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his presence were evident almost every morning. One day it was a pig s head on
a pike stuck into the ground, another time a skull and cross-bones painted on
the side of the shed. Once theman-cha had been found, Steve hired Gonzalo
Fernandez, brother of one of the other workers, to stay in the little hut at
night to watch the site. With Laforet in town, Steve reasoned, there d be a
surge in looting activity. For a few days, at least, the harassment stopped.
But we didn t for a moment think Guerra was gone.
Then one morning, there was the most terrible accident of all. There were
signs that morning that someone had come onto the site at night, not from the
trail but from the other side, from the road by the commune, climbing over the
wall. From the top, a cap and jacket were spotted lying on the sand several
yards up the incline. Someone had been digging on the far side of the huaca
from where we were working. Fernandez, guarding the way from the trail and the
side of the huaca we were working on, had heard nothing. Some f the back dirt
from our excavation had been dislodged and had fallen down the back of the
hill. Steve climbed down to have a look at the damage, as the rest of us
peered over the edge. Then Steve began tearing at the earth with his bare
hands, calling for workers with shovels to come right away. They cleared away
the sand as quickly as they could. To no avail. Rolando Guerra was
unconscious, buried in sand, his hands still clutching a little copper statue
of a Moche warrior. He died later that day in the hospital, a victim of his
own greed.
The Warrior Priest
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The fanged god,the Decapitator, steps forward. The tumi is raised; gold
flashes through the air. The Priestess raises the cup. Iguana and Wrinkle Face
take their places at the head of the shaft. The great ceremony begins.
In the tomb, the sacrificed llamas, headless, rest on either side of the
coffin, the Warrior s dog nearby. The mummies of the female ancestors are
placed in the tomb, two at the head of the coffin, two at the foot.
Iguana and Wrinkle Face, masks glinting in the light of torches, take the
ropes and slowly lower the Great Warrior way down into the chamber. The body
is placed in the coffin, head to the south, toward Cerro Blanco. With proper
ceremony, the coffin is sealed with copper straps.
The guardians, those who will protect the Warrior through all time, go before
the Decapitator. One is placed beside the Warrior, the other, feet cut off, in
a niche above the coffin. Now the chamber can be sealed, the shaft filled.
The new Warrior Priest sits cross-legged on his litter, his standards to
either side, his dog at his feet. The Bird Priest takes the cup of sacrifice
from the Priestess and passes it to him. May our new Warrior save us from the
water that rushes from the mountains, destroying everything in its path. He
must: If he cannot, it is the end of our world.
Rolando guerra s journey to his final resting place was more seething mob
than funeral procession, the animosity of his friends and relatives barely
held in check by the solemnity of the occasion.
It looked as if half the town had crowded into the Plaza de Armas as the
casket, carried by six members of the Guerra family, went into the plaza and
up the church steps. Guerra s wife and two small children followed the coffin,
the woman sobbing, and the children, a little boy and girl, looking perplexed.
An older woman Guerra s mother, I surmised walked ramrod straight and dry-eyed
behind them.
Mayor Montero had sent one of his policemen to the hacienda to urge us not to
attend the funeral in order not to inflame the situation, and it was good
advice indeed. The crowd was an angry one, threatening to erupt at any moment,
I thought, as Puma and I pulled back into a lane and retreated to the market
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 Bad scene, was all Puma said. It was a bad scene indeed. While the Guerras
were, I gathered, considered loners, Rolando s death had played into the
anxiety people were feeling about the approaching El Nino, which, together
with theinvasores that came with it, threatened their livelihood and their
The marketplace where I d taken Ines to get some supplies was abuzz. There
seemed to be a general feeling that Rolando shouldn t have been looting, but
there was an almost universal resentment of people who came from somewhere
else. A few of the shopkeepers glared ominously at me as I went by, and one
old woman slapped a flyswatter rather menacingly in my direction as I drew
near her.
We had a conference that evening, in what we d named the war room that heady
night, which now seemed so long ago, when, flushed with enthusiasm for what we
saw as the absolute Tightness of the cause, we d planned Operation Atahualpa,
our invasion of Cerro de las Ruinas.
This time, sitting around the dining room table after Ines had left for home,
we had to decide whether to go on, after this latest grisly discovery, or to
close up for the season, pack up the lab and head home.
 I don t know, Hilda said, her voice even raspier than usual.  I just don t
know. Part of me wants to go on, the other&  Her voice trailed off.
 We re so close, Hilda, Steve said.  I can just feel it. We re going to find
something big.
 I know you think so. But is it worth the risk? she replied.
 Of course it s worth it! Steve exclaimed.  Are you saying we should just
give up and let the looters have it all? Hilda, you ve been working toward
this your whole career!
 Maybe I picked the wrong career? she asked with a tight little smile.
 I m with Hilda, Ralph said.  Yes, it s important, but not worth getting
killed over. And just carrying on as if nothing has happened. Unseemly,
really. Guerra, for all his bluster, was just trying to make a living.
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 So was Al Capone, Ralph, Tracey snorted.  Surely you re not condoning
looting. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]