I continue to publish the excerpts of my cuentito, without knowing if anyone is really reading it, let alone enjoying the story! The Andes and Miguel Angel move forward in narration.....
A mist began to hover in the air, blurring the stars as we quickly headed toward the centro. Diane wanted to have a bite to eat before we returned to our hotel, and I agreed. During my conversation with Rodrigo, I’d noticed that the ring was starting to work its way out of the envelope. Worried, I carefully removed the ring and examined it with interest. Etched with strange figures of animals and people, the thick silver band exuded a primitive yet appealing energy. After placing it on my index finger, and carefully folding the paper into my jean pocket, I followed Diane into the Casa Café, a restaurant she’d picked for our evening meal.
Because of Peter Jackson’s masterful rendition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s hardly a person alive who doesn’t relate to the magical quality of a ring which can save—or destroy-- the world. In 1986, though I’d read all of Tolkien’s work, the sensational act of delivering a ring to its rightful owner had not quite made an impact. In fact, it took an hour or two before I felt the effects of carrying a piece of unknown history on my finger.
Whereas I never would have used the word “precious” to describe the piece of jewelry, I do recall becoming rather fond of how it looked on my right hand. Something inside of me began to rumble, and here is where my confession enters into the forum. In plain words, I wanted to keep the ring.
“You know, Diane,” I started up as we paid our bill, “I wouldn’t mind having a ring like this.”
She looked at me strangely, then peered at my hand.
“Corinne,” she stated firmly, “y’all need to remember what Winnie said about Cuzco—you know, that quest for her son? “
I nodded vaguely, and we stepped into the drizzling fog, which had dampened Cuzco. Bending our heads while we maneuvered on the cobblestone street toward the hotel, Diana and I forgot about the ring until we spied a dark figure emerging from the silver mist, about 20 feet away.
“Corina! Corina!” shouted a low voice. We immediately halted.
“Who in God’s name is calling out my name!” I hissed. “This is really scary...Let’s get out of here!”
But the man continued toward us, and uttered with urgency, ”It’s me, Rodrigo! Mira, Corina, Miguel Ángel is over there!” He pointed toward our right, where a man stood about twenty feet away, waiting in silent expectation. The elusive wind had finally arrived.
First Encounter with Guajiro
He stepped toward us into the dancing light of a swinging farol, and I gasped. In my mind I had imagined some scruffy bohemian who wore ponchos and huaraches, but before me stood a Greek God: light-skinned, high cheekbones, with glistening black curls framing his profoundly blue eyes, Miguel Ángel possessed the faun-like beauty of his sister, Reyna, whom I had met in Lima. And he wasn’t wearing a poncho, but a knee-length, dark wool coat, which made the mystery as compelling as an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Caught up in our nocturnal liaison, I raised my arm with my right hand facing his eyes, and dramatically asked, “Do you remember this, Miguel Ángel?”
He stopped suddenly, and with a catch in my heart, I realized he was about to turn and leave. Then he saw the ring on my finger.
“Your mother sent it with me from Lima. My name’s Corinne, and this is Diane. Can we talk in the café over there?”
Miguel Ángel listened politely as I explained the purpose of my visit. What surprised me most about his reaction was a pronounced disinterest in talking about his family. He simply wanted to take the ring and leave. He didn’t even glance at the letter his mother sent.
“I can’t believe that he didn’t give me a message for his mother,” I complained to Diane once we got settled back into our quarters at the hotel. “What’s with this guy?”
“Maybe he’s depressed. Or maybe he needs time to think things through,” she suggested.
I considered Diane’s comment for a few seconds, and concluded, “Yes, but he doesn’t even know where to find us! He never asked where we were staying!”
My concern did not prove to be the least bit problematic. For the next five days we ran into Miguel Ángel everywhere we went. If I decided I needed a cappuccino pick-up, I would walk into a café and there he’d be sitting, reading a newspaper. Sometimes all we did was turn the corner and we’d see Miguel Ángel walking toward us from the other direction. Soon he began to be friendlier, saying a few things other than the standard “Buenos dias” or “Que tal”. With each succeeding encounter, Miguel Ángel lowered his defensive stance, until one afternoon he took us to an artesania store which a friend of his owned. At first I was happy because he appeared so anxious to show us the store. When I realized he was trying to get a commission from his friend for a sale, I felt differently. After all, I was a friend of the family. His scheming left me feeling as if he were taking advantage of me. But then, I had yet to glimpse the true nature of Miguel Ángel.