Chapter 8 – Hernando

Today, we wish to take a detour from our memoir to remember and honor our fallen friend and comrade, Hernando Descante del Morrow, who most will remember simply as Harry. It has been 10 years since Harry fell, in the service of his compadres, his country, and His Honor, that is, His Honor Judge Julio de la Sic Semper Magnanimous, who most will remember simply as Judge Julio. Ah, yes, El Juego Julio! But his is a remembrance for another day. Today, our hearts and minds belong to Harry.

It was a fine day, the day Harry fell, at least up to that point. Afterwards, it wasn’t such a fine day, at least not for Harry. Now that we think about it, it wasn’t such a fine day for Judge Julio, either, but we need not, and will not, dwell on it here for it is an entirely different matter for another place and time. Not only was the land beset (speaking now of Harry’s aftermath) with plagues, tornadoes, locusts and floods, it was beset with sorrow and, dare we say, disbelief, as word of Harry’s demise spread across it. Disinformation, misinformation, and fake news about Harry and the events that ultimately befell him were propagated from all corners, but mostly from the left, so much so that the truth was even more difficult to find than Harry’s corpse. Bandolero, however, found it (the truth, not the corpse), by the strength of perseverence that is the mark, that is to say, one of the marks, that over the years earned for him the intense loyalty of his followers and the sheer admiration of his admirers, by carefully and studiously studying, turning over, and searching beneath, rock upon rock, or rock after rock. In either case, it was an exhausting and far from diminutive undertaking on Bandolero’s part, something that none other than the most faithful and loving of friends would have undertaken. But, he did it, because he is El Bandolero, and such is El Bandolero’s way.

What he ultimately found was, at first, unbelievable but, in the final analysis, true beyond doubt or belief. An earthquake had opened a hole of deceptive proportions into which the unsuspecting and, unfortunately, unwary Harry had been sucked in a gigantic gulp of nature. One can only try, if so inclined, to imagine the terror that must have gripped every ounce of Harry’s being as he clung in desperation to the edge of the gaping hole in those final seconds before he lost his grip, his future, his hopes and dreams, and most of his fingernails. Yes, into it he did fall, as assuredly as if pushed by a surging crowd out of control in that sort of crushing terror and instinctive compulsion to escape at any cost that can only be wrought by the sudden and unexpected arrival of horribly disfigured and unimaginably ugly beyond comprehension alien beings from another world whose unalterable mission is the eradication of all life on the planet. Yes, one can only try, if so inclined, to imagine the unimaginable horror that engulfed and enveloped poor Harry at that moment, alone and without hope of rescue or salvation, for Harry knew in that final instant that he had done things during his lifetime from which there could be no salvation. On the other hand, it is possible that, finding himself in the iron grip of imminent death, Harry had succumbed to ennui and despair and simply fell in.

Teetering on the edge of that gaping abyss, his sanity likewise teetering from the images that swirled in his mind’s eye like the proverbial whirling dervish of Saturday morning cartoons that left so many children damaged for life, El Bandolero spied, in a moment of respite that required a strength of mind that only he could have achieved under such circumstances, a singular rock that seemed to be calling to him. This was, indeed, fortunate for, in reaching out toward it, he regained the balance that he was unaware had been lost in the mind-crushing insanity of the moment, and was saved from the same fate that Harry found in the belly of the geological beast that had swallowed him. Upon grasping the stone, Bandolero beheld an inscription before his tearful eyes. He sought to calm his trembling hand so he could make out the words that Harry had, in his final moments of tortured self-awareness and insight, inscribed. It said: “Santo Diablo, tómame porque estoy listo. /s/ Hernando Descante del Morrow, su servante.” As the tears flowed down El Bandolero’s cheeks the rock fell from his trembling hand and struck the toe of his boot. “Mierdo,” muttered El Bandolero, seeing that the rock had bounced and landed atop a pile of fresh horse shit. Pondering what, if anything, to do next with Harry’s memoriam, he discovered that it had fallen in such manner as to expose another inscription on the other side of the rock. Bandolero looked at Harry’s rock, now embedded in a good place for it to remain for eternity. Once more, Bandolero summoned the sort of of strength that set him apart and made him peerless among peers, for few would challenge the character of a man willing to pull forth a rock embedded in fresh horse shit in order to discern a friend’s dying words. Holding it in his trembling hand, at arm’s length for obvious reasons, he squinted to focus his eyes at such distance and read Harry’s last, or perhaps second to last, words for there was no way to tell which side he had inscribed first. It said: “Santo Dios, tómame porque estoy listo. /s/ Hernando Descante del Morrow, su servante.” “Well,” thought El Bandolero, rubbing the stubble of beard on his chin with one hand as he gently returned the rock to its final resting place with the other, “Harry always did try to cover his bases.”

Those who happen to wander along the same path that was taken that fateful day by Hernando Descante del Morrow can, if they are alert, spot the memorial left there by Bandolero, the memorial inscribed by Harry himself as his last living act, other than screaming his lungs out as he plummeted into the bowels of the earth.