A certain hacienda or village was full of people for it was their annual fiesta. Don Lucero, the owner of the hacienda provided everything to make the occasion alive, enjoyable, and anything that the people living therein could be happy about. Don LUcero’s generosity, kindness, helpfulness made him the favorite of the people.
In the kitchen were Tonto, the chef and overseer of the hacienda, Magayon, the assistant cook and house helper. While they were preparation foods for the fiesta, they overheard voices from the Big House balcony as if there’s a quarrel ongoing .
They rushed outside and saw Don Lucero pointing his right hand to Berto, another cook assistant and a houseboy who was about to hit don Lucero. They couldn’t clearly hear what the two are arguing about. Suddenly, Berto pushed Don Lucero over the veranda. Don Lucero fell headlong and hit his head on the boulder and he died instantly.
Tonto rushed to the rescue. People around the village was shocked of that incident while they’re merrymaking, enjoying the fun of the fiesta. Tonto came to the small office of the chief security and informed the horrible incident. Unluckily, Dumo, the chief security hadn’t get Berto who left the place immediately. Nobody noticed Berto’s escape.
A Year had passed, Berto came back to the hacienda. Magayon spotted him and informed right away Dumo who arrested Berto, handcuffed him and brought him to the small plaza of the hacienda for people’s judgment. One by one the residents gathered with scornful, and hateful faces against Berto. Since nobody is running the hacienda anymore, only Tonto took the role of a village leader. Tonto shouted by asking to what they’re going to do with Berto, the murderer.
“Kill him! Kill him!” chorused the people. At this time Berto broke his silence that he wanted the red box inside the safety box at Don Lucero’s bedroom. The people never listened to him. Tonto started beating Berto severely with a club and the rest of the people followed. By and by, the siren of the coming police patrol cut the people’s ire in inflicting corporal punishment.
Police Inspector Mario with his 3 policemen dissipated the people. Tonto in his intense anger kept on shouting to Berto, “Murderer! Murderer”. Mario and two of his men took the bloody body of Berto. Mario overheard the suffering Berto’s voice, “I need the red box.” Tonto, feeling curious rushed to Don Lucero’s bedroom and got the red box and brought to the plaza.
The box was presented to a weak Berto who took a key from his pocket and opened the box. Chief Inspector Mario took the documents inside the box and read before the people present. All the people attentively listened. Nobody had helped Berto who is agonizing of the pain that has been inflicted to his body.
The document was notarized. It was signed by Don Lucero and Berto. It was an agreement between them that during the fiesta Berto should kill Don Lucero to break the spell which threatens their family. Don Lucero is the last member of their family. His family member died every three years of unknown disease. If Berto fails, something worst would come to the hacienda and in the whole community. There would be a plague to kill all the people.There was a big silence in the plaza.
Chief Inspector Mario continued reading until he reached the statement that Berto is to be the legal inheritor and is entrusted to run the hacienda and to continue the celebration of the fiesta in honor of Don Lucero. It was clearly written in the document that Tonto had been caught several times by Don Lucero of poisoning him and he was also caught stealing sacks of rice and poisoning some cattle. Don Lucero had Berto as his sole witness of all the wrongdoings of Tonto. The secret was between them. He repented why he first put Tonto in the legal document as his legal inheritor of all his real properties.
The seriousness of the event was broken by a shout from Magayon. “Tonto is trying to escape.” One policeman chased Tonto and was able to grab Tonto’s right foot. The policeman handcuffed him and brought to the patrol car. The people rushed to Berto and brought him to the sala of the big house and gave him first aid and medication before he was sent to a nearby hospital.
The court found Tonto guilty and was charged with attempted murder for killing Berto. He was put to jail. Berto managed the hacienda as expected by Don Lucero while he is living.
Bagong (new) Hacienda was born. It was named Hacienda Libertad (Free Village) and the heroism done by Berto. Hacienda Libertad became prosperous.
N.B. (This is the recreation of my first mystery short story written in the mid of the night sometime in 1972. It was first published in our college official publication and its local dialect version was published in Yuhum Magazine in 3 years later. And this is requested by my fellow BlogBourne member.)
©7 August 2016, Gil Camporazo, Philippines
image credits: pixabay