usually quiet Mexican town of Matamoras came alive in May to celebrate the
arrival of Spring and the beginning of new life.
The celebration would last for two weeks, and during that time, the
streets were filled with music, dancing, delicious foods, and colorful crafts
made by the ladies of the nearby villages.
Men and women danced, children played, and a special area was set aside
for the children where they could watch animal and puppet shows while their
parents went about perusing the various markets that adorned the cheerful town.
and partaking in the festivities was a beautiful Mexican woman.
Beautiful could not describe her; she was absolutely breathtaking.
She had just turned 32. She
was petite, no more than 5’4”, and weighed less than 100 pounds.
Her tiny waist was accented by a large, brightly colored ribbon, which
matched her colorful skirt, and her dark skin brought out the white peasant top
she wore. A red flower adorned her
long, silky black hair that flowed
down her tiny, straight back, and
her large brown eyes and bright smile lit up her small, narrow face.
Large hoop earrings dangled from her delicate ears.
women were mesmerized by her. Young
girls wanted to look just like her, when they grew up.
Older women thought back to the days of their youth.
Older men could only dream. And
the young men. . . . .
the worst. The wanted her, and knew
they could get her, for a price. They
whistled and called out to her, taunting her to come their way.
beautiful woman wasn’t interested. She
had her man at her side, tightly holding his hand.
His name was Johnny. And
he was her son.
Lancer was fiercely proud of her son, Johnny Lancer.
Though only 12, he was already as handsome as she was beautiful, and she
was able to look beyond the youthful awkwardness of pre-adolescence and see the
young man that had yet to emerge.
small for his age, but Maria knew he would grow within the year.
And there was so much of her beauty in him. An olive-colored complexion, thick, soft, black hair, and a
bright smile that his face still had to grow into. From a distance, Johnny Lancer looked like any other Mexican
child. But close up, one could tell
he was different. One just had to
look into his eyes. . . .
of Johnny Lancer.
what made him different. And
ridiculed. They were blue--sapphire
to be exact, and were accented by long, dark eyelashes,
just like his mother’s. But
the eyes were from his father. The
Gringo. Which made the son of Maria
Lancer half white, half Mexican. A
half-breed to be exact.
But in the
eyes of Maria, her little boy was perfect.
She loved him with all her heart and soul, and the love the child felt
for his mother was two-fold.
had not been easy. It should have
been, but Maria had made a tragic mistake when Johnny was two.
She left her Gringo husband for another man. She thought it was the right thing to do, but it
didn’t take her long to realize she was wrong.
But she couldn’t go back to him. She
thought the Gringo would gain custody of their son, and she couldn’t bear the
thought of living without her blue-eyed whirlwind.
stayed away. She went from town to
town, changing their names, so her husband couldn’t find them.
Find him. . . Find Johnny.
became older, the little boy asked about his papa.
He knew he was alive, and he would ask where he was, what his name was,
why he wasn’t with them. Maria
couldn’t tell her son the truth, that she had cheated on his papa and left him
for another man. So she lied. She told him his papa didn’t want them, want him, because
he was half-white. She never used
that word to describe her child.
Lancer was told a lie that festered through the years and grew into nothing but
hate and disgust for the man who was his father.
the child had been told the truth. . . . . . .
sauntered into Matamoras just after the celebrations had begun.
Maria had spent time there as a child, and came upon Senor Rodriguez and
his wife, Marguerite. They had
known Maria since childhood, and readily welcomed her and her young son into
and his wife had a small market set up in town where they would stay during the
festivities, so Maria and Johnny were invited to stay in their home.
was small, and not fancy at all. It
had mud floors and walls and hardly any furniture.
But it had a roof. And it was cool in the day and cozy at night, and the Senora
Rodriguez ensured that the house was a pleasant place for her and her husband.
Johnny, the house was a palace. He
had a clean bed to sleep in. With
blankets. And a pillow. The Senora kept her kitchen well stocked, so every morning,
before leaving for town, Maria made breakfast for Johnny and herself.
And through the kindness of the Senor and his wife, Maria and her son
were ensured supper at the festival, so for the first time that he could
remember, Johnny had a full stomach when he went to sleep.
was most important to the little boy was that he and his mother were together.
Without anyone else. None of
her men were around to bother him. To
was just Maria and Johnny, the little boy’s world was good.
Maria would teach her son to read and write in English, as best she
could, as well as her native language.
She would read and explain the Bible to him. She would read him stories and fairy tales.
They would spend hours drawing; her passion was horses and she taught him
to draw horses in various stages of action.
And she would sing him to sleep. Her
soft, lulling voice made Johnny Lancer feel safe and secure, no matter what
would happen. She would meet a man.
Her beauty was so intoxicating men would practically kill to be with her.
To claim her as theirs. And
for some unknown reason, she would let them, and the man, whoever he was, would
become the most important thing in her life.
Even more important than her son.
tell the small boy to ‘go find something to do,’ and ‘not to come home for
a few days.’ So after ‘finding
something to do’ that a boy his age shouldn’t even know about, and after a
few days of begging for food and sleeping in back alleys, he would return home. Sometimes, she would be alone, abandoned and beaten by the
man who wanted her so desperately only a few days before. And he would comfort his mother.
Dry her tears and clean up her cuts.
sometimes, she would still be with the man.
In the throngs of lust. Johnny
would hear the sounds. The sounds
he would learn were not the sounds of two people in love who cared about one
another; but rather, the sounds of two people satisfying their sexual hunger
through each other.
her sexual hunger would cease and she would come to her senses, and realize she
was neglecting her son; that he needed her.
She would ask the man to leave. And
he would, disgusted with the fact that the Mexican whore would prefer some
half-breed snotty-nosed brat to him.
mother and son would be on the run again. She
would change their names so they couldn’t be tracked down, so her men
wouldn’t find them. For she knew
they were no good. And as much as
they had used her, she, in turn, had used them, until
her unnatural sexual desire was cooled, and she could return to being the
truly loving mother that deep inside her, she was.
man was different, though. Francisco
Raul deHernandez was not to be taken lightly.
Any woman he wanted he would have. For
he was dark and handsome, charming, and when his luck was good, rich as well.
And one look at a beautiful woman with his dark, soulful eyes ensured
that the woman would be his. . .for as long as he wanted.
Lancer was such a woman. When he
spied her a month earlier, he, like all men, was awestruck.
She was absolutely the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.
He wanted her; he turned on his charm, looked at her with his eyes, and
the beautiful young mother was his.
week, they holed up in a cheap, roach-infested hotel room and fueled their
desires. They drank, they lusted
after each other, and Maria forgot about everything and everybody around her,
including a little boy with blue eyes who cried for his mother to come home.
exhausted from the week of lust and drink, Maria remembered her child.
Her sweet, innocent, blue-eyed little boy, who was happiest when he was
with his mother. And she with him.
told Francisco she had to leave. Her
child needed her.
You didn’t tell me you had a kid,” he bellowed.
“No whore leaves me until I say so.
And definitely not for any kid!” And
he began to beat her. And kick her. So she lusted after him.
And got him drunk. And as he
lay in a drunken stupor, Maria, bloodied and beaten, ran away from Francisco and found her son.
been left on his own for a week, and while she was gone, became ill from the
garbage he made himself eat in order to survive.
He was scared; he needed his mother.
grabbed him, and together, they ran to the outskirts of Matamoras.
She found an abandoned shack, and there, her 12-year old son, sick
himself, took care of his mother. He
cleaned her cuts and took care of her bruises.
He found a way to make hot tea and broth to feed to her, while she laid
there and let him take care of her. And
as sick as he was, he forced himself to get well. He needed to take care of his mother.
would take care of Johnny?
later, mother and son had recovered. Maria’s
beauty and vitality began to return, and Johnny was able to stand on his feet
without the feeling of nausea overcoming his little stomach.
my son, we are going to Matamoras. The
celebrations are going on, and the town will be crowded.
I know people there that can help us.
Give us shelter and food,” she proudly announced to Johnny.
your name, for now, is Madrid. Juanito
Madrid. And I am Maria Madrid. Remember
that name, yes, nino?”
Mama,” Johnny replied. For once,
he liked the name she had chosen for them.
He thought it sounded good, and it was easy for him to remember. He could not realize that name would be with him for a long
time. . . . . . . .
And so, on
this day in Matamoras, as mother and son walked through the celebration-filled
streets, Johnny was happy.
the puppet show given by a Mexican traveling show group.
Deep down, he wanted to see it; to hear the magical stories the colorful
puppets told through the talents of the puppeteers. But he laughed it off. After
all, he was 12 years old, practically a man.
What nonsense a puppet show was.
mother knew. “Juanito, I would
love to see the puppet show. I
haven’t seen one since I was about your age.
Sometimes, you never outgrow the small pleasures of life,” she told
lit up as they walked over and took a seat in the front row of the stage. If its all right for
mama, its all right for me, Johnny thought. Maria looked at him with pride and love, as his blue eyes
sparkled and the laugh came deep from his tummy as he enjoyed this simple little
wondered why she did what she did when it came to men. . . . .
enjoyed the magical puppet show, and Maria surprised him with a peppermint stick
she had bought. They had a
wonderful dinner with the Senor and Senora Rodriguez, and then made the pleasant
walk back to the Rodriguez home.
needed a bath, and Maria ensured he had one.
She secretly cried when he told her, “Mama, please go.
I ain’t no baby no more. I
need my privacy!” My baby’s
growing up, she smiled, as she remembered the baby she bathed so lovingly.
bedtime, mother and son told tall tales, each trying to outdo the other. They laughed. They
quietly sang. And the little boy
braided his mother’s long, beautiful hair.
And as he snuggled into the comfortable bed, his mother reached over and
kissed him good-night.
old Johnny Lancer went to sleep happy that night.
And content. He felt safe.
the little boy couldn’t realize was that this feeling he had, this feeling of
childhood bliss, would have to last. For
in 24 hours, his world would be turned upside down.
tomorrow evening, between the rising and setting of the warm Mexican sun, three
people would be dead.
Raul deHernandez had found Maria Lancer and her half-breed.
And he was enraged that she would leave him because of a child—a
half-breed no less. He had watched
them the past several days, eyeing their every move, and spying on their
friendship with the Rodriguez’. He
befriended the elderly couple; he knew they would not be home for several days.
So he devised his plan. And
the time was right.
upon the young mother and her son mid-morning, after they had finished breakfast
and were headed to the festival’s closing day.
He humiliated Maria in front of her son, whom he chained to a tree to
ensure the child could not escape.
It was a
long, hot day as he terrorized both mother and son, and Maria pleaded to let the
boy go. He had done nothing.
She would do whatever he wanted. But
Francisco would not be swayed.
at day’s end, he unchained Johnny and told Maria to watch.
He would kill her; but not before she saw her half-breed die before her.
And in one last showing of her love, Maria Lancer jumped in front of her
son, and took the bullet that was meant for him, screaming out in her dying
breath to “Run Juanito! Run!”
had finished one-half of his despicable plan.
He had murdered the woman who rejected him, over a half-breed no less.
One person was dead. The
half-breed was next.
was raised toward the child. But
all of a sudden, something happened.
found his voice, and the voice that spoke to his mother’s murderer was deep.
killed my mother, you bastard. You
take one step toward me, and you’re dead,” came the calm, cool, voice.
the laugh. And the taunting. And the struggle for the gun.
Suddenly, the gun was in the boy’s
hand, aiming, and firing, in
Raul deHernandez was the second person to die that night.
Lancer stood there frozen. Horrified.
His mind shut down. Everything
shut down. He couldn’t breathe,
or scream, or think. The horror of
his mother dying so violently before his very eyes traumatized him. And he was unable to stop it.
Lancer was the third person to die that night. . . . . . .
the physical Johnny Lancer. His
body would continue to grow and mature, to eat, to sleep, to breathe. . . .To
most important part of Johnny Lancer had died.
His innocence. . .
of his innocence. . . .
Lancer’s innocence died with his mother.
that instant, Johnny Madrid was born. . . . . . . . . . .
innocence was dead, but the heart and soul of the young boy were strong, and
although badly broken, would not
die. Only sleep. Johnny Madrid would live long enough for the boy to
grow into a man; to protect his
sleeping heart and soul from the sadness and pain he would endure.
the heart and soul of the young man were given the chance to awaken, Johnny
Madrid would slip deeply into the young man’s being, appearing only when the
need arose to protect the kind, gentle heart and soul of the child-man.
be 10 years before Johnny Lancer would re-emerge, and in the unlikeliest of
would finally be found by his Gringo Father and be brought home, where he always
should have been. And he would
learn the love was always there for him, in his father’s heart.
And his father’s soul.
Lancer’s innocence was gone forever. . . . .
heart and soul would be reawakened through the gruff love of his Gringo Father.
Lancer would live, and love, once again. . . . . .