Friday, January 16, 2015
Maria Torres (Blogophilia 48.7)
From inside the door, an owl like apparition gazed out at the detectives. She was dressed in a high neck blouse and jeans. The eyes and hair were dark and her face bore the lines of a hard life. Their reason for being at the door was all but certain to her. Sadness bloomed over the face. The little girl she was holding slipped down to the floor and hid behind her, wary of the strangers. The woman hesitated a moment, not wanting to plunge into the darkness spreading over her.
“Si, I am Maria Torres and Diego es mi herm…He is my brother. Forgive me, my English not so good. The news…can not be good if Policia is involved.” She took a step back. “Please come in”
Entering the apartment, the smell of fresh tortillas and chilies enveloped them. The two men saw a neat and tidy living room. A small altar to Guadelupe, lit with candles, stood in the corner near the kitchen. A gray sofa and table stood at along the wall opposite the door. Stopping just inside, Gomez took the woman’s hand.
“Si, Señora Torres, the news is not good.’ Gomez replied, measuring his words carefully, “Diego Aguirre ha muerto. Le encrotamos tiro. Siento su perdida.”
The coal black eyes grew wide. A sound began softly and then grew loud.
“¡NO!.. ¿Porque?” She screamed and began to shake. Murray and Gomez grabbed her shoulders and eased her on to the sofa. Her daughter began to cry in sympathy. If anything was true across the universe, it is the reaction sudden death. It is something you never get used to. The daughter climbed into her mother’s lap and looked her in the eyes.
“¿Mami? ¿Tio Diego es muerto?”
The small voice seemed to shock her back to reality. The eyes locked together for a few seconds. Through her tears, Maria took the small face in her hand. Kissing the tear stained cheek she whispered in her ear. The little girl left the room and ran down the hall. A door closed and the room became a little calmer. Reaching in his coat, Gomez offered the clean handkerchief kept for notifications.Kind gestures were always appreciated in this horrible business and tended to open the grieving up. She took the cloth and covered her face, wailing at the certainty of fate. Gomez sat next to her, arm around her in sympathy. The detectives kept silent. They knew she had no family to speak of here and they were her only support.
The room became as quiet as a church, punctuated only with the sniffles of grief. Maria rose from the sofa and approached the shrine. Taking a tapered candle from the rack on the side, she lit one of the smaller lights and knelt before the icon. The tears ended after the prayer. She returned to the sofa much lighter.
“Forgive me, Señores…I…have feared this day for a long time.”
Opening his notepad, Murray spoke up.
“Señora, I know this is a bad time, but Diego was found in my jurisdiction. I have been assigned to find his killer and we will need some information. When was the last time you saw him?”
Maria dabbed at the corner of her left eye and sighed.
“A…about two weeks ago.”
She blew her nose.
“He had called me asking if I had heard from one of his girls. Diego was…how do you say…a Pimp, always putas around him. I heard they found her on the road out here. I became scared for him…and for me.”
“Why?” Murray was writing furiously.
Maria stopped and covered her face. The dark memories rose up like a demon. In a whisper, she said. “I am also of those… putas. I was taken when I was 14 as payment on mi Papa’s debt. That night plays in my dreams. My face was covered and…”
Looking down, she crossed herself, and then continued.
“I was brought up here. There were several moves. Houston, Dallas… I remember. Other places, I was only there little time and not allowed to go out. The Pimp would just say, ‘pack up’, and we would go.” Her shoulders bore the shame of the revelation.
“Was Diego working for the same people as you?”
“Si. We called them El Potro, The horse. The leader, es llame Roberto, he came from a wealthy family in my village. Very vicious man. One who always did what he wanted, no matter how many people died.” She paused to dab her eyes with cloth. “He was always tricking people into owing him money. When they wouldn’t play, he would just kill them. If they couldn’t pay…”
“Diego, he came up after me. It always seemed we were meant to fall apart, then fall back together again. He seemed so small when I left.”
“But he had changed. He was one of them, you know? Sauntering about, bossing us around. But, he did get me off the street not long after he came. He said I was too good to be with riffraff and should be saved for better men. So, I am, I think they call it, a “call girl”. It is better because I can shelter Beatriz and Ami from what I do.”
“Those are your daughter’s names?”
“Si, the one you saw is Ami.” Maria smiled and looked back toward the halls. “She is seven. Beatriz is staying with a friend and she is ten. Both good girls, very smart and obedient.”
Murray smiled at that. Kids always are the hope. “You mentioned the leader’s name was…Roberto? Do you know his last name?”
“The family name is Cardenas, but I don’t know if uses that or his Mama’s name. I haven’t seen him in a long time. Not since Dallas. Since Diego came here, he was my contact”
Gomez looked at Murray. They knew they had put her through enough. Closing his notebook, he stood. But there was one more question they need an answer for before they left. With a nod, Gomez spoke.
“Señora, we only have one more question right for you and we will leave. Diego had a tattoo on his neck reading ‘La Paloma’. Do know what it means?”
“Doves.” Maria pulled the collar of her shirt back to show hers. “El Potro always called us The Mourning Doves.” A look of accomplishment ran across the worn face. “A skill learned by accident not long after I was taken. Done well, it would drive men crazy and make them want more. Happy, repeat customers meant more money. It was a way to, how do you say…brand us different from the other putas.”
With a repeat of the condolences, Murray gave Maria his business card. They both agreed they would be back in touch.
As they were leaving, Murray looked towards the apartment complex entrance. Just in time to see the beige Toyota pull in.
Welcome to Blogophilia and my serial series.
Topic (Across the universe) Sharonlee Goodhand.
Pic Guesses: Owl (in blog). Hidden, Surprise, I see you, but you don't see me, Who?, grayscale, wide eyes.