WARNING: The following story is graphic and based on a true story. Names have been changed for the safety of the victims.
The maestro was a man of great prestige. Everywhere he went, people knew his name.
He was a stout man, round and a little over five feet tall. He was balding but kept his beard tightly trimmed and modern. He dressed in the finest white manta and go from pueblo to pueblo being honored and cherished by the people for his knowledge and commitment to keeping the ancestral traditions. He was a respected elder in circles across the U.S. and Mexico, a cultural ambassador, renown teacher, and lead expert of indigenous music. He had the power to make the wind move with his gifts.
One fateful Sunday afternoon, he laid his soul bare before his family and ushered them into a hell that they would not soon recover from.
The year was 2013. It was a humid April in Jalisco. A regional drought had made the ancient landscapes golden brown. But the rainy season was about to begin so the winds were hot and heavy with humidity.
He sat with his family at a restaurant just outside San Juan Evangelista, a pueblo that sat on along the banks of Cajititlan, an ancient lake rumored to be home of a female water deity.
He sat on a hard plastic white chair, at a portable metal table that was in the outside dining area of a modest home, at the very side of the creek. The water gently lapped at the reeds and grasses and provided an excellent beat to the cacophony of birds that sang in the trees that surrounded this remotely populated stretch of land.
He sat at the VIP section of the outdoor restaurant with his eldest son, who had been raised to follow in his father’s footsteps. A son he loved and hated. A son whom he’d competed with since birth. A son in whom he saw his own reflection.
With them sat his new daughter-in-law and his grandchildren, an infant girl and a toddler boy. She had just arrived in Jalisco from another country and it was his first time meeting her and the kids. They had driven quite a distance from their town to a humble home along the lake that belonged to el Tio Raul, who was locally famous for his mariscos.
Upon their arrival, Tio Raul was the perfect host, giving his longtime friend (and his family) the most flowery language and customer service. Tio Raul called his granddaughter, Maria, to the table and graciously explained to his special guests that she was personally assigned to our table and would help us with whatever we needed. A hard, heavy wind blew and the waters of the lake lapped up with force against the land.
It was the heat of day approximately 3:45 p.m. in summertime Jalisco. He ordered a round of beers for himself and his family. When Maria returned promptly with the beers, his face lit up. He and his new relatives began a lively conversation that lasted the bottom of the first beer bottle.
He called Maria over to the table.
“Mija, bring us another round of beers.”
“No, thank you,” said his nuera. “Yo si,” said his son.
The little toddler boy ran over to a toddler playground area that sat just a few feet away.
She took their order and had quickly turn to run off to tell her grandfather about the order she’d proudly put in writing on the small note pad she carried in her hand.
“Maria! Maria!” the maestro suddenly called out.
“Yes, maestro. A sus ordenes.”
“What is your full name and how old are you?”
“My name is Maria Dolores and I’m…” She looks down at the grass next to her sandy huaraches.
“Okay, thank you Maria. Can you please be a good girl and help us get our food? We are very hungry.”
Within 10 minutes came Maria and Tio Raul from the kitchen with platters for everyone. Tio Raul, being the gracious host he is, kindly asks everyone if they are okay, to which he is met with smiles. He retreats to the kitchen to continue attending his other guests who had just arrived and sat at a table on the other side of his lawn.
Maria haphazardly places the dishes before the family and begins to serve the drinks. The maestro looks to her.
“What grade are you in? Are you in school?
It’s very important to be in school and learn. I am a teacher.”
“Yes, maestro, I go to school here in the pueblo with my brother. He doesn’t like school but I do.”
“That’s good, mija. You know, you are a very pretty little girl.”
Maria looked down at her huaraches and a smile of both shame and excitement at the same time.
The eyes of the daughter-in-law suddenly pierced the table and shot into her husband’s soul. He looked down and remained silent. She got up with the baby and went to play with her son.
The wind had changed direction and the portal of the water spirit had moved along the banks. The family was at the table, eating. The energy was calm and the conversation was light. Everyone had nearly finished their meals when Maria returned to the table.
“Do you all need anything else?” she asked. “Drinks?”
“Napkins,mija,” said the maestro. “Wait.”
“Maria, do you know how to ride a horse?”
For a moment, time stopped. The wind stopped. The sound ceased. A wicked energy came over the table, and the nuera became tense.
“Yes, maestro, my older brother has a horse and I ride it a lot.”
“Can you show me?”
“Just next week on Saturday I’m going to be riding it for the parade!”
“Okay, next Saturday. I won’t forget. Don’t forget I’m coming to see you.”
The nueras eyes pierced across the table to her husband. He looked down.
“Please come over here, Maria,” says the maestro s he motions with his hand to his lap. She does as she’s told. “Tell me, how are you grades in school?”
“I get some good grades. But not in science.”
“Mija, it is very important you do your homework. You need good grades to make it in life.”
The wind suddenly encircle the table.
“Give me a kiss on the cheek and tell me I am a king.”
Maria pauses. Then she gives him a kiss on the cheek and tells him he is a king.
His cheeks become red and he smiles. “Now be a good girl and go get the king a beer.” He looks at his family and asks, “would anyone like a beer?”
Maria leaves quickly to the kitchen. Tio Raul is running plates to a new set of customers. The maestro looks gently upon her as she retreats and whispers her name with a glaze in his eyes.
A good few minutes went by with no interaction. The plates had been taken and they sat awaiting the check. The kids were napping in the breeze.
The nuera and her babies stood at bank side. Her husband came over to her and said, “I’m sorry.”
“He can get stupid when he drinks.”
“Well you better do something about it because if not I am going to raise hell.”
“Don’t you dare do anything, we are here with our kids and it’s not their fault if you do that and we lose our ride home.”
Suddenly the maestro approached and stood at the banks. The son, aware of a possible tense interaction, began to talk about random things with his father. He knew his father’s triggers like he knew the power of his own fists.
But the maestro wasn’t attentive for too long. He turned and raised his arms up high, as if in reverence to the lake. Then he began to speak, silencing his son and shifting the conversation. He spoke about the way the wind would shift and determine the doorway to the water spirit.
The nuera turned and looked at the maestro. “We need to go home.”
“Okay,mija, don’t worry. We are almost ready to go. Here are the keys, you and the kids can wait for me in the car. I won’t be very long.”
She took the keys and went out to sit in the car in the shade of a eucalyptus tree.
In a few short minutes, the son had joined his wife in the car.
“Your father is a pedofile and I am going to report this and tell your mother!”
“Tell her! Please! You can’t imagine the things I have seen him do in front of us since we were little! Tell her!”
“I’m going to call the police right now! What is their number?”
“No, no,no, don’t do that! It’s not our kids fault and we might get stuck here! Let’s do the smart thing, let’s get home first and you tell my mom.”
The nuera sat stone cold in silence with tears in her eyes.
“Fuck this. This is bullshit…what the fuck?…oh my god I feel fucking sick!”
Fifteen minutes pass.
“Go get your father porque ya no aguanto.”
The son goes outside and promptly returns.
“He’s talking to Tio Raul.”
Fifteen minutes pass.
“Go check on your dad and let’s get out of here!”
The son goes outside and promptly returns.
“He’s talking to Tio Raul. I told him we’re waiting.”
“If he doesn’t come I’m going to get him my damn self.”
Fifteen minutes pass. Twilight was quickly approaching.
“Fuck this, I’m getting him NOW!”
“Don’t start no shit with anybody!”
The nuera leaves the car, kids still fast asleep from a day in the sun. The restaurant was nearly empty and in walking to the table she finds no one seated there.
The breeze becomes cold and the rippling waves begin to crash.
She looks to her left in the direction of the kitchen, and in a corner that is tucked away from the lake, around the corner from the kitchen door is the maestro, sitting in the dark with Maria firmly and squarely upon his lap.
The nuera begins to vomit and turns around and runs to the car where her husband is waiting. In tears she tells him what she just saw.
“Just wait! Just wait! We are almost out the fuck of this place!”
A few minutes pass and the maestro approaches the car. Nightfall has arrived. Sweat is beading down his face.
“Mijo, I’m a little drunk can you please drive for me?”
His son takes the keys angrily and drives the family back to their home, just outside the big city.
They pull up to the garage door of the house and the nuera jumps out of the door. She quickly gets inside and looks for her mother-in-law, la maestra. They cross paths and the maestra looks into her nuera’s face and asks, “Oh my god! Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
“I am so sorry but I have to tell you something! Something just happened and it is too much for me and it is urgent you know!”
“Oh my god! What?!?! What happened?!?!”
The nuera recanted the whole story, trying not to vomit as she retraced what she heard and saw in her mind. The maestra became red and started to cry.
“Ese pinche cabron!” she yells. “He promised me he had stopped!”
The nuera’s jaw hit the floor. The air became dense and oppressive.
“One time, when our daughter was a little girl, she found a box of pictures of little girls hidden in his bedroom! I nearly killed him! He promised!” The maestra stormed off cussing and crying.
In that moment their daughter, who had heard a commotion in the garage, enters and runs to her sister-in-law.
“Oh my god what happened?!?!”
The nuera runs and vomits on the ground in the corner of the garage. Then she runs back, shaking to her sister-in-law and repeats the story.
The sister-in-law begins to cry. “You know what? When I was a little girl I found a box of pictures of his female students and my mom and him got into a bad fight. He’s a very sick man!” she proclaims between tears. “My god!”
In that moment, the son and his father enter with the kids. The nuera takes her kids and tells her husband they need to leave.
Two hours pass and when the son and his wife return to the house, all is silent.
Morning passes. The son and the kids are fast asleep. The daughter-in-law has left the room and found the phone number to the local police.
“Police station, how can I help you?”
“I need to report that sexual assault of a child.”
She gives her name and tells the story, when the operator interrupts her and asks, “wait…so this didn’t happen to your kids?”
“No, I witnessed it.”
“At the restaurant or in our city?”
“At the restaurant out by the lake, 45 minutes from here.”
“And you say it was your father-in-law?”
“Where are you from? I don’t really understand your Spanish.”
“I’ve just arrived from the United States.”
“Well it sounds to me that tu andas de metiche.”
“I’m sorry…what did you just say?”
“You should mind your own business.”
The nuera hangs up the phone.
Her body was visibly shaken. Her heart was racing. Her life flashed before her eyes.
And that was her introduction to the matriarch and patriarch of the Borsegui family…in the first three days since she’d first arrived in Jalisco.
She was eventually barred from the house. And soon after she became privy to the demons her husband was battling because of his own scars.
She told two of her best friends and her Tia Joy. She never fully recovered from the incident but luckily she had spared her children the awareness.
Little did she know, this incident was only a warning for what was yet to come.
Excerpt from the upcoming Xicana Chronicles book, Return to the Red Road (© 2016)
Release date: 2017. It is only available for presale at this time. To reserve your copy and support this work, please click here.