Chapter 19: The South under threat
Sarah heads south again. Just as well, for when she insists on entering the household of her chosen man, Alejandro, she finds Joanne entirely befuddled by his oh-so-smooth attentions proving that not every Ali should be rated as an ally, deserving of unstinting allegiance. Anyway, Ventura’s vindictive curiosity has led to meddlesome questioning about the whereabouts and motivation of her son, Jim.
So, Sandy wisely decides to ignore both lovers’ pleas and willy-nilly snatches Joanne from her man and his menagerie and makes good Joanne’s escape before Ventura is informed and has any chance to pester her with any further questions.
As their response to outrage at Goni’s persistent misgovernment, the hitherto obedient mass of servants, the chauffeurs and gardeners who had always tended to the extravagant needs of the bosses, those who, after all, paid their admittedly meagre wages, rose as one to discomfort the residents of the Zona Sewer in such ways as they could invent. This started as a type of diversion - leaving the trash stinking and unemptied at the back of the garage - but rapidly turned nasty, dangerous and threatening. Not feeding pampered pets is one thing, but poisoning them is another matter. And when precious vehicles are stolen and ransacked, then abandoned to burn in the wastes beyond Achumani, ye gods we’re talking about sacred property rights.
Meanwhile in the Ventura enclave, Waldo was preparing a rearguard action to defend his chattels; indirectly because he wasn’t going to bloody his own hands. But as a ranking Colonel, and still enthused by the memory of his valiant role in organizing the February massacres, Ventura gave the orders to ensure that the army reserves were alerted and positioned to avert the danger.
Inevitably, Waldo’s grand mansion had come under threat, if only to reinforce his feelings of paranoia. What he suspected was a perverse vengeance applied from Jim’s perspective. What he never imagined in his wildest fantasies, was that his entire personal staff, from the cook to the maid to his valet had been recruited from a single community on the Island of the Sun. No-one is claiming this connection owed anything to Jim, but certainly they formed one clan or maybe even a family and were united in their repugnance against Waldo’s estate and all it implied.
So this network sent subtle signals to those from the outlying communities who were marching on the rich suburbs to indicate that this residence was worth taking; moreover it was well worthy of the honour. Now, I can’t say if Waldo dreamt of the imminent threat or whether some residual subconscious knowledge still operating within his numbskull alerted him, but, anyway, he called out the army in time to prevent the advance of the hordes and thus saved his property and that of his neighbours from being ransacked.
So, on Waldo’s shoulders lay the responsibility for the infamous Ovejuyo massacre, which is where the army trapped/ confronted the marchers, mercilessly killing many of their number, thereby adding another millstone/albatross round Goni’s dismal neck/record and thereby hastening the inevitability of his departure.
Chapter 20: Ignatz Buries His Dead
When the news of the killings at Ovejuyo filtered through to the Alto, the population of the overspill city on the heights were intensely aware that their turn to face the government killers was fast approaching. Maravillas roused- Mario has finally abandoned that Hotel – thrown in his cards, taken his chances where he belongs, up in the Alto; the irony of assuming a position in the heights to gauge the true depth of the problem
Likewise appalled, in his own way, at the prospect of the impending massacres, Ignatz called his flock to a prayer session outdoors by the Round Square under the gaze of his mammoth statue of a flayed, bleeding Christ. The wedding-cake style Alpine church (those damned churches!) that Ignatz had constructed also witnessed this religious procession. Jovial witnesses or spies?
“All true believers, on your knees,” hollered Ignatz. But the Alto was having none of that; they were on their feet (alert, ready for action) and what Ignatz had programmed as an occasion for the Catholic faithful turned instead into a key march which chose as its destination the exit from the Alto at Rio Seco. The purpose of the enraged alteños was to impede any fuel or food supplies reaching downtown, whose recalcitrant population, or at least those foolish few who still persisted in viewing Goni’s administration as legitimate, were going to be starved into submission.
But the army recruits were on site before the marchers arrived and obeying explicit orders from the defence minister Berzain himself (last gasp- final macabre apparition of banshee) opened fire indiscriminately on the defenceless masses. The blood spattered dead and dying splayed on the Rio Seco highway presented testimony of yet another massacre to crush Goni’s already tarnished reputation.
At which point, having headed the deadly (potentially fatal) march, Ignatz insisted on reverting to his role of priest and administering last rites and the Christian rituals of burial for the victims. Of course he was within his rites, as he saw them, but an enraged Sandy exploded at his sanctimonious pretensions. “You hypocrite,” she yelled, “why can’t you take the blame for the march you organized? You represent a religion that glorifies death and in no way is the crucifixion life affirming. You are as answerable as Goni for what’s happening.” After which outburst, Sandy stormed off, leaving the holy Ignatz to bury his dead, with a fantasmal reappearance of Jim smirking among the shoe-shiners, issuing instructions into his mobile phone.