Finally. The end is in sight. Just a little bit more.
I took yet another detour from my outline and added a hallucination sequence. I had not planned on writing it at all but it sort of just happened. It was logical to place it in there. It turns out that it was also one of the easiest chapters to write because I just let my imagination rip.
Here's an excerpt:
At the head of the gathering, I saw Humabon. He was examining a musket, turning it this way and that. He aimed it at a coconut, imitating our marines, and pulled the trigger. There was that distinctive click which I could make out above the laughing natives, but it did not fire. How should it? It wasn't loaded properly. Should I help him, I wonder? The old captain had expressly forbidden the natives from touching our weapons. It seemed wrong. But wait! Maybe he had become such close friends with Humabon that he presented him with the musket? Yes, perhaps that was it. It certainly was.
I ran my fingers through my hair, furrowing it deeply. I felt very confused. How could the old captain have given his permission to Humabon when he was dead? Didn't I see him on the beach last month (or was it last week? yesterday? I wasn't sure anymore), holding off a thousand natives with his musket? Yes, every time he fired, a hundred natives fell. He reloaded so quickly that in a span of seconds the thousand natives fell dead at his feet. Yes, that was it! He had slain all his enemies. The great Captain-General Fernando de Magallanes had conquered all. He hadn't died at all. That's how he gave permission to Humabon to hold his gun.
Oh, hold a moment. Yes, he did die after all, didn't he? The natives were all dead, shot by him while we made our escape. But they did not stay dead for long. They rose again, from the water and from the beach where he had shot them. They were dancing this way and that, daring him to shoot them again. Which he did, and they all fell down. Only this time, a giant grouper came in from behind him (Lapu-Lapu was his name. Ha! Ha! Isn't that funny? How odd that we should have been afraid of him when he wasn't a great king or a warrior and just a fish.) Anyway, Lapu-Lapu the giant grouper sneaked up from behind the old captain and walloped him with a club. The sneaky devil.
With that blow, the old captain fell into the water. He was bleeding very badly. It would have had to have been a very strong grouper to draw that much blood with a blow? (But didn't groupers have no hands? How was he able to hold the club? I don't know. I wish I knew. That was just the way it was).
Then Lapu-Lapu's warriors danced their way to where the old captain had fallen. Yes, that's the way it was, the underhanded cheaters. They rushed to the captain, and they started pricking him with their spears. It was awfully nice of them to fall in line, though. I didn't know they could be so orderly about those things here.
There were so many of them that the line extended all the way to the mountain. There seemed to be no end to the men waiting for their turn at the old captain. Since there were so many, they each got only one stroke at the old captain. Each man jabbed his spear at Magallanes, and he would obligingly howl out long and loud and his feet would kick in the air with a flourish, just like the street actor I once saw in Barrameda (Barrameda? Where was that? It seems so familiar. I don't know. I don't care.)
Humabon was there. That's right. I remember clearly. He was waiting at the head of the line, just where the old captain was lying. Every man who wanted a turn at the old captain had to pay Humabon five pesetas (did they use pesetas here? what where pesetas again? I don't know. I don't care.) When a man paid, Humabon would give him a ticket.
Greedy old Humabon! If the man paid an extra three pesetas, Humabon gave him two strokes instead, much to the chagrin of the people waiting behind. Humabon would pocket the extra three pesetas for himself, and this he did so gleefully. The people in line didn't complain, though, because they knew Humabon too well, and knew he would just make excuses, and it would make their wait longer.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Humabon, collecting money from the natives so they could have a turn at the old captain. Then, I remember Lapu-Lapu getting very impatient, and so he swam up to the old captain in the same sneaky way and gobbled him up. Not completely, though, because the old captain still had a head an arm sticking out of Lapu-Lapu's mouth. Then Lapu-Lapu swam away with the old captain. There was a collective groan of disappointment from the warriors who never got their turn. So they all went back to their houses, dancing their peculiar little dance every step of the way.
The man whose turn it had been when Lapu-Lapu snatched away the old captain did not go home, however. He got very upset because he had already paid Humabon eight shiny pesetas when the fish gobbled up the old captain. But Humabon was adamant. "No refunds! It's not my fault that your chief spirited him away when he did." And when the man insisted, Humabon gave him a thick sheaf of papers telling him that he had to have it signed and notarized and taken back to Humabon's village where he could get a refund after six months. So the man went away disgusted. (I would have, too, you know. I didn't know they had notaries in these islands. Apparently they do.)
And just as Humabon was about to go home, he saw the old captain's musket lying in the water, and so he bent down to pick it up. (Ah, yes, maybe that's how he came by it. He picked it up in the water.) But then I suddenly remembered: the old captain, though he was very dead, opened his eyes and boomed out to me: "Diego! Don't let that filthy heathen touch my musket! It was my mother's."
"I am not a heathen," Humabon shot back. "You had me baptized, remember, godfather?"