Friday, May 9, 2008

Cien Cojones

The Saga of Fray Paco
Book 4: The Formidable Dona Esperanza
Chapter 4 – Cien Cojones

Tiago “Cien Cojones” y Cien Corazones” was famous throughout the Madrileno Underworld by these two titles because he concentrated solely on breaking and entering the bridal suites of rich couples. Sometimes he also robbed aristocrats whom he knew to be money poor but joya (gem) rich.

He had earned the name of “Cien Corazones (One Hundred Hearts)” because, according to the tally of the criminal world, he had stolen at the very least from a hundred brides and grooms. The tally was closer to three hundred but a hundred sounded more poetic and romantic, thought Tiago.

The realization that he had been responsible for spoiling their honeymoon and that their subsequent memories would always be linked to the terrible experience of being denuded in a theft delighted him.

“That was a powerful feeling,” a joyous Tiago would revel in it after each “penetration.”

He studied and observed each "target" as dispassionately as a biologist would a frog or toad under a microscope before dissecting them alive. He was in control. He could inflict displeasure and even pain. He could kill them if they awoke while he was in the act of robbing them. Two couples had found their throats cut so swiftly that they did not even realize they had died.

"The beauty of expensive hotels is that they had spacious and luxurious bathrooms. I could spend all the time necessary to wash myself of all their blood. No one would be the wiser. Newly weds happened to be a horny lot. Who would question a bath running at three or four in the morning in a bridal suite?” He told his men hoping to terrorize them even more.

“Cien Cojones” called each theft a penetration and insisted his men follow suit.

Tiago was particularly proud of the sobriquet “Cien Cojones (One Hundred Balls)”. Few silent marauders had the cojones to break into bridal suites and icily despoil husband and wife of anything, which had a price, or whatever struck Tiago’s fancy while the couple slept.

“Cien Cojones” would not effect a penetration unless the couple was sleeping in their bridal suite. He always came prepared. If any one of the couples woke up, he had a rope tied into a knot known as the garrote knot. He especially distrusted women because they seemed to have a damned sense of trouble.

“That is my preferred way of killing,” he declared.

Tiago “Cien Cojones” was amused at the idea of using the garrote, which savagely crushed the windpipe oh, so slowly! The victim knew he or she was dying for 6 to 10 minutes. They were at his mercy. Tiago had none. That was an eternity for someone to pass to the netherworld. The garrote was one of the ways of inflicting capital punishment in Spain. The poor and idiotic bastards who were dimwitted enough to get caught by the police and had no money to bribe them were usually executed by means of the garrote.

Weeks before “La Bella Filipina” had landed in the port of Barcelona, the society pages were writing about the wedding of the year in Manila. Her bridal gown was described ad nauseam. The pictures of Dona Esperanza de Montebello, the former Esperanza von Berger, great niece of the Tycoon in Las Filipinas, Don Cesar Ortigas, were plastered all over the newspapers.

Tiago “Cien Cojones y Corazones” scrutinized the photographs with a magnifying glass, paying a great deal of attention to Dona Esperanza’s jewelry. He spotted the 25-carat flawless diamond on her left finger, the endless strands of pearls around her neck, some down to her waist, the 7 strands of pearls on her wrist with a diamond centerpiece, the diadem created entirely out of black and white pearls.

Just a few weeks ago, ABC, Spain’s foremost newspaper owned by cabal of Castilian and Aragonese nobility, featured a splendid full-length photograph of the late Czarina Alexandra of all the Russias draped in pearls.

The young Dona Esperanza of the Ortigas Nieto clan whom “Cien Cojones” loathed possessed pearls, which eclipsed the dead Czarina’s collection.

“Good! Kill them all,” Tiago had told his men when the news broke that Lenin himself had ordered the execution of the Czar, the Czarina and their entire family.

“Cien Cojones” was informed of all Dona Esperanza’s movements through the newspapers. They were his best “partners,” unwittingly of course. What a wonderful invention … the newsprint. Such a great tool for criminals like him.

Tiago owned a nondescript carriage. Although there were a few cars in Spain, mainly Benz or Isotta Fraschini, there were so many carts hauled by donkeys, mules, horses and dogs from the Pyrenees on the main arteries and roads. Carriages and Calesas still clogged the streets and the roads. A car would stand out and it could be easily trailed.

Tiago recalled the fury and pain he experienced when his parents decided to repatriate to Spain, taking him back kicking and screaming. Spain had lost the Spanish American War and many Filipinos of Spanish extraction had chosen to return, especially individuals who had been virulently and sometimes viciously pro-Spanish. Tiago and his father had been one of those.

They had a small coconut plantation, and hacienda in Laguna province. May the devil damn Don Cesar forever! He had offered to pay cash, in U.S. dollars at the current market prices in 1898, for their hacienda.

“The price was a mierda (shit),” Tiago had yelled when his father brought up the offer of Don Cesar Ortigas Nieto while they were dining on Spanish beans and chorizos (sausages). His mother had slapped him so hard on his cheek he had bitten himself and spat a crimson saliva.

“Don’t you dare use those words in my presence!” she rebuked him sternly.

His father feared reprisals. He had informed on many Filipinos, rich and poor. There had been no need to report Don Cesar, the scion and heir of the Banco Hispano Filipino. Don Cesar himself had informed the Spanish newspapers.

“I am a Filipino first and a Spaniard second. I am with the Norte Americanos.”

His father and Tiago, to a lesser extent, had sided with the losers.

That moronic father of mine was such a mental defective he had been unable to look at the broader picture.

“We have no choice but to accept Don Cesar’s offer. He is paying us is in U.S. dollars. That will go a long way in Spain. There is also the fact that I bought the land from the Dominican priests under uhm … peculiar circumstances. We might well lose our lands as well as our heads,” Tiago’s father announced.

“In addition,” his mother told him, “Don Cesar has offered to pay for our passage on an English ship sailing from Hong Kong.”

She gave him another napkin. “Wipe the blood off your mouth, Descarado (disrespectful).

So Tiago left behind the spectacular islands he loved so much – the languor, the color, the Sol, the Bay (Manila Bay), the fruits, and the pretty senoritas. For what? The cold which ripped through your bones, the grayness, the rain, the colorless sights, the poverty, the chaos and the hopelessness of everyday life. The fool who had been his father obligingly died of diphtheria on the long voyage to the port of Barcelona from Hong Kong, which was a British Crown Colony.

Tiago took over. “I’m the bread winner now. I want every last cent of the money Don Cesar paid the simpleton.”

At his mother’s enraged “What for?” Tiago had replied, “I’m going into business for myself. If you get in my way, I’ll beat you up and throw you overboard.”

His terrorized Mother handed over all the money. He counted it carefully in front of her.

“I’ll tell you what to do from now on. You’ll jump when I say so. I won’t throw you out on the streets and I won’t abandon you to even poorer relatives. Pactos claros (Clear pacts)? Is that understood?”

His mother was too afraid to say or do anything except to nod her head in assent.

“Cien Cojones”, had decided.

“The penetration will take place tonight. “La Bella Filipina” is being presented to that King Alfonso XIII, who is even more of a buffoon than my old man was. She is about 15, the papers said. What does a rich, spoilt girl like that know about life and survival? That flighty girl probably lives for the next party and ball.

Her husband, Count Daniele de Montebello is a graduate of the Military Academies of the Escorial and of Toledo. They learn useless things in there – fencing and so called Rules of Engagement, things not even fit to throw in the crapper.

A well placed kick in the balls and on his kidneys and he’ll be out of commission.” Tiago took a puff out of his Gitanes cigarette. His men waited tensely. No one dared to interrupt him until he had said “Es todo (That’s all).”

“I reconnoitered the suite yesterday while they were eating at Horcher’s. I had more than enough time to look at her ermines, sables and merinos. She’ll be wearing her emeralds tonight. How can I be so sure? Because since the Czar and Czarina were killed, none of the European nobility is wearing their pearls to official ceremonies and functions. You are thinking why? Partly out of a sense of respect, partly because we human beings are superstitious, and pearls for now mean bad luck. Ahh! It’s mierda (shit); it will pass, it always does.

We’ll enter the Hotel Ritz separately at our usual time. We’ll drink our own manzanillas once we’re inside the hotel closets. By three o’clock in the morning, they’ll be dead to the world, asleep in each other’s arms. The husband, Don Daniele, has a penchant for absinthe; he won’t wake up if a coalmine shaft collapsed next to his bed. Es todo (That’s it).”

His men were dismissed. There were six of them, including the calesa driver. Only Tiago worked near the sleeping couple. He never kept any jewelry or objects on his person. Everything was passed to his men. Tiago “Cien Cojones” did the inventory in his head. No detail escaped his eye of the lynx.

Once, one of his men had kept a small diamond ring. Tiago waited weeks; nothing was ever mentioned and the ring seemed to have never existed. Tiago ambushed him in one of the alleyways around La Gran Via and stabbed him repeatedly until he was sure the man was dead. The man’s lover told Tiago everything she knew when she saw the cut he had skillfully made on her arm.

“Think what this would look like on your face? How could you ever work again in the Casa de Citas?” (House of appointment a euphemism for a bordello)

“Cien Cojones” never told his men who had killed the traitor. One night he suddenly appeared wearing the small diamond on his little finger. He made sure everyone saw it, then he removed the ring, threw it on the table. The ring rolled around. He stamped his hand on the wood.

“Hombres, this is ours too. See that the money gets divided properly.”

Spain was in such chaos and anarchy because there was no honor left. Even among bandits there had to be honor or else the bandits would end up dead or denounced to the despised Guardia Civil.

Dona Esperanza and Don Daniele descended from the Isotta Fraschini coupe laughing and holding hands. “Cien Cojones” was inside the closet at the end of the hallway of the Hotel Ritz smoking Gitanes cigarettes one after another and taking gulps fom a small bottle of Manzanilla, which he kept inside his jacket.

I never pick locks. That's for amateurs! I have skeleton keys - passe - partout of every luxury hotel in Madrid and Barcelona.

"I don’t intend to share booty or pay off a mewling, lily-livered hotel concierge who will spill his soul at the sight of a Guardia Civil,” he had sworn in Church, before a statue of La Virgen del Rosario - The Virgin of the Rosary.

I like to say the Rosary, it relaxes me. I'm sure the little Virgin does not mind because I always leave money in her collection box for the wretches who are even more cursed than I am. Besides, this church is off -limits to me. I have all the other Churches, Cathedrals and private chapels to defenestrate at will. 

He heard Dona Esperanza and Don Daniele exchange amorous banter. They were probably kissing. He took out his watch, stolen from an English merchant at Puerto de Santa Maria. It was thirty minutes past midnight. The night was young.

One of his men whistled softly by his door. “Cien Cojones” opened it a crack. “The lovebirds are in the suite.”

“By 3:30 the latest, I’ll be inside. You follow in a couple of minutes. We are following our standard operations,” he answered gruffly.

When Tiago entered the salon, which was part of Dona Esperanza and Don Daniele’s suite, the strong aroma of expensive cigarettes struck him. He’d take those on his way out. The scent of tuberose flowers was heady. He looked around the salon, nothing. This was disquieting for tuberoses could literally drive you insane; give you headaches and cause faintness and lightheadedness. He sniffed the air like a wolf following its prey. There was another scent in the air. He couldn’t identify it but he was certain of one thing. It was costly and rare.

He came to a standstill just before venturing into the hallway closet.

The chicken-brained bastard! Tiago “Cien Cojones” swore silently. I’ll strangle that dunce.

His number two had stumbled on Dona Esperanza’s ermine-lined cape, which she had left lying by the door of the salon.

I’m the leader. Don’t I know how stupid men are? I saw the fur just lying there suggestively. I should have moved it out of harm’s way. I assumed that half-witted hyena would know to walk with his eyes down forward, left and right. Me cago. I shit. He’s been doing this long enough. He should have passed the cape on to man number three by now.”

He heard the deep and regular breathing of Don Daniele. What of the Dona? She must be sleeping so profoundly, her respiration was not audible from his position. He turned the corner, opened the two-door armoire softly, looked back quickly towards the bridal bed. No strange sounds or movements. As “Cien Cojones” continued the removal of the furs, he had the unshakeable feeling he was being watched. He kept glancing over his right shoulder to the bed but everything was in order.

All the furs had been taken, all Don Daniele’s heavy military coats as well. He had thought at first of leaving Dona Esperanza the soft woolen housecoat, it felt like vicuna. Then the tall figure of Don Cesar appeared before his eyes just like the picture published in ABC News.

This Dona is his great - niece, she gets zero.” “Cien Cojones” yanked off the housecoat causing the hanger to make a flapping noise. He turned his head swiftly towards the couple’s bed and stopped dead in his tracks. He waited. No reaction.

“Todo esta normal (Everything’s normal).”

This was his greatest thrill – the perforation of their bedroom. He paused for several minutes by the door, observing coldly every piece of furniture and the objects on the floor. He sized up the sounds coming from the bed.

“Cien Cojones” crossed the threshold. He felt a rush. He did not miss the ball gown lying crushed on the floor by the ormolu dresser. For Satan! The husband turned onto his left side. “Cien Cojones” walked over to Don Daniele’s side of the bed, his hands gripping his garrote rope. The man was truly sleeping deeply. He must have drunk the best absinthe. “Cien Cojones” had seen the green bottles yesterday afternoon. Only the elite of the elite could pay for that.

Bien, back to my tasks. Let nothing more disturb me.. Ah! There lie the emeralds! They are exquisite but I prefer diamonds, sapphires and rubies, which were hard stones. Diamonds are carbon, sapphires and rubies, corundum. Emeralds had very low specific gravity and could be damaged easily. I cannot  wait to get my hand on the diamond ring. That excites me because it is like my leche ( a coarse term for sperm)  after a violent penetration.

 He took out several cloths, wrapped the emerald necklace in one, placed the two cabochon rings in another, the pair of long earrings in another and the bracelets in yet another. Dona Esperanza’s black suede leather pouch was lying on top of the golden marble topped chest of drawers. “Cien Cojones” scooped up Don Daniele’s elegant gold cuff links in different designs, at least 6 sets, 6 gold chains of lapis lazuli and one of jade

 Ah! I almost forgot the Breguet wristwatch. Damnation! Where was the diamond?

A section of the moss green velvet curtain was open on the side where Dona Esperanza was sleeping. He looked inside and watched her movements. She was as still as a cadaver. He didn’t care what position the Dona slept; he had to see if she had the diamond on her fingers. Chances are she drank from the bottle of absinthe tonight. She would not feel Tiago “Cien Cojones’” hands, wet with oil, slide the ring out of her finger. He had done it many times in the past.

First he would observe everything around him carefully, then he’d remove his black gloves and pour the contents of a tiny bottle of olive oil into his fingers. He was good at this. From the floor, he noiselessly lifted the velvet curtain over his head as he lay on the floor then, like an eel he slithered on the Shiraz carpet up, up, up, taking all the time in the world. The thrill of it made him sweat heavily.

His eyeballs were now parallel to Dona Esperanza’s form. He sized her up quickly. No gold necklaces. His eyes moved rapidly to her ring finger, which was resting serenely on her left leg.

 Nada! Nada! Damn the devil and all his legions! She had placed the diamond ring together with other seductive diamonds and her famous pearls in the vault of the Hotel Ritz! That jackass of a number two will pay for it. 

In passing, he noted her opulent transparent fabric. He was a bandit whose expertise was jewelry and gems. Tiago “Cien Cojones” was not interested in piercing a terrified woman’s body.

Rape was not my pleasure. I enjoy violating them of their most precious possessions. I want a woman who would at least pretend she was enjoying the sexual frolic. the Besides, I only raped prostitutes who expected me to be forceful. I never had a taste for draining my sperm into any aristocratic sewer. I hold all of these people in contempt.

He espied the simpleton out in the hallway. He slithered down and went to join him. He pushed the simpleton back…and back.

“You idiot son of an animal, she doesn’t have the diamond.” Tiago shook him violently until his spine almost snapped. And then he hit him in the stomach.

“Did you see it on her finger tonight?”

“Yes,” mouthed the number two men who had sunk to his knees in pain.

“Wait for me in the hallway. I’ll be back shortly and take care not to bleed on the furs or there will be hell to pay.”

“Cien Cojones” re-entered the bedroom of Dona Esperanza and Don Daniele. He wanted the rare bottle of Chartreuse from the Cistercian Monastery of La Grand Chartreuse near Grenoble.

I desire the Green Gold of the Green Goddess, the absinthe in the green bottle of Sevre crystal.

There was something wrong! He had sensed it from the moment he had set foot inside this bedroom. What in hell’s name was it? He continued on. The bottle of Chartreuse was dropped into a bag while he placed the absinthe to his lips and took a long drink. This was the best he’d ever tasted. He’d share some of it with that perfidious gypsy who sold violets near the Hotel Ritz if she was accommodating enough.

Don Daniele kept up the steady rhythm of his breathing.

Hold on! Since I entered their bedroom I have not heard Dona Esperanza shift or change position. What did I say earlier?

The Dona was as still as a cadaver. Curse all the devils. She was awake! May the Devil himself flog me repeatedly. She had kept her wits about her and had watched my every move. Well, I am a bandit of honor. She could not identify either my men or me. Dona Esperanza had played by the rules. She had made no outcry, had not disturbed and shaken her husband. She had, in brief, allowed the theft to take place without incident. In a way she has been my accomplice. The first one as far as I know.

Tiago “Cien Cojones” stood by the space between the velvet curtains. He perceived, rather than saw, Dona Esperanza lying there in the darkness. But for her heavily scented fragrance and the scent of the tuberoses from the bathroom, he might have picked up her smell of fear.

Brava!” he wondered as he removed his glove and patted her lightly on her instep. There was no reaction.

Brava! He repeated silently. No, my Dona, that pat was not to test you, to see if you’re awake. I know you’re down there watching me as unresponsive as a statue, no! That pat was to congratulate you. It’s my way of showing you that I can play by the rules too.

Tiago turned around and walked away, down the hallway into the salon where his number two was waiting. He clutched the hand rolled Sobranie cigarettes inside a gold case, which belonged to Don Daniele.

“Go down the hotel fire escape as always. I’ll walk out of the hotel. He took Don Daniele’s long military coat and slipped into it. If the night porter happened to be awake, he’d act the guest; if he were snoozing, he’d let himself out of the big bronze gates with his passkey.

What good fortune! The night porter wasn’t there. At this time of night with the Hotel Ritz only 40% full, he had wisely opted to sleep in a corner of the reception area on an easy chair (where he could not see the doors).

“A good night’s haul.” Tiago “Cien Cojones” noiselessly turned the 5-inch brass key he owned into the massive keyhole. It would be light soon. The cold wind and air hit him in the cheeks. He was closing the heavy bronze gate with finesse.

There! That’s done. It was my most formidable penetration of all time! And what mettle the 15-year old Dona Esperanza displayed during the Long Night. All my hats off to you Dona.

Tiago “Cien Cojones y Corazones” jumped into his ordinary looking carriage. All his men were waiting for him. They smoked strong cigarettes to alleviate the tension. They waited nervously to hear his verdict.

“Another successful penetration Hombres. Let’s have some thick chocolate and churros (soft curled Spanish rolls fried in butter).” He opened Don Daniele’s sleek gold cigarette case.

“Would any of you care for the finest hand rolled Cigarillos money can buy?”

Author's note: This is the final "sample chapter" of Book 4 that I am posting to my blog. Tomorrow I will start posting sample chapters from Book 5, the conclusion to the Saga of Fray Paco. I hope you are enjoying this story and look forward to your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Buona sera, Isabella,

    This chapter is brilliant. You've made this villain so convincing, given him such a thorough background that the reader is mesmerized. As unsavory as Tiago Cien Cojones is, we can't help marveling at him, thanks to the way you have portrayed him. I am really sorry this is the final "sample chapter" of Book 4 that you are posting on the blog. I can only hope that the feisty Dona will have her revenge and see the return of all her jewels and furs, as well as her husband's military coats. Maybe this will happen in chapters you aren't posting? Speriamo!

    A presto,



Isabel Van Fechtmann

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