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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Sports · #2295885
El Hijo del Caballero has lost his honor, but an unexpected offer may redeem him yet.
In lucha libre, wearing a mask to conceal your identity is almost a sacred duty. Perhaps you don’t want people to know who you are – much like American superheroes – because you value privacy, or perhaps you wish to emulate the creature embodied in it – the mighty jaguar, or the fearsome demon. Or, perhaps, you inherited it from your father and you carry his legacy each time you enter the ring.

Some people claim that
lucha – and really, any kind of wrestling except for the ones in the Olympics - is fake, that we don’t get injured, that all those high-flying moves are just for show. Those same people don’t understand just how close to death we are when we make a suicide drop, or how bad timing can cause a wrestler to fall head-first, injuring their neck. There’s a reason pretty much every wrestling promotion has banned the martinete – what Americans call the ‘piledriver’.

The mask of a
luchador is equally sacred, almost mystical. Fans should never know your identity – else, why would you wear one? Some luchadores eat, sleep and even bathe with them on, never taking them out. Perhaps they may improve them, once they’ve become popular, because they make for good merchandise. (And of course, who doesn’t mind that extra money?) A luchador that bets its mask has a score to settle and will fight to the very end to reclaim it. Taking the mask from a luchador is dishonorable – it's like revealing Superman’s secret identity to the world.

And I don’t mean this lightly. Maske
d luchadores are often the heroes – and villains – of the world of lucha libre, bringing entertainment and the illusion of an epic battle to all those little kids and elderly fans that see us as modern gladiators.

luchadores that have lost their masks manage to retain their careers and become popular on their own right. To them, it’s not the mask that defines them, but their own skill.

But for those like me, who carry on the legacy of our fathers with pride, being unmasked is the end.

I thought my career was over. When they took my mask – my father’s mask, that of
El Caballero de Plata, the “Silver Knight” - I was shamed. I had to recover it, at any cost.

I just didn’t imagine what that cost would be....


“Oh, the humanity...!”, exclaimed the announcer Vernon Hayes as he saw the terrible event that was unfolding in the ring. “That is despicable!”

“Gotta tell ya”, said his companion, color commenter Ross “the Boss” LaQuale, as he enjoyed it. “Didn’t imagine Jack Sydow had it in him to defame Hijo del Caballero in such a way!”

Inside the ring, with referee Michael Morris downright threatening the offender, cruiserweight wrestler Jack Sydow stood tall as he grasped the head of Hijo del Caballero, his hand grasping the fallen luchador’s mask from the chin. He pulled upwards as his opponent struggled to stop him, but to no avail – after being on the receiving end of Sydow’s signature move, the combination neckbreaker DDT known as the “Cross Reaper” and miraculously surviving the three-count, he barely had the strength to stop him.

To the astonished look of fans filling all seats in the StaySafe – Firebrands colosseum, and to the fans seeing live in TV though the Millenium Wrestling Association’s hit show WarZone, Jack “the Reaper” Sydow yanked and defaced one of the promotion’s rising stars, el Hijo del Caballero. Billed as the son of legendary Mexican wrestler El Caballero de Plata, a heavyweight luchador who toured his native country’s top promotions before conquering the American wrestling scene with his combination of high-speed, high-flying moves and incredible strength. During his heyday nearly twenty years ago, he faced the likes of wrestlers such as the equally legendary babyfaces “All-American” Andy Anderson, the Australian Wrangler Stan Dunderhal and masked wrestler Midas “Goldhand” Morrison – a despicable heel turning over after fights with Caballero de Plata – as well as famous heels like Bartholomew von Kramer, Mad Dog Maddox and the monstrous Adam Frankenstein. He even squashed and elevated the careers of many young wrestlers comprising the newest generation and supported the careers of wrestlers such as referee Morris’ own father, Jonathan “Vampire Killer” Morris. Yet, his greatest fights were with his equally legendary rival and closest friend, Futaro “Flying Dragon” Kitamura, with which he often paired and who gave him a step into Japan’s prestigious wrestling circles.

Hijo del Caballero was proud to follow in his father’s footsteps. Training in his father’s signature style but adopting many technical submission moves because of his thin frame, he entered the Millenium Wrestling Association – one of the heirs to the venerable All-American Wrestling Federation where his father made his fame - merely one year ago, after making his way through independent circuits. Though he started just like any rookie despite his experience, he quickly grew to become one of the cruiserweight division’s favorites, aiming to reach gold by facing current champion Dennis “the Menace” Watson, the longest-reigning since the promotion’s foundation five years ago after the death of Winston Hayes, and which provoked the schism that led to the creation of the MWA and Frantic Action Wrestling Network, its top competitor. Fans enjoyed his acrobatic antics, as he caught wind of the rising trend of MMA and began incorporating Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing and capoeira to his repertoire, giving him the moniker of the “Three-Ways Specialist” - equally dangerous on the air and on the ground, but no slouch while standing, and soon enough he formed a loyal fanbase known as “the Silver Squires”, which caught the attention of promotion owner – and announcer – Vernon Hayes, son of Winston and a staunch traditionalist.

But now, all fans – the Silver Squires, Sydow’s own diehard fans, Watson’s fans who expected to see today’s show confirm the battle everyone was expecting, and the rest – saw as how Jack Sydow performed the greatest dishonor on a wrestler defending his father’s legacy. And even some of Sydow’s own loyalists found the act despicable, as the crowd erupted in jeers that resonated at the venue. Sydow raised the mask of Hijo del Caballero as the latter desperately tried to hide his face – and his shame.

Michael Morris pointed at the bell to sound as ring announcer Jocelyn Mirabal declared the end of the fight. “And your winner, by disqualification... El Hijo...del Caballero!” She threw a nasty glance at Sydow, for she also felt ashamed and disgusted by Sydow’s actions.

Yet, to Sydow, this wasn’t enough. He demanded a microphone, and even though Dennis “the Menace” was about to enter the arena – before the first notes of his theme song could play – he turned towards Vernon while demanding attention. “Alright, Hayes, listen up! Dennis, stay back there; I know you’re coming!”

“Seems Jack ‘the Reaper’ Sydow has some words to yours truly”, Vernon said as he recovered from the surprise.

“Let’s hear what Sydow has to say”, Ross added with a smirk on his face.

“Vernon Hayes...” Sydow moved around the ring, swinging his prize. “For months, I’ve beaten every single wrestler in the MWA, proving my worth. I’ve beaten Dennis, I’ve beaten Max Turner, I’ve beaten even the MWA heavyweight champion Syd Briscoe!”

“Baseball bats don’t count”, Vernon warned cockily.

“Shut up, Hayes! It’s obvious none of you show me the respect I deserve!” A rising chorus of “long live the Reaper!” began to sound, drowned by the jeers of the other fans. “No shot at the MWA Cruiserweight title, no shot at the MWA Media title, and no shot at the MWA All-Weight Gold Championship!”

“You had your shot at gold, kiddo!” Vernon rose from his seat, berating his subordinate. “And Sammy Smith pinned you clean – 1, 2 and 3! And that was after Conrad Washington’s injury – which, if I may add, you were the one that caused!”

“You gotta admit”, Ross said in contrast, “that was one hell of a battle!”

“You had the referee against me!”, Sydow riposted. “You know no one stands up from the Reaper!”

“You reap what you sow!”, the legion of Sydow’s loyalists screamed over the jeers.

“You’re wrong, Sydow! Everyone saw it! Smith recovered from your Reaper and pinned you down for the win – same counting speed for both!”

“You know that’s not true!” Sydow fired up the arena with his demands, his loyalists cheering while the rest of the fans screamed “you got served! You got served!” He pointed menacingly at Vernon with the same hand he held Hijo del Caballero’s mask. “Everyone here saw it! You have it against me!”

“You’re still serving a sanction for Washington’s injury, kiddo! No championship ‘til he recovers!”

“I didn’t end up Washington’s career!”, Sydow boasted. “He claims he’s ready to fight, but you keep holding him back ‘cos that means you’ll never have me on the top spot! Winston Hayes would’ve brought Conrad back and made the fight so you’d--”

“Shut up, you fool! My father wouldn’t have stooped to that disgrace!”

“You know he would, and you know Ronald does!” The arena exploded in brutal jeers at the mention of the owner of FAWN, Ronald Hayes. Vernon’s younger brother by a span of 2 years, Ronald desired ownership of All-American Wrestling Federation, owning up to his ambitious streak. Their enmity led to All-American Wrestling Federation’s last match, “For the Future”, where a ten-count sealed their deal – none of them could stand, though both claimed they were recovering and could’ve fought longer. Since then, Vernon and Ronald parted ways, as Winston made the difficult decision of splitting the company he struggled to forge for thirty years between his children, his final decision before his life ended in a devastating heart attack. While Vernon was a staunch believer in the old ways and still had the approval of most of the AAWF’s fans, Ronald challenged his brother’s hegemony by making an alliance with several independent promotions – the New York Wrestling Circuit, Florida Wrestling Association, the Pacific Wrestling Council, the Las Vegas Wrestling Federation and Missouri Wrestling – and have them fight each other for a unified set of championships. Soon, he returned to Colorado victorious, purchasing Colorado State’s old Hughes Stadium grounds and establishing the FAWN Auditorium as the home of FAWN All-American after its reorganization. Since then, the MWA and FAWN have had a bitter rivalry, and threats of moving to the opposite promotion have become more common.

Vernon saw this as one such chance, but he wouldn’t budge. “Sydow, if you think that threat’ll work--”

Sadly, the owner of the MWA could be blindsided, and this was one of those chances. “That wasn’t a threat, Vernon.” Sydow turned towards the capacity-crowd audience, proclaiming his defection. “Fans of the MWA, this’ll be the last time you’ll see the Excellence of Execution in your screens! I’m tired of being held back by an old crook--!”

“Vernie’s not an old crook!”, replied Ross as he felt the sting of betrayal. “And if he is, so is that other loser!”

“Are you calling me loser, LaQuale?”

“You know there’s only one loser in all of wrestling, and that’s Ronald Pennyworth Hayes! You know I wouldn’t call you ‘loser’ seriously, Vernie!”

“--because he can’t see the future of wrestling in front of his own eyes!”

“Sydow”, Vernon responded in a cold and menacing tone, “you’ll be a minnow in an over bloated fish tank there!”

“You’re wrong. I’m no minnow, Vernon. I’m a shark!” Brandishing the mask of Hijo del Caballero as a trophy, he made one last roundabout to the MWA’s ring before gloating about his departure. “So long, MWA! At least I’m going to where boats are floatin’!” With a chorus of deafening jeers, he leaned towards the defeated Hijo del Caballero and taunted him. “Maybe I’ll keep this trinket as a parting prize. Maybe I’ll even use it!”

“What an ungrateful whiner!”, Vernon fumed. “Ladies and gentlemen, the administration of the Millennium Wrestling Association apologizes for the horrendous act you just witnessed.”

“What a f*****g traitor”, Ross followed, his profanity censored in real time.

“But fear not, for we got more exciting matches coming up, straight at the WarZone! With his victory by DQ, it seems Hijo del Caballero has no obstacles for his title match against Dennis ‘the Menace’!”

“Yeah, but...” As Vernon and Ross commented upon the unexpected victory and the upcoming title match he’d have against the MWA Cruiserweight champion, Hijo del Caballero was at his knees, face upon the match and sobbing in despair. Referee Morris approached him, genuinely worried.

“Something wrong, Santos?”

He received no answer. He called the other referees, and in a show of incredible support, Dennis Watson brought a towel for Hijo del Caballero to cover his face, as they took him out of the ring and into backside. The champion had strong supporting words despite their enmity. “That was cold, man. You and I might not look face to face, but I’d never do that to you.”

“Thanks, Dennis.” The young man’s voice whined from the towel.

“I don’t want a whiner on our fight, though.”

“I’m not gonna fight.”

Dennis stopped, turning the heartbroken wrestler around. “Whaddya mean, you dolt? Someone takes off your daddy’s mask and now you don’t wanna fight?”

“You don’t understand!”, the defaced luchador screeched. “I lost my honor!”

“Stop whining. Vernon can get you a new mask and--”

“You don’t understand, Watson. That was my father’s mask – I swore I’d never wage it, that I’d never lose it, that I’d end my career and return it to him intact.”

“That’s stupid”, the small yet muscular blonde wrestler claimed, scoffing. “You’re gonna do yourself a lot worse if you stop your career when it’s on the rise! You can always go to Sydow and beat the crap outta that asshole and claim it back--”

“You don’t get it.” Hijo del Caballero stepped away from everyone, running away. “None of you get it...”


Back at the lockers, Esteban Santos tortured himself by reviewing the events of his last fight on his mind, reliving the horror of losing one of his father’s - and his – most prized possessions at someone who, in his eyes, dishonored the wrestling world by betraying the company that gave him his first matches. His head was still wrapped by the towel, but his sweaty body glistened with the lights in a very rich, almost golden tone. He was smaller than the average man at 5’5”, yet despite his weight of 130 lbs. he was surprisingly muscular. Perhaps his pectorals and his biceps didn’t bulge, but even relaxed his body was chiseled, showing a body devoted to training in martial arts.

He didn’t notice Vernon Hayes arriving until he sat down. The mid-forties man wore a loose peach business shirt under an unbuttoned periwinkle jacket and matching pants barely hiding a well-toned body, his blond hair in a pompadour and his assortment of jewelry – a Cuban-link gold chain, a mauled Rolex he used as his favored weapon, his college graduation ring on one side and his wedding band on another – gave him the look of a sleazy scumbag, but the way he leaned to see his subordinate’s condition betrayed his noble streak. He rubbed the wrestler’s thigh, speaking in a fatherly tone. “Don’t let this bring you down, Esteban.”

“It’s over, Mr. Hayes.” The young luchador turned his back on his boss, trying to put some distance between them.

“Son”, he said, knowing full well he wasn’t but seeing him as one. “I didn’t expect this either. What Sydow did was despicable, and that my brother was the one that caused it is even worse.”

“Sir...” The young wrestler struggled to speak. “I appreciate the opportunity you gave me. You gave me the exposition I needed, and for the last year, I feel honored to have worked for you.”

“I owe it to Mr. Santos”, Vernon responded. “My father and yours were close friends. I grew up seeing your father develop into the legend he’s today.”

“And now I ruined it. I’ll never be able to see my father’s face again!”

“Don’t say that...!” Vernon slid towards Esteban, chuckling. “You never lost your mask legally. Sydow stole it from you; if I call the cops and claim it’s theft--”

“I lost it.” Esteban didn’t accept Vernon’s argument.

“Son, this wasn’t a wage match or any important match whatsoever. You showed a lot of heart, and you proved you could survive the Cross Reaper. That’ll show Sydow he’s not what he claims to be.”

“Sir, I allowed him to steal my mask, and he’s gonna take it away. The only way I can reclaim it is to fight back, but without a mask of my own...”

“C’mon...” Vernon snorted, patting the young wrestler’s back. “We can make you a new one – one that fits. It’s a win-win situation for all of us – you get a new mask, we get new merch, we spin this around, you tell the fans you don’t give up--”

“Thanks, but I can’t.” Esteban stubbornly refused. “I lost my match, and I lost my honor. The only way I can recover it is to fight him on a wage match, but I can’t if I have nothing to cover up!”

“You can always fight with that towel”, Vernon joked – and the joke seemed to land, as Esteban chuckled.

“Maybe, Mr. Hayes...but if he leaves the MWA for FAWN, I’ll never be able to do it. I won’t jump ship because of my disgrace! It’d be even worse!”

“Son, I appreciate your commitment to this bit, but you gotta understand somethin’ in wrestling. Wrestling’s as much a show as it’s sport, and the show’s not over ‘til it’s over. Losing your father’s mask shouldn’t mean the end of your career! The best wrestlers take their losses and turn it into new opportunities – maybe you can claim your real name and honor your father by taking this act of dishonor as your motivation to surpass his legacy!”

“Sir, you don’t get it!” He turned, and for a brief moment, the towel dropped enough to have Vernon see the wrestler’s face from within the shadows – a face Vernon was used to, as he had seen Esteban since he was a baby. Some wrestling fans claimed Vernon favored Esteban because Winston Hayes was the wrestler’s godfather, but little did they know that Vernon demanded Esteban start from the lowest of the low, as he wouldn’t allow anyone to claim that his prowess at the independent circuit and his familial ties were the reasons why he allowed him in. To him, Esteban Santos was a skilled wrestler that would remain in obscurity in the indies, and he gave him the opportunity to shine. Perhaps he was a fan of Esteban Santos Sr., the legendary “Caballero de Plata”, but he was a businessman as well, and he wouldn’t allow a mediocre wrestler to step up and besmirch the legacy of such a legendary luchador.

He knew very well the rules and traditions of the luchador, however, and how Esteban Santos Sr. instilled them in his son. “Oh, I know what you feel, kiddo! You won’t feel satisfied ‘til you beat that blackguard clean and reclaim it! You won’t be able to reclaim it unless you find a way to fight, though. Plus – you got a match against Dennis Watson at Summer Solstice Stravaganza; you can’t spurn that!”

“Without my mask, a win or a loss won’t bring me honor.”

“Giving up is the worst dishonor you can give yourself.” Seeing as his words had no effect, Vernon stood up and left, but not before giving Esteban one final order. “Come to my office once the show ends. We’ll discuss that later.”


Esteban knocked at Vernon’s office, but the businessman was busy. His secretary Amanda Stiller – a thin, waifish young redhead with thick-rimmed glasses and a thick rouge on her lips – stopped him. “Mr. Hayes is talking to someone, Es—I mean, Hijo del Caballero.”

“It’s alright, Mandy.” Esteban and Amanda knew each other, but never talked too much. They were relatively friendly – enough for her to know his real name – but their relationship was strictly professional. As with many, Amanda never saw Esteban’s real face, and this time it wasn’t the exception – he remained with the towel wrapped around his face, though he changed into a tight business suit complete with tie, but his attachment to tradition dictated that he couldn’t show his face to anyone. That allowed him to hide his full blush, as he felt attracted to the young secretary. He did, however, allow her one thing. “You can call me Esteban – just...not in front of anyone.”

“You’ll never know when Mr. Hayes’ visitor may come out of that door...” Amanda smiled, her small lips tinted rouge magnifying her cute smile. “What Sydow did was horrible – taking off your mask and going off to FAWN? What an asshole.”

“I never imagined he’d do that either”, the young wrestler replied.

“You got the support of the locker room, though. I even heard Watson say that he’d go and beat the crap outta Sydow to claim your mask back. He really wants to fight you, y’know.”

“Yes, but without my mask, I can’t do anything.”

“Why don’t you fight with a different mask?”, Amanda asked. “You could say that Sydow just took one of your spare masks and--”

“Mandy, you don’t get it. That is my father’s old mask. It’s the one he gave to me, the one from his start in wrestling. He made me promise I’d never lose it, no matter what.”

“I see... I still say that shouldn’t make you stop – you still got your match against Watson, and if you win, you’ll be the Cruiserweight Champion! Keep it for long and you might get a shot at the All-Weight Gold...”

“Mandy, that wasn’t a victory. I was humiliated. Defeated and defaced. Until I get my honor back, I can’t face Dennis the way he deserves – and the only way is to get back at Sydow and defeat him the right way.”

“But that’d mean...”

“I’m not going anywhere, Mandy. I’d rather retire than leave MWA – it's been my home. I’ll always respect El Paso Wrestling – that's my other home and I’ll always return if they need me – but I won’t leave you guys.”

“But you’re not gonna wrestle. What good is a luchador that doesn’t want to wrestle?”

“There’s a way. I can always challenge Sydow if he makes an appearance on an indie--”

Amanda snorted. “You know FAWN doesn’t allow their ‘superstars’ to fight anywhere else. Maybe Vernon still does, but Ronald’s only interest is in swallowing up indies for his media empire. He’s gonna kill wrestling if he does that.”

“Naw. There’s always Mexico and Japan.”

“Perhaps, but only diehard fans care about them, just like they don’t care about indies. The average fan here in the US only cares for MWA and FAWN anyways.”

“What I mean is, Mr. Hayes’ brother wouldn’t be able to claim those markets. And the MWA’s still strong.”

“With Sydow leaving, that’s five talents gone in the last two months. If we add Wrexler’s retirement and his sudden appearance at FAWN New York and the return of Matt and Joe Briscoe, and the ones that left the Training Center, that’s twelve over the year.”

“Yeah, but they also lost some of their stars. You know Marissa Méndez changed over to our side.”

“Yeah, but between her and Frank Dosias, that’s only two. We’re bleeding talents – we can’t afford to lose another one!”

“I know”, Esteban replied guiltily. “But until I fix this the right way, I can’t do it.”

“Take the hit”, Amanda counseled the young warrior. “We can’t afford to lose one of our rising stars just when they’re reaching their peak...” She heard a beep, answering it. “Mr. Hayes?”

“Is Hijo del Caballero here?”

“He is”, she replied. He’s waiting for you.

“Good. Let him come.” As Vernon finished speaking, the two heard the door unlock, and Amanda pointed at it.

“Guess Mr. Hayes is free to see you.”

“Let’s see what he has in mind... And... Thanks, Mandy.” Leaving her with a smile, Esteban opened Vernon’s office door, as an old man with wiry white hair and whiskers in his face shook hands with MWA’s president. The man left, a knowing look in his eye as he saw Esteban and closed the door.

Vernon invited the young luchador to sit as he set a box aside. A large vinyl bag with a hanger on top laid on the other seat. “Esteban”, he said as he crossed his fingers. “I think I have a way to have you reclaim your honor, but I’ll need a big favor from you.”

“How!? I talked to Amanda, and she said FAWN doesn’t allow their talents--”

“--to participate in the independent circuit, yes. Ronnie’s more interested in buying them off as development circuits than letting them grow.” He rose from his seat, pushing the box towards the luchador. “Can’t deny that he’s doing something right, though – I've bled several wrestlers, and despite his insolence, Sydow was a good talent.”

“You should’ve given him the title shot, Mr. Hayes.”

“Son, I am a man of my word. He’d be relieved as soon as Washington could be cleared; doctors told me he could be in top condition in about a month, but I wanted it to be a surprise. Guess I was right at withholding the news.”

“Conrad’s back!?”

“Yes, Esteban! Fortunately, the neck injury wasn’t life-threatening as we first thought; with some therapy, he’s strengthening it and he could be cleared to fight in a month or two. But...that’s pointless now, since Sydow moved over to the competition.”

“But you said you had a way...”

“And I said I’d offer it to you for a favor, no?” Vernon grinned as he held his hand on the white box. “I need to know how Ronnie operates his company. He knows my weaknesses, but I don’t know his. I need someone that can impress him long enough to try and swipe them.”

“But sir, I’d never...!”

“I know, son, I know. Fortunately, I was thinking of someone else, but unfortunately, I’ll need your help with that. There’s someone I’m planning to move from developmental; one that I’ve hyped as the next women’s champion of the MWA.”

“You have a lot of faith in her, sir.”

“Oh, yes! And I told her I needed her to move to FAWN.”

“But, why!?”

“Because I need a spy on their ranks. Someone who could fight men and women equally. Someone that could, perhaps, fight Sydow for you and make it a wage fight.”

“That wouldn’t help, sir.”

“Just listen to my proposal, kiddo. All I need is that she learns how FAWN recruits from other places, a bit of how it works, find a way to fight Sydow for your mask, and then change back to our side. Mari and Frank have been very helpful, but I need someone that really humiliates them.”

“Has she said anything?”

Vernon smirked, raising his eyebrow. “I don’t know. Are you willing?”

Esteban gasped. “Hold on. Whaddya mean I’m going to FAWN!?”

“From now on, I’ll freeze your standing here and give you unpaid vacations. I was planning to use someone from the indies, but no one has the commitment to keep their identity a secret aside from you. No one’s willing to meet their boss with a towel in their face even if they’ve seen it several times, for one.”

“But I’m a man!”

“That can be fixed...” Vernon pointed at the bag. “Open it.”

As Esteban swiped the zipper down, he gasped. He saw what appeared to be skin, with a very skimpy top barely covering woman’s breasts. As he observed, he noticed the skin to be seemingly empty and ending on the neck; as he pulled it for deeper observation, he noticed the outfit - which seemed like a jumpsuit made of skin – had arms and legs, down to finely polished nails. The skin felt extremely real, dry on the outside but slimy on the inside.

Esteban dropped the outfit in horror. “Mr. Hayes! What’s this!?”

“She’s going to be our newest superstar.” Vernon pulled the top of the white box, revealing a metal case inside. As he opened it, he revealed the face of a young beautiful woman, but without eyes and with a sagging lip. Its long light auburn hair swirled behind, serving as a pillow of sorts. “But she still doesn’t have a contract. She doesn’t even have life, so to speak.”

“Wait a sec...” Esteban grabbed the mask, noticing faint Latino factions within the face. “You want me to wear this?”

“More than that”, Vernon said. “Son? I need you to be Cynthia Rijos. And I need you to keep this secret hidden all the way to your tomb.”
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