At home on his ranch, Don Reynaldo was knitting at his desk when someone knocked on the door. He quickly put the yarn in one of his desk drawers.
“Come in!” said Don Reynaldo.
Jose entered the office. He was breathing rapidly.
“What happened, Jose? What are you doing here?”
“Don Reynaldo, I have terrible news,” said Jose.
Don Reynaldo stood up. “Something terrible? Tell me!”
“It’s about your prize ostrich.”
“Princess? What happened to Princess?”
“One of the men saw your enemy, Don Diego Federico Esteban, running from Princess’s corral.”
“What did that worm do to my princess?!” said Don Reynaldo furiously.
Jose was afraid to tell the truth, but it was his duty. “We suspect that Don Diego Federico Esteban raped Princess.”
“On a stepladder.”
Don Reynaldo couldn’t believe what he’d heard. He searched for a reason to believe that it wasn’t true. “But no one saw him rape the ostrich?”
“No, sir,” said Jose, “but there was a condom on the ground, and Princess was smoking a cigarette.”
“Then it wasn’t rape, it was seduction?”
“Could be, Don Reynaldo, but still – ”
“Still a diabolical act. O, my poor Princess! Descended from the royal ostriches of Queen Isabella, she didn’t deserve to be contaminated like this!”
“Of course not!”
“It was an insult to my honor! I swear to you that I, Don Reynaldo, the most powerful ostrich rancher in all of Mexico, will have my revenge!”
“Jose, gather all the men! We’re going to search for Don Diego Federico Esteban at his alpaca ranch! And gather the ostriches. And the dogs and cats. All of us will go to this battle!”
“Yes, Don Reynaldo!”
Jose rapidly left the office.
Don Reynaldo said, “If Don Diego Federico Esteban thinks he can offend me thusly, he’s going to learn that I am afraid of no man!”
Ana, the wife of Don Reynaldo, called from another room. “Reynaldo!”
Don Reynaldo cringed at his wife’s voice. He wasn’t afraid of any man, but he was afraid of his wife. Then he became angry at his own cowardice. “Oh, my god. What does that witch want now?”
Ana entered Don Reynaldo’s office.
“Reynaldo! Were you with another woman?!”
Don Reynaldo walked up to his wife and put his hands on her shoulders.
“Of course not, my love. You are my soul, and my heart. There will never be another woman in my life.”
Rosalita entered, visibly pregnant. Don Reynaldo took a step backward. Ana pointed at Rosalita.
“Explain this, then,” said Ana.
“What are you doing here?” said Don Reynaldo to Rosalita.
“You didn’t answer my calls, or my letters. I thought that you loved me.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because that’s what you told me!”
Ana said, “You haven’t been with another woman?”
“No, my love. Never!”
“And what is she?”
“She is not a woman exactly. She’s – she’s – a hermaphrodite. She has the parts of a man and of a woman.”
“I’m not a hermaphrodite!”
“Yes! If you want money for your baby, you’re a hermaphrodite.”
Maria, the maid, entered. Behind Ana, Maria pointed angrily to Rosalita, as if to say “Who is this woman?”. Then Maria pointed to Don Reynaldo and herself, as if to say, “And what about us?” Don Reynaldo shrugged his shoulders. Ana saw him.
“What’s going on here?” Ana demanded.
“Nothing, my love. Maria asked me if I wanted some coffee, and I was confused with all that’s going on here.”
Ana said to Maria, “Why didn’t you speak?”
“I didn’t want to interrupt, ma’am.”
“We’re busy. Go.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Maria curtsied. Ana looked at Don Reynaldo again. Maria shot an angry look at Don Reynaldo, then she marched out.
“My love,” said Don Reynaldo, “you’ll laugh when I explain everything. Really, – ”
The doorbell rang. They heard a loud voice.
“Let me in!” said a woman’s voice. “I have to see Don Reynaldo!”
The people in Don Reynaldo’s office heard Maria say, “You too?!”
“Where is Don Reynaldo!” demanded the new voice.
“Who wants to see my husband!” shouted Ana.
Silvia, a young and beautiful woman in her mid-twenties, entered the office.
“Who are you?!” asked Ana.
Silvia looked at Ana from head to toe, and then looked at Rosalita. Silvia shrugged her shoulders, and she walked proudly to the side of Don Reynaldo. She took his arm.
“I am Silvia, the new woman of Don Reynaldo. I am here to take my legitimate place at his side.”
“Get out of my house, bitch!” shouted Ana. “I am the only legitimate woman of this house!”
“Ladies! Ladies!” said Don Reynaldo.
“Don’t worry, my love,” Silvia said. “I will quickly correct these problems.”
“How could you come into my house and say that it’s yours? Fool! I’m going to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget!”
“Not today, old woman! You are of no more importance than last week’s news! From my hot young body will come the sons of Don Reynaldo, and they will make this the largest and most powerful ostrich ranch in the world! Your opportunity has passed!”
Rosalita said, “I’m going to have the son of Don Reynaldo! I’m pregnant right now!”
“Shut up!” said Ana and Silvia at the same time.
“You’re too timid, little mouse,” said Silvia. “I have the hot blood that a true queen needs.”
Ana grabbed a steak knife from a plate on a table. “Your blood will warm my floor, bitch!”
Silvia took out a knife that was hidden in her dress. “To the death, old woman!”
“To the death!”
“I’m leaving! I’m leaving!” exclaimed Rosalita.
“Oh my god,” said Don Reynaldo.
Rosalita ran from the room. Ana and Silvia circled each other. Don Reynaldo drank a shot of tequila.
In the next chapter, will Princess the ostrich escape to warn her lover, Don Diego Federico Esteban, of the coming battle? Who will win the fight between the women, and be the queen of the ranch? How many bottles of tequila will Don Reynaldo drink before his liver gives out? Learn more in the next chapter of The Ranch of Love and Death.
Copyright 2018 Mark James Wooding
Cover art copyright 2018 Samantha Rose Wooding