The heavy rain outside becomes mere mist.
There’s a strong pulse of music in the night and it throbs through to the wet bones of the lonely earth. Through the feet of the intoxicated, curly-haired dancer-women in their woven huaraches who can feel ovals of dirt invading their shoes and the tall dark men that employ Kiwi polish to fruitlessly shine their finest, dusty boots in the hot afternoons, it pounds. Yet here those very fine boots are, dustier still in the sinking curtains of dusk. The tavern revelers outpouring, phantoming about them traces of Tres Flores and off-brand ladies’ imitation designer perfume, dance in the vaporous scent of their own body odors following them out onto the road.
A woman in mid-laughter catches the ankle of the unseen deceased, as if it is some otherworldly detail that rose up suddenly from the landscape un-belonging there. She falls theatrically backward into the mud, crying out in a surprise that is drown by the croon of music. Soon a scream rises that can be heard by all, and sooner still the scream is a contagion that inflicts horror on all the others surrounding; they see the melancholic display of the nude, dead girl, and her covered face, but none of their eyes want to admit she’s real. They plant themselves dumbly. Once opining accordions growing limp in their notes, until the musical instruments cease all their merry song-making and silence pervades; the night is at once terrible.
An hour later, men are kneeling near the pill-white sheet with the body rooted still beneath. The white sheet drapes the dead only in dignity for the gawkers, for that miniature crowd of a small town. Men half-alive and half-dead themselves watch with their weeping women at their chest. Men in important suits, with men of lesser importance in police uniforms, keep the gatherers back.
One of the duskier-skinned, important gentlemen in a suit is diligently taking notes near the body. He overhears a conversation between two cops behind him:
No one’s gunna care about a little Indian girl dyin anyways, one says.
This shit happens all the time, no one’s gunna find out who did it – gunna end up on some unsolved mysteries bullshit, says the other.
I do, the man once taking notes says as he stands up, puts his fountain pen into his coat pocket, and carefully closes his notebook, and I will. Now, when you say this shit happens all the time, how many times we talkin? And why wasn’t it reported to the Bureau?
Mi bebe! A larger woman panics through the sleepy crowd, heaving herself with the trickling sound of costume jewelry as she elbows thoughtlessly through, mi bebe! Mi bebe, Virginia!
to be continued …
[ ‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here. ]