El Camino del Diablo

18th Century.  CONQUISTADOR JUAN BAUTISTA DE ANZA and his men surround a beaten up shack in the desert.

ROBERTD, steps out.

Juan Bautista de Anza: You are the bull man?
Robertd: I am no bull man.
Juan Bautista de Anza: Are you not the man who rescued the people of Pimeria Alta from a bull?
Robertd: I am that man but I am no bull man.
Juan Bautista de Anza: Where did you learn such skill?
Robertd: Sir, I am only a gravedigger and drinker. Any skill that I had left, is now all used up.
Cortés: (to Robertd) Can you slay my Becerrillo?

All the men on horses laugh.

Juan Bautista de Anza: (to Robertd) So you admit you had a skill?
Robertd: Some.
Juan Bautista de Anza: And from where did you first obtain this skill, you now seemed to have lost?
Robertd: I was born in Spain. I come from a family of Toreros who fight in the Plaza de toros de Ronda.
Juan Bautista de Anza: What is your name?
Robertd: Robertd Romero.
Juan Bautista de Anza: And have you ever stepped into the Plaza de toros de Ronda to challenge?
Robertd: Me? …No…
Juan Bautista de Anza: Why not?
Robertd: I became something else.
Cortés: (outloud) A drunk!

All the men laugh. Juan raises his hand and the men stop laughing.

Juan Bautista de Anza: Not drunk enough to save the lives of five children. (beat) Why are you here?
Robertd: There are many travelers who do not make the footpath. If I do not find them in time, I bury them.
Juan Bautista de Anza: Why?
Robertd: This is my way of helping Francisco Garcés and the visitas set by Father Eusebio Kino but I am no Jesuit. I do what I must do, alone and for reasons that are my business only.

Juan throws a bag of gold at Robertd’s feet. Robertd looks inside.

Robertd: I do not want this gold.
Juan Bautista de Anza: Why is that?
Robertd: There is no reason for me to take it.
Juan Bautista de Anza: I am giving it to you as an appreciation for having saved innocent lives.
Robertd: I will not take this payment.
Juan Bautista de Anza: So, you see, you are more than just a drinking gravedigger.

Robertd tosses the gold sack back up to Juan.

I too am from Spain…

Juan Bautista de Anza stares at Robertd.

I wish you well on your path.

Robertd and Juan exchange nods.

Conquistador Juan Bautista de Anza and his men ride off on their horses.

Joseph Arnone

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