The facts were these.
Juliana Valdez was an unfortunate daughter of circumstance.
At one point, her family was consider one of the most prosperous of all the kingdom, and people far and wide knew of the noble Valdez clan in the medieval lands of Mexico. They were only third in line for the throne and were responsible for the annual lottery. At the time, buying a lottery ticket was part of the royal tradition, which decreed that testing your luck was almost mandatory as a way to jumpstart the year with good superstition.
However, this all changed with the birth of one son: Macario.
He was an egoistic boy, spoiled and coddled by all since his mother, Ramona, was unable to have any more children. His father, Reynaldo, had such high hopes for Macario, and had went to a fortune teller to ask of what lie ahead in his future.
“Honour can only be restored
by a passion ne’er seen before
hardships through must slip and bend
with the true love of a friend.”
This prophecy made no sense. Dishonour? Restored? Would Macario be the cause of it? Outraged he lashed out the fortune teller and stormed off. He refused to believe it. He wouldn’t think of the prophecy until when Macario’s 18th birthday.
Macario grew into a rather unpleasant man; manipulative and selfish. He was an expert in archery and would pass the time forcing his servants to put apples on their heads. His only joy seemed to be hitting the target. He didn’t care for his family legacy and took for granted the extreme wealth that it meant. He wanted to be a free agent- not another lottery mogul, forced the act the part of a more refined kind of man. He wanted to get out. Determined to rebel against his father’s wishes, his constant misbehaviour had almost warranted exile from the kingdom many times, but he was always let off due to his father’s connection with the king.
One day, getting drunk at the bar, he noticed two men talking about bounty hunting, and something in his head clicked.
“2000 gold pieces. Straight to the head. Bam.”
That was it. That’s what he could do. And he would do it well. He’d have more money in no time; he wouldn’t have to do anything for his family. He would be free man.
Over time, Macario (aka El Chino) became a respected hitman in all the criminal circles. At the age of 20, he left home and never returned. Reynaldo, distraught that his only son betrayed him, found himself next in line for the throne after the king died. Yet, with no heir, he could only pass on to the next noble bloodline. Macario didn’t even know he was now a prince- not that he cared. In his mind, he was a god of death- El Chino - who had a life bountiful in lust and luxury. He left some children in his wake, but there was only one lady who he ever cared about for longer than a week: Lupe. And Lupe had a daughter, whose name was Juliana. They met in the outskirts of Texas, where Macario would visit periodically for jobs. One might say that he loved Lupe, but not nearly enough to sacrifice anything for her. Lupe, who was completely in love with Macario, would make efforts to find Macario if he was away for more than months at a time, and a baby Juliana didn’t stop her. Juliana’s whole world was her mother, and her mother’s whole world was this scary and ominous man who showed up once and a while. This man was supposed to be her father, but she felt no care or comfort. He had eyes that were empty and dark- the eyes of a killer.
Then the day came when El Chino was caught. Sentenced. Condemned to hang. The greatest hitman in all the land was going to be executed. Lupe cried for days. She forbade Juliana to go watch. Lupe left her at home while she went to witness his death. Juliana, who was now 20, was horrified but unsurprised to learn of who el Chino really was. She felt guilty for being secretly happy, glad that their lives didn’t have to be tied to him anymore. The only thing that she would have to remember him by was a music box. It played a melancholic tune, and had a very intricate crest engraved to it. Juliana used to daydream about what it might mean but she learned to move on from childish fantasies. But as her father was being executed, she pulled it out and was reminded of the mystery. There was an R.V. engraved on it. Who was R.V?
El Chino? Macario Valdez? Valdez!
This might have belonged to his family. Her family. There was something inside her heart that told her this meant something big. She needed to figure out who Macario Valdez was, and they were about to kill him. Lupe was the middle daughter of a long line of innkeepers, and left her village after her first boyfriend had promised that they would elope- but after she refused to put-out until after marriage, he left her stranded, far from home, with nothing but a few gold coins and a rucksack. She rebuilt her life from the ground up, too prideful to return and seek her family. Plus, she had met Macario at the time, and since then, her life had been following him around. What would she do if El Chino was gone? Juliana packed her bags and ran to the execution site. A large crowd of people gathered to witness the event, with Lupe standing right in the front. Macario, dressed in rags, glued his eyes to the floor, keeping them deliberately away from Lupe’s tearful gaze. She seized the opportunity.
“Who is R.V.?” She yelled over the quiet and scandalous whispers of the audience. Macario seemed to wake from a trance as he looked at Juliana. His daughter. The only child of his he actually knew the name of.
His last words were a clue.
“Reynaldo.” And then he was hanging from the noose, lifeless. Juliana turned her head away, unable to stomach the sight.
Reynaldo Valdez? Who was he? Her mother once said that Macario was from far away in the south. Somewhere that started with an M. Maybe that’s where she needed to go. And go she would.
After his death, Lupe was inconsolable. She wept for days and days. Juliana felt powerless to help, and was unable to sympathise because she never understood why Lupe loved a man like Macario in the first place. He was handsome, she supposed, and had a charming air about him. But other than that, she felt that he had not treated his mother with compassion and love. But she had never been in love, so how could she know? One thing was for sure; if that’s what love did to a person, she didn’t want it.
About a week after the execution, there came a knock on the door late at night.
“Hey, get out here!” A gruff voice said.
Juliana cautiously opened the door.
“What do you want?”
The man bust open the door. Next to him, gagged and hands tied behind his back, was none other than El Chino Valdez. He was covered in dirt and his eyes were bloodshot.
“What th-“ Before Juliana had a chance to react, the man pushed him to his knees roughly.
“Look here, I don’t know what the fuck happened, or how the fuck it happened, but you better take this scoundrel with you get the hell out of here and never speak of this again. This is some pure witchcraft and if anyone finds out you all will be sentenced to death, you understand?”
A withered Lupe had walked out as he was saying it, and fainted at the sight of Macario alive. The man, threw a bag of coins at them.
“Get out of here. Now. Never come back. If I see you in town, I will kill you all.” And then he vanished.
Juliana looked at her father apprehensively. She took out the cloth that was shoved in his mouth.
“Thank god. Thank you so much! Who are you? Where am I?”
“Chino…what are you talking about? I’m Juliana…your daughter?” Her father seemed confused and panicked. Juliana had never seen him like that.
“My daughter? You’re not my daughter. Why is everyone calling me El Chino?”
“You’re Macario Valdez? My father? You’re in Texas.”
“Texas? How is that possible? A second ago, I was about to get married in Mexico.” He said it with disbelief. What was going on?
Mexico! That’s where it was. That’s the place that Lupe had mentioned once. El Chino had obviously lost his mind, and Juliana didn’t know what to do about it.
“Can you get these ropes off me please?” He asked so politely that Juliana could almost believe that he wasn’t El Chino. Her father never so much as looked at her when she was around.
“Listen Chino. I think you need help, but what we have to do first is get out of here…you heard him. He’s going to kill us if we stay.”
“Just give me a moment. Let me just change. “
Juliana started packing all that they owned into a large rucksack. She heard a scream from the back.
“This is not my body. This is not my face. What the …” He held his face and started pacing.
“I need to get out of here.” He ran out the door.
After Lupe came to, she fired so many questions at her daughter. What happened? Was that your father? Is he alive? Where did he go? Who was that man?
Nothing that she could answer. Lupe became obsessed with trying to find him. Juliana suggested they go to the south.
“Maybe he went back to where he came from? He said something about Mexico.” Both of them, still stunned by El Chino’s resurrection, silently packed their house away and wrote some letters to sever whatever tied them to this village. By the morning, Lupe and Juliana had their whole life on a horse carriage, ready to go. Destination: Mexico.