Christopher Columbus may have never felt betrayed by the achievements of Amerigo Vespucci, but Amerigo's brother, Koberigo, did, not even lending to them the kindness of the word "achievement." In one of his scarce letters, Koberigo writes to his brother, "I will not tell you how your ass tastes, for I am leaving such matters to the sharks that will surely feed on the wrecked flesh of you and your crew, such bloated tyranny deserves only blood and the ocean's salt."
The letter was found floating, in a wine bottle, by one of Amerigo's crew, on their return to Europe. Of course, on the same voyage, another bottle was found with a note written in the same hand, stating, "I have written no such letters."
No one knows if Koberigo wrote the letters or not, but it is known that he set sail from Italy two years before his brother did, in 1499; that his ship caught fire, impeding his return; and that a third letter, in the same hand, was found floating off the California coast: "Brother, I have not grown comfortable dreaming in hammocks and hallucinating in sweat lodges, and if I have no boat, then I will dig my way back to Europe and feed your heart and lungs to whatever king, queen, or pope put you up to this."
In the coming years, Europeans explored more and more of the Americas--so named after Koberigo's despised brother--, exploring its jungles, conquering its people, and settling its valleys, and the first Conquistadors to reach California are said to have found a huge pit on the beaches there; and that the Natives claimed it went to the dark heart of the land and was dug by a tall man who could shoot golden lightning bolts out his eyes and fly like a bird on his purple anger.
When geologist Stephen A. Smith inspected the pit in 2011, he found that it led to a cave, in Turkey, and a pile of unidentified bones dating back to the sixteenth century lay in it, where the ocean lapped its tongue, softly as a kitten's. On the rocky walls of the cavern the words
When Amerigo died, his last words are believed to have been: "Koberigo, yes, I burned your ship off the coast of my continent, leaving you marooned with cannibals and God knows what else, and I am not ashamed. I did what I did. Now, let us suffer fondly together in Hell."
Art work by Michael Langston