~ EL HEAD ~
EL DIABLO CABEZA
Dennis E. Power
THE EL HEAD HOMEPAGE
August 6, 1970
“Uno!” shouted the referee, yet so thunderous were the roars of the crowd that Ray barely heard the referee’s voice although he was but a few feet from him.
THE EL HEAD HOMEPAGE
All the material on these web pages or any other material relating to the character of El Head are copyrighted by Dennis E. Power
Blood pounded in Ray’s head, his vision grew blurry and stars danced before his eyes. The shouts, noisemakers and horns all receded from his consciousness as Lo Faz Demonio pinned Ray to the mat and despite Ray’s great strength held him immobile. Lo Faz Dello Demonio had Ray in a rana hold with the tips of his boots digging into Ray’s throat, slowly but inexorably crushing his windpipe. Although he rarely used his great strength in the ring, Ray summoned what little of it that remained and pushed off of the mat with his fingers. His fingers punctured the canvas mat with a series of loud pops and puffs of powder. Yet for some reason his fingers, which could normally have lifted five times his weight, could not lift his shoulders off of the mat. Ray knew he was going to die; even worse, he was going to be unmasked.
ONE WEEK EARLIER
Ray Fuerte finished his morning calisthenics and cooled down by sitting in a wooden lounge chair on the veranda of his hacienda. While basking in the morning sun and eating handfuls of chilled grapes and fruit slices Ray thought about how great his life had become. He was a well-regarded athlete and a role model. Sipping boiling hot black coffee he also indulged in his daily cigarette; his one remaining vice from the days before he became a public figure.
Up until three years ago Ray had led a fairly directionless life. Born in California to a war widow he had always been a gifted but undisciplined athlete. Although he had been good enough to get a partial college scholarship in track Ray had squandered that opportunity by letting his schoolwork fall by the wayside as he majored in sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Once he had lost his scholarship Uncle Sam scooped him up and sent him to Viet Nam. Ray did not like being a soldier and decided not to make a career out of it. He had liked some of the training especially in the martial arts and had also enjoyed how proud his mother had been of him for following his father’s footsteps. According to his mother’s stories his father had joined a special unit of the army that had been sent on many important but secret missions. Ray thought this were just tales his father had told her to impress her.
Once Ray had been discharged from the Army he returned to a rather carefree life, taking odd or part time jobs that gave him enough money to pursue his true vocation; having a good time. His good times came to a sudden halt when his mother suffered a debilitating stroke. This was caused by her great disappointment in her son, at least so claimed Ray’s aunt. Ray soon learned that his mother had very little money and had barely made ends meet. Her medical bills and her inability to work soon depleted what savings they had.
As Ray went through his mother’s papers to see if there were any hidden assets or salable items he found some pictures of his father. Ray had seen photos of his father before. These photos had almost always had him dressed in his United States Army dress uniform. In these photos his father had always been alone against a white background. Any photos that had Ray’s father and mother together were shot from their shoulders up. The photos of his father Ray discovered that day were ones that his mother had obviously hidden from his sight. The photos shocked Ray so much that he nearly fainted. His mother was not a large woman, she was very petite perhaps 120 lbs and just about 5 feet tall but she was much taller than Ray’s father who appeared to be about close to four feet in height at the tallest.
He also found 8x10 glossy pictures of a muscular man dressed in black tights, black leather boots and a leather mask that covered his entire head except for his eyes, nose and mouth. The mask was of black leather and had a white skull motif painted on the front. The photo showed the man holding his hands and arms out and his legs slightly bent as if he meant to grapple with someone. A snarl could be seen through the mask’s mouth hole. Written on the photo in white marker were the words, Best wishes from El Terror Diminuto.
Since his mother was unable to speak, Ray steeled himself to visit his disapproving aunt.
After haranguing him about his general laziness, his callous disregard for his mother that was driving her into the grave and many other topics, she finally told him about his father. Yes, his father had been a dwarf and he had been a famous luchador in Mexico. Ray Fuerte sr. had been known as El Terror Diminuto.
When Ray had asked how a dwarf had been able to enlist in the United State Army, he was rather surprised when his aunt had smiled and replied with a wistful quality to her voice, "Because he had the strength of ten men.” She recounted how after Pearl Harbor had been bombed Ray Fuerte had rushed back to the United States to join the Army. He had been rejected several times but finally had been allowed to enlist in a special branch of the army because of his great strength. While training Ray sr. had carried a whirlwind romance with two sisters that ended with Ray’s mother winning his heart. He was killed in the South Pacific in 1945. She closed with saying that even though Ray sr. had been a dwarf his son was not a tenth of the man he had been.
As was about to leave, she called him back. She told him that Ray had left Mexico rather abruptly and so he might have an estate that his wife was entitled to receive. Ray’s mother had never pursued this because she had not wanted to seem like a fortune hunter. His aunt told him that since Ray had little self-respect and was not above taking unearned money he might as well visit Mexico and see if there was indeed an estate. His mother certainly could use additional funds. His father had been a friend of El Santo before El Santo had assumed his family legacy. She told him to try and get in contact with El Santo. Knowing that his aunt would take better care of his mother than he ever could Ray hitched down to Mexico.
Although Ray was not a follower of lucha libre he did know El Santo was a major star in Mexico and the chances of him getting a personal visit with El Santo was slim indeed. His first thought was to start dogging El Santo at his matches and try and get a few words with him. He rented a room near the Mexico City arena and waited for El Santo to appear on the wrestling card. Fortunately his sparse amount of United States currency went fairly far in Mexico, enough so that he was able to rent a room and enjoy the company of some senoritas and tequila.
When Ray attended the match he was unable to get close enough to El Santo to speak to him and he realized that this is how it would always be. However there was an announcement that El Santo would be holding open auditions for a new class to be formed at his Guerro Azteca School. To prove that they were worthy to be admitted to the school the candidates had to wrestle one another, the winners would then wrestle second tier luchadores and finally the last twenty candidates had to stay in the ring with El Santo for five minutes. Ray thought that is was a golden opportunity and perhaps his only chance to talk to El Santo.
Ray made his way to the Guerro Azteca and entered the contest. Filled with an uncharacteristic determination Ray summoned all of his old skill and strength to win his matches. Despite being out of shape, Ra rose through the ranks, although barely won matches against the professional luchadores. He was exhausted when it came time for his bout with El Santo.
Although it was hard to read his expression behind the full face mask, it seemed to Ray that El Santo eyes glittered with amused contempt at his haggard and physically drained body. El Santo’s eyes flicked once in what Ray thought was puzzlement. Taking a chance that he had recognized his father in him, as El Santo came to grapple with him, Ray told El Santo he was the son of El Terror Diminuto.
El Santo’s eyes hardened and grew hot with fury. He grabbed Ray in a headlock and flipped him over so that Ray’s back slammed onto the mat. El Santo somersaulted into a planca, his back slamming against Ray’s chest forcibly jettisoning all of the air in Ray’s lungs. El Santo rolled over to pin Ray but Ray threw him off by rolling over so that he was on top of El Santo. However El Santo used his super strength, and with his knees pushed off the mat, launching Ray into a flying horizontal spin. Moving rapidly, El Santo grabbed Ray and Ray fell towards El Santo. Ray landed hard, his back crashing into El Santo’s bent knees. With two rapid movements El Santo had one hand on Ray’s neck and the other on Ray’s ankles, putting him in a bow and arrow submission. El Santo pulled on Ray with great strength and Ray suddenly realized that El Santo was not playing a game; he meant to break Ray’s back.
Suddenly worried about his life, Ray rocked himself back and forth, managing to rollover onto his knees. Standing up he grabbed El Santo’s legs and arms and shifted El Santo onto his shoulders in a torture rack hold where by El Santo was bent over backwards across Ray’s shoulders. El Santo grew angrier and jabbed Ray into the gut with a free hand. When Ray was knocked off balance El Santo forced Ray to fall face forward to the mat. Half unconscious Ray was barely aware of being picked up and thrown into the ropes. When Ray bounced off of the ropes El Santo slammed an arm against Ray’s chest knocking him to the mat once again. El Santo picked up Ray again and threw him into the ropes once more, this time twisting the ropes around Ray. The ropes were entwined about Ray’s neck and legs. El Santo twisted them tighter about Ray’s neck, choking him, as he did he told Ray he was a worthless, spineless son of a rodent and deserved to die.
Fear of death, and oddly enough El Santo’s repudiation of his father made Ray angry; angrier than he had ever been in his life. White hot rage coursed through him he surged against the ropes, barely feeling them snap as he pushed against El Santo. El Santo went flying backwards and hit the ropes on the other side of the ring with his back, stretching them back as far as they could. El Santo used the forward momentum of the ropes snapping back to launch into a double somersault dive. He drove Ray back against the mat and quickly pinned him. El Santo’s anger had miraculously disappeared.
El Santo shook Ray’s hand after the match and then embraced him. El Santo told Ray he had seen enough of his father in Ray’s face that he knew Ray’s claim to be the son of El Terror Diminuto was valid. El Santo had noticed that Ray had not used his great strength in any of his matches and understood that Ray had been afraid. El Santo had deliberately made Ray angry so that Ray would use his strength. He explained that it was the super strength that El Santo and the great Lucadores possessed that enabled them to make their great leaps and throws, it was an asset and Ray should use it proudly.
Ray did not tell El Santo that until that moment he had not even realized that he had possessed super strength.
Ray learned that Ray’s father had indeed owned a small estate which El Santo had converted into investments and held in trust. The money from the estate went directly to Ray’s mother. Ray had discovered that he had enjoyed the contest and decided to attend Guerro Azteca for the training. El Santo took Ray under his wing as a protégé. Since Ray was too tall to be known as El Hijo de Terror Diminutio, El Santo suggested Ray use something else. Ray’s aunt told him that Ray sr. claimed his great strength came from their ancestral connection to the mysterious western figure known as El Head, El Diablo Cabeza. Ray studied up on the legends of this character and learned he was supposed to have been a ghost or demon. El Head was supposedly a skull who wore a blue United States Cavalry hat. This hat wearing skull rode on a yellow horse guided by two skeletal arms. Neither the head nor the arms were attached to one another but somehow floated around under their own independent power. Ray designed a costume of a black body suit with a black neckpiece and white arms and gloves. He wore a black mask a skull face fainted on it, topped off with a tattered blue United States Cavalry hat. He called himself El Diablo Cabeza.
In two years time El Diablo Cabeza had become one of the most popular luchadores in all of Mexico, not quite as popular as El Santo, El Demonio Azul or Mil Mascaras but he was getting there.
To the shock of his aunt, Ray had not become just a bottom level luchador who eked out a living by participating in enough battles to live a free and easy life style, by cashing in on his popularity as a fighter. Ray had become disciplined and driven. While it was true he was known to casually date many women, he had almost entirely given up all drugs and alcohol. He knew he was a role model for children and that luchadores had responsibilities outside of the ring.
As Ray savored his one daily cigarette the phone rang with a call that shattered his life.
A rudo by the name of Lo Faz Dello Demonio had invoked a pelea de la sangre against him. Lo Faz Dello Demonio was the equivalent of Ray in terms of popularity although he had been a luchador for a few more years.
Ray protested that he had never met Lo Faz Dello Demonio much less had wrestled against him. Why the blood feud?
Ray’s manager said that Lo Faz claimed that it was an ancient blood feud that had to be addressed. If Ray refused the challenge, as he had a right to do, he would be condemned as a coward and would no longer be considered a Técnico but a low class rudo, a payaso strictly for laughs. No one would ever take him seriously again and the top luchadores would forever ignore him.
When Ray had joined the ranks of the true luchadores he had quickly learned that beyond the art and artifice of the ring there was a sub rosa culture among the luchadores. Although the general public knew that the actions and personalities of the luchadores and their matches were carefully scripted to provide comedy, drama and pulse pounding acrobatic sporting events, the general public did not realize that quite a bit of the comedy, drama and even the bouts themselves were true and unscripted.
Although luchadores had not become the subjects of popular entertainment until the 1930s, luchadores had existed for hundreds of years, although there had only been a handful of true luchadores up to the 1930s. The first luchadores of the 1930s and most of the great luchadores such as El Santo, Lo Demonio Azul, and Mil Mascaras were all descendents of the first luchador. Although lucha libre had come to mean free style fighting as regarding the fighting technique by which the luchador fought, the term originally signified what the luchadores’ true purpose was, fights free meant that he was a freedom fighter, a fighter against oppression.
The original luchadores represented, like many things in Mexico, a fusion of Native Mexican and European cultures. The original luchador, the direct ancestor of El Santo, had created a martial order that combined the elements of European chivalry and knighthood with that of new world pre-Columbian warrior mysticism. He forged and created a silver mask that echoed not only of the helm of the Knight but the sacred masks of the Pre-Columbian warrior. Condemning the gun and the sword as emblems of the oppressors, the luchadores had created their own unique martial art that combined the discipline of the knight with the athleticism of the sacred ball player.
Through the generations the small but valiant band of luchadores fought against evil and oppression to the best of their abilities. However in the 1930’s a new evil arose in the world, an evil so vast and insidious that it threatened to devour the soul of the world as well as causing countless deaths. To counter this great evil El Santo and his fellow luchadores had taken their crusade public under the guise of public entertainment. They increased their numbers by careful recruitment and carried out a secret war against the agents of the darkness that threatened the world. Although they were never credited for it, the luchadores kept Mexico from becoming a fascist state and joining the Axis powers. The Axis powers knew of their true purpose and opposed them through proxy agents, giving rise to the conflict between the good knights, the Técnicos and the evil knights, the rudos. It also explained to Ray why some Rudos took on the public persona of Nazi’s.
Although the conflict between the Técnicos and rudos was largely ceremonial, it was also quite real in that many of the Técnicos and rudos still represented the forces of light and darkness and a consequence; the battles were often unscripted and resulted in “accidental” injuries.
Because of Ray’s great strength, his descent from a dwarf, which were highly regarded in old Mexican mythology and because of his natural talent in lucha libre, he had become a candidate to join the true luchadores, to become one of Mexico’s modern knights. Shouldering this responsibility he had grown up and gradually had been introduced to the true role of a luchador as a knight and defender of the people.
The old Ray might have thought nothing of being regarded as a coward and might fled from the blood feud battle, sacrificing his reputation for the chance to save his skin. However El Diablo Cabeza never backed down from a fight and never would. He told his agent to accept the feud. His daily cigarette suddenly tasted bitter and repugnant and he snubbed it out.
The blood feud would however play havoc with the storyline of scripted feuds and fights he was supposed to enact over the next few months. The escrivitos would have fits. Blood feuds were usually carried out over a period of six months and worked into existing storylines so as to keep secret the true nature of the conflict between the Técnicos and the rudos. The feuds usually ended in the dreaded máscara contra mascara battle and the loser would be unmasked. Although in these mascara contra mascara battles there were often serious injuries on both sides.
Ray was weight training when he received a second phone call from his agent. The agent sounded worried and perplexed. Lo Faz dello Demonio’s people had informed him that the mascara contra mascara fight would occur on August 6. When the agent had started to protest that was too soon, Lo Faz’s manager had told the agent to talk to the Técnico council. The Técnico council had informed Ray’s agent that the fight would indeed culminate on August 6, there was no appeal.
Ray’s manager then informed him that the match was not merely mascara contra mascara but also a batalla de la muerte.
Cold fire gripped Ray’s heart; he had hoped to avoid that part of being a luchador. Most of the luchadores never had to fight a true batalla de la muerte. They were extremely rare and had to be sanctioned by the entire council of true luchadores. To outsiders it would appear that Ray or his opponent had been accidentally killed in the ring when in truth both fighters were truly attempting to kill one another. Ray was not afraid of being hurt or killed himself; he had just had enough of killing in Viet Nam.
Ray made an appointment to see El Santo for some advice on what to do. El Santo could not tell him why such importance had been put on the death match. He did give Ray some background on Lo Faz dello Demonio. Originally Lo Faz had been a Técnico but shortly after Ray had showed up as El Diablo Cabeza Lo Faz had made a heel turn and become a rudo. No real reason was given to the Grand Council for the turn and it threw many storylines into disarray.
Ray asked if it was necessary for him to kill Lo Faz dello Demonio. El Santo said that the luchadores that became the great ones did not choose to be so, they were chosen. If Ray could not answer the greater calling of their profession, which on occasion, required him to carry out some unpleasant tasks, then he should walk away and never look back. Those had been called to become a true luchador had to choose all or nothing, there was no middle ground.
Ray had his first encounter with Lo Faz dello Demonio a couple of days later. As per his ongoing storyline, El Diablo Cabeza was in an ongoing feud with a rudo named El Salvaje Que Rie. El Salvaje’s motif was to dress in a leopard skin loincloth, wear long hair and a flesh colored mask without any adornments and go barefooted. He emulated or attempted to emulate Tarzan and usually swung into the ring on a “vine”. However the luchador was unable to make the Tarzan call properly, it sounded as if he were laughing. He was thus named The Chuckling Savage.
Prior to their match El Diablo Cabeza and the El Salvaje had a confrontation outside of the ring where they screamed and pushed at one another. This inflamed their fans who shouted, screamed and used noisemakers. Their confrontation was interrupted by Lo Faz who pulled them apart and gave Ray an unscripted head butt that sent him crashing against the outside of the empty ring. Lo Faz grabbed the stunned Ray by his knees and flipped him inside the ring and jumped in after him, jumping off of the ring in a planca against Ray’s chest.
In the unofficial bout that took place the enmity between Lo Faz and El Diablo Cabeza was established. Since Ray was groggy from truly being attacked without warning El Salvaje aided him, thus moving El Salvaje from the ranks of the rudos to that of the Tecnicos. Lo Faz challenged El Diablo Cabeza to a máscara contra mascara, mano a mano, without out the help of his savage friend. El Diablo Cabeza accepted the challenge albeit a bit unsteadily for during the course of their unofficial bout Lo Faz had whispered into Ray’s ear. “I hear you are vacillating about fighting me. You will fight me or you will be crippled and your invalid mother will suffer a fate I would not wish on a dog.”
Two nights before the fight agonized over the necessity of killing someone. If he knew for certain that Lo Faz was a truly evil person like a child molester or murderer Ray could have killed him with without little compunction, however not knowing what type of person Lo Faz was beneath the mask made it harder for Ray to resolve himself to the task. He also had no idea what possible ancient feud Lo Faz was referring in Ray’s researches into El Head he had never come across such a reference but then most tales of El Head were incomplete and sketchy at best. Unable to come to terms with his decision and feeling restless, Ray donned his El Diablo Cabeza mask and costume and left his hacienda to drive into Mexico City proper.
He parked his car at a garage and took to the rooftops of a neighborhood consisting of manufacturing facilities and low income housing, an area renown for crime during the night time hours. Once of the duties of a true luchador, one only hinted at in the various films, comics and television stories about luchadores, was that they fought crime as costumed vigilantes. There were limits to how often each luchador was supposed to actually participate in this activity, too much led to burn out and also eroded the urban myth aspect of their legend. Ray was often criticized for overdoing his bit but he enjoyed it. As he jumped from rooftop to rooftop he was a bit disappointed because it was a quiet night. He was about to give up and go home when he saw a group of gang members chasing a young woman through one of the alleys a couple of blocks away. He jumped across several roofs and then down to the street, the pavement stinging his feet a bit from the thirty foot drop. Running around the corner to the alley, he was almost hit by a body thrown up against a brick wall.
Ray saw the gang members being pulled away from the girl and then punched, kicked or flipped to all points of the alley. The person doing the punching, kicking and flipping was another masked vigilante. As Ray moved closer he saw, with a slight shock, that the vigilante was Lo Faz dello Demonio.
While it was rare for rudos to also act as vigilantes it was not unknown. Yet Ray wondered at Lo Faz’s sudden appearance. Lo Faz answered this unspoken question as soon as he had disposed of the last of the gang members. He spun around and faced Ray.
“You have been under observation for some time now. We had to make certain you did not bolt. I saw you heading to take of these punks and thought it would be fun to deny you the opportunity since I was closer to them than you.”
Ray muttered something to the effect that he had not thought it was because of the rudo’s social conscience.
“Too bad you will not get the chance to learn and fully understand that tecnicos and rudos are not that fundamentally different. Although your superiors brand us evil many rudos simply oppose the autocratic way in which the tecnicos carry out their social agenda. Besides I would have been a tecnico had fate not cursed me into the role of a rudo.”
“El Santo told me that you turned heel right after I showed up. Was I somehow the cause of this?”
“Yes, although inadvertently. When my grandfather saw your name and picture in the newspaper he had a heart attack and died. The family curse then passed onto me since my father had already died. Once I was cursed I truly had the Face of the Demon and my career as a good face was over.”
“What does this have to do with me?” Ray asked with puzzlement not following Lo Faz’s dialogue.
“I kill you and I remove the curse, I will never be a tecnico again but at least my heirs will never bear the mark.”
“I wanted to show you a couple of things tonight. Follow me.” Lo Faz demanded and walked out of the alley. Ray followed Lo Faz down the street a few blocks. Ray suddenly recognized this neighborhood. This area contained the orphanage where Ray often volunteered, a couple of blocks over was the gymnasium and recreation center that he also spent time working with neighborhood children.
Lo Faz pointed to the orphanage “Imagine how devastating it would be if several firebombs were to crash through the window. Imagine how it terrible it would be if this also happened at the recreation center. “
Ray’s face flushed with anger, “I already told you I would fight you. You do not need to threaten anymore innocents.”
A grimace flickered across Lo Faz’ face, visible through the mouth hole. “I know you will wrestle me and that you have been wrestling with your conscience about killing me. Let me reassure you on that point. You will not kill me. Rather it is you that is going to die. In fact, you are going to let me kill you.”
The remark was so absurd that Ray could not help but laugh.
A grimace showed through Lo Faz’s mask. “You will let me kill you or the kiddies at the orphanage and at the recreational center will roast, as will your mother in her home.” The grimace came again and with a start Ray realized that this was a smile.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Why! You dare to ask why!” In one swift movement Lo Faz removed his mask.
Ray had always thought that Lo Faz dello Demonio’s bulging, bloodshot right eye and the scar tissue below it as well as the scar tissue surrounding his mouth, a strip of which bridged over his lips, had always been the result of additional make up underneath the mask. He saw that it was not. A large burn scar ran from just over the right eye to the right corner of his mouth. In addition to being red and shiny the scar tissue looked as though the flesh had melted like wax to drip down his face.
“This is how my grandfather looked and when he died, my face felt as though a torch had been stuck against it. And then my face looked like this and when I die the first born of my descendents will look like this. We had thought the curse gone when my father never developed the Face of the Demon. But now we know it is only when he who presently has the mark dies that it passes on. So do you really think I could have remained a tecnico with a face like that? As to why I must kill you, just as I bear the mark of the demon from my ancestor, you are in a true sense the descendent of El Head. Your ancestor was the first to have become tainted with his blood. It is that corrupt blood that binds us into our fates. One of us must die and I have taken measures to ensure that it is not I. Run from your fate and your family will die. Refuse to accept your fate and many innocents will die. Your choice, amigo.”
With that Lo Faz dello Demonio disappeared into the shadows.
Ray was not even more confused as to what to do than before he went out to clear his head. The night stayed quiet and after a few hours he headed home for some restless sleep. After his daily call to his mother and aunt, he went to see El Santo. He laid out the problem for El Santo leaving out no details including his doubts. El Santo listened but shook his head grimly. “You are at the fork in the road. I cannot give you any advice on this muchacho; it must be entirely your decision.”
Ray spent the rest of the day training and practicing, burning off his frustrated energy. When the day for the death battle came, Ray was still not certain what he should do. His gut told him that his threats against innocents Lo Faz dello Demonio proved to be a villain and should be killed. However there were also the lives of the innocents to be considered, the children and his mother and aunt. Even if there was the remotest chance that Lo Faz could carry out his threat even after his death, should Ray put the innocents at risk?
When Ray entered the ring he noticed that ringside were several of the children from the recreational center. At their first grapple Lo Faz whispered into his ear, “I thought you might like to get a last look at those kids, one way or another you will not see them again. What is your decision hero?”
Ray decided that it was the nobler thing to sacrifice himself for the children. He whispered back. “Okay, I will go down but you will have to work for it.”
Lo Faz’ smile grimace came, “Let’s give them their money’s worth for your farewell performance.”
The bout that followed was by all accounts one of the most spectacular in all of luchador history complete with some of the greatest acrobatic moves, holds and breaks by both of the wrestlers. After a half an hour both men were covered with sweat, bruises and blood. Ray discovered that despite his having the advantage of strength over Lo Faz dello Demonio, Lo Faz was much quicker and more agile than Ray.
After an hour while El Diablo Cabeza had Lo Faz in a cobra clutch, Lo Faz whispered that it was time for Ray to go down. He would drop so that Ray could put him into an armlock Lo Faz would flip out of it and Ray would end up in a camel clutch and Lo Faz would snap his neck.
Ray did as he was told and resigned himself to his death. Ray ended up face down on the mat and Lo Faz sat on his back, grabbing Ray’s head around the forehead and pulling it backwards with all of his might. The pain of Lo Faz slowly pulling on his neck was incredible. As Ray felt and heard the creaking of his neck bones, his vision went blank.
His mother’s face appeared out of the blackness swimming before his eyes. “Why do you always take the easy route, Ray. You could do so much more.” His aunt appeared before his eyes. “You think you are being noble, you are just being stupid and lazy.” Finally the face of his father appeared before him, a man Ray had never really seen in real life “You are really going to take the word of man who threatens children? Yes, lie down. Die, it is easy to die. It is hard to live with the bitter choices we must make at times.”
The pain of his stretched neck finally gave Ray clarity of thought and a renewed devotion to the cause. He remembered why he had become a luchador. To Fight!
Slamming his palms with all his strength, Ray pushed off against the canvas and catapulted himself and Lo Faz off of the mat. Ray broke the hold and put Lo Faz into a headlock.
Ray whispered to Lo Faz. “I decided not to lay down for you.”
Lo Faz looked shocked. “Why, your family will die, those kids will die.”
“I am a warrior. It is that simple. I do not give up. If your agents kill anybody, I will kill them. Besides I don’t trust you. I think you are lying.”
“You want to take that chance!” Lo Faz hissed.
“I do not want to but I must. I am a luchador, a true luchador. When it matters I fight for true.”
The smile grimace, “So be it. Let the best man win for real.”
Lo Faz dello Demonio gave El Diablo Cabeza a low blow, which made the referee break up the clutch. El Diablo Cabeza’s manager threw him a towel so that he could wipe off his sweaty face. The wet towel stung his face but Ray had to move quickly to avoid Lo Faz’s grapple. Ray felt dizzy and he felt like he was moving through molasses. Lo Faz dropped him to the mat on his back with a springboard hurricana which he quickly turned into the rana that slowly choked the life out of Ray and broke his neck while he lay in a torpid state. He realized too late that the towel had been drugged.
The Referee cried “Uno!”
Whatever was sapping his strength was also sapping his will, urging him to give up and let the darkness claim him. The seductive siren call proved too much and Ray succumbed to the cold embrace of Lady Death and began to dance towards oblivion.
It would have been nice if Ray had envisioned his last breath as being stolen by a passionate kiss from Death as a beautiful woman but it was not to be. The last images that registered on Ray’s mind were of the hideous mask of Lo Faz Dello Demonio hovering over his face as Lo Faz leaned forward and increased pressure with his feet against Ray’s throat and jaw. Lo Faz bulging, bloodshot right eye hovering over his face like a demonic sun was the last thing Ray saw as his neck snapped.
Ray did not immediately die although his vision went black as he lay paralyzed and laboring for air. Ray felt the pressure fall away from his neck as Lo Faz swung off of him. Hard thick fingers grabbed the edges of his mask. Ray felt a painful pressure against his chin and cheeks as his mask was torn off. Scream of dismay, shouts of triumph and a cool breeze against his sweaty face were the last things he heard and felt.
August 9 1970
Ray awoke with a stiff neck, which hurt considerably when he stretched out on the hard firm mattress. He realized with a start that he was not in his own bed and then he realized that he should be dead. His eyes adjusted to his surroundings and he found that he was in what appeared to be a hospital room set inside a small cavern. There were monitors and IV drips and all the other accoutrements he had come to know from his mother’s long stay in the hospital but these were set against walls carven from basalt and volcanic rock.
El Santo and Lo Faz dello Demonio entered the room. El Santo embraced Ray and told him that he was now a true luchador. His decision to fight against evil rather than sacrifice himself proved that he was a warrior that could make the hard decisions for the welfare of all the people.
Ray protested that he could have also decided to fight back out of basic self interest, putting his own life above those who had been threatened.
El Santo told him that they knew that was not the case. The luchador knew why had made his decision to fight, for the cause rather than self preservation. He had been carefully monitored throughout the process. It was test. Normally, it truly would have been a fight to the death between an evil rudo and the candidate However this case was different. Ray truly did need to die.
Lo Faz dello Demonio took off his mask demonstrating that the scars marring his face had disappeared.
“It was all fake. Even the scars?”
Lo Faz shook his head, “It was all too real. Here read this and I will explain more.” Lo Faz handed Ray an old leather bound ledger filled with handwriting. It was opened to a certain page. Ray began to read.
Journal of Jonas Karst (sporadically kept)
May 10, 1970
For a few weeks now I been on the trail of an owlhoot that’s some kinda living legend, or as some tell it, a not so living legend. Folks call him El Head or the Demon Head or the Devil’s Head. There’s a bunch of wild tales that say he’s man who got his head and arms blowed off or hacked off and that this head and arms ride around on a big ole yeller hoss causing all sorts of mischief. Personally I think that it ain’t nothing but flim flam and wild exaggeration. Maybe this fellow might use tricks like a magician to make himself look like a demon but a shotgun shell will stop him just the same. Personally I don’t care how many folks he fooled or supposedly robbed or killed. All I care about is the 2,000 dollar bounty on the head of El Head. I am to collect it, dead or alive.
May 12, 1877
Heard tell of a few more stories of the cuss I am chasin'. He was a soldier turned gold miner. His partners turned on him and blasted him to bits with shotguns. These bits lived on and chased after his killers. Over the next coupla years he caught up and took care of them. Here the stories get even stranger. In addition to being some kind of ghost or haunt this fella is also supposed to be an inventor of the fantastical sort. Sorta like that feller that invented the steam man a few years back. One of his enemies, a printer turned preacher was put into a device that killed and skinned him. Then using his skin and blood it turned him into a book some sort of devil’s bible. Another fella was burnt up and left frozen in a block of ice in the middle of the desert, another who had become a base ball player was battered to death by a machine that threw baseballs at him. The last one had become a law man down on the border. This El Head jasper got together a posse filled with the worst sort of men from all over the west and invaded this law man’s town drawing him out and killing him. The killing of the lawman is why there is a bounty on his head put on there by the people of that there town. Sounds like a tricky cuss. Well, so am I.
May 13, 1877
Rode into the town of Rock Ridge today. Pretty much of a ghost town. Heard tell that when the railroad was planning on coming through they fought tooth and nail against it coming near their town. The rail was built elsewhere and when a new town grew up around the rail depot, Rock Ridge slowly faded as trade moved to the new town and people followed business. There are a few stubborn hold outs but the town has only fifty people or so. Even with so few people here, as I rode into town I got the Stares. People averting their eyes, covering their children’s eyes or pulling ‘em inside so’s they don’t hafta look at my ugly ole face. Went directly to the local watering hole to see if anyone had any information on this El Head fella. The saloon was dark and like most of the businesses in the town none too well taken care of, not enough customers to care I reckon. There were four or five gents in the saloon, a couple of hard cases, a drummer who apparently made a wrong turn somewhere and a couple of old codgers looked like old prospectors who had not moved on when the town did.
At the bar I ordered a whisky and asked the bartender if he had heard of this fella called El Head. The bartenders shook his head rapidly and stepped away from the bar.
“Hey you ugly son of a bitch, you named Jonas Karst?” shouted one of the hardcases at the end of the bar. Without looking at him I tole him yes and downed my redeye.
“I got a message for you from El Head. See you in hell!” he shouted as he made his move.
He was fast on the draw I’ll give him that. Of course I have run up against much faster. His barrels hadn’t finished clearing leather when my bullets took in the chest and stomach. For good measure I also shot the right arm of his hardcase buddy.
The Sheriff of Rock Ridge was a shaky drunkard by the handle of Waco. Originally he had been the deputy but the sheriff had left once the town had started to wither away. I remembered Waco from back a few years; he had been a gunfighter of some repute. He’s accidentally killed a kid and taken to the bottle. Turns out there was a fifty dollar bounty on the fella I shot. Waco had to give me a voucher to be paid by the state government. I knew I’d never get that money.
In the dead man’s pocket was a piece of paper upon which was written a barely legible scrawl. “I know you are following me Jonas. Hunting me. I have no doubt that you will get past this tinhorn. You can find me in Hedlyburg. I will be waiting. It will be nice to see you again-however briefly. El Head.”
Stayed at the one remaining hotel in Rock Ridge owned by a Howard Johnson. Johnson was glad to get any business, even mine.
May 16, 1877
Hedlyburg is about two days ride from Rock Ridge. It was named after the fella who brought the railroad through the area or so I hear. Those people considered him a hero of sorts although the people of Rock Ridge thought him to be a scoundrel. Story is that the former Sheriff of Rock Ridge shot that Hedly fella outside a chop suey house or an opium den. Well, something Celestial at any rate.
Like most towns, the good folk of Hedlyburg stared at my handsome face. ‘Course I have been in many towns in my long career, many of them quite odd but this town took the cake for being weird. All the people not only glared at me but at each other in what looked like shame and hatred. I headed towards the sheriff’s office to let him know I was in town and would probably be killing at least one jasper. As I passed by a barber shop, a man wearing a face full of foam and hair covered sheet burst out of the barber’s shop. I saw the twitch of his hands beneath the sheet as he shouted “Die Jonas Karst!”
After I planted two in his chest, I clumb down from my horse and wiped off his face with the portion of the sheet that weren’t soaked in blood. Wasn’t anybody I knew.
Twisting a rope around his foot I drug him down to the Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff’s office was closed, locked and dark. I drug the dead fella down to the undertaker and gave him a dollar to plant the fella who had came gunning for me. The undertaker was none too pleased to see me mainly becuz I busted in on a wake in progress. As I was jawing with the undertaker, I heard the high pitched voice of an old woman shout, “Die Jonas Karst.” I spun around and saw that one of the mourners, an old lady dressed in a black dress and shawl and long wild gray hair was running at me with a hairpin out to stab me. I reckon she had pulled the pin out of her hair to run me through. I sidestepped and grabbed the old lady’s arm as it stabbed at me and squeezed until the pin dropped from her hand. She fainted from the pain and fell to the floor. Dropping her where she lay, I gave my leave.
Yes, sir Hedlyburg was shaping up to be a strange town.
I did not know if this El Head character had paid these folk to attack me or hypnotized them or if they were all just plumb crazy.
Saddling up I walked my horse up the street a few blocks towards the nearest saloon. I was attacked four more times before I reached the saloon. I buffaloed a crazed butcher who came at me with a carving knife, booted in the face a whisky Indian who tried to grab my leg, slapped down a Chinee laundryman trying to choke me with a towel and shot out the knee of a blacksmith that tried to smite with a sledgehammer.
Once I was in the saloon I still had that sense that everything was a bit odd but the saloon seemed normal. People were drinking, gambling, carousing, flirting with dancehall floozies and going on about the normal business of a saloon with out paying me no never mind. Then I realized that was odd in itself, I have never stepped into any place without attracting stares.
The barkeep smiled and took my order for a red eye as if I were a normal looking fellow, his eyes never once flickered to the hideous scar marring my face.
I admit I was a bit lulled by all the normalcy and almost felt normal when the barkeep refilled my glass with a smile. He dropped his bar rag and stooped to picked up with a small self recriminating shake of his head. He was smiling pleasantly and in a cordial manner when he said, “Die Jonas Karst” and pulled the triggers on the shotgun he had picked up when he had dropped the rag. I felt the heat of the blast pass over my head as I flung my self backwards.
As I tumbled for the floor the entire saloon said in chorus, “Die Jonas Karst” and began hauling out shooting irons. Jumping back over the bar I tore the shotgun from the bartender’s hands, butt stroked his head and fired into the mob. I fired until the shotgun was empty which fortunately took out just about all of the crazy folk attacking me. My six shooters spoke a few times and then the room was silent.
Well almost silent. There was a fellow sitting at table by himself softly laughing.
He was a young fellow in his mid twenties dressed like a gambler with a fancy gold colored vest, frilly shirt and wearing a low crowned Stetson.
“You are as fast as they say, Jonas. Fast enough to face me. I am quicker than lighting, quicker than light. I am quick as thought, as a matter of fact.” He said with a dazzling smile. “I brought you here because I had some unfinished business with the town. I wanted to see the results of one of my earlier pranks, a mysterious bag of gold that turned the town against each other.”
“Nice to see you again Jonas, I rarely see anyone from my old life. Too bad about your face. That’s Apache handiwork, isn’t it?” he smiled sympathetically but the emotion never reached his eyes. Shaking his head and sighing, “I have had my encounters with them before. I have heard it was in fact your adopted father that did that to you. Took a burning torch and held it up against your face until the skin melted like lard on a griddle.” Clucking his tongue, “Musta hurt like the devil, huh?”
“Look friend, I do not know who the hell you are so why don’t you stop acting like an old lost compadre. If you are this El Head sidewinder I’ve been chasing, either surrender peaceably or fill your hands.”
“I am an old friend, Jonas. Paul Ichabod.”
I barely remembered the name. He was a fella I had met during the War Between the States, he’d been in another unit. We had played cards and drank a bit together. However this dude did not look anything like Paul Ichabod had. I said as much.
The gambler smiled and said, “Oh yes, I forgot. All of sudden Paul Ichabod was sitting there, looking like the last time I had seen him, even dressed in his Confederate Uniform.”
“Alrighty Mr. Trickster, I have about had enough of your playing around. I think you are this El Head varmint and I really don’t care if you are also Ichabod or not. I never much liked the fella, besides I heard he was dead.
Icabod smiled, “I’ve heard that too.” His eyes hardened and all humor fled from them. “Let’s end the game then. Let’s settle this the good old fashioned western way with a showdown in the street.”
“Suits me just fine.” I watched him by focusing my special eye as he stepped up from the table. Ever since that torch had been stuck up against my face and scorched the flesh around my right eye making it always appear bloodshot and swelling up so it bulged out from socket, I have been able to see things with it lots better. It tracks faster than my other eye and sees with great detail. However today it was not working all that well ‘cause Ichabod looked all blurry and staring at him made my eye water and ache something fierce.
We stepped out into the street and walked backwards several paces. Ichabod and drew at the same time however as I fired he disappeared into thin air. I fired two shots off to the left of where he had been standing but did not hit anything. I heard the crack of a shot and a slug punched into my shoulder.
“Could have killed you if I wanted”, he said and suddenly appeared to my right. As I aimed my finger stopped on the trigger. Ichabod was no longer standing there but I was. Me before I had been marked with the Face of the Demon.
Another trick. I blasted three shots into figure’s stomach but my bullets passed through like I I’d shot thin air.
Ichabod’s voice came out of my unscarred lips, “Like me you have no trouble killing your old self, eh? Keep on firing and when you are done, I will show you how much I hate anyone dogging my trail. When I finish you will think getting the Face of the Demon was one of the highpoints of your life”.
I shut my left eye and strained with my bulging right eye until I thought it would pop out of my skull. I saw a faint wavery figure standing not three feet from me. With my good arm I unloaded what left in my six shooter at that faint outline. I was rewarded with a screech that gave me a headache and dragged needles down my spine. Brains and blood splattered my face, filling my mouth with something that tasted worse than the worst rotgut I had ever had the misfortune to drink.
I tried to stand only to fall in a paralyzed heap. What I saw still makes me think I’d been doped in that saloon.
Instead of a dead fellow laying in the dust next to me, I saw a skull with a strips of dried and rotting flesh hanging off of it. The top of the skull was broken and leaked fresh brains and blood. Although every other part of the skull was all dead or dried flesh or even bare bone, the eyes were still living eyes. They reminded me a bit of my special eye, bulging out of their sockets. Parts of the spine still clung to the skull trailing out of it like a snake And just like a snake the spine twitched and moved. The snakey spine put the skull in an upright position. The shattered part of the skull was closing up, bone rapidly growing up around the naked brains.
Off near my feet was a sight that was almost more shocking than the living skull. A small child lay face down in the dirt of the street. The child stirred and pushed up from the dirt. It was not a child at all but a dwarf and he had a burn scar much more horrific than mine. He had no ears of lips to speak of and his entire face and hairless scalp were made of wattled red flesh like the skin of a lizard or a gila monster. When he put a top stovepipe hat on his hairless head it furthered my conviction that I was dreaming. The top hat was made of wood or metal. The dwarf picked up the skull and placed it atop the stovepipe hat which apparently had a opening up there cause the skull settled down in there like a scorpion backing down into its nest.
“So you see why they call me El Head. You ain’t the ugliest son of a bitch in the world, after all”, the skull said with some jocularity. “You hurt me like no one has hurt me in a long time. Killing you would be too easy. You’ve been on a suicide run since you got that face, even if you won’t admit it. As you can see I am damned hard to kill and I may live forever. The kicker is, like you, I want to die. You have tasted my blood now and I have power over you. While it my blood is still fresh in you I can shape you in any way I wanted. I could even fix your face but I won’t. I curse you instead Jonas Karst. Jonas the cursed, the hexed. The Face of the Demon is now in your blood. If you can manage to truly kill me, your face will be fixed. If you don’t then the Face of the Demon will pass on into your family, the oldest of your line will inherit it upon your death.” The skull closed its mouth showing its ever present grin. “Happy hunting.”
The dwarf and the skull shimmered and the form of the young gambler stood in front of me once more. I fell into darkness.
June 18, 1877
I awoke up in Howard Johnson’s hotel in Rock Ridge where I had been put after wandering into the town in a daze. I see what I have written in the journal but do not remember any of that having happened. Someone in Hedlyburg must have doped me all up..
June 22, 1877
Rode into Hedlyburg today. It is a ghost town and has been for some time. A few stragglers hanging around claim that the people in the town had all gone their separate ways after a mysterious stranger had hoaxed with them a false bag of gold a few years back.
The trail of El Head is cold. One day I will find that tricky son of a bitch.
Ray finished reading and handed the book back to Lo Faz dello Demonio.
“Jonas Karse died in 1904 and his son inherited the Face of the Demon. It has passed through the generations up to my grandfather. El Head supposedly died or was destroyed in the Hiroshima atomic bomb, yet the curse remained because it was not my grandfather who had destroyed El Head.
“When you arrived on the scene and adopted a name and motif similar to El Head at the same time the curse was passed onto me, we thought that it was too much of a synchronicity. Consulting with a magician friend of El Santo he determined that we were indeed connected.
“El Santo thought that you were ready for the Test, as was I. We chose August 6 because that was the twenty-fifth anniversary of El Head’s destruction. It was determined that this would also be a good way to rid me of the curse, if I could kill you.”
“So it was a symbolic killing that released your curse?”
“No I killed you but those of the blood of El Head do not always stay dead. Besides the Grand Council was certain that the machines of Dr. Kroger could resurrect you or I without turning us into zombies because of that special blood.”
Ray was angry he felt not only used but betrayed. He had to prove himself and die in order to join the order of the true luchador but Lo Faz dello Demonio had done so after turning rudo because he was upset about his facial scarring.
Lo Faz nodded with understanding. “My heel turn was just a ploy. I was not driven insane by the scarring since I had been prepared all my life that this was a possibility. No I accepted my fate but when the possibility to lift the curse arose I did it, not for me but for her.” He showed Ray a snapshot of a beautiful little girl with vibrant red hair. “When it looked like the curse had passed me by I had a family. However I cannot have anymore children. Since we life in a violent world and are in violent professions I did not want this curse to pass onto my little girl. It has happened to one other woman with tragic consequences.”
Ray felt better about the situation but could not help but feel some residual bitterness.
When El Santo told him that El Diablo Cabeza would arise from the dead and convert Lo Faz dello Demonio back into a tecnico and that they would become partners. Ray doubted that it would work out.
Epilogue,1990 Reuters May 16, 1990
Famed model Joanna Six surprised the world by suddenly retiring from the world of high fashion. There are rumors that the sudden death of her father or a bizarre facial scarring incident led to her abandoning the runway.
1991 Galavision (translated from the Spanish) Lucha Libre News
“The raucous screams of rabid fans hailed the appearance of the newest incarnation of Lo Faz dello Demonio. Like many of the new luchadores in recent years this new version is a woman. Like her predecessor she has teamed up with veteran lucador El Diablo Cabeza. This often contentious partnership always provided fans with thrills and drama, we can only hope that the tradition will continue.”
Special thanks to luchador extraordinaire, The Masked Savage.
~ EL HEAD ~
©1996-2009 Dennis E. Power. All Rights Reserved.
Concept of El Head ©1996 created by David Rush. All Rights Reserved.
All of the persons, places and items on the El Head pages are imaginary. Any resemblance to any existing place or product is done only for purposes of fictional verisimilitude and should not be taken as an endorsement of said product or place. Any resemblence to any person living, dead or somewhere in between is merely coincidental,
Website Construction ©2009 Krapepark.com
Desert Images ©2009 Jeff Wheeler
THE EL HEAD HOMEPAGEtop
All the material on these web pages or any other material relating to the character of El Head are copyrighted by Dennis E. Power