Beyond the Volcano
It was some time before the Consul realised he was no longer in the Farolito, time which had stretched and shrunk like wet leather drying on a horse's girth, the horse so dramatically freed by himself in some time ago, mescal time in all probability yet beyond doubt some other time. A dead dog lay still beside him, quite sure of it's future on this propitious slow ledge some way below the barranca's rim and despite the mescal's glib assertions, on it's very own remarkable day, a day yet being celebrated with torch and candle, Death had overlooked the Consul.
Of course there was pain: not the excited anticipating pain of Yvonne's departure, a pain exquisite enough to cultivate sparingly, to set aside as a reserve against enjoyment, like the bottle of tequila cached deep inside the bougainvillea's labyrinthine roots, roots abstractly penetrating Mr Quincey’s bizarrely coiffeured, manicured, set aside and distressingly precise garden, nor the disembodied ephemera of Hugh's presence with it's overtone's of brotherly hate, but a solid pain, the honest life giving pain of a bullet wound. It wasn't serious; for in the Farolito mescal had taken it's toll on marksman and target alike, unsteadying aim like a pricking conscience at the front, a front now returning to Western Europe heavy with the hopes of a world tiring of slaughter, as he himself had tired so quickly, on a boat, some time ago. Vermilion lake advanced darkly across the soiled linen of his clothes from the flesh wound in his side and he lay for a while longer, bleeding gently into this auspicious night.
And as he lay, more time flowed through the barranca, patient and undemanding as above the sky darkened and then became lighter, hurrying scattered diamond stars away to morning and the Consul forced himself erect with an effort that recalled frequent Taskerson episodes, indeed he remembered a similar occasion when one of the boys had got in the way of some pellets at a duck shoot, and how there had been no time for the indulgence of pain, only the dismissive bravery of manliness.
' I will,' the Consul spoke firmly in the direction of the Pleiades, ' no, I must find Hugh.’