From The Road to El Dorado
SERENADE OF FALLEN ANGELS
Turning over a new leaf...
Miguel threw himself backwards onto his side of the rickety old cot that he and Tulio used for a bed in the run-down little hovel they lived in, his stomach growling furiously. Miguel whimpered painfully and rubbed his thin stomach, hearing it gurgle and grumble in response to his touch.
"Tulio..." he whimpered pathetically.
"Shut up, Miguel." Tulio cut him off from across the room where he sat at a small table in front of a half-boarded up window, drumming his fingers across it in deep thought.
"But I’m starving!" Miguel cried painfully, slumping to the floor, hand laying limply across his forehead in a sign of fainting.
"We both are, and if you’d quit complaining for a moment and let me think of a plan we might HAVE some food by now!" he shouted in irritation.
"Oh, but darling, one can not survive on love alone..." Miguel teased clambering over to him and tossing his arms around his shoulders, nuzzling his hair.
"Will you stop it!" Tulio said in mock anger, swatting his lover away. Miguel stuck his tongue out at him.
"You’re so mean sometimes, honestly." He huffed, throwing himself across the bed again. He looked up at the ceiling for a long time, without saying a word. In fact he had been so quiet so long that Tulio thought he might have fallen asleep. He was just getting up to check on him when Miguel sat bolt up right and grabbed his shoulders, dragging him down on top of him.
"Hola, love!" he chuckled.
Tulio glared at him.
"You are such -- " he began, but Miguel cut him off.
"I was just thinking...why are we thieves?" he asked.
Tulio blinked at him as though he had just asked why they breathed air. "Miguel, I think the lack of food has gone to your head," he said, stroking Miguel bright golden tresses.
"No, I mean...what’s the point!? I mean, even stealing we just end up living from day to day on little next to nothing, and...well, there’s all those people after us, you know wanting to turn us in...or just kill us." He shrugged.
"And what do you suggest then, darling? That we, turn over a new leaf, go straight, and try to make a living as honest men?" he asked.
"Yes," Miguel said, stealing a little kiss from his partner. But Tulio was completely slack, staring at him.
"WHAT?!?!?!" he cried, leaping off the bed, hands on his head. "Are you out of your mind?!?!" he shouted.
"What?! It’s not that bad of an idea..." Miguel replied, looking as though he were going to pout.
"Miguel!!! Hello!? We’re CON ARTISTS! That’s what we’re good at! We lie, we cheat, we steal! It’s what we do!" he cried.
"But Tulio...I mean, can we really keep this up for the rest of our lives, I mean...lets face it, neither of us is getting any younger, and...I just thought...what if...what if we, were to, you know...switch sides?" he asked.
Now the black-haired Spaniard was thoroughly confused. "Whoa, whoa...back that horse up...what are you talking about?" he asked.
"What if, we were the ones who turned in other con men? You know, to get the rewards!" Miguel cried.
Tulio let out a loud mocking laugh, doubling over. "Are-are you kidding me?! We can’t just...waltz up to Spanish guards and demand an award, they’d throw us in right along with the others! And besides, being on the bad side of some of the scum that wander around here, Miguel...I’d take my chances with Cortez!"
Miguel folded his arms across his chest, turning away from his friend and partner. "You just don’t like it because I thought of it!" he cried.
"No..." Tulio said coming up behind him, "I don’t like it because it wouldn’t work." He replied seriously.
But Miguel still refused to look at him and Tulio knew he was in for a good long pout from him, which could last several hours.
"Aw, Miguel, don’t do this..." he pleaded with him, wrapping his arms around him warmly, kissing his neck in hopes that a little affection might sedate his tantrum, but Miguel shrugged him off and suddenly marched towards the door.
"Wait-where are you going!?" Tulio cried in confusion. Miguel turned to look at him.
"Out," he replied, slamming the door shut behind him, leaving the tiny hovel in silence. Tulio tugged his hair in frustration and slumped onto the bed.
"Oh no...he’s loose..." he groaned.
It was beginning to get dark and Tulio was pacing up and down the floor of their small home, worrying himself sick. Miguel had been gone a long time...too long as a matter of fact. Anything could have happened to him out there on his own without Tulio to keep him from getting himself in too deep.
What if he was in trouble? What if he was hurt? What if he was---Tulio’s dark thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the clamoring of hoof-beats and someone bursting through the front door.
It was Miguel, smiling from ear to ear, a large sack in his hand.
"Honey, I’m home!" he called as Tulio suddenly pounced on him, knocking him to the floor.
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!!" he cried, shaking him violently.
Miguel just smiled at this and untied the large sack he was holding. A mound of gold fell onto the floor next to the two of them, gleaming in the candlelight. Tulio stared, slack-jawed at the gold laying beside them.
Miguel gently closed his mouth and sat up, beaming with pride.
"Where...where...?" Tulio stammered, gathering up a handful, as if trying to convince himself if these were real or not.
"I earned them." Miguel replied, gathering up the coins again.
"How?! We’re you gambling for it? Did you take my dice again--?" Tulio began.
"No, I got the reward for that murderer that was running lose. You know...the one worth three hundred pesetas?" he asked, grinning.
Tulio’s mouth fell open again.
"You’re going to catch flies like that," Miguel scolded him lightly, kissing his forehead.
"HOW DARE YOU!?!" Tulio screamed. Miguel nearly jumped two feet off the floor.
"How DARE you do this?! You could have been killed!! You had me so worried...I thought you were dead or captured, and here you are getting REWARD money!" Tulio shouted, taking the bag from Miguel and dumping onto the table, counting it quickly.
"And look! You got yourself cheated! There’s only two-hundred and fifty pesetas here!" he added smugly as though proving a point. But Miguel’s smile never faltered.
"No, I got the full reward...I just devoted some of it to a more worthy cause." He said opening the door as Altivo popped his head in, whinnying happily at his former friends.
"I bought back Altivo!" Miguel cried proudly. Tulio’s eye twitched convulsively.
"You...got back that stupid horse?" he gasped.
"He’s my stupid horse now, Tulio, and how can you be so harsh! Altivo saved us TONS of time back in El Dorado!" he replied, stroking the white war-horses’ muzzle. Altivo nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, I remember alright, but still -- " Tulio grumbled.
"Aw, Tulio they were going to turn him into...well...you know! I couldn’t let them do that, I just had to save him!"
"Will you shut up about the horse?!" the dark haired man cried, pulling them both inside, shutting the door, peering around nervously.
"Miguel...do you know what this means?!" he gasped in a strained whisper.
Miguel pondered for a moment. "Uh...that we can eat now?" he asked.
"No! It means we can never show our faces around here ever again! That guy had partners and they’ll be out for your blood! You’ve doomed us both!" he cried.
Miguel rolled his eyes at his friend and sat down on the bed, taking off his clothes. "Oh, stop it...come on, I’m bushed. Come to bed." He motioned.
"Oh no, you’re not just going to sweep this under the rug---" Tulio continued to rant, but Miguel suddenly had him by the arms, pushing him down on the bed, wrapping his body around his as he blew out the candle.
He kissed his lover passionately on the mouth to silence him for the night and then cuddled up to him, tucking the sack of gold inside the pillowcase.
"You’re welcome." Miguel smugly.
On the Road Again...
It had nearly a month since Miguel had dropped the big "bomb" so to speak on Tulio about turning over a new leaf, and since then the two former thieves had come up a bit in the world, although not much. They now lived in a respectable little shack rather than the run down little hovel they had formerly inhabited, and Miguel had built Altivo a little shed where he could sleep, as Tulio had grown down right infuriated with keeping him in the house, although not without good reason.
Living as bounty hunters wasn’t much different than living as thieves, however. They were still living from day to day with what little money they managed to bring in (which they always did in disguise due to the fact that they were wanted themselves) only now the money they brought in lasted alittle longer because they obtained more. But the job was probably twice as dangerous as it had been before.
But Miguel and Tulio had one advantage that other bounty hunters perhaps didn’t have---they knew how the criminals and they captured actually thought. They already knew their scams and their lies before they even thought of them, and they blended well with the other crowd, unlike with the Spanish soldiers.
On this particular day, however, business was rather on the slow side and the two of them found themselves in an all too familiar situation...
"Dinner’s ready!" Miguel said as he walked set down a plate in front of Tulio, who licked his lips hungrily. Until he saw the plate that was in front of him. All that was laid before him were noodles and chopped up bell peppers.
"Uh, Miguel," Tulio said, looking to his partner, who was busily munching away on his own food.
"Yeshm?" he asked through a mouthful.
"I thought you said you were making bell-peppers and beef?" he asked. He prodded his plate with his fork. "I see no beef."
Miguel nodded, taking another huge bite.
"So I guess you wouldn’t exactly call it bell-peppers and beef then, would you?" Tulio continued.
Miguel gave him a glare as he swallowed. "Yes...I would." He replied simply.
"Well it’s not!" Tulio shouted, banging his fist on the table. "What happened to that fifty pesetas we brought in last week!?"
Miguel continued to eat his food calmly, but Tulio could hear the frustration in his partner’s voice. "The repairs for that restaurant you wrecked, the money you lost while you were gambling, and the money to fix Altivo’s shoe, killed the dough!" he shouted the last words at him.
Tulio sat in silence for a minute before Miguel pulled another wanted poster from his pocket and tossed it on the table for him to see.
It was of a very big, very muscular man and a very pretty young woman, apparently the two were husband and wife, wanted for murder and fraud. The reward was a whopping four hundred pesetas. The biggest reward they had offered yet.
Tulio almost choked on his food. "Whoa...oh no, Miguel, it’s too risky, these guys are out of league, they’d skin us alive!" he cried.
"You worry too much." Miguel replied, taking the poster back and tucking it into his belt.
"No, I worry exactly the right amount," Tulio replied. "Miguel these are a lot more dangerous than the petty little criminals we’ve been catching, they’d gut us both." He replied.
"I don’t see what looks so dangerous about them," Miguel said, looking at the large muscular man and the very frail looking woman. "They’re all show and no go..."
Tulio pulled the poster from his hand. "No. Absolutely not. I’m not going to let you do it, Miguel. It’s too risky."
Miguel decided it was no use to argue with Tulio when he was so dead set on something, so he sighed loudly and threw up his hands. "Alright, alright, you win...we’ll leave this one to the professionals." He replied.
Tulio smiled satisfiedly, taking the poster from Miguel and tossing it aside. "My thoughts exactly. We’ve got all we need, right here, right now. There’s no point in getting in over our heads..." he said as Miguel wrapped his arms around him, nuzzling his face warmly.
It was then that they heard a knock on the door. The two stopped immediately to stare at the door, wondering who on earth could be at their door. After all, they never had any visitors, nor family to come visit. The two grabbed their swords and crept slowly towards the door.
Miguel grabbed it, slowly turning the knob and throwing it open as Tulio leapt out with his rapier. "Who goes there?!" he shouted.
The two found themselves staring at a tall, heavily muscular man with black hair and burning brown eyes and a mean look on his face, and a young, very pretty woman with the same black hair and brown eyes, looking very suspicious.
Tulio thought his heart would stop right then and there. They were staring at the very people on the wanted poster.
"M-m-may we help you, uh...sir?" Tulio asked nervously.
"Yes. Directions to the nearest Inn." The man growled. Tulio continued to stammer and stare, until Miguel nudged him hard from behind.
"Oh! It’s down that way, take a left, it’s at the end of the road, you can’t miss it." He replied, having regained his cool.
"Thank you." The woman replied softly as she and her husband turned to leave and Miguel and Tulio sunk down on their bed, looking terrified.
"Tulio..." Miguel whispered, clutching his partner’s hand.
"No, Miguel," Tulio replied shortly. "Did-did you see that guy?! He could pick you up, snap off your head and throw it from here to France without breaking a sweat! There’s no WAY we’re going after this." He replied.
"Oh but Tulio, it would be such an adventure!" Miguel begged him.
"NO!" Tulio shouted again. Miguel threw himself on him and smothered him in kisses for several long minutes before releasing him.
"How about now?" he asked.
Tulio sat up, his hair ruffled and sticking up, shirt loosened, belt unbuckled, a stupid little smile on his face. "Uh...what was the question?" he asked.
Miguel laughed loudly.
To be continued next episode.... :)