December 19th


Some memories never fade. Even the smallest of the bunch, they stick with you like a sweater, warm and well worn, hanging in your closet, never quite forgotten completely.

I celebrated my nineteenth birthday five years ago just outside of Valencia in a place called Carta Blanca, a small town sandwiched between the neighboring towns of La Torre and El Tremolar. I had just arrived the evening before from Tarragona via Euromed, a two-and-a-half-hour train ride, and my destination was a little less than picturesque; I knew that Carta Blanca made up a town on the ring of slums surrounding Valencia. But I went willingly anyway.

I had received an email, in broken English, from a man named Youssef Adjani, Continue reading December 19th


December 17th – 3:45AM


Café con leche: about three-quarters of a cup of coffee, add warm milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dash of Sugar in the Raw because there aren’t any more C&H packets, and of course nobody at the cafeteria is going to help you restock the coffee bar because, who the hell cares about bleached, cane sugar when there are people on the upper levels of the hospital that are literally dying? I can pull the thoughts from the cafeteria employees’ heads like cards in a deck. Predictable. Unhelpful. I don’t even bother to ask.

I cross the hallway and enter the waiting room, the smell of sterilization and sanitizer and ozone strong in the air, and join my family, sitting in the corner by the window. Dee is on her second box of tissues, her hair tousled, eyes bloodshot and cheeks tear stained. She blows her nose rather loudly, and when done, adds it to the trash can she’s kidnapped from the receptionist’s desk. Percy is bleeding nerves left to right in many different hues of grey and has been on the phone since I left to get coffee fifteen minutes ago. Assorted relatives, I assume.

‘Toma, Abuelita,’ I say, handing her the cup of coffee.

Abuelita lets out a loud sob as she takes the paper cup, and she wipes crocodile tears from her face. ‘Thank you, Lucas.’

I sit down next to Percy and sigh, a million and a half things racing through my head. Had I imagined La Carretanagua? Or did Mother actually see it? I take a deep Continue reading December 17th – 3:45AM

December 16th


I keep having this dream. I’m sitting alone in the middle of my living room floor cross legged and listening to Van Morrison and scratching Galadriel behind the ears when suddenly the music stops; I look around, wondering where the music has gone, but as I stand up, bright lights shine out of my window, with all the force the sun can possibly have, blinding me momentarily. I hear a shuffle and a click and the couch side table’s drawer flies open and my cards shoot out like missiles, surrounding me and enveloping me. I blink and the floor beneath me is gone and I’m just falling down, down, down, way down, to the center of the earth and back perhaps, into the unknowable void, my cards surrounding me again and again and again and again…

Ten of Swords…complete and utter destruction, death, death, death, DEATH…

I’m blinded by the dark and the only thing I can hear is Rocio Durcal singing Amor Eterno, and then I watch Mother, smiling brightly at me through the dark void, swaying to the song and singing with tears down her face and then everything is black; I am blind again.

And I hear the sounds of chains, thick, horrendous chains whipping out and being Continue reading December 16th

December 13th


It’s been about seven days since we’ve had a full-fledged Witch move into our house and the results are dramatic. We have saucers of salt and corn meal at the door. Incense burns constantly, handmade incense at that, since Abuelita couldn’t fathom buying it from any witch shop after what happened the other day. Candles of many colors are stacked and stationed on tables and counters and bookshelves. Fresh lavender, mint, aloe and blood root have been planted in the front yard. Even our neighbors have noticed something is different and I’ve caught a few of their wandering glances fall over our house, the bored and the retired peeking their nose through half shut blinds, assuming discretion, seemingly unaware of their failure to be discreet. I can catch their invasive thoughts from a mile away.

‘I don’t know what that woman was thinking,’ Percy tells me as she cracks a few eggs into a mixing bowl. I stand next to her in the kitchen, taking my first sip of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I consider shoving the mug into the fridge to chill it before drinking it again, but I feel lethargic, and I know that there’s nothing like the taste of coffee, sharp and pungent, to really light up the senses like the Fourth of July. ‘Moving in without a moment’s notice, invading our space, pretending to run things. Who does that?’ Continue reading December 13th

December 10th


Three of Hearts, a love long lost, three swords stabbing a bright red heart, with dark rain clouds in the background. The Heirophant, Reversed. Bohemian lifestyle, non-conformity, the Pope’s frown now turned upside down, his dark red coat gleaming in disapproval. The Fool, a new journey, the beginnings of an odyssey, Heracles ready for his twelve labors. Jason climbing aboard the Argo. The peasant boy in the card looks sufficiently untested in battle and wit. A white dog is at his feet, egging him on. Toto and Dorothy on the cusp of Oz.

Archetypes. That’s what they are. They’re all archetypes. Thank Joseph Campbell for lampooning that into societal consciousness, though his other ideas are very much so out there, and that’s probably where people should stop giving him credit. There’s always a heartbreak. Always a scorned lover. A knight riding off into battle, a veteran returning from victory. A saddened queen, a vengeful king, a backstabbing page, a wise old man. Archetypes.

I can see why people might mistake this for divination, for fortune telling. I can Continue reading December 10th

December 7th


‘You need your own cards,’ she tells me, as the large, white bus we’re riding comes to a sluggish stop. She stands up, grips my bright red umbrella so tightly in her hands that they turn white, and begins filing out of the bus, holding herself carefully as she lunges down those three, incredibly steep, stairs.

I do not reply. Instead, I follow after her, thank the bus driver, and step out onto the curb. It is drizzling, coming down lightly on the quiet street, and though the clouds look thick and gloomy, the storm of the last few days has for the most part moved on. The wind is different, too. Calm. Serene. Full of bliss. Continue reading December 7th

December 5th


2:30 AM

There she stood, small, about five-feet-two-inches, her dark curly hair neatly secured with countless bobby pins, her wide smile cackling with energy. Her eyes met mine, fierce, burning with all the fires of the next world and the few of this one, the excitement of a thousand Arabian nights and the somberness of a Hundred Years of Solitude, ones who knew everything and anything. Ones that knew exactly what I was up to.

‘You’re here!’ she said, carefully, her thick, Nicaraguan accent bleeding through in English. ‘Como estas, mi muchachito?’ Continue reading December 5th