Tomorrow we have troops coming into the pueblo. We will make sure we dispatch soldiers to look for the doctor, he stated, not wanting to go out and be killed. He knew the town was under the control of the revolutionaries. The soldiers recognized they could be killed at anytime. They did not know why it had not happened before.

ther women who were at the doctor's office ran to Luzita and Romulo's home. Upon arriving, they banged on the door and called out, "¡Doña Rodriguez! ¡Doña Rodriguez!" They repeated this several times. "¿Qué pasa? What is all this about? What happened?" Arlette asked. "We have to see Doña Rodriguez right away! Hurry, it is urgent!" one of the younger women demanded.

he is not here. She went shopping at the market. What is it? What happened? Arlette asked again, knowing it was urgent by the way the women were acting.

he women turned without saying a word and started to rush away. Arlette stepped out of the door, still not knowing what had taken place and what the emergency concerned. "¡Oíga! Before you go, you need to tell me what this is about in case Doña Rodriguez returns!"

t last one of the women in the group turned and yelled to Arlette, "The doctor has been kidnapped! The revolutionaries took him and said they were going to hang him! Something about the maíz. Tell Doña Rodriguez as soon as she returns. She will know what to do. We are going to the market to look for her." The lady turned and ran, holding her dress up to keep up with the others.

uzita, it is nice to see you. Come in. Come in, Señora Cabrillo said. She thought it was kind for Luzita to stop by to visit on occasion.

ow are you, Doña Cabrillo?


h, I am fine. How are your parents, Luzita? I hope they are fine, Señora Cabrillo asked as she motioned with her hand for Luzita to sit on a chair in the parlor. She turned her head and called out, "Yolanda! Yolanda! Come!" Yolanda was the house maid.

olanda entered the parlor, "Si, Doña Cabrillo?"


lease bring Luzita some hot chocolate.


ight away, Doña, Yolanda replied as she turned and stepped toward the kitchen.


y, no, Doña Cabrillo. It is all right. I am not staying long. I just wanted to stop and say hello for a few minutes, Luzita said, knowing it would take more than a few minutes for her to get a fire going and even longer to prepare the chocolate.

uzita always enjoyed stopping and seeing the Cabrillo family. When she lived by the Cabrillos, they were always kind and considerate, more so with her parents. Luzita would never forget their kindness.

o, no! The chocolate is already warm. You have to have a little bit with me before you go.

olanda stepped back into the parlor with a tray and two cups of chocolate. Just as Luzita reached for her cup, Señor Cabrillo entered the house and yelled out, "¡Oíga! Mujer, where are you?"

eñora Cabrillo and Luzita both stood, knowing by the tone of Señor Cabrillo's voice that it was something urgent. Señor Cabrillo entered the parlor and caught sight of Luzita. "Ay, Luzita. I am very sorry for the bad news. Anything we can do, you just name it," Señor Cabrillo said as he reached for Luzita to embrace her.

uzita pulled back and looked at Señor Cabrillo with a bewildered expression. "What are you talking about? I do not know what you are talking about."

eñor Cabrillo still had his hands on Luzita's shoulders, "It is all over town what happened to Romulo, Luzita."

uzita's heart began to race. She hoped he was mistaken and that nothing happened to her sweet love. "What happened to Romulo?" Luzita asked, staring into Señor Cabrillo's eyes. Señor Cabrillo saw the distress in her stare, anticipating something terrible had happened to her husband.

ou do not know? I am so sorry. I did not know you have not heard of it yet, Luzita.

uzita could feel herself getting angry with Señor Cabrillo for not telling her immediately what was wrong. She could not wait any longer to be told what happened to the man she admired and loved so much. "Señor Cabrillo, tell me right now! What has happened to Romulo?"

e has been kidnapped, Luzita. It was the soldiers from the revolution. Fifteen men rode into the pueblo and told Romulo he was under arrest for treason and that he was going to be hung! They tied his hands, mounted him on a horse, and took him away. They told him if he resisted in any manner, he was going to be shot right there on the spot! It had something to do with the maíz at U-Chem. I am not really sure what it is about.

uzita felt her heart drop. Her stomach turned in pain. She had a blank stare and said in a low voice, "What have I done? Oh blessed Virgin, please help my poor husband." Luzita did not know if she should go to the church and pray or chase after her husband. She wanted to be with him and even trade places with him.

uzita, men are talking about getting together and going to rescue Romulo. I will join them, Señor Cabrillo said.

o, Don Cabrillo. That is a very bad idea. You all might be killed or will be accused of taking sides with the federales. I do not want that. I know how you feel about the war, not wanting the federales to win. Besides, it will cause problems not only for you but also for your families.

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