The Irish Colonel

by

Eugene Craig

 

 

 

 

DAY ONE

 

Chapter 3

 

"A thirsty day it is," O’Leary remarked as they crossed the plaza toward the cuartel. "Nice village, Capitán. A quiet command?" 

"I do not wish to disabuse you of this illusion so soon, Colonel," said Monastario seriously, "but this is a frontier post with crime and lawlessness. My command operates no differently than one at war." 

"I see," responded the colonel. "Then I will count on you to give me a proper debriefing." 

"I believe you are retired, are you not?" commented Monastario. 

"What’s the major crime in these parts?" O’Leary redirected the conversation, not caring for what he took as a dismissive attitude toward his rank. 

"I’ll fill you in at your ‘debriefing," Monastario responded, but he smiled. 

"Fair enough. Let’s get the bureaucratic lunacy tended to," O’Leary yawned. 

Monastario was annoyed by the remark, but by now they had reached the cuartel and he set his mind to the business at hand. The arrivals were impatiently awaiting his return.

The passengers fidgeted as Monastario checked the forms they had filled out, and dismissed them one by one. 

O’Leary lingered over each and every detail of the form, muttering to himself and finally finished with a flourish of his quill. He took pains, however, to nod to each passenger as they left and winked at the merchant’s wife who tossed her head and grabbed her son’s hand. The boy smiled shyly as they left. 

When he finished, he got up and stalked around the room, looking at the paintings and maps, plants and other furnishings while Monastario reviewed the form. "I see you are a mixture of austerity and good taste, Capitán," he noted looking out the window onto the cuartel. 

Monastario took the compliments for granted and decided that, despite his presumptuous attitude, the colonel would not be too much of a problem - if handled the right way.

"I am impressed by your remarkable memory of events at Valencia, Señor," commented the capitán. "Those were the days of glory. It must have been difficult for you to decide to retire."

You are fishing, me lad, thought the colonel. "Like I said, I don’t forget a name or an important occasion. Ah, Capitán, it’s not often that one can meet someone who lived through those times as a comrade. And here, at the ends of the Earth." 

"Now that you are here, as you say, at the ‘ends of the Earth,’ do you intend to stay for long?" 

"Now that remains to be seen, my dear Capitán. I’ve never been a man tied to one spot, but one can never tell." 

"And what will you do here, if I may ask?" the comandante pressed. 

O’Leary seemed to take offense at the question. "That’s a mighty personal question, Capitán." 

"Please, do not take offense at my question. Why don’t you make a statement – for the record," responded Monastario smoothly. 

"Let’s say that, for the present, I’ll be looking for a lady. I presume there are a few, even on the frontier?" smiled the Irishman. 

"A few," responded Monastario. "And you may find that you will have to overlook their rude pedigree in favor of the wealth of their fathers." 

"I trust you’ve made some progress in that area," commented O’Leary, now interested. 

Monastario made a gesture of dismissal. "I hope you will forgive me, Colonel O’Leary, if I have some duties to perform. Perhaps we can continue our conversation at a later time? The tavern serves some excellent wines." 

O’Leary nodded. "Any town with a good tavern won’t be boring for long." 

Monastario smiled benevolently and saw the colonel to the door. He watched until the officer disappeared through the gates of the cuartel and began to think of how he might make use of such a man for his own ends.

 

Chapter Four
Chapter One
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