Diego Huerta


Ningún Santuario Pt. 4

It was a delayed double-take that caused me to go back outside and inspect my front door.  Arriving home after work, I climbed the stairs to my second floor apartment on Candelaria Road and half-noticed something pinned to the door frame as I let myself in.  It was common for the complex’s management company to post announcements about litter collection or progress on the swimming pool repairs to the doors of all the units, but it wasn’t until I was inside and had tossed my keys on the counter that it finally dawned on me that what was affixed to my door wasn’t a note from the leasing office.

Back on the landing, I saw that someone had stuck a black figure to the door frame with a pin that had been twisted into the shape of a crucifix.  It was a construction paper rendering of the Mexican folk art hero Diego Huerta, the sharp dressed skeleton groom often seen at Dia de los Muertos celebrations.  There was no writing on the figure, but it was clear that it had been left as a message, obviously delivered to the wrong recipient.  Finders keepers, I thought as I removed it from the door and brought it inside.

Changing out of my work clothes, I scanned the walls of my little studio apartment for the perfect spot to hang my new macabre piece of art.  Just below the poster of Ozzy Osbourne hitchhiking his way to Hell seemed most fitting, so I jammed the same twisted pin with which it had been posted to my door into its heart underneath the portrait of the former Black Sabbath front man.

I was going to meet Grace and her new boyfriend for beers at the Blackbird Buvette on Central in about an hour, so I nuked a frozen burrito and ate it on the sofa while admiring the dapper corpse gracing my living room wall.  “Welcome home, Senor,” I said aloud without feeling even slightly ridiculous at the fact that I was speaking to a paper skeleton.

To my surprise, Jose, Grace’s new beau, wasn’t nearly as amused at my anecdote about the unexpected visitor to my door as were Grace and I.

“I’d keep alert if I were you,” he deadpanned without a hint of irony.  The incredulous looks on our faces made it clear that we thought he was joking, so he elaborated in an alarmingly somber tone.

“In Mexico, it is used as a warning that you are marked for dead.  It’s become a sort of disrespectful calling card of the drug cartels, but there are still many people who use it in earnest to warn an enemy that he will soon meet a bloody end.”

“I’ve only lived out here for two months, Jose.  Even for me, that’s not enough time to make a whole lot of enemies.”

Jose took a swig of his beer and in a slightly more relaxed tone said, “Just keep an eye out.  Someone is in trouble and this person’s adversary thinks he lives at your address.”

The festive mood of the evening having been thus ruined, we finished our drinks and paid the tab.


The grave was a simple dirt mound with a plywood crucifix upon which a stained John Deere cap had been hung.  Three men in black suits walked up the hill to the unofficial family cemetery in the dusty badlands just outside of Oaxaca.  In unison, they made the sign of the cross, knelt on the ground in a semi-circle around the grave and began to pray.

Sabes bien Amada Muerte que el peligro y la aventura son parte del camino por el que transito en esta vida.  Permite Amada Muerte que tu proteccion y salvagnarda esten a mi lado, para mantener distante peligro y amenaza.  Permite Amada Muerte que los ojos de mes opositores no vean mi presencia ni las huellas de mis pasos que conducen a tu templo, donde majestuoso aguardas paciente al fin de los tiempos. Amén.

After observing a moment of silence with heads bowed, the men rose and wiped the dirt from their perfectly creased pant legs.  One stepped forward and pulled an orange cempazuchitl flower from his pocket, placing it in the center of the mound with the petals facing north.  At this, all three men stepped back from the grave and watched intently.

Two or three minutes passed when they noticed an almost imperceptible movement below the dirt causing it to ripple very slightly.  A gnarled finger poked through the mound, followed by four more that began scooping away at the loose mud until a pair of hands emerged from the earth, frantically digging their way to the surface.

The men nodded at each other, turned and walked back towards the town.

15 thoughts on “Diego Huerta

    1. Even I’m not sure! But yeah, probably. I keep catching instances of very poor Spanish grammar that I have to go back and correct because…well, because I don’t speak Spanish aside from the lyrics of a few songs by Ana Tijoux.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ana Tijoux. I just listened to her Somos Sur on YouTube, first time. Amazing. After hearing and seeing her, how can people not embrace multiculturalism?

        How do you write your Spanish segments if you don’t speak it? They’re very good. I was going to be snarky and comment on your first chapter that Spanish is obviously not your first language, but I held back. As you continue in this story, now I wonder if you might have majored in it. Every so often you lapse into a Latin or French syntax, but it can be easily fixed in the final draft.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Isn’t she great? I first heard her song “1977” on Breaking Bad and I was hooked. Ha — what’s funny is that the only Spanish in my story so far that I’ve had some help with was the dialogue spoken in the prologue. My friend Martin who was born in Mexico helped me translate the lovely words accompanying the mother rape scene. For the rest of it, I’ve just tried to confine myself to short enough sentences that I can confirm their accuracy online, or in the case of the Oracion de la Santa Muerte, that was easily found on several web pages dealing with Santa Muerte.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? How am I supposed to keep patiently waiting to find out what the is going to happen when the story is this incredible?! If I found a cutout of Diego Huerta pinned to my wall, I would have immediately packed a bag and hightailed it the hell out of there! This story is only getting better and better, and you have my full attention, Paul! I have so many questions and need them answered – STAT! You are so talented. Have I mentioned that lately?! Unreal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much, Tanya. The fact that you enjoy my story so enthusiastically is both humbling and inspirational. If it’s any consolation, I don’t have a clue what’s gonna happen next, either…but at least I finally explained the origins of the recurring creep sufficiently.

      Liked by 1 person

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