A Ghost Story by Ana Consuelo Matiella

Perkins Street Ghost

I have never believed in ghosts but I grew up near a family, the Madril’s, who moved into a haunted house on Perkins Street in Nogales, Arizona.  A woman had been murdered there and after the killing, the woman’s family boarded up the house and let it begin to rot.  It was an old light blue house with a long inviting porch.  The door had an oval beveled glass window that you could look through.  The lace curtain was tattered and the screen door was dusty and full of dead spiders and flies.
We were not allowed to go near the place. But when we were bored and brave, and before the Madril’s moved in, we would peek through the old doors and windows and run hard if we heard a sound. My friend Johnny Tovar would tell scary stories about the place, about the screams the neighbors heard the night of the murder, and about the sorrowful sounds they could hear at night or in the middle of a hot afternoon. 
Everyone in the neighborhood said the house was haunted by the lady who was killed there. She would cry because she wasn’t ready to die when she did. So young. I wanted to know what happened to the killer. Was he caught? Did he go to prison?  Johnny said they never caught him and that he ran through the hills and crossed the fence over to Mexico.  Last he heard he was living in Cananea.
I told Johnny I didn’t believe in ghosts, and he called me a liar.  He said not to worry and that ghosts don’t appear to big chickens like me because they were mostly nice but tortured souls. They didn’t really want to scare anyone.  They just needed something and they would only appear to people who they thought could get them what they needed.  I was relieved about that because I knew I had nothing to offer that ghost. 
My dad worked with Mr. Madril at the Complete Auto and Home Supply Company and when he came home and told my mom that the Madril’s were moving into the old Teyechea  house, my mom said, “Poor things.  The rent is probably pretty low.” And then she added that she wouldn’t live there if it was free.
The Madril’s were a large family in more ways than one.  There were  12 brothers and sisters, a giant mother, a giant father, and a tiny grandmother who always wore  high stiletto heels.  The kids were some of the biggest kids I’d ever seen and we come from big people, so I know big. They were mostly tall, not fat,  and just extra- large.  And they took up a lot of space.  I remember Sundays when our parents would wake us up for mass, my father would say, “Hurry up and get there before the Madril’s ,if you want to find a seat.”  If you got to mass before the Madril’s got there, you would always hear some kind of ruckus when they all came in.  They made up a crowd. And not one of them was less than 5 feet tall, note even the little ones.
Another thing to know about the Madril’s is that they were generous and kind.  They were like a storybook family of large nice people.  Mrs. Madril was always smiling and two of the older kids, Sergio and Bea, were around my age.  Sergio was this super big guy who defended Bea and made sure nothing bad happened. 
When the Madril’s moved in to the old haunted house, everyone on Perkins whispered about the ghost.  We were all waiting to see how long they would last.  Who would want to live in a house where someone had been murdered and where the ghost still lived?
I waited until Bea and I became friends before I told her about it.  She said they already knew about the ghost and  that her parents said the ghost was harmless, just sad on account of being killed so young. Bea said the best thing to do when you heard the ghost sigh, giggle or cry was just ignore her, pretend she wasn’t there.  Sometimes the ghost  slammed the door on the way to the back yard but that was because of the rusty spring the screen door had to keep the flies out, and not because she was angry. 
After Bea told me all that, I reluctantly accepted several invitations to come and eat dinner with the Madril’s.  Nothing fancy, mostly chorizo and beans but the  granny, who was the only little person in the family, made these gigantic flour tortillas that looked like sheets.  And we would eat them with beans or butter and jam, and  sometimes, with this special kind of syrup the old lady made out of this thing that looked like a rock and was called piloncillo.
My mom was embarrassed when I went over there to eat because she said, “How can you be so rude to go there around dinner time?  Of course they will invite you in, but don’t you see how many mouths they have to feed?”
 I said, “They invite me all the time, and even when I say I have to go home, they say, ‘well have a tortilla with butter and jam first.’”
Mom would just sigh and shrug, and say, “That poor woman is a saint.”
Serge and Bea didn’t mention the ghost much. Once in a while I would ask about her and they  would look at each other and say she was fine and that it was no big deal.
“Do you every see her?”  I asked one time, feeling bold.
And Bea said, “I’ve never seen her but I’ve heard walking through the back door.”
Serge just looked down at the ground like he didn’t even hear the question.
Then Bea said that the granny had seen her a few times outside by the clothesline at night. 
I said, “Oh boy am I glad I’ve never seen her,”  and they just looked at me like I was the odd one.
One late afternoon when I smelled the tortillas and came in for a visit and they were all sitting around their long table,  I heard a loud scrape from behind me and it made me jump and they all laughed.  It was Mr. Madril pulling a big wooden crate up to the corner of the table so I could squeeze in and eat my bean burrito.
Granny Madril said, “So you’re afraid of the ghost, eh?”
I nodded yes.  I couldn’t speak with my mouth full. 
She padded my hand and said, “She won’t hurt you.”
And the way she said it, I believed her. After that I didn’t ask so many questions about the ghost. 
The Madrils lived in the old blue house with the ghost for the rest of the time we were in elementary school, and when they bought a new house out in the development near the old Nogales Highway, I asked Bea, “What happened to the ghost, Bea?  Was she sad to be left behind?”
And Bea said, “Oh, no.  She didn’t stay behind. She came with us.”
Bea said that the ghost was staying in her granny’s room and that they had become good friends.
When I told my dad about it he said, “What?  There weren’t enough of them already that they had to take the ghost?”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Miriam Sagan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well (https://miriamswell.wordpress.com). The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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