"I warned you. I truly did."
"You came here trying to do good. I can't fault you for that, it being your calling and all. A man of God, that you were, anyone could see it. You had a presence about you that was unusual, still do strangely enough." Rodriguez poured another shot of the rot gut whiskey, spilling some from his unsteadiness.

"I told you those natives have been fighting forever and one man was not going to stop them, even if that man was a saint. Not saying I think of you as a saint, or that you thought of yourself as one. Just saying that something that deep in them isn't going to be cleansed by one person."

"Must say I was impressed by the way you were able to learn their gibberish so quickly. All the other missionaries forced them to learn our language. Lot of good that does, I can hardly understand the ones I trade with even after all this time. Of course, sometimes I understand more than I let on, I get a better bargain that way." Rodriguez smiled to himself remembering some of those deals.

"What am I going to do with you now? Couldn't very well accept you in trade. Don't want to start that kind of trouble. Damn heathens are dangerous enough as they are and they always want weapons for the best merchandise. Lucky the dogs didn't tear into you. Must be that aura of yours, you may make a believer of me yet." Rodriguez nervously crossed himself. "Not sure why I did that, guess you're starting to get to me already. Saved you from the dogs sure enough, after you got left behind." Another slug of whiskey followed the others.

All this time Father Emilio Serra said nothing.

"Now that you are back, you leave me in a bad position. Some other man and I could shrug it off, better them than me. But you, being a holy man, that bothers me. Now word gets out I got a soft spot for the likes of you, it's gonna make trouble for me regardless. There are plenty of professed holy men that would waste no time trying to take advantage of me and the people I know. I can't let that happen." Rodriguez paused his monologue to concentrate on pouring.

"People, yeah I know some that this will interest. Now they make me nervous for entirely different reasons. They were to wander off into the jungle and come back like this, I wouldn't be upset in the least. Fact is, the world would be a better place. If it wasn't for the money, I wouldn't have anything to do with them. You will interest them, and I'm betting they will pay a premium."

Father Serra's expression didn't change. None of this conversation seems to make the least impression. To Rodriguez's alcohol blurred eyes the Father's head had a peaceful glow about it.

"Come to think of it, maybe you can do them some good that they don't intend. You being with them wouldn't look so good for them and their acquaintances. Me, I'll be glad when you're gone. Nothing personal you understand, just wish this whole sorry business had never happened. Kinda figure you would agree with me on that. Tomorrow, tomorrow you'll be on your way to where ever they want, and out of my life at last."

Father Serra made no reply, his expression never changed. His shrunken head sat, silent and unmoving, atop the water glass where Rodriguez had placed it.

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