Take this kiss upon the brow,! And, in parting from you now where life it's just a mere mirage what the dead try to achieve. We dream that we were alive, but maybe it was life that was dreaming about humanity from some Machiavelli figment of a deity's overactive imagination. Leonardo Rafael Martinez III woke up in the middle of the travel where he and his life-partner Thomas Rosenberg where going to Cartagena, Colombia. The memories for Leonardo were foggy and filled with sorrow, his dreamscapes transmuted into a sensuous revolution much as the one he left behind on the year 2007.
Between the mist and the forest that laid next to the Caribbean Sea, where old men evoke transiting old venues, that their forefathers walked around on the times of the cross and sword and the days that bygone. The old city was over and the caravels they left the piers while their children who acted as ravaging eagles they said goodbye forever when the oil stop arriving on the tin vessels.
Catalina was the name she was given by the Spaniards, her real name was never known by any language of the Western World; she was a flower child, a woman who communicated with the spirits of the Earth, a priestess a shaman as she was known among certain men of the peloton. She was a Yurbaquera, a woman from the tribe of the mountains known as the Yurbacos' a mystic tribe who used the flesh of the men to give peace to the spirit of the mountain, on the sea side there were the Kalamari, the people who had a communion with the sea and all the creatures and their spirits.
She was in the eldest mountain of the north, where the two tribes converged into one, there were no names to the places, no names given by men because the things had their own names and men knew how to call them. Catalina always remembered those days while on the year 1530 she was laying on a dungeon she was kept by the Royal Crown Army because she was condemned as a witch while she said on her defense using the tongue of the men who appeared from the other side of the ocean that she was a priestess but her words weren't listened by their judges and their executioners. The day was January 21st and she was the last one of the aborigines of the coast of what people were calling Grenade; she was sad and suffering because her people were barred and while holding a family heirloom, a small charm that had 23 crocodile teeth's she said a small prayer before being executed early on the morning.
As soon she died a torrential rain appeared out of nowhere; the men of the platoon were scared and said that was the curse of the Indian who died in their hands but Counter-Almirant Juan Daniel Martinez y de Mendoza, only said to his men to stop believing in gibberish and dispose the body before it attracted the tropical flies around and the food supplies got tainted.
With his 36 years of existence he never imagine watching a group of brutes being exterminated one by one but the situation that caught his attention was that Catalina was feared among the peloton because of her strange powers regarding using the ancient nameless land in order to defend herself and put fear in the heart of the mortals.
After his time in the coast of the new world Martinez y de Mendoza bring three volumes of journals about his expedition on the coast of Granada, the Spanish Royalty though that he was being heretic because some nonsense he wrote regarding an awful creature that lurked in the shadows and devoured much of his fellow soldiers on the fort; the King though the devil came to Earth.
Martinez y de Mendoza heard the name Buziriaco by Catalina herself because the last words the Indian screamed where a chant invoking the name of her King who didn't do anything at the moment but he saw a goat not very far away looking at the execution. Over the next couple of decades Martinez y de Mendoza suffered from a remorse so big because of his fault an entire ethnic group died and was erased from the face of the universe because they didn't believe in the doctrines of the Catholic Church but keep watching saw the shadows of the demon until the very end of his lifetime.
He wasn’t going to forget his name because he thought that Buziriaco was going to find him on his death bed and send him to seventh cauldron of Hell due his sins which he never repented. The amulet was kept in his family for many generations and it went from one of his descendants to the other, until the relic was sold to a Canary named Joaquin Cepeda Mastroianni because they were convinced there was a curse on the amulet because it came from the respite of a dead woman. Joaquin was a tall man, even if he was born in a Hispanic territory he grew up in Sicily with his mother family.
Eventually he moved to New Granada where he helped to escape slaves through his undercover operation using small vessels through the Magdalena river that to the public eye exported coffee to the Royal Crown but left them on a territory that was far away from the Crown settlements and without his knowledge he helped to create San Basilio de Palenque as one of his founders was one of the free man who never had a name that was kidnapped from the Congo and brought to New Granada to work on the coffee plantations at the outside of Antioquia.
The same charm that accompanied two sailors ended in the hands of Joaquin's grandson Leonardo Cepeda who found an unhealthy interest on the amulet because he believed on a small white lie his father told him about the strange crocodile charm but Leonardo was extremely fascinated about the amulet and the so called history told by his father that his ancestors had richness and opulence back in Sicily while the truth was Joaquin the founder of the family was a mere merchant and someone who posed as a slave trader in order to develop a complicated operation to free the people from the hands of the haciendas.
The air in the mornings was always dense, the ghosts of the ancestors usually walked in the early mornings before the sun came to his proper place; they vanished little by little to give room to the world of the living. For the Doctor Leonardo Cepeda it was refreshing to smell the air in the mornings before taking his bus from the small southern town of Turbaco to the Madre Bernarda Clinic in the outskirts of Cartagena.
Turbaco was a small town located in the southern mountains of Cartagena; it was a millennial town where the Spanish settlers mixed with the local aborigines creating a mix of people with strengths and will. That’s what the legends say about the foundation of the town and Leonardo Cepeda always thought he was one of the descendent of those people who never had a name in the history books but one in the popular culture. He always thought he was one of the descendants because he looked between a mix of Italian, Spaniard and also Indian, much like the ones who used to go to the local farmer’s market early in the morning after the Saturday services.
His family lived on a small hacienda, located south of the town, his father Joaquin Jr. died of tuberculosis when he was only 14 years old leaving him and his mom Inez to take care of his 4 sisters, Mirna, Luisa, Emperatriz and Gladys.
With his 5’0’’ of height and being almost albino, he was often mistaken from the people of the endless mountains locate it in the center of the country but he was one the descendants of the Yurbaqueros who mixed with the Spaniards but legends say the opposite about Catalina died by the firing squad centuries ago. He was playing with the old amulet that had been with his family since the settlers arrived to Cartagena from Spain and Italy.
It was a rainy morning and there was some sadness in his eyes, he used to remember how much he enjoyed watching the rain with his father and he was in denial that he was gone even ten years after. Turbaco was a town that grew over the years in the middle of the unnamed mountains that were close to the ocean but it was a town that got lost in the time because everything was the same.
Leonardo always remembered how his father talked about his ancestors being born in the mountains and dying over there, he always said while the Yurbaqueros existed, the land was going to keep afloat but when the last one of their generation, the last one was gone then the surroundings were going to be flooded and forgotten by the King Crab.
While he was waiting the bus, in the only station of the town, he realized he forgot his medical kit in the house and he was feeling regrets of going back because it was raining and he didn’t had an umbrella or a raincoat and because there was only one bus who traveled between towns every week, it was a decision that he wasn’t going to regret
When he realized that he missed the bus and that he had to wait another week before going back, he decided to send a telegram to the hospital he was having his rural, he just opted to go back to his house and tell his mother that the bus had an accident on the way and that going to the city was going to be impossible for a week.
His mother eventually believed and neither she nor her daughters travelled to the bus station because they were scared to see the ghosts of the recently deceased. Inez was a very superstitious woman, and she believed in life after death, that the spirits of the past were in the present and that Catalina la India and the King Crab, was always protecting them, their descendants.
The Strauss Waltz, was a melody that Leonardo always hummed, but he wasn’t going to hear it until his wedding day. He learned that melody from his father when he was little; every time he was sad he started to hum in perfect pitch as he was familiar with this song that he associated with sadness because he always remembered when his father tucked him at night. Eventually the song regained the meaning as when Leonardo was old he did the same thing his father did but to his grandsons.
The disease that made people spit blood within their mouths was following again Leonardo. His mother was spitting blood with irregular intervals, he remembered his father before he died, he just spit and cough until his heart stop completely and blood was spurring from his mouth. His mother was doing the same, and there wasn’t a cure in Turbaco for such disease, only some shamanistic rituals that eased the spirit but not the blood, not even in Cartagena there was a cure or in the city that slept on the cold mountains of the Andes.
The only memory Leonardo had from his father was an old medallion his father told that a new crocodile teeth will spur when the bearer die, it was an old medallion that said it had the spirit of Catalina la India and when the 22nd teeth grow from the inside of the amulet that was going to be the beginning of the end. Leonardo always imagined his father told him that just to amuse him during the nighttime but years he realized that his father was only telling him the real truth about his life and the heart of the city.
The medallion was small; almost the size of Leonardo’s left hand but yet it was shiny as pure gold. He was always fascinated by the charm because he couldn’t believe how old it was, when in reality it was almost millenary. Since he missed his bus, he decided to go and walk around town to try to find some of his cousins as well anything to do because the town was in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly he heard the voice of a little kid behind him Señor the bazaar is on town, on the central plaza, come on. The kid just lost himself in between the streets before Leonardo could actually say thank you to the little one.
In the bazaar there were all the novelties from the United States and Europe, the pianola, the telephone who was wasn’t going to be introduced in town until the late 1950’s and people thought that it was a device to talk with the spirit world; the instantaneous was the ultimate novelty because it replaced the old fashioned camera who used gun powder to take a photo.
Leonardo was having a lot of fun and then he saw a beautiful pale girl named Irina Iguaran, who caught his attention at first but they wouldn’t met again until ten years later when both fall in love in the shrine of El Socorro.
She was a mirage, her red hair was perfection to him and he loved her big brown eyes, he was so tempted to ask her for a date but then he saw a police man walking near so he changed his mind and opted to continue walking. It was faith, it was the paths of destiny, it was the what it was meant to be but overall it was what it was written in the ancient language that was forgotten, the myths of a family that was going to play on the glory and fall of a town that was forgotten by the ancient god Ra.
Leonardo found a stand of fried food and he didn’t lose too much time in grab a snack. The woman who was cooking the fried empanadas and quibbes quickly saw the medallion and she said to Leonardo that the meal was on her because he was going to be the doctor who was going to save his unborn granddaughter life and he wasn’t going to charge a dime or anything.
The name of that lady, the one who cooked the fries was Marina Aguilar and with that conversation she started they were going to be friends until her death and even beyond because she continued to send messages through his dreams. Marina Aguilar was a shaman, a person who communicates with the spirits and the spirits usually communicated with her in strange meanings.
With her overweight body and sweaty forehead she had difficulty walking, she only throw the empanadas in the frite and waited for her daughter to pick them up when she told her that they were ready. Her daughter back then was only 12 years old, her name was Paola Aguilar and she looked a lot like her mother, Leonardo couldn’t believe the barbarity the old lady said that he was going to save her granddaughter’s life in a near future but he wasn’t going to say no to a free meal coming from a crazy lady.
Leonardo was intrigued because he wasn’t a doctor yet but the oracle promised he was going to be the best. He wanted to stay but he opted to go the local church and see how the renewals where going to, because there was a fire perpetuated by a group of roaming revolutionaries that didn’t liked the 18th century church as it represented the loyalties of the Republicans to the Crown of Spain. He wasn’t a religious man and for being one in a profession that dabbles between life and death he had a profound fascination for churches and sacred places; many years later out of no reason he found himself as a believer something that his grandchildren never understood because he was one of the few atheist that were public in Cartagena in the 1940 through the 21st Century.
The church of Saint Catalina was an old colonial Catholic church; it was one of the biggest edifications found in the town, and the only structure that had 3 floors and thus the only one that offered on a clear day a beautiful view of the south zone that was Cartagena.
Cartagena was a small metropolis, where streets one time had silver and gold, it was place to dream next to the south Caribbean, where the ships from the North landed in the docks. People from the towns around Turbaco dreamed about being there but much of them hated the idea about being subdue to the political powers of Cartagena and they saw every Cartagenero as a potential enemy because they signified another system than the one established in Turbaco.
The church was probably being renovated for the fifth time in less than 10 years, the last time the church went on fire and that fire almost consumed the little town in less than a night because a pig stumble onto a oil lantern that was located in the mayor’s bedroom. A strange story that always haunted the city hall in Turbaco.
It was a clear day, and from the third floor in one of the towers the city could be seen as well the small bazaar were all the modern marvels where being showcased to the curious people. The air wasn’t as dense as it was in the morning because it was the afternoon; instead the air had a strange aroma of flowers mixed with the frites that were being served in the small bazaar. He knew the spirits of the ancients had risen from the death realm to see the curiosities brought by the people of the North.
Irina Iguaran was 19 years old back then, she was born from a Black Catalan father and a German mother who both met in Cartagena during the early 1910’s. Irina’s mother died from childbirth and Irina never knew her mother’s name as she was raised by a nanny whose name was Aguilar and left shortly after Irina’s 13 birthday party to live in a town that was located in the south where old native lived and fought against the Hispaniards.
It was her first time in Turbaco, she went to visit a relative who lived in a small hacienda on the north side of the town, near the old and only cemetery which didn’t had space for one more departed. Irina’s family from her father side was involved in the dark arts of giving the dead peace; they were one of the two families who were involved in the mortuary business in the entire district. Her father was banned from going to church because according to the Pious Pope of those days “thou shall disrupt their eternal slumber, shall be banned from the grace of God” but it was a necessary evil because someone had to take the stench from the dead before they were placed in a church before the last rites; even so, if he was banned he didn’t care as he enjoy going to the Sunday mass to listen to word of the lord.
For Irina being a city girl and have to spend sometime in the country side was quite boring and especially in town where most people hated outsiders and one where she hated to see the ghosts in the mornings and she despised the livings that walked at dawn. People were to quiet for her and even if she found a refugee to kill time during her stay on the little town in the local church much of the time she got bored of doing the same thing over and over.
Life for her was a routine, everything was a routine and she wanted to escape from the dull, her father a man who people said was an emissary of God on Earth kept the young Irina on a small crystal house with plenty of mirrors and for her having the permission of her father to spend away more than a week away from the crystal house was a sign that he was letting her to face the world.
Turbaco was a strange town for her, it was a town that was located between here and there, a town in the middle of nowhere and yet it was a town that was so alive and colorful but yet it smelled like death. She was so scare of the ghosts that roamed the nights that she won’t even dared to go alone to the bathroom because she was scared of a receiving a grudge from a vengeful spirit of the past.
Irina was desperate looking for that sense of adventure but her adventure was to look for the woman who left her life when she was a toddler; but for a lady of society of Cartagena speaking about independency was a faux statement as it was expected that every lady would find a man to marry, have children and live a life of silence as an adult. So for her, she was living under the rule of her father Seraphim Ignacio, one of the two morticians of the city.
Every year in Cartagena there was a big storm, it was the storm that marked the transition from summer to winter. There were only two seasons, only water and fire. People went euphoric on winter because of the December heath and during the rainy months of summer people were laid back and relaxed like a monkey eating a fruit.
For Isabella “Chela” Castro, winter was the season she loved the most because she and her husband Miguel Martinez went to their private cabana in the retreat of Bocagrande to spend the days of winter looking at the rains that appeared out of nowhere and washed the sins of the city.
Years later Isabella was going to regret that she was one of the responsible of the demise of the city on the winter of 2007, where she saw someone close to her depart and that person didn’t even said goodbye to her. She was going to die alone in a small room near the ocean. She was 25 back then and Miguel was in his middle 30’s they were married for about 6 years and they were going to be married for almost 65 years before Miguel died by complications of diabetes, she cried her husband until her dying day.
Chela and Miguel had 2 children back then, they would had more, 4 more over the years and every single one of them would feel betrayed by the selfishness of their parents at the moment where they say they were born only to make money. Every winter they took Noelia and Miguel Jr. with them, to a place where the beaches were untamed and only a few ranchos were around. Bocagrande back then, was a majestic place, virgin in every single sense of the word except for an old fort that the Conquistadores built when they arrived and it was abandoned after decades of dictatorial government of the General.
Miguel was an unhappy fellow; he never loved Chela and only saw her as a cushion. He felt obligated to marry her after his parents argued that it was the best for the family business to associate with another family of merchants and after all of his four sisters decided not to marry or pursue a relationship with a man.
Miguel and Chela had different backgrounds, albeit both grew up in the opulence of the city and both died in the misery in the heart of the Ocean. Miguel was 5’9’’, brown eyes, brown hair, he had a gift for writing and telling amazing stories but around his lifetime he was known as a compulsive liar but his lies never were digested by Chela after he told him that he probably could be the father of a few children around town, she thought the woman were lying and always remain faithful to her husband.
Miguel had four sisters, all of them named Luisa as their middle names. Maria, Antonia, Emperatriz Segunda and Manuelita. All of them died single, with no children and no legacy behind. They died in solitude in a home after Miguel realized he couldn’t take care of his sister and he didn’t want to face reality to take care of them in old age or the opinion of the people as why they say about them. He couldn’t live with the burden of their decisions so he sends them away.
He was always unhappy, because he never felt loved even if he had a devoted wife, he hated her; he hated her happiness, her joy, her lies and her life of comfort. He hated his life so before he got married he got a few illegitimate children, just following his father and grandfather footsteps because he couldn’t find happiness in the married life.
Stories were told that Miguel had 167 children during his lifetime, only 7 of them recognized as legitimate and the 160 just bastards. The last one was born 10 years prior the cataclysm, on August 17th of 1997, Jonas Miguel Jose was born in a humble clinic located in the outskirts of the city, he never knew who his father was and died with the flows of water that destroyed the city on 2007. His lifetime was filled with apathy towards work, even late in life he never worked for anything and he tried to make his children do everything for him.
Chela was only the second of two children her bigger brother Saul, never approved the marriage of her sister because he saw in Miguel someone who didn’t loved life or his beloved treasure, Isabella. Chela didn’t work for anything either, she had everything bring to her in a silver platter and never learned to do anything beyond giving birth and go to church every Sunday.
Theirrelationship as many others in the city was only arranged by convince of their families to engage in a truce of political and entrepreneurial activities. Miguel was unhappy about being married to the force but Chela was so happy of having a man next to her that she never cared about the physical and verbal abuses.
Life was so different in the city, there weren’t any ghosts or any supernatural events, everything was grey, everything was dull even the old city district was colorless; there weren’t any magical aspects at all because the people of the city sold their mysticality in favor of technology and progress.
It was a slow afternoon and Chela was cooking flank steak for dinner and Miguel was outside reading an old book he found in his library, it was quite breezy and the smell of rain was in the horizon; suddenly, Chela felt dizziness in her body and she collapsed in the floor, she started to have seizures, she was 25 when she had her first attack and those attacks would continue during her lifetime.
Her first attack was extremely surreal, she had a hallucination, she saw a man, an African man with fisherman robes, he was a guy who had no name but it was some kind of spiritual guide, someone who was always close to her. She wanted to speak with him, but she was suddenly awake by her husband saying that she got stoned because of a leaking in the propane tank, albeit Miguel was a pathological liar. She couldn’t believe him, she knew she saw an angel and it couldn’t be product of the gas poisoning even if her husband explained with detailed where the gas was leaking in the tank and not thinking it was a medical issue.
She started to cry because she knew what she saw; and, she was dying to see her nameless angel again but Miguel put her on bed and drug her a little with some sleeping pills, to see if she calmed down before the children went to their afternoon nap. Miguel was quite concerned because he was watching his wife losing her boundaries with reality and what the world of the spirits. He knew by her grandmother that ghost were real, that they walked down the streets of Cartagena and Bolivar when it was noon but only they appeared to the ones who were pure in heart. He never saw one, but he believed the words of his late grandmother but he was getting worried that Chela was actually going crazy because his wife believed every single fantastical story that was told by his family side. Probably it was the only time in his lifetime that he would care for Chela before saying go and eat shit one afternoon of December.
But he was losing his touch with reality too, he was getting bored of everything, he wanted to be free until his end but he was stuck with two kids and a crazy woman who saw angels and not ghosts. He just sat down in the balcony once more while his kids were playing in the sand, then he fall asleep with the sounds of the waves thinking of the future, thinking if he was really happy with his marriage.
Cartagena de Indias was a city located in the twilight, it was a city that always was magical and with some sunsets that charmed even the most skeptical individual, it couldn’t charm the hearts of the forgotten. It was a romantic city but also a city that was forgotten by God because of its different alchemical transmutations during the centuries that defied the magnificent one and made the city a mirage lost in time away from any civilization.
The city was surrounded by water, it was the element that bonded the city with the world but it was the component that set the city apart from any dimension. Slowly over the years the city joined the world before its imminent demise in the hands of the 23th heir of the Zepeda after the Cataclysm.
The city evolved into a chimera but the focal point for over the centuries was El Centro, the old city district, where everything happened and yet nothing happened at all. El Centro was the scenario of many events such as the Holy Inquisition which was the point that triggered many ghosts that roamed the city for centuries without any path of direction, even so the proclamation of independence and many wars against the corsairs and the Crown of England, which let the results of many ghosts in and around the city.
South the old city there was the small islands of Bocagrande which they evolved into landfill neighborhood after some Americans lived in the city during the 1950’s and 1960’s when they were looking for the black gold in the north of the capital. In Bocagrande there was a exclusive resort called Hotel Caribe, it was so exclusive that the many Presidents and the Great General the republic had spent strong amounts of money to sleep just one step away from the ocean during the golden age of Colombia.
The city on the north was relative empty except for a few haciendas and some land owned by the national government that became the issue of a social war 70 years later before the tragic end.
There was so many things to do and yet nothing to do at all, everything, every place, all was the same. All the entertainment was located in the old city, around the big walls that protected the jewel against Sir Francis Drake and other corsairs during the 16thand 17th Century. Some old colonial houses were underground clubs were the elite had fun as well the paupers but the in spot was Club Cartagena; it was the best social club, exclusive, opulent and elegant, so elegant that all the mirrors ornaments were covered in 10k gold.
For Leonardo Cepeda being a member of the club was his ultimate fantasy, but it seemed so surreal even having that fantasy because he was a peasant from Turbaco and not someone from the Cartagena’s royalty. It was a Saturday and it was his only day off so he went to the city to have some fun away from the town that was the portal between the dead and the living world.
Cartagena was an amazing place for Leonardo because it had everything that Turbaco didn’t had; it even had two movie theaters and a open theaters for bullfighting. It was a dynamic world that he always wanted to discover fully but he wasn’t rich or at least with a proper job that paid well to discover the hidden spots of the city.
He was extremely happy by doing nothing, just walking around the old city and watching the people going by. As every other Saturday he was eating an empanada with a beer for lunch, he never had enough money in his pockets for something else so at age 22 he was developing a belly for his poor eating habits.
It was another sunny Sunday in the city and time seemed to be frozen, the ghosts were walking with the living and people seemed not to care that for one day at the week the past was blending with the present. It was 1946 and something amazing happened in Colombia, television appeared the magical box that came from the United States and Europe was causing uproar in the country because people never saw the magical box that small people gave the news and other events.
It was time of the revolutions, it was the first time ever Leonardo Cepeda fell alive entirely, it was the first time that he reacted to his environments, it was the first time that he saw he was human and there was a need for the change.
The General was the President and people of the liberal party were screaming out loud for the death of Gaitan, even in Turbaco there was an air of melancholy for the winds of change that were coming down. People were scared because they knew their country was about to transmutate for another time and Irina was in the living room of her crystal house in Manga near the Olives Funerary when she felt the changes coming in the wind.
Paola Aguilar grew up a few inches and by that time she was around 14 and half years old. By her time, people were talking about how pretty that little mixed girl was. Her eyes slowly were turning green and her skin was as beautiful as a sunset in the Serengeti infinite plains but she felt lonely during her childhood because she had to help her family with the income.
Her grandma Marina was in the public hospital because of her diabetes, and every time she could after closing the small stall located near the Arsenault Plaza she traveled in a small bus with all her belonging to clinic known as Madre Bernarda, a small clinic founded by the Franciscan Sisters around the 1800’s but later moved to a more residential area near one of their churches in a neighborhood called La Consolata.
The journey was annoying but Paola lived close to the clinic with her mother Isabella. Her father according to her mother was a man from Bogota, who she fall in love and 21 days later they broke up because he couldn’t commit to her, leaving Isabella pregnant without her knowledge and never appearing again in the life of the humble woman.
The afternoon was quiet, inside the bus Paola was thinking about her grandmother mortality, she never imagine her grandmother could die but the thing she was worried was the revolution that was going to happen as the political parties were on war because of the ideas of The General about the cities of the country.
She saw from the bus, two young men fighting in the middle of the street, they were discussing the different events of the politic panorama through fists and insults. She really hated politics because she saw how they divided the people, but overall she hated the General because he was turning the country into something that it wasn’t before the technological revolution.
It was another afternoon for her, trapped in her fragile mansion while she was listening to the radio, by then she was 22 and she got excited by listening to the General because he said that women would be available to vote for the first time in the history of the country in about three years, she couldn’t believe it, she started to jump and her father Angel had to calm her before she started to tear down their crystal house in pieces.
“It is amazing”. She said. “I will be able to vote, this is history in the making, woman will vote papa, and The General said it”.
“Just calm down Irina, let’s wait until the newspaper say something then we can celebrate”.
Winds of change were coming down Colombia as well an imminent revolution because of the actions of the General. He was a revolutionary in terms of social work but to others he was only a fascist dictator who was changing the political system for worse by allowing a few privilege ones to seize control of the power strings of the forgotten country. It was the first time many people fell alive ever because there was going to be the first revolution on a national level on May the 10thof 1942.
The people who could saw the ghost roaming the old streets of the different cities noticed that the old centennial ghosts were slowly dying and being replaced by murdered victims of the political parties. They were victims of the revolutions who were still protesting in the afterlife without reaching the idea of an eternal rest in the beyond. Leonardo Cepeda was in La Plaza de La Aduana, where the Governors headquarters was located; he heard the news about women would be able to vote in less than five years on general elections; it was going to be one of those memories that would follow him to his dead bed because he never imagine watching his mother or sisters voting as free men did.
The Plaza was the epicenter of the political activities, it was an open social space, close to the ocean and surrounded by the great walls that once stood against the English and French Crowns. Behind the Plaza there was the old Saint Peter or San Pedro Parish, for a time it was a refugee for slaves thanks to the old Jesuit monk Pedro Claver, but after the years the old Parish become more than a point of meeting to the revolutionary party of Cartagena and the plaza was just an ideological battlefield between the two fractions and a bunch of teenagers who didn’t had too much to do in their spare time.
It was in the place where Leonardo felt the winds of change; he was talking to one of his cousins in the Portal of the Candies, a small hallway located in the grounds of a yellow two story colonial house that for a long a time during the slave trade it was the heart of the enterprise and also one of the place where Catalina la India’s secret descendents where sold as slaves to some of the rich entrepreneurs of the blooming city.
Leonardo was listening to the radio with his cousin Rememberto, they were listening about the political changes that The General was going to bring to the city as well to the country but Leonardo was lost in the medallion and the ghost of the slaves and the traders that they were walking around the Old Clock plaza.
The Portal of the Candies was located below the Carriage Place as well the Public Clock Tower. A tower that was so small but yet so famous because it was made by the same company who did the Big Ben in Old England, but for a man who could saw the ghosts he was focused on the repeating scenario that no one else could saw.
“Are you watching them again?” Rememberto asked him.
“I am, they keep walking, but they are dying, fading away slowly” Said Leonardo in a very nonchalant tone.
“Why are they dying?”.
“Not dying, they are being replaced by the victims of The General”
“Shut up, someone is going to hear you!”
“I don’t care, these ghosts are trying to speak but yet you can see their suffering”
Many centuries before Leonardo’s genesis, one his early ancestors was a young girl named Dominga, she was the daughter of Catalina la India and also she was Leonardo’s great-great grandmother from his mother side. Dominga was born a slave in the barracks that were under the Saint Phillip fortress, when the fort was mere 10 feet high and 20 meters long. Catalina had a husband he was a shaman and the leader of the tribe before his ultimate death in the hands of cholera thanks by the Spaniards.
Dominga never had contact with the heritage she had. As soon she was born, she was sold to a family whose last name was Theran and raised in the horse shed of a house in Gastelbondo, a affluent street where merchants lived as well members of the clergy.
As she grew up, she slowly became member a member of the family, she didn’t had a last name and when she was formally adopted and introduced as the bastard child of Leonidas Sr who had with a slave, then she carried the mantle of the only family she knew.
The house they lived had a good view of the ocean, every day she dreamed about going and sailing the seas, to travel to Europe where the most delicate pieces of music where composed but eventually Dominga succumbed to pregnancy complications after giving birth to her first daughter a girl named Pilar Avila who eventually became the matriarch of the ill fated Aguilar family who ended up in the streets of a small town selling frites and meals for a really low price.
Dominga always had a fascination with the tides of the ocean, she always felt they were calling her name over and a over, she even saw a golden goat jumping through the waters, the goat’s name was Buziriaco. She always wanted to touch the goat, but the goat was far away in the waters. She was the first fortuneteller, inheriting the magical gift from her grandmother and passing them to every female through the mitochondria but there was a mistake, from another side of the family, a family she didn’t even knew it existed the gift was passed through every male of every generation even beyond Leonardo’s grandchildren who had the gift to see the world of the death.
But for Leonardo those were only memories that refused to die. Time faded slowly and the dead ones slowly disappear in the 2P.M. mist slowly letting the alive to take control of the world again. Rememberto was worried that his cousin was losing touch with reality because he only kept looking at specters no one else could see.
Because of the actions of The General, there was a turmoil, some gunshots, it was another act of sublimation, the Republicans where attacking the Liberals and the Liberals were replying back. Suddenly there was blood everywhere and the Police appeared in no time only to arrest the opposition because people didn’t wanted that woman could elect their leaders.
It was a crazy time for everyone, and Leonardo suddenly found himself attracted to the Liberal belief because they were opposing the common majority, they were opposing by blood the desires of The General, not because they woman would be able to vote but because the repression that only man was causing in to the entire country, he knew he was a liberal and probably he knew he was going to hell because Liberals went to hell and conservators went to heaven as the Monsignor told everyone in the congregation of San Pedro.
It was 1951 and revolution started, the country was in flames and everyone was divided The General would quit around 1957 after a failed assassination attempt, but by then Leonardo would be far away with the love of his life.
Isabella and Miguel were expecting a child by the summer of 1951 and opposite to the rest of the world, opposite to the rest of Colombia; for them their revolution was to buy diapers and getting ready for the baby it was a magical time for them and a bitter sweet moment also. It was time for a change as the country was passing through but yet they were still together because they were expecting a baby boy for the spring of 1952, their last son Andres Miguel Martinez Castro was born in April of 1950. He was named in honor of a child of a friend of the couple who died from cancer at an early age on the summer of 1949 and their friend Yolanda asked the couple if they had a child if could name the child as her lost one.
Andres Miguel, or Andy for short was around 3 and a half and was one of the 6th reasons that their parents never got divorced but also those reasons were going to affect his life years later because he adopted the motto of keeping up the appearances with no matter what situation he had to face, everything must be perfect.
Chela and Miguel where living apart, but they were together under one roof, it was because of the experience of being in the middle of their parents fight that Andres Miguel learned the phrase to keep up the appearances no matter what.
Andres was seven years old by 1957 and since a young age he could saw the spirits. He was scared that the ghosts of the city walked around his neighborhood, his room and they always wanted some kind help but he wasn’t scared of the ghosts that much, he was scared of a strange voice coming from the skirts of the old monastery, a voice that always told him in a creepy way that everything was going to be OK.
Andres and his family lived in El Pie de La Popa, a traditional neighborhood of Cartagena and a place that in the times of the conquistadores served as a route between La Guajira and the Fort of San Felipe but also it was a route were many slaves died trying to escape their executioners and torturers. On the golden days, El Pie de La Popa was an upscale neighborhood with a few manors.
The family lived on the fourth alley on a large property, they were the only ones with a view to the ocean and a view to the old cemetery that was demolished during the late 1990’s to bring a step to the progress and the rage of the dead.
Behind their old state, there was La Popa Monastery; a beautiful Republican building located in the top of the only mountain that by that time didn’t had a proper name but people told that an old evil slept on the skirts of the mountain.
Many centuries ago around the year 700; seven ancient evils rise from the underworld and took the seven continents of Earth, but before they rise, they were eight, the eight one was the main cause of the Mayan’s demise, the lord death called Lacandon and between those Gods of Death there was one, a minor one, his name was Buziriaco, the infernal Demon Lord of the South.
It was the year 1580 and stories that a fraction of the Yurbaqueros survived the massacre that Spanish Crown put on their heads had the Catholic Church on veil, especially because there was a project that was approved by his Royal Highness, the construction of a monastery that could protect the Icacos Peninsula against the devils that roamed the ocean.
Luis Andrea was a short stubby man, he was 56 back then, people say he was the bastard son of a slave and a merchant from Italy and he didn’t even knew where those rumors came from but he thought that came after the Spaniards imagined that all the Yurbaqueros were killed with his aunt Catalina la India.
Stories were told but the mythical Shamanic tribe left a large group of offspring’s through the ages and every single one of them had amazing abilities that defied the logics and imagination. Luis Andrea was resentful toward the Spaniards because his people as well the tribe from the Icacos Peninsula, The Kalamaris were exterminated in the name of God and in the name of the King.
But, he had a God, a God that dwelled bellow the future project located in the nameless mountain, the same mountain he and his ancestor venerated, the name of that God was Buziriaco.
Andres was hiding below his bed while his parents where fighting about the extra-marital romances of his father Miguel. He was crying under the bed and then he heard the voice that came from the mountain, he didn't knew the name of the voice, but every time he was distressed, him appeared in the form a ghostly jolly goat.
- What's wrong my child?
- They are fighting again mister goat, I wish they will stop.
- My young one, they will eventually but can you come now, follow me I want you to meet me in person.
- I know you already, you are mister goat.
- No, no my child, I am not mister goat, I am a friend, I been a friend of your family for generations.
-Then, Why I haven't seen you in real life? Are you a figment of my imagination?
- No, no, I am real, but you see, you are the only one who can see me because you are still pure of heart, you can see the ghosts of the city, you are special.
- I am?. Said Andres with a big smile.
- Now, listen, you see La Popa, there is an old cavern, I lay over there, I am waiting for you, just follow me.
- Ok. Andres replied smilling.
Around 1575, Luis Andrea was a well known shaman in the city; the Catholic church put a bounty on his head as soon the Pope Gregory XIII heard about the powers the shaman had. Luis wasn't scared of the threats above his head because he knew Lord Buziriaco was protecting him as he was giving the gospel of the old demon lord among the people of the city and he was succeeding because the cult of the golden goat was gaining followers against who opposed the Catholic Church.
Luis was slowly becoming a figure of authority and he walked around the streets as any other Cartagenero or Spaniard, but no one knew he was Luis, the fearless Mohan, no one knew except for the priests who were hunting him as they were fear that the old demon lord was going to rise and cause chaos.
But at the end it wasn't any of the priests who killed Luis Andrea and his message of the Uri Goat; it was Buziriaco himself as he was in the need of a vessel, a point to come back to world as he couldn't proceed further because he got lost on the Limbo but still he could made contact with a few people through the ages such as the Mohan of the Yurbaqueros.
Luis Andrea's soul was consumed quickly by the old lord and soon Buziriaco was in the world of the living, personally spreading his gospel of salvation and eternal life.
Old legends about the old lord roaming the city were common among the black and Indian population, they passed orally through mother to son and Chela passed the legends to her progeny as she was part Zinu through her mother side and her mother learned from her Kalamari great-grandmother who lived until her 98th birthday but her son Andres was actually one of the few of her bloodline who could see the spirit world of Cartagena.
Andres started to walk, to follow the goat, he didn't knew why he was following an imaginary goat but he was having fun because he didn't knew there was a small undiscovered path behind his house who let to the mountain; the goat show him the way to an old ceremonial hut without any windows and only one door. It was old, more than three hundred years old.
- What's this?. Andres asked the Uri goat.
- This my child, it's the sanctuary where the old Kalamari and Yurbaqueros adored me.
-Okay, I am going to be OK?.
- You will be my child, you will be.
Andres opened the door and inside the hut, there was a hole in the middle, the Uri explained that the hole was connected to the skirts of La Popa and to a fantastic treasure. The little boy crawled inside and followed the tunnel and inside the tunnel almost at the very end there was a cave, inside the cave there was a golden goat idol, that subsequently the Uri went inside but couldn't do too much as there chains adorned with symbols of the old church to restrain the goat coming back to life.
The idol eyes turned red and then he was speaking, not in a friendly voice but his real one. Andres wasn't scared, he was too young but he fascinated about what he was watching.
-My young child, I am an ancient God, venerated by old ones who were slaughter by the Church. You are probably too young but you see these treasures?.
- Yes. Say the young kid, watching the golden artifacts around the cave. He was amazed by such beauty.
-There is a catch, these won't be yours until your 24th birthday when the cave will open again for you and I will show you the way but you must let me reside inside you until you turn into 24, may I?.
- You can, say the child without knowing what he was letting himself throwing to.
It was the year 1581 and the old Fray Alonso de La Cruz was laying on his premises at the monastery. He was bleeding to death after a massacre happened and all the frays where slaughter by a man with black hair and a sword of Slavic origin. He was crying begging mercy to God after they tried their best to stop the Mohan and failed because the resurrection of Buziriaco took place even if they concealed his first physical body under a prison of gold.
The demon lord found the old priest laying down in his bed, Alonso was smiling and Buziriaco only ask him why?. He didn't answer him but instead ask him another question, what did you do with the Mohan?. The demon lord only replied that he took his body but consumed his soul in the process.
- You are pathetic. Replied the old fray.
- Look who's talking, the man who is going to get exterminated by one of the ancients, you see it's not that I am pathetic, you were one of the order that killed my people, my soldiers on Earth.
Alonso grabbed his cross but also pulled below his an old a small bottle that had some Phoenician writings and he start reciting an old prayer. Before the demon lord could stab him with his blade, he realized that everything around him was getting blurry, the world was spinning and he was feeling that was being sucked away from the body he stole.
- What did you do to me old man?. Answer me!.
The fray just smiled as his life was fading away.
Andres suddenly woke up in his room, he was full of bruises and he was having a hard time moving.
- Buziriaco. He gasp, and then he fall asleep again.
His mother was actually concerned, she never cared for any of her children that much, they were much of a property to her as her jewels but watching her son to run away, something struck on her.
Her life was around all the privileges she could desired, but since being stuck in a loveless marriage, she was feeling hesitant to continue her relationship but the Catholic Church didn't give divorces that easily back then, so she started to redo what she wanted in life and she wanted freedom.
She was listening to the radio that day, again the news that voting for women was going to happen soon made her smile, she wanted to be there in the process where men elected their governors but also she heard that there were people opposing the General, The Liberal Rebels who were recruiting the youth to oppose the regime in every single province.
She wanted to join the fight but she didn't knew where to start looking, she knew it was time for a change and to liberate herself from any chain of oppression but also she was scared that her son suffered major injuries after being trapped in a cave for three and a half days.
It was June the 13th of 1957, it was the worse year for the country and that day rumors where that the biggest strike was going to be in Bogota but every single and major capital of the country was going to be involved. June the 13th was the day of the beginning of the revolution and the day where he end started.
Leonardo was walking with his girlfriend of that time, her name was Irina Salcedo, she was the daughter of a physician that had his office near the Governor's hall. There was an ambient of fear that day, everyone who was walking in the streets was listening to the gossip that the secret agents of the police were prepared for the insurrection.
A guy screaming "Horary for the revolution, long live the military commune", he was arrested on the spot for perpetuate the peace and silence of the area. Irina was scared that something awful was going to happen but what she didn't knew that her boyfriend was a member of the rebels and he was going to introduce her to the faction of Cartagena.
- Where are the ghosts of the old ones?. Leonardo was wondering, he knew that joining the rebels was a bad idea but he also knew that below the effort of The General to grant equality to the women of the land, there were other major problems that he was trying to bury, such as the people who disappeared, selective killings, exiles of politicians who were against the regime and other barbarities.
Revolution was near, a few hours a day from hour zero. The time was about to change and the city was also to transmute into a new one.
They both walked to an old restaurant located in the old neighborhood of Getsemani, inside there was the Party, Irina Salcedo who was the daughter of a supporter of the General broke immediately with him but he scared her by telling her "You shouldn't tell no one, your father is well known in the city and if you tell anything you are probably going to jail and get shunned by your family because you know, no one will believe you".
He was alone, listening to the words of the Leader of the Coast. He was scared about what was going to happen but he knew the protest and the strike was a reality only a few hours away.
Outside of Socorro, that woman whose name was Marina Aguilar, the oracle of the freits, the same woman who told him they were going to meet again in the near future was outside waiting for him, not knowing he was inside but yet she was sure he was going to come out. Marina told Leonardo she was going to give him one last message before the end but when she realized someone beloved to her was close she opted to give her the message that was for Leonardo.
Irina was walking near Socorro and she saw a girl who looked like her walking outside the restaurant. The girl started to walk among the crowd and suddenly she disappeared between the mist of people. When Irina was walking to the entrance, she saw an old, overweight, black woman who was sitting there alone with her friture table and she was almost blind by old age. Irina felt hungry and she approached to Marina
“My child, at last I can see you, it’s been a while”. Said Marina to Irina. Irina thought the old lady could be confused because of her old age.
“Can I have a Kibbeh, please”.
“Anything you want my dear, it’s on the house”. Said the old oracle while she passed a Kibbeh to Irina.
“You don’t recognize me?, and I am the blind one”.
“No lady, who are you?”
“I am the same woman who you were looking almost 15 years ago in Turbaco, the woman that raised you after your mother died during childbirth”.
“No way, no way, it’s impossible, I cannot believe it, Mary, it’s you, but how?, how you know it?”
“My dear, remember I can see the future, the past and present of this city, I am here and I was there; remember all those stories I told you when you were little about an imminent war in a country between two political parties…”
“I thought you were telling some strange tales about your old town, I am confused”.
“I was telling your destiny and the destiny of your family and your future”.
Irina couldn’t resist and she hug deeply her old surrogate mother.
“I have so many questions, why you didn’t say hello in Turbaco?”
“Because I was talking to your soon to be husband”
“Are you deaf too my dear?, your husband, your soul mate, it’s here and you are going to miss the opportunity to meet him”
“Where he is?”
The old fortuneteller moved slowly her hand and pointed to Socorro.
Irina gave her one more hug and say “I’ll be back I have to see him, if he is who I know who is”. Marina smiled in sad way because it was going to be the last time that she could hug her surrogate child. “I’ll see you soon Iri”. When Irina was running toward the old bar/restaurant, Marina stop breathing and died in La Quinta of Getsemani, near the entrance of the restaurant, her friture oven fade off slowly while she unhurriedly passed to the in between and became one of the many ghosts of the city.
Paola didn't knew about her grandmother's demise until three weeks later where she found her at the local morgue.
She was devastated because her grandmother escaped from the house, she was acting senile but her grandmother used to act strange in order to achieve some things in her life.
Irina was inside the restaurant, everyone was wearing blue, the color of the revolution. There she sat down and listened to the words of the Leader of the Coast; she was feeling strange, as there was something that was about to change.
There she saw a man, a short man with brown hair, big nose, quite charming, she moved and sit closer to the man. His name was Leonardo, she saw the man Marina was talking she didn't knew how to approach him but she had an idea
“Hello I am Irina, nice to meet you”.
Leonardo smiled because that was the same red haired girl he saw in Turbaco many moons ago, he only say hello with a stupid smile.
Revolution started and the amulet was lost around the sea of people.