AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 61

Spanish conquistador. She could see the pools of native blood rising from the bone-dry ground beneath her, one generation of captured lives after another reminding her they were buried here. Each step anchored her down, heavier than the last, the remains of fallen hermanas and hermanos coiling themselves around her ankles, begging for help. I’m sorry you’re here forever, she whimpered in her mind, but I can’t stay. And because she couldn’t do anything but say a silent prayer, she carried on, the blue sky fogging over with a stroke of sadness. The Hacienda was an eccentric, alluring sight of greens, browns, oranges, and reds. Nature had claimed parts of it back, vegetation curling up and around the front side in an almost intentional way. Eight windows with sleek slices of metal bars strangled the glass and ordained the Hacienda with a sinister touch. It was transformative; what once may have been a summer home now housed a notorious murder trio. How many people had sat on their Mothers lap at the foot of those steps? How many people no longer had a Mother? Not now, Sol silenced her subconscious with a kick.

Each security guard gave her a distinct welcome. The only woman, Sandra, smiled warmly. Her eyes never failed to gloss over with pity. The new guy kept any eye contact brief; he knew who she and the Zaparrita sisters were. Tonio with his white whisks of hair and matching mustache, always stopped her and asked a very sincere, como estas Solito lindo? He gave his life working at Casa de Guadalupe, and just like the inhabitants, his family had forgotten him. The skin around Tonio’s eyes feathered as he grinned, waving her off with a tip of his Tejana hat. Sol suppressed a smile, her hand instinctively reaching to hide it. You gotta be serious, she repeated quietly and with the faintest touch, she traced her upper lip, her nail grazing the pink flesh. When she reached Marcos, she was finally inside, her stomach shrinking into a small unused sac.

“Buenos Dias, how are you Solito lindo?” You don’t get to call me that. Marcos liked to think, or rather pretend Sol (and every woman for that matter) was attracted to him. Like her, he spoke English fluently; faints of an American drawl poking behind his white teeth from an adolescence spent in the North. He was charming, but in a devious way. Sol didn’t need her special intuition to know he was untrustworthy. His teeth were marked by every hot tongue that had stroked the top and bottom row of his pearly whites since his marriage began. And the gold wedding band he wore had more fingerprints from being taken off than being put on.

“I’m here for work.” Sol retorted, the ache in her stomach making her impatient. She was still sweating from the excruciating heat. Damn this heat, her insides fumed, a puff of smoke escaping her throat when she exhaled.

Marcos looked behind his shoulder. “I think they’re ready for you.” His voice cracked, any traces of that cheeky smile vanished. He patted his hair down and raised the belt strapped to his beefy waist, emphasizing the gun niched between his flashlight and Taser. A clear attempt to show dominance, he was afraid. Sol pushed her jet-black coat to the side and pulled her own gun off, reminding him she had a toy too.

“Open it.” The familiar red light flashed, a warning siren wailed, and she swallowed her pride as she pushed forward onto the desolate courtyard.

From Sol’s position, they were just three older ladies. Nothing about them seemed out of the ordinary. Not even the peeling white paint or white furniture chain-linked to the white concrete floor. A white, desperate void. The sisters sat in a sharp triangle, Celestine Lourdes Zaparrita at the head of it, shuffling the cards with a practiced hand, her stiletto tips clawing at the antiquated deck. She brought her hand down twice on the aluminum table and the sisters shifted in their seats, eyebrows wiggling playfully in amusement. Renata Rosmaria Zaparrita, with a menthol Pall Mall cigarette perched in between her lips looked over at her sisters carefully, waiting vigilantly for her cards. Ximena Sophia Zaparrita, the youngest, craned her neck up at the sun soaking the warm rays, her pose that of a Venetian goddess. If you stared in her breezy blue eyes too long she’d bite.

“Sol! Come here!” Ximena was always interested to see her, after all, it was Sol’s Mother Gabriela, who had raised her. Sol nodded, slipping her hands into the depths of her front pockets, lint and shreds of forgotten paper enveloping her long, thin fingers.

“Investigadora Garcia,” Celestine clicked her tongue, laughing as she hissed Sol’s last—changed—name. “you ain’t gotta wear that badge here.”