Don de la Cruz and the Devil of Malibu
Pride and greed lead to a domino duel to the death
Daniel A. Olivas
Don Jes?s Reymundo de la Cruz slept with the Devil. No, this is both too genteel and inaccurate. Don de la Cruz screwed the Devil, fucked the Devil, but never slept with the Devil.
Published on LatinoLA: May 8, 2002
As most of us know, the Devil who lived in Southern California was a female so she was La Diabla, not El Diablo. Because the Devil is legion, the Devil resides in most towns and cities and may be a man or a woman. It all depends on what is needed. So, in Southern California, the Devil is a woman. In New York, a male. Anyway, Don de la Cruz was La Diabla's sex mate and for that, he gained great power and wealth as payment.
La Diabla lived in Malibu. But this is not the Malibu that you're imagining right now. No, she did not live in the Malibu of Johnny Carson and Olivia Newton-John and Gladstone's and the Pacific Coastal Highway that was used for the opening credits in the 1960s sitcom with Sally Fields, "Gidget," before Sally Fields was the Flying Nun and Norma Rae and before everyone REALLY loved her.
No, this was the Malibu of 1822 long before any of that bullshit. But I get ahead of myself. First, a little history. Because without history, stories cannot settle in a place that elucidates and adds shadows and meaning. And, as the Devil well knows, without a sense of history, holocausts are repeated and the Devil wins another battle.
If your fathers and mothers have not already taught you, forty-four poor Spanish settlers founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Se?ora la Reina de los ?ngeles de la Porci?ncula on September 4, 1791. The pueblo eventually became known simply as "Los Angeles." The Spanish settlers converted to Catholicism the native Indians, known as the Tongva, who had already occupied the region for thousands of years. When Mexico severed its ties with Spain in 1822, Los Angeles became an important Mexican colony and would remain so until, twenty-four years later, the United States waged war on Mexico after gold was discovered in California. President James Polk called it "Manifest Destiny."
But that's a different story.
In 1822, Don de la Cruz was a wealthy man of thirty-two. For twelve years he had fucked La Diabla and, as I said earlier, she paid him well for his services. Don de la Cruz owned and operated the largest bank in El Pueblo de Nuestra Se?ora la Reina de los ?ngeles de la Porci?ncula. Through very little effort, he held one, two sometimes three mortgages on most of the town's prime and not-so-prime properties. He lived in a thirty-room mansion built in the French style and ten servants met all his needs. Don de la Cruz dressed impeccably and he looked handsome with a trim figure and white skin and black hair He said he was Spanish not Mestizo -- not an ounce of pinche Indian blood ran through his veins, he said. When he walked the streets, people bowed and lowered their eyes and Don de la Cruz felt important like a king.
But at the age of thirty-two, Don de la Cruz grew bored and weary of his success. Not that his success was not earned. Oh, no! Fucking La Diabla was a painful and ugly chore! She had a voracious appetite for Don de la Cruz. Though La Diabla was as beautiful as any creature that walked this earth, her various orifices let out the rank stench of rape, mayhem, torture, and all things horrible and terrifying. And when Don de la Cruz inserted himself into La Diabla, a burning, gut wrenching pain traveled up through his lower intestines, up into his stomach towards his heart where the pain wrapped itself like the clenched fist of a drowning man. And La Diabla would squeeze Don de la Cruz with her beautiful thighs and scream such hideous screams that Don de la Cruz had to grasp his ears and close his eyes and put his mind some place else far from this atrocity that he fucked.
All this happened in La Diabla's home under the rocks of Malibu in a cave -- lined with the souls conquered by her -- just out of sight of the wandering Chumash Indians, for they were the Malibu people, different from their relatives in town, the Tongva. And it was one day in April 1822, after fucking, Don de la Cruz lay by La Diabla and broached the subject of his boredom.
"I need a challenge," Don de la Cruz began slowly, knowing that La Diabla had a horrible temper and reacted with lightning speed to anything resembling a threat to her power.
La Diabla turned to the man who lay near her in her bed of seaweed. "I'm not challenge enough?" she hissed.
"I mean," continued Don de la Cruz, "my wealth and power within the town doesn't mean much to me anymore. It's too easy. Do you know what I mean?"
La Diabla smiled. Of course she knew what he meant. She had expected this day to come and so she had planned a response for his plea.
"In one month, you will have a challenge."
Don de la Cruz jumped. "What will it be?"
La Diabla smiled and grabbed her man's penis and squeezed until Don de la Cruz almost screamed.
"You will know it when it presents itself to you," and with that, La Diabla mounted Don de la Cruz and fucked him again. "And, in order to prepare you for that day, you will not share my bed during that time. So, my love, fuck me so that I can remember what you feel like!"
And after they were done, Don de la Cruz got dressed and went to his thirty-room mansion built in the French style with the ten servants who met all his needs and he waited for his challenge.
Throughout the month of April, Don de la Cruz wondered who or what his challenge would be. A warrior, perhaps? A natural disaster? What, he wondered, did La Diabla have in mind?
As he thought and the days passed, Don de la Cruz noticed subtle changes in his town. Slowly, one by one, the landowners paid off their mortgages and withdrew their money from his bank. And, as Don de la Cruz walked through the town, people no longer bowed and lowered their eyes as they had before, but instead they whispered and pointed and sneered and showed no respect for the great Don de la Cruz. Finally, the greatest insult occurred: each and every one of his servants left his mansion. There was no one left. No one to cook for him, to dress him, to keep the horses brushed and fed, no one to care for his every need.
And Don de la Cruz grew angrier and angrier and angrier. But he dared not go to La Diabla. He knew better. So he waited. The twenty-second day, the twenty-third, and finally the thirtieth day arrived on a sunny spring morning. And Don de la Cruz rose from bed and bathed and dressed and cooked for himself a big bowl of menudo -- for he had taught himself to cook because he no longer had any servants! -- and he drank much brandy and waited.
At ten in the morning, he still sat at his dining table after finishing three bowls of the tripe and hominy soup and a whole bottle of brandy. And he sat and waited.
"?Bastante!" he finally yelled and shoved his bowl and glass and bottle and candelabra onto the hard wood floor and stomped towards the front door of his mansion. He took a long breath from his narrow Spanish nostrils to prepare himself, grasped the large brass doorknob with his powerful pistol hand and threw the door open. Don de la Cruz marched out of his mansion with all the resolve of his brave stallion but suddenly he froze in mid-stride, in the dead center of his grand porch.
Standing before Don de la Cruz was the entire population of the town. Just staring at him. All he could hear was their breathing, in unison, and not one bird or other creature dared make a sound. He stood on his porch, frozen, in mid-stride for one full minute as his brandy-soaked brain tried hard to absorb what faced him at that moment.
And then he noticed her. A little girl, maybe thirteen or so, standing in the middle of the crowd. She looked like -- no, I can't describe her -- that would be impossible. But let me say that to Don de la Cruz, she looked like everything that La Diabla was not. And she wore a simple brown dress and her skin was brown as well, like the Indian that she surely was, and she wore no shoes. The girl carried a large wood box and Don de la Cruz could see that carved on the box was an eagle with a serpent in its beak and the eagle was perched on a cactus.
Ah! thought Don de la Cruz. Pistols! La Diabla has sent her challenge to me.
"Little girl," he said. "Are you my challenge with your box of pistols?"
The little girl said nothing but motioned to a man next to her and the man quickly brought a table and then two chairs and put them between the girl and Don de la Cruz. She set down the box on the table and opened it. And she said: "No pistols. Dominoes."
Don de la Cruz stood on the porch. He started to shake and the crowd murmured in confusion. And then he started to laugh. And he laughed with all the strength of his body. "Pinche dominoes!" he yelled. "That is my challenge!" And he laughed some more.
The crowd remained dead silent. And the girl threw down the challenge: "If I win, you will leave this town forever."
"And if I win, mija, what do I get?"
The girl smiled: "Whatever you want."
Don de la Cruz thought for but a moment and said, "?T?! I will have you and you know precisely what I mean, mija!?
The crowd let out a gasp, a sound of revulsion and fear.
"Yes," said the girl. "Yes, that is a bargain." And she sat down and poured out the dominoes on the table and they made a rattling sound like the sound when an old man dies and lets out his last breath.
Don de la Cruz walked slowly down the porch stairs, his beautiful black boots making a loud and majestic pound with each step. And he sat down and said to another gasp of the crowd: "I can't wait to take you to my bed, mija."
The girl did not blush nor did she betray fear. She simply said: "Choose your dominoes."
So, the man and the girl chose their dominoes and each lined them up and examined their choices. "You may go first," said the little girl. And the crowd laughed.
"NO!" yelled Don de la Cruz. "I will not be embarrassed by a pinche little Indian girl! You will go first."
The little girl shrugged a little shrug and complied. She put down a double six.
Don de la Cruz's face turned as purple as a ripe fig. For, as any child knows, the person who picks a double six always goes first. So! he thought, she was trying to humiliate me!
"?Puta!" said Don de la Cruz through his perfectly aligned white teeth. "You will lose and you will be mine!"
But the game continued and lasted for two full days. Piece by piece, the pattern of dominoes grew into an angular snake with many eyes and the girl remained calm.
At one point, hours into the game, Don de la Cruz remarked: "Mija, you look familiar. Who are you? Do you live near our pueblo?"
"We have never met before," she said and put down a domino with a one and a five on it. "Never before."
And Don de la Cruz shrugged and continued the game. It was now the first day of May and finally, the little girl put down her last domino and there were no more to pick from the pile of dominoes that had once sat on the side of the table. Don de la Cruz's eyes widened. He felt ill. He was hungry and he had to piss and crap but he had not left his chair for two days. And now he had lost to a little bitch of an Indian girl! He grabbed the table and threw it to the ground almost hitting the little girl's face with the edge of the table. The crowd held its breath.
She stood up and said: "I win. You lose. You know what to do!" The crowd drew near so Don de la Cruz decided not to pull his gun.
"Okay, mija. I may be many things, but I never cheat when I gamble. I have lost. And I will honor my part of the bargain." And he went into his mansion and shut the door. The crowd stared at the door hoping that Don de la Cruz would come out with a saddle and some food so that he could simply hop on his stallion and leave the town forever. Instead, he put his pistol into his mouth and blew the back of his head off. And as the crowd realized what had happened, a large roar of a cheer filled the air and the townspeople carried the little girl on their shoulders to the plaza to commence a wonderful fiesta that lasted two weeks.
And what happened to that little girl? Well, she eventually was given the honor of running Don de la Cruz's bank and she grew wealthy and powerful and eventually held one, two or maybe three mortgages on most of the town's prime and not-so-prime properties. She lived in Don de la Cruz's thirty-room mansion built in the French style with ten servants who met all her needs. She also dressed impeccably and she looked beautiful with a trim figure and brown skin and black hair. When she walked the streets, people bowed and lowered their eyes and she felt important like a queen.
And she laughed to herself when she remembered how Don de la Cruz thought he remembered her. She did not lie. They had never met. But she looked familiar to Don de la Cruz because she was his daughter -- the result of Don de la Cruz's many years of fucking La Diabla. She was born fully formed that month when the devil and her lover were separated.
And La Diabla continues to run El Pueblo de Nuestra Se?ora la Reina de los ?ngeles de la Porci?ncula which today is simply known as "Los Angeles." And she still lives in Malibu. But not in the rocks by the ocean with all that seaweed. No. La Diabla submitted a building permit application with the California Coastal Commission in 1986 so that she could build a luxurious townhouse not far from Johnny Carson's beautiful home. The Coastal Commission granted her permit application, with a few conditions, but the townhouse was eventually built and La Diabla enjoys life very much living in Malibu at the beach.
Daniel A. Olivas:
This story first appeared in Exquisite Corpse, and is featured in Daniel A. Olivas' unpublished short story collection, "Devil Talk." Visit Daniel's web page at http://www.homestead.com/DanielOlivas/olivas.html.