My life as a conquistador

My life as a conquistador

It was cloudy, raining, and cold when I woke up this morning. I hate foul weather. So I changed into my workman’s coveralls (ideal for time travel because folks from all periods of history are always accepting of someone who can fix things) and I hopped into the time travel machine. I zipped off to April 2, 1513 and the coast of St. Augustine, Florida.

Ah, the sunshine and warmth greeted me in full. And it wasn’t during those unbearable humid and muggy months. Plus it was far enough into the past that I didn’t have to deal with loathsome tourists besieging the beach.

I pranced around on the sand, extolling the Sun about its rayful wonders, when I noticed three great sailing ships just off the coast, and a smaller boat approaching the shore. I squinted and noticed the small boat was filled with conquistadors. Sure, they were a brutal folk, known for genocide, mayhem and the spreading of disease, but when I was five, I wanted to be one.


I had a poster of conquistadors on my bedroom wall. My parents got it for me because I had a self-confidence problem. I used to go up to bullies in the school yard and ask them to throw my school books on the ground and then beat me up. They obliged and it made me feel special and liked. After I got the poster, I would spend hours gazing at it, emulating the eminence and strong posture of the Spanish conquerors on the beach.

I took that attitude to school one morning. With full gall I went up to the bullies and chest-bumped them. They saw in me a kindred spirit. I suggested we form a gang. They took me up on it, and we proceeded to relinquish students of their lunch money as they came into the school. That was until Principal Jipper intervened. He broke up the gang, and as I was considered the leader, I had to appear in Juvenile Court, and was subsequently sentenced to spend six months at Allworths’ Reformatory for the Criminally Promising.

At Allworths, rehabilitation was brought about by having the young malcontents work long hard hours at its in-house Bromine reclamation plant. From sun-up to nightfall, me and 700 or so jackanapes would pound mounds of seaweed with rubber mallets, causing the bromine minerals to loosen and fall through the grates, into the collecting vats below.

As I stood on the shore of the beach of St. Augustine, the surf splashed over my feet, which became entangled with seaweed. I reached down and tried to pull myself free, but to no avail. I looked up to see the boat with the conquistadors had almost reached the shore. The Spanish soldiers eyed me with bad intent. I sighed and remembered an inspirational quote on a poster at the reclamation plant. It was from Antoine Jérôme Balard, the discoverer of Bromine. It said, “I did not discover bromine, rather bromine discovered me.”


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