Quickies for Halloween 10- The Strange and Fantastic Tale of El Duende 4
Ms. Castillo adjusted her dress and dabbed her nose with a pink handkerchief. She shook her head and took a deep breath.
"I should've known it was El Duende. I woke up several times and found broken cups and plates. Cutlery went missing too. Several fine silver spoons."
Morazan wrote down a few notes, then said, "I have to ask you. Did Patricia have a boyfriend?"
"That's what I thought at first," the girl's mother said. "I could hear a man's voice sometimes near my window. Her room is beside mine, so I thought it was coming from there, but I didn't see anyone."
"What did the voice say?"
Ms. Castillo adjusted her dress again and placed her palm on her chest. Her face turned red.
"He would say bad things. Unchristian things."
"Ai, dear me," she said blushing more profusely.
"I know this is difficult..." the detective said.
Leaning forward, she spoke in a low voice. "He said that he wanted to have relations with the two of us... At the same time."
Morazan held his breath and was about to stop her, but she continued.
"He described how he would do it. Explicitly so. Dear Lord!" She was breathing fast and her eyelids were half-closed.
"Did you ask your daughter about him?"
She lowered her gaze. "You must understand, Mr. Morazan, we're a very Christian family. We just don't talk about such things. And..."
"And I think I was also under his spell. He had a way with words. Vulgar as they were. Like I said, I thought that maybe he was from the village. Those boys have a reputation. I was going to talk to her about it eventually, but she hasn't been herself, you see, not since her father left. I thought I should give her some space instead of those awful tasting elixirs from Don Miguel."
"Don Miguel is the curandero?"
"God bless him. He tries his best, but between you and me, he's getting rather old and is not as good as he used to be."
"And you say that your daughter texted you?"
She reached for her phone and handed it to him. "I asked her where she was and with whom? She sent me that picture."
The image showed a sculpture of what looked like a garden gnome. The demonic-looking creature had a toothy grin and a narrow face. He wore a ragged shirt, frayed pants, and an old pointy hat.
"He took her," Ms. Castillo said. "Just like he took that other girl. You must find her. You must bring her home. Promise me!" she sobbed and laid her head on his chest.
The bewildered detective comforted her as best he could. "Rest assured, we'll find her."
On his way out, Morazan heard her call out. "This might be nothing," she said handing him a ziploc bag. "I found these colorful pebbles in her room. I've never seen them before."
Morazan held the familiar beads up to the light. They shimmered and captured Ms. Castillo's shadow within them. He looked back at her, and for a moment, he wanted to throw his arms around her and comfort her again. He shook his head and bidding her a good afternoon, he left.