THE CURSE 2010
By Ellen Hecht
It was dusk on the day they celebrated “Dia de Los Muertos” in the little pueblo of El Diablo Que No Sabe Nada. There would be a full moon that night. Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, the Third, dreaded it more than anyone else.
Long ago, his grandfather, Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, in the days when he was a young man, had forced himself on a young woman who lived in the outskirts of town. When it was discovered that she was “with child,” she threw herself down the little town’s well and drowned. She had been the daughter of the village hag who everyone suspected was a witch.
Ever since then, each year on “Dia de Los Muertos,” if it fell on a night with a full moon, his grandfather, Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, and after him, his own father Julio Ibarra Lopez Montoya, the Second, had suffered some horrifying, disgusting event. Julio Ibarra Lopez Montoya, the Third, now a grown man, agonized that he, himself, would suffer some similar, gruesome, disgusting torment. He remembered hearing how his grandfather had found his precioso, his perro, his much beloved dog – dead, his eyes bulging out of his head, floating in their sewage ditch; how awful, how disgusting.
Then, five years later, on the evening that “Dia de los Muertos” again fell on a full moon, his father, Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, the Second, could not locate his mule. Where his mule had been tied up, instead he found the skeleton of one of his best rabbits, its bloody skin torn from its bones. It was both horrifying and disgusting.
Now, years later, as the sun went down on this “Dia de los Muertos,” Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, the Third, shuddered. Could he dare to hope that the curse had worn off, that no further torments would befall his family? The day was almost over and nothing bad had happened. Was he, Julio the Third, to be spared the curse? Just to be safe, he had removed every one of his animals to his cousin’s rancho in a neighboring village a few miles away.
The sun sank down behind the low hills of the surrounding desert. He breathed a sigh of relief. As he breathed in, he smelled the wonderful aroma of his wife’s cooking. Dinner would soon be served. He just had time to take a bath. He took his towel and walked to the outdoor enclosure. Although there had been a full moon, clouds began to drift languidly across it, blotting out its light. He made his way to the bath in the darkness and dipped his toe in gingerly, testing the water. Instantly, a searing pain caused him to scream in agony. He yanked his foot out and quickly hobbled back to the house, crying out to his family.
“Madre de Dios!”
Lanterns glowed in the windows. In the light from the lanterns they gathered around and saw that where the big toe on his right foot had been, there was only a bloody stump! His daughter ran to bandage his foot. He would have to wait until the first light of morning to investigate the bath and see what had caused the severing of his toe.
His wife calmed him, reminding him that there was nothing he could do until morning and that dinner was ready. She poured him a shot of tequila and sat a plate down with a warm burrito, garnished with fresh cilantro. He sank his teeth into it and chewed a mouthful, but immediately spat out a portion of the half-eaten meat.
“What, my love?” she asked. Don’t you like it?”
“Like it? No, I do not like it!” Julio said indignantly. He pushed himself away from the table and attempted to stand upright.
“There is something that tastes muy malo in that burrito. It is disgusting!”
The moment the words left his lips, the color drained from his face and Julio Ibarra Lopez de Montoya, the Third, fainted into his wife’s arms.
In a little town in Mexico, several generations of the Montoya family have suffered the consequences of a curse placed on one of their ancestors by an old woman. Would the current generation of the Montoya family be spared? We will find out after the sun goes down . . .