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CHICACABRA (Chapter 8) Me cagué.

July 11, 2010

WARNING: Straight men should not enter Chicacabra lair. The LATINO HEART PROJECT cannot guarantee your safety, your sanity or your manhood within these hyper-estrogen walls. Enter at your own risk.

CHICACABRA

By

Yoly Solis

Chapter 8: Do-It-Yourself-Despojo

Me cagué (meh/cog-eh)

I shit myself.

Common occurrence when confronted by Chicacabras. No need to suffer embarrassment. We understand.

**

“We’ll go to Yemaya Botanica,” Maria Elena said.

“The one on Bird Road?”

“No, on 8th Street. I know Pepe, the mattress storeowner whose nephew is the strip mall owner of the botanica’s store. They’re in the middle of lease negotiations.”

“But if the nephew raises his rent, won’t the botanica guy curse him?”

“Probably, but then he’ll go to Enrique to get cleansed. It’s like playing in the mud. You’ve got to take a bath afterwards.”

The nonsense almost made sense.

Cristina drew her attention back to Joyce. She leaned across Tía Margarita and stared at her upper lip. So you never have to wax?”

Joyce glanced at the chicacabra’s forearms, covered with enough hairy fur to compete in the Miss Gorilla pageant.

“You blond down there, too?” Tía Margarita pointed.

Joyce moaned.

“I only have gray, lots and lots of gray. I dye it sometimes. You want to see?”

Joyce convulsed a nod as if a current of electricity had run through her body.

“Leave her alone,” Maria Elena said over the radio while the cell phone remained attached to her ear. “Anglos don’t talk about such things.”

Finally, someone with some sense.

“What do you know about Anglos?  I see their movies; they shave it all off; bald beavers. Do you shave yours, Joyce?”

“I give it little trim after the coloring,” Tía Margarita said.

They looked at Joyce.

Maria Elena hung up. “Okay, I’ve got the list of what we need to expel the dark forces.”

“Ay, Maria Elena,” Gisela said, “Do you think it will work? Will it help me get my Pedro back?” She wrapped her jeweled hands around her neck.

She turned in her seat. “What do you think, Joyce?  Do you think he’ll really go to the jungle and risk his life with all those snakes and lions and elephants?”

“Driving in Miami is more dangerous than that silly Amazon,” Cristina said.

“Well, uh, I’m not sure,” Joyce said, “But I don’t think there are any lions–”

“It’s all a bunch of crap. He just wants you to be afraid for him so you won’t remember catching him with la puta.”

“Then he does care about me! He will risk his life in the jungles just so that I’ll love him again. Isn’t that right, Joyce?”

Maria Elena parked the car and all four chicas stared at her. “Yeah, okay, sure.”

The van door opened. Tía Margarita leaned into her ear and said, “You Protestants are full of ca-ca.”

“What is this place?”

Another six-foot Indian statue, armed with a machete, greeted them at the door.

“This is a botanica. It’s like a grocery store for the spirits.”

“You feed spirits?”  

“Yeah, they get hungry, too, you know. Although I tried to give Chango a pastelito once but she didn’t like it. There were no pastelitos in her day and she’s too old to try new things.”

“No, you’re wrong, she eats croquetas—she loves them.”

“Shut up, Cristina.”

Maria Elena led the pack to the front counter. A seven-foot tall black man greeted them.

“I am Maria Elena and I was told by Pascasio that you would give us a discount.”

“That depends,” his Barry White voice said. “Are you working spells through a medium, Santero, Babalau or Palero?”

“That,” Maria Elena said with a wave of her plump hand, “is not important. You see, I need-”

“If you were shopping for home décor, the vendor could not give you a price reserved for interior designers.”

“He must work with kickbacks,” Cristina mumbled.

Maria Elena pursed her lips.

Cristina leaned into Joyce’s ear. “If she admits we have a Santero, he’ll give us the discount but then want a cut of the despojo for himself and we’d have to pay Enrique the $500. If we say we’re doing a home despojo, then he’ll charge us full price—unacceptable. And if we get caught screwing either one of them, we’ll get cursed.”

Joyce nodded. Barry White suddenly looked at her. His deep eyes glowed, his long finger pointed. Joyce’s eyes widened. “You have powerful magic.

“Me?”

“Si, si,” Maria Elena said, “She is doing our despojo. She is very powerful so you can give us the discount.”

He stared at Joyce like a scientist staring at a bug inside a microscope. “Are you a member of the association? I’ve never seen you before.”

“She’s new; she is the queen of spiritual manipulation in Finland and has recently arrived in Miami and is not yet inscribed with the association.”

Joyce’s jaw dropped. She recovered and closed her mouth.

He grunted. Joyce tried to look serious.

“Finland?” He said.

Joyce nodded.

“What is your method?”

“My method?”

His eyes narrowed.

“It’s, uh, it’s an old tribal secret.”

“There are tribes in Finland?”

“Sure,” Joyce said, sweat rolling into her bra’s elastic.” There are Celtic tribes, seal tribes, uh, there are lots of tribes.”

He grunted again.

“Why are there coconut, banana and pineapple offerings on your list?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, when in Rome, you know.”

“Rome?”

“I, er, I mean my spirits don’t travel well. They like the cold so I use local spirits while in town.” A hot flash traveled up her neck and landed on her cheeks. She shouldn’t have allowed the chicas slap on that pink rouge.

“What do you usually provide as offerings to your spirits?”

Silence hung in the air. Now was when the chicas decided to shut up.

“I said, what are the offerings you give to your Finland spirits?”

Her forehead beaded with sweat. A minute more under Barry White’s scrutiny and she would pass out.

“Well, everyone knows that Finnish spirits require Finnish fish, of course.”

Suddenly, Barry White smiled. His pearly whites flashed. “Ay, si, makes sense. It’s so cold, the fish won’t spoil.”

“Yeah, that’s right!” Joyce said, her voice cracking loudly. “The fish can be left out for months. Finland is like a deep freeze.” She could’ve used some of that cold just about then.

“Fascinating.”

“Isn’t it, though?”

“I think I would like to go to Finland.”

“Uh-huh.”

While ringing up the order of unrecognizable home- packaged items he said, “Esta bien. I’ll give the Finland witch the Santero discount but I expect to see you at our next association meeting. Perhaps you can speak to our members about the Finland method?”      

“Uh-huh.”

“And I expect you to give me your member number as soon as it has been issued, otherwise, your clients will no longer receive discounts.”

“Uh-huh.”

The total came to $28.30.

Gisela handed the money over while Cristina and Maria Elena grabbed the stuff. They ran out the door. This time Joyce led the pack.

“Finland?” Cristina said once they were safely inside the van. “Is that the best you could come up with?”

“These Santeros travel all over the world. But they’d never travel to Finland. The flight is too long and it’s too cold there. I knew he wouldn’t know anything about that place, no one knows anything about that place.” Maria Elena stared at Joyce through the rear view mirror. “By the way, Joyce, where are you from?”

“West Virginia.”

“Might as well be Finland for what I know about West Virginia. What’s in West Virginia?”

Joyce sighed. “Well, there are mountains–,”

“I love mountains.”

“And there’s snow in the wintertime.”

“I love snow.”

“And there’s mining.”

“You mean like my Pedro, mining for gold?”

“No, like coal miners, they work real hard.”

“Your husband, was he a coal miner?”

Joyce felt her chest cave in. She looked out the window. The chicas told each other everything. She wasn’t like them.

“Are you okay, Joyce?  You don’t look so good.” Gisela said, turning around in her seat and grabbing her hand.

Joyce wanted more than anything to pull her hand away, but she didn’t.

“These Finland witches, they get all snobby with their great powers.”

Joyce turned back to glare at the chicas but met smiling faces instead. Reluctantly, she smiled, too.

Joyce waited. It was coming, the incessant questions, the poking and the prodding. It’s what Chicacabras do.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing, Maria Elena?” Cristina said.

“Of course. I’ve got a copy of the Santero’s how-to-manual from their official association guidebook. It’s worth thousands of dollars.”

“Don’t you have a spell in there on how to lose some weight? If so, you’d better get on it.”

“Shut up, Cristina.”

**

They stopped at the Navarro Discount, the one on Bird Road, then stopped at Maria Elena’s house, then stopped at Tía Margarita house, then stopped at Winn Dixie, and finally, arrived at Gisela’s house.

Joyce was within an hour walking distance from home– unless she sprinted, of course.

The chicas sat in the living room while Maria Elena hunted through twenty shopping bags.

“Put this on,” Maria Elena said, handing Joyce a white robe and a handful of beaded necklaces.

“What’s this?” 

She stood and blew a stiff strand of hair out of her eyes. “This is our despojo outfit. We must be dressed appropriately to welcome the spirits.”

“And,” she said handing over a white cloth, “you must wear this over your head. Tie it in the back.”

Joyce examined the robes and headscarf. “This is a bathrobe, and this,” she said waving the white cloth, “is a dishrag.”

“The spirits won’t know the difference. They don’t know anything about fashion.”

Tía Margarita shrugged and put on her terrycloth bathrobe.

Cristina combed through the Santeria guidebook. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing? This looks real complicated.” She pointed to a page in the handbook. “Look at what it says.”

Maria Elena dug her nose into the page. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.”

“Got what covered?  We’re supposed to make an animal sacrifice!”

“Like I said, I’m taking care of it.”

Gisela gasped. “I can’t do that! I’m an animal lover.”

“We know,” Tía Margarita said, “his name is Pedro.”

“It says we’ve got to use a hen or a goat to sacrifice to the spirits in exchange for their protection. And then it says we’re supposed to cut its head off and pour the blood over our bodies!”

The chicas gasped. So did Joyce.

“Afterwards, we’ve got to tie a red ribbon over its decapitated neck then throw the carcass in some sacred ground by the ocean.

“Si, en Los Pinitos.”

“No wonder a despojo costs $500!”

“Waah! I can’t kill a poor, innocent animal!”

“Why don’t we sacrifice La Puta? Puta sacrifices must be more potent.”

“Look, you hysterical, stupid women; listen to me,” Maria Elena said, hands slicing the air. “Winn Dixie had a sale on Cornish hens; two for the price of one.”

“I love when they do that; I buy everything two for one, even stuff I don’t use.”

“Cornish hens are hens, just smaller, and the sacrifice calls for hens. Get it?”

The chicas stared at her.

“Que brutas son! The spirits only know about hens, they don’t know anything about butchers, or Winn Dixie, or grocery stores.”

“Can we eat it afterwards? I can make fricase´ de cornis,” Tía Margarita said.

“Why don’t we pick up Kentucky Fried Chicken? The spirits would probably like it and we don’t have to cook.”

“The spirits aren’t stupid, you know. They’ll know the sacrifice is breaded and fried, boba. Besides the despojo needs a hen, not a chicken.”

“Oh.”

“What about the blood we’re supposed to pour on us? We might get Salmonella poisoning or the Ebola virus!”  

 
“Ay, verdad.” Maria Elena rubbed her double chins. “I’ve got it. We’ll poke some holes in the hens then pour ketchup over us. That way, they’ll smell the blood from the hens and see the color red on the robes. They won’t be able to tell the difference.”

Gisela looked at Joyce. “What do you think, Joyce?  You think it’ll work?”

“Uh, well, I guess if I were a spirit with a craving for Cornish hens, I’d probably go for it.”

“I’m wearing gloves.”

“Good idea. We all better wear gloves.”

Maria Elena set out the bottles, dried herbs and branches. Then, she lit the incense and placed two Cornish hens on a platter.

“Why use two hens?”

“Just in case the hens aren’t potent enough without feathers I’ll double the recipe. No spirit will be able to resist.”

“Now, everyone stand.” Joyce obediently followed the others as Maria Elena encircled the chicas around Gisela.

“I will light the incense to draw in the spirits and expel the dark forces from this woman,” she said pointing to Gisela.

“You did it wrong.”

Maria Elena began to cough.

“The instructions said to light it on one end. What did you do?”

“The book said,” she coughed again, “that it had to smoke up the area fully or the spirit wouldn’t come so I poured a little lighter fluid on it.”

“My mascara’s running!”

Joyce plastered a palm against her mouth then ran outside.

Tía Margarita followed. “Stupid, stupid, boba.”

Joyce agreed.

“My house is on fire!” Gisela screamed.

“No, it’s not; we’ll just air it out. C’mon Cristina, help me open the windows.”

“You crazy? I’m not going back inside that raging inferno.

“Do I have to do everything myself?”

Maria Elena ripped the dishtowel off her head then wrapped it around her mouth like a gunslinger.

“Her 24-hour lip-gloss won’t survive.”

**

 Tía Margarita, Cristina and Joyce scooted under the shade of a coconut palm on the front lawn. “These robes are making me hot. Can we take them off?”

Joyce shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Tía Margarita, who never let go of her purse, pulled out a bottle of water. “You want?”

“No thanks.”

“You have any café, Tía?”

Without hesitation, she whipped out a thermos and plastic shot cups.

Joyce sat on the ground and leaned her head up against the palm’s trunk. If she ran, she could be home soon. Argh. Her purse was in the house and her keys were inside. Perhaps under the smoke’s cover she could sneak in and…

Five women, dressed in church clothes, approached them from the sidewalk.

“Have you heard the word of God?”

Joyce politely stood but Cristina shoved her aside. Without warning, Cristina’s faced transformed into a made-up, Freddie Kruger mask. “We don’t want any of your stupid pamphlets!”

The woman was unfazed. The others looked nervous. “It is your time to learn the ways of God. I take it you are a Catholic, eh?”

“Yeah, what of it?”

Joyce’s jaw dropped. Tía Margarita stifled a giggle.

“It is clear that your soul is in peril. You must…”

“The only soul in peril is yours, you Catholic-hating chupacabra…”

Joyce gasped. She tugged on Tía Margarita’s robe and said, “Did she just call her a chupacabra?” 

“Sssh, don’t interrupt. She’s on a roll.”

“…I’ll send a Vatican Albino to hunt you down and stick those pamphlets so far up your ass; you’ll be choking on your self-riteous, Catholic-hating propaganda!”

The church woman bit into a tight smile. “The affliction of Catholicism drives you to practice satanic worship. Look at you, Catholic; dressed in devil worship clothes–you are pestilence!”

Cristina frowned; then turned to Joyce. Joyce’s eyes widened.

“What’s pestilence?”

“Uh, er…it’s not good.”

She snapped her head back like Linda Blair. “Listen to me, you Catholic-hater, my Pope will kick your Pope’s ass anyday. He’s German.”

“And that is why you Catholics are Satan’s soldiers–your Pope is the the devil, he is…”

“Como? Okay, chupacabra, you asked for it. Tía Margarita,” Cristina extended her hand. “Give me your purse.”

Like a little girl pulling a prank, Tía Margarita dropped the purse into Cristina’s hand.

The church lady crossed her arms and tried to look bored. The others grew agitated.

The battle had begun. Chicacabra versus Chupacabra. Alien versus Predator. The Chupacabra didn’t have a chance.

Cristina rammed a hand inside the purse. Her eyes remained locked on the enemy.

Joyce wondered if Tía Margarita had packed a weapon underneath that thermos.

Suddenly, Cristina smiled. Then she pulled out…

…a banana?

“You pissed off the wrong Catholic, chupacabra! This Catholic is a Santeria High Priestess and I will splatter a curse on you and your entire family. None of you will survive!”

The church lady began to blink nervously. The others gasped.

“That demonic practice has no affect on me. My riteous God protects me,” she said in an unsteady voice.

“Yeah, you’re a tough chupacabra when you pick on Catholics, eh? Let’s see how you deal with the spirits of underworld.”   

The other women tripped over each other as they stumbled backwards. The leader of the pack clutched her pamphlets.

Cristina waved the banana in the air. It was Joyce’s turn to stifle a giggle.

“My servants of the dead, this is the body of the Catholic-hating chupacabra. My dark spirits, I call on you to crush the life out of her yellow, Chiquita banana skin.”

Cristina closed her eyes. “Uga booga, neh ah boody a la bitcho greato esta hija puta!”

Tía Margarita’s shoulders shook. Joyce’s eyes watered.

Cristina bit the head off the banana and grabbed it with both hands. She began to squeeze.

“Bring misery to this Catholic-bashing chupacabra witch. Force her fat, flabby insides to explode and pour out of every hole in her body, especially that big, droopy ass!” The creamy insides of the banana poured out.

The ringleader froze and dropped her pamphlets; the other women ran.

“God protects me.” Her voice cracked with fear.

Cristina bugged her eyes out and pointed at her victim. “Do you feel it; the crushing of your chest, the banging in your head, the clench of your asshole? This is what you’ll feel for the rest of your short life and don’t try to run from it. There’s nowhere to go. Only a Catholic can remove it. Call it my Miami Inquisition. So you’d better convert, chupacabra!”    

The woman’s face went pale. She looked behind her. Her friends had fled. “Please,” she said, clutching her stomach, “they tell me to say those things about Catholics. I don’t mean it. Please make it stop.”

Cristina eyed her suspiciously. “So you will repent your blasphemous ways?”

She nodded.

“So you’ll never say another bad word about Catholics?”

She nodded.

“And you’ll buy nice gifts for people, for birthdays, Christmas, weddings, showers and other holidays?”

“But I don’t believe…”

“Are you going to repent or what, chupacabra?”

“Okay, okay, I’ll buy gifts and celebrate holidays.”

“That means a Christmas tree, too. And don’t forget Secret Santa. You chupacabras always screw somebody out of a gift.”

She nodded, defeated.

“And you won’t knock on any more doors annoying the hell out of people?”

She nodded again. This promise Joyce believed.

“Fine. The Catholic Inquisition has spoken.”

The woman wiped sweat off her forehead. “So you’ll take the curse off now?”

“Ay, I can’t do that.”

“But you just said…”

“You misunderstood. I only activate curses. You’ve got to go to a priest and convert to Catholicism to get rid of it.”

“What?” The woman’s demeanor changed. Her eyes narrowed. “You’re lying.”

Cristina squeezed the mutilated banana.

The woman doubled over, clutching her gut.

“Okay, okay, what do I need to do?”

**

Cristina gave the woman directions to San Juan Bosco Church. She explained that the priest wouldn’t see her unless she wore a veil on her head and a Rosary around her neck. And if he agreed to accept her in the Church, he would tie her to a bed and perform an exorcism like in the movie.

The woman ran off into the streets as if she were on fire, never be seen again.

Cristina nearly skipped back inside Gisela’s smoky house.

“Why did Cristina do that to her?”

Tía Margarita shrugged. “Her son’s novia is one of them. Cristina doesn’t hate the girl so much; it’s her family that makes her crazy and she can’t say anything.”

“It’s hard to imagine Cristina not saying anything.”

“Ay, she does things, you know, but she doesn’t want to upset Papito, Jr. It’s just that they don’t believe in parties or holidays but they show up at Cristina’s house for Christmas, birthdays and everything else–about twenty of them, and they won’t bring, food, gifts or anything. They eat everything in sight, and then, after their stomachs are full, they make nasty remarks about Catholics. She calls them the chupacabra in-laws.”

Joyce blushed then shrugged. “Oh.” Takes one to know one said it all. 

“And the worse thing is she doesn’t even invite them.”

“Oh.”

“We nailed crucifixes and saints all over the walls, but that didn’t work. Then, we hung a six-foot picture of the Pope with a fake autograph—they really hate the Pope–but they still came back.”

“Oh.”

“Last Christmas, we spiked the black beans with Cagitrol. They must have been in the bathroom for days.”

“Didn’t work?”

“No.”

“Can you imagine what the wedding will be like?”

“I prefer not to.”

 To be continued

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