I decided to dust off an idea I had a few years ago. This is the beginning. Let me know what you think.
Mexico City, Mexico
Zocalo Square 1944
Camilla Rosas set up her stand in the middle of the square, with a breathtaking view of the Basilica de Guadeloupe; her favorite place in the world. Every day she watched as the faithful stood in line for hours to view the Tilma. Tourists were also no stranger to Zocalo Square, or the Basilica. American’s always came. Thankfully, they always came with money. For Camilla, and the other one hundred or so food merchants and street vendors: this was the only honest way to make a living in Mexico City. Drugs, violence, and political corruption controlled the capitol. If you weren’t involved in something illegal; you weren’t left with much of a choice.
Camilla would often remark that Mexico City’s honest, hard-working people are here, in the square; selling churros and papaya just so they can bring home a loaf of bread and have the strength and dignity to get up the following morning and do it all again. If it hadn’t been for the American tourists craving her fresh produce, she’d be outside the city peddling holy cards to people even poorer than her.
This particular day was no different than any other: pilgrims stood in line and crossed themselves while tourists ate and drank in the hot Mexican sun. So, it was no surprise to Camilla to see a small group of tourists standing near her cart, gazing around at the plaza in wondrous awe. But they seemed out of place, like they were desperately looking for something without knowing what they were looking for. She paid little attention to them as they zigzagged around the market; exploring the square before landing directly in front of her vegetable stand.
There were four of them. All men; and all of them dressed as though they were out for a fancy dinner. Clean shirts and trousers, freshly pressed. The shine on each of their shoes was high despite the dusty concrete. To anyone else, they looked like well-dressed men sight-seeing. But Camilla Rosas knew better. She knew what they were. And she knew their names. The tall one, whose name was Coda, had taken a bag and began inserting random pieces of fruit. At the same time – he asked:
“Disculpe senora, Que es Este lugar?” What is this place? His Spanish was impeccable.
“Esta es La Villa de Guadeloupe.”
“Never heard of it.” One of the other men whispered sarcastically.
Coda winked and took a refreshing bite of an apple. Camilla winked back. This was her cue. She was unsure why this was necessary, but she loved this story.
“In 1531,” She began as a crowd gathered. Along the hill behind the Villa, Juan Diego was given a vision of Nuestra Senora de Guadeloupe – The Virgin Mary. Proof of this vision was emblazoned on Diego’s Tilma, or cloak.” She looked out at the people in line. “The Tilma resides today in a shrine above the high alter, inside the chapel.” Tears welled in her eyes as she continued. “They come every day to see her: peasants, the crippled, old, young, rich, and poor. From all over the world for a chance to be healed from whatever ails them.”
Coda leaned over a basket of fresh tomatoes and handed Camilla a thick white envelope: the agreed upon amount. She leaned in closer still and whispered in his ear. He smiled and the four men continued their tourist façade.
“What’s the name boss?” Asked Elwin.
Coda looked up at the glitter of mid-day sun reflected off the dome. He looked back at his partners.
“Miguel Fuentes.” He wasn’t pleased.
“Padre Miguel Fuentes.”