It’s a Mystery

At the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, I atended several workshops. One I particularly enjoyed was about Mystery Writing. The presenter writes under the pen name of C.E. Lawrence.  Check out her site:

And I hope you enjoy the first installment of my short mystery…

Puerto Paz

Michael’s berry-blue eyes snapped open when the bells began chiming in the plaza of Puerto Paz.

Peering through the louvered window, he saw that the shadows had snaked fully down the crumbling compound wall, and he heaved himself out of the hammock. The aroma of shellfish blistering on a hot grill caught his interest. But, nah… It would be a waste of time to order anything from the restaurant downstairs…he never managed to sustain an appetite in this kind of heat. Better to uncap a cold Corona instead.

Once he told me that because he grew up in California he learned street Spanish, and I guess he used it now to explain himself. The curious townspeople of Puerto Paz worried about him and his daughter Janet. “We’re searching for a place to call home,” he had said. When asked if his wife would be joining them; he simply stated, “She is out of the picture.” An uncomfortable silence followed, but then the locals smiled anyway.

Last Sunday, a neighbor had commented, “Janet is such a sweet little girl,” and in the next sentence, Señora Sonia invited her to her own daughter’s birthday party, just two days and two doors away.

He would need to go for the girl in an hour’s time. He sighed whenever he thought about his tiny, timid six-year-old. Here, no one had any idea what she’d been through – what the two of them had endured during the past year. This afternoon, for the first time in months he hadn’t felt the need to worry about his daughter. He imagined Janet at the neighbor’s place…a happy haven of a home.

Michael must be hoping that the fright of the past year would die away now… He looked wiped. Perhaps in Puerto Paz, he too would regain his former confidence and calm. Hard to say. Several times every day, he talked to himself… asked the Universe what cosmic mistake had made his family the victims of this complete deviation from normalcy? What drove his wife to such totally unexpected behavior?

Showered, shaved and dressed in light kakis with a matching checkered short-sleeved cotton shirt, Michael looked ready to go. No longer young but still decades away from old age, I thought that he looked good and I wondered about this Señora Sonia…

Ah… he has finally sensed the familiar but fleeting fragrance. He sniffed again but it had gone.  He had always loathed the cloying and sticky sweetness of “Anais, Anais…”

Freaked out, he threw the screen door open and lurched into the sandy street. A thousand tears welled as he looked up at the inky sky streaked with pink. There now… I knew that Michael would be unable to resist turning back towards the house.

Immediately he saw the silhouette in the window… Seeing my hands pressed against the glass caused him to hyperventilate. Although my features could not be distinguished, I know he recognized the tilt of my head and the long curve down my neck to my shoulder. He no doubt asked himself, how it’s possible for me to be in Puerto Paz? How long have I been here? How can he keep me away from Janet? Good questions…

The bells chimed again. No worries Michael, soon all will become clear. Clearer than you want.



Filed under Vida Latina, Writing

7 responses to “It’s a Mystery

  1. Jan Morgan

    love how it begins! You have such a great way with words!

  2. Colm

    The mystery was, was that you left ‘it’ out of your address,

  3. Marie

    Mysteries are my favorite. Great work, Joanna! I can hardly wait to read to next installment.

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