WARRIOR NUN AREALA:
Alebrije Part 2
- Tales from Pedro's Cab -
Edited by I.C. Ross
Warrior Nun Areala created by Ben Dunn
Revised version of a story that originally appeared in Mangazine #14, published by Antarctic Press.
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Pedro "Trompeto" Alvarez--cab driver, and Loca Sanchez's trumpet-playing sidekick--has picked up a female passenger. While giving his fare a "ten-peso tour" of his beloved Mexico City, Pedro tells her about his part in the cataclysmic events of the last few days.
The Virgin of Guadalupe was stolen by hideous, unusually large alebrijes: papier-mache, folk art creatures that have magically come to life. Panicked Catholics were rioting; Latin America, and Latino-populated areas of the United States, were becoming battlegrounds.
The Vatican sent Sister Shannon--Warrior Nun Areala--to Mexico. There, she teamed up with local heroes Loca Sanchez and Trompeto. After battling an enormous alebrije in Mexico City's airport, the trio headed for the Frijoles del Oro building, Loca's base-of-operations. En route, they saw that El Angel, an Independence monument close to the hearts of the Mexican people, was under savage alebrije attack. . .
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Okay! A green light! We're on our way now, lady.
So, let me see, where was I? Oh, yes-we were climbing up El Angel's pedestal, swatting at all those alebrijes: La Loca with her whip, Sister Shannon with her sword, and then me blasting them with my trumpet.
There were maybe thirty alebrijes. Just like the ones who stole the Virgin, they were really clumsy fliers, but they were strong. La Loca is sure-footed and a good climber, but when those things kamikaze-dived into her, they nearly slammed her off El Angel.
Many of the alebrijes had claws and spikes. The three of us concentrated on keeping them away from us, so we wouldn't get gouged or stabbed.
I climbed onto El Angel's head. Then I--Trompeto--blew out my loudest and longest sonic trumpet blast! I sprayed the whole area with sound waves: high and low, back and forth.
And then, just like the alebrije at the airport, my blast tore the papier-mache shells right off more than half the creatures. They went crazy when their ugly, black, baggy skins were exposed.
They had been silent when they had their fancy, bright, hard coating--but naked? They started all kinds of scary screaming and chattering--I gave myself the Sign of the Cross!
Like I said, it takes a minute or two for me to work up enough wind for each blast. All I could do was swing my trumpet at them, like a club.
Lucky for me, La Loca and I always watch each other's backs. I heard her whip crack, and I saw it lash around El Angel's neck. Then--gripping the whip's handle--she made a flying leap, grabbed the alebrije closest to me, swung down toward Sister Shannon, and pitched the disgusting thing at her.
It was incredible! The green gem in Sister Shannon's gauntlet glowed, her Sword of the Spirit hummed with Holy Power, she swung--and hacked that alebrije-demon in two! The halves burned up and turned to ash even before they hit the ground.
Those two ladies kept playing alebrije baseball--pitching and hacking, pitching and hacking--until the other monsters got the message. Then they flew off, screeching and banging into each other--they couldn't get away fast enough!
But you know, I was a little disappointed, 'cause I was all ready to unleash another really loud trumpet-blast.
We could hear police sirens as we climbed down from El Angel. The Frijoles del Oro Company has a special arrangement with the police department concerning La Loca, but many police officers don't like her being a free agent. So, to avoid several hours of questioning, La Loca, Sister Shannon, and I hurried back to Gold Rider II.
As we were getting into the car, some charred scraps of paper fell on the windshield. The sky around El Angel was full of ashes and burned paper: it was from the alebrijes' papier-mache coating.
You know how most papier-mache is made from newspapers? Well, when I was taking those shreds off the windshield, I noticed that they were from horrible, sleazy norteamericano books and magazines.
Before you say anything, I know that Mexico has its share of scandal sheets, and tabloids with bloody crime scene photos.
But it's the United States that has the money to distribute things that would get a publisher or a printer arrested in Mexico. There's no way we could produce something as shocking and extreme, yet polished and glossy, as the stuff that comes from el Norte--north, from the United States.
So anyway, Sister Shannon saw those half-fried pages in my hand, and she got all excited.
"The man at the airport," she said. "He was trying to bring a box of those into the country, but the customs officer refused. Then, during the alebrije attack, the man grabbed his box, and that was the last I saw of him."
I had no idea what she was talking about, and I could see the police officers getting closer to our car.
"Good day, officers," I said in my deepest voice. The cops stopped in their tracks. "My partners and I have defeated the forces of evil, so you fine public servants may solve this traffic situation unmolested."
With a swish of my long coat, I jumped into the car, and gunned the engine. Antonio Banderas could not have been more dashing.
I maneuvered the car around El Angel, onto a clear street. From there, we continued on to the Frijoles del Oro building.
"We'll just go to all of the shops that import adult magazines from America, and find the one where that man works. I'm sure I can recognize him," said Sister Shannon, all excited by her simple plan.
La Loca and I looked at each other. I said, "I'm afraid it's not that easy, Sister. You're talking about hundreds--maybe thousands--of bookstores, swap meets, and news kiosks. We'd be criss-crossing all over this city for days, maybe weeks!"
Then La Loca told her, "It would be better if we first check in at GoldBase."
"GoldBase?" said Sister Shannon. "I thought we were going to the Frijoles del Oro building."
"We are," said La Loca. "GoldBase is inside the Frijoles del Oro building. It has high-tech equipment, and people who know how to use it. We can add the description of your man to any leads they may have found. Maybe by cross-referencing all that information, we can save ourselves some time."
Then, out of the blue, Sister Shannon asked La Loca, "So how did a female professional wrestler end up working for a food company that has its own crime-fighting operation?"
You see, La Loca Sanchez is not proud of why she had to leave wrestling, or why she works for the Frijoles del Oro Company.
I thought that she would give Sister Shannon one of her usual half-answers, but she really told her everything: The Whole Story. Maybe La Loca felt that telling her story to a nun was like confessing to a priest, 'cause she went all the way back.
"Well, I was always a big girl," La Loca said. "My father had prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe for a boy, but he got me. Maybe my size and strength was the Virgin's way of making up the difference.
"When I was seventeen, one of the boys in my class bragged that he had had his way with me. He dishonored me, and insulted my parents; so I let him have it.
"In the village plaza, right where everyone could see, I made a show of beating him until he begged for forgiveness. A vacationing wrestling promoter happened to catch it. From the crowd's reaction, he saw that a woman who could beat up men could get some cheap laughs.
"I signed a contract that put some money in my pocket, moved to Mexico City, and began my training. The promoter came up with the 'La Loca' Sanchez name, because I had a habit of losing my temper in the ring. It was embarrassing, and the costume was even more impractical than this one I'm wearing, but it was a start.
"Anyway, within a couple of years, I was the undisputed 'Queen of Lucha Libre.' A couple of movies, telenovelas, and hit records later, and my parents and I were living very comfortably.
"So that was my rise to glory."
Sister Shannon wanted to hear more. "Why did you quit? Did the Frijoles del Oro Company offer more money?"
La Loca said, "Yes." She could have left it at that, but again, something inside made her tell everything that had happened.
"But first, I was forced out of wrestling. During my career, I had seriously injured several wrestlers. It was usually out of self-defense, or they were cheating because they didn't want to lose to a woman. And an enraged woman--who's a lot bigger than most of the men she's fighting--can be terrifying, and a gigantic blow to a wrestler's machismo.
"In America, wrestling is all about personalities, spectacle, and storylines. There is very little mystery: the fans know the wrestlers' real names; they even know who writes the scripts for the shows.
"But that's not how it is here. In Mexico, wrestling is almost like a religious ritual. The masked characters and the audience play off of each other. We wrestlers become symbols of good or evil, and the Mexican people identify with our struggles on an almost spiritual level.
"I was the ultimate tecnica, or female good guy: a role model for little girls, an ideal woman to their fathers. In the ring, I usually played by the rules; when I went berserk, my righteous anger was always aimed at injustice. On my days off, I visited orphanages.
"An opponent with a grudge hired some third-rate gangsters to 'fix' one of my matches. In the ring, he faked a serious injury. Meanwhile, his cronies planted money and drugs in my dressing room, and threatened my parents' lives.
"It was easy enough to prove that I was innocent, but seeds of doubt had been planted in the minds of the people.
"Because the scandal was 'real-life,' and not part of a wrestling angle, the major promoters refused to give me work. And the men in the smaller promotions were either on their way up, or on their way out; none of them wanted to lose to me. In a couple of months, I could have changed my image and re-started my career, but then the dirty-minded opportunists stepped in.
"I was accused of everything from child molesting to Satanism. There was a tell-all book, hundreds of magazine articles, and 'sworn testimonies' on the Christina show; my enemies--and I had made a lot of them--crawled from under their rocks and said that I was the 'Queen of Evil.'
"If I was so violently upset by the bragging of one teenage boy, you can imagine how I felt about all of those liars. Only this time, there were more people than I could punch-out personally.
"I left the country, hoping that people would lose interest, and that the stories would stop. My parents stayed in Mexico and tried to defend me. They used up most of our money on legal fees to silence the scandalmongers, and I was eventually cleared of everything. When I returned home, there was barely enough left for us to open a small grocery store.
"Because most people would rather believe the worst, some thought that I had somehow managed to fool the authorities--that I was still hiding some guilty secrets. When it became known that I was working in my parents' grocery store, the negative publicity made our sales drop to almost zero."
I could tell by the quiver in La Loca's voice that she still felt responsible for her parents' misfortunes, and that maybe she was going to cry.
So I said, "And that's when I found her. The Frijoles del Oro Company hired both of us, dressed us in these costumes, made us into corporate mascots, and here we are!"
And there we were: in front of the Frijoles del Oro building. We passed the big fountain with the enormous rotating golden bean, and I turned Gold Rider towards the parking garage.
Sister Shannon patted La Loca's shoulder.
That was nice, don't you think?
In one of the sub-basements of the Frijoles del Oro building, we waited as the gigantic golden door--with Mayan symbols carved into it--slid open.
When we stepped into GoldBase, I was a little disappointed by Sister Shannon's reaction--I was hoping for a gasp, like when she first saw Gold Rider, but she only smiled a little smile.
So I thought that maybe Sister Shannon had seen more incredible sights--but to us, GoldBase is a fantastic mix of Mexican, Japanese, and American technology. We have three full-time employees, who monitor the computers and communications consoles at all times. They did a double take when they saw the Warrior Nun. Then Senor Hector Diaz and Mister Hunter Chamberlain greeted us.
Senor Hector Diaz is young, and--in my entirely macho opinion--very handsome. He used to be the third-generation owner of the Frijoles del Oro Company, but some corporate sleight-of-hand swiped the position away from him. He was re-hired as a consultant, and he pretends to be a team player, but it's no secret that he did not like losing the family business. Still, he tries not to take Hunter Chamberlain's co-management personally.
Mister Hunter Chamberlain works for the American company that bought out Frijoles del Oro. He looks a little like a young Nick Nolte. Mister Hunter does not understand the Mexican people, which makes him seem a little slow at times. He's not a bad guy--he's just doing his job.
So anyway, Senor Diaz extended his hand and said, "Ah! Sister Shannon! We've been expecting you."
Introductions were made, hands were shaken, and all parties were brought up-to-speed.
Then Senor Diaz turned to the screen-monitoring personnel for a report.
"Not good," was the answer. "More riots, more violent crimes, more looting, and still no sign of the Virgin."
I half-heard Mister Hunter say, "I still can't believe that one holy relic can mean so much to so many people."
Senor Diaz was the first to speak up: "It was the Virgin of Guadalupe who directed me to give Loca Sanchez a second lease on life by representing this company. Acting on the Virgin's wisdom required some faith on my part: at that time, Loca was very unpopular."
Then, others testified on the Virgin's behalf: She cured one aunt's gout; She broke a baby brother's fever; She delivered rent money, just before they would have lost their home, and so on.
Suddenly, one of the screen-watchers called out, "Watch the main screen. Waldo's going to speak!"
Everyone in the room--myself included--stopped in their tracks, and riveted their attention to the main screen. Sister Shannon looked around, but no one made eye contact, until she spotted Mister Hunter.
Silently, Sister Shannon mouthed, "Who's Waldo?"
Mister Hunter shrugged. "Some kind of TV psychic," he whispered. "At first, I thought Waldo was a middle-aged woman: he wears lots of make up and rings and robes-you could say he's the Liberace of Leaf-Readers." Mister Hunter started to laugh, but somebody shushed him.
Just then, an image of the universe was on the screen. The camera zoomed in on a star. With cheap computer effects, the star "morphed" into a jaguar's eye, and the jaguar transformed into Waldo.
And there he was: Waldo Carniceria!
As always, he was poised, and gestured elegantly with his hands.
"Waldo has heard the cries and lamentations of his people," declared Waldo Carniceria.
"Waldo has consulted the stars, and they have told Waldo where the alebrijes will strike next. And now, Waldo will share this information with everyone--everyone who calls Waldo's psychic hotline, at three dollars U.S. per minute."
The phone number flashed on the screen. Without waiting to hear Waldo's signature farewell of "Love, peace, and prosperity," GoldBase's technicians raced to the communications consoles. Even though they dialed quickly and furiously, there was already a logjam of calls and busy signals.
It was Senor Diaz who shouted, "Use the Line Ripper!" The Line Ripper sent a priority signal through the phone lines, and reached Waldo's number.
"We're through!" someone said. There was a short cheer from the group.
Sister Shannon shook her head in disbelief as she watched all the excitement. "You have got to be kidding! Some 'mystic' drag queen tells you that he-she has inside information, and you believe him? I'd say that this 'Waldo' person is a prime suspect; one that I need to talk to."
Then she spun around, and headed toward the door. I don't know where she thought she was going, but La Loca and I blocked her way.
"You don't understand," I tried to explain. "You don't question Waldo Carniceria. He's an icon--like the Virgin of Guadalupe, or El Angel. He's loved by everyone!"
Again Sister Shannon was bombarded with testimonies--this time, they were pro-Waldo: A cousin won the lottery based on one of Waldo's predictions! A sister found the love of her life, based on Waldo's horoscope readings!
Sister Shannon said nothing. She just stared at us, breathing heavy, as things quieted down.
Finally, slowly and deliberately, she said, "As a Catholic, I know what it's like to be called 'superstitious,' so I will hold my tongue. But if you people are not going to follow up every lead, then I'm just wasting my time, and--"
"We'll talk to Waldo," La Loca interrupted. Everyone took a step back, and gave La Loca a funny look.
"It's a sin to waste a nun's time," she explained. "But before we go to the television studio, we have to make a side-trip. Did anyone get Waldo's predictions for the attack locations?"
Someone in the far corner answered, "Yes!" She waved her notes in the air.
"Good. I have some numbers I want you to call."
So then later, we were at the famous Arena Mexico. La Loca, Sister Shannon, and I--Trompeto--stood in middle of the same ring where generations of legendary wrestlers had fought in epic matches.
The arena was dark, except for the lights directly above us. La Loca has a knack for the dramatic, carried over from her wrestling days.
I could see that the first several rows were filled. Even through the dimness, I could make out the masked faces: Blue Demon; Mil Mascaras; Tinieblas, el Gigante; Sombra Vengadora; Medico Asesino; El Frenetico and Go-Girl; Reina Arana and Mister Unknown; El Gato Negro-old and young-and El Gato, Crime Mangler; El Muerto, the Aztec Zombie; Cihualyaomiquiz, the Jaguar; Sonambulo; Burrito, Jack of All Trades--and dozens of others.
La Loca Sanchez had put the call out, and had gathered her friends--Mexico's greatest heroes--to help with the alebrije crisis.
La Loca delivered a short speech, and the masked avengers were more than ready to go! Now they were an organized strike force, with a strategy for fighting the alebrijes, based on the locations where Waldo had predicted attacks.
La Loca finished the rally with her own version of El Grito, the famous speech that sparked the struggle for Mexican Independence. After every exclamation, I struck the timekeeper's bell, for emphasis:
"Long live the Catholic religion!" La Loca cried.
Ding! went my bell.
"Ole! Orale!" cheered the masked heroes.
"Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!"
I don't know where they came from, but sombreros flew into the air.
"Long live the Americas, and death to the alebrijes!"
Ding ding ding ding!
Then everyone jumped from their seats, and there was a stampede for the parking lot.
Motorcycles, custom cars, vintage cars, dune buggies, and even a biplane were fired up. Engines gunned.
And then, the largest group of Mexican superheroes ever assembled drove into battle!
Later, La Loca spotted the famous smiling mouth logo on a billboard.
We had arrived at Telerisa Studios.
Frijoles del Oro sponsors a lot of Telerisa's programming, so La Loca and I had no problem getting us to Waldo's dressing room.
We knocked. When Waldo opened the door, the smell of incense nearly knocked us off our feet. Inside, every flat surface was covered with mystical stuff: Buddhas, crystal balls, crucifixes, statues of Catholic saints and Hindu gods--the works. He even had a couple of alebrijes.
"My children, how may humble Waldo be of service?" Waldo asked. His makeup cracked a little when he smiled.
Sister Shannon stepped forward, but La Loca grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back.
"With great respect," La Loca said, "we've come to see if you've had any more insights. We pray that your cosmic wisdom can tell us how to fight the alebrijes."
"When ones so lovely supplicate themselves before Waldo, how can Waldo refuse them?" Really--that was what he said. And with an elaborate hand gesture, he invited us into his dressing room.
But then a huge man--at least as tall as La Loca--stepped from behind the door. He was wearing a chauffeur's uniform, and carried a crowbar.
Before any of us could react, he smashed the crowbar on the back of La Loca's neck, and then on Sister Shannon's head.
And that was the last thing I saw, before I was knocked out!
The next thing I--hold on again, lady! That car in front--no brake lights--have to stop!
END OF PART TWO