In the Spanish and Mexican culture there is an enormous amount of tradition that is passed from one generation to the next. Among the many traditions are its folklore, which is based in part on true stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next and so on. Notable examples are La Llorona or The Crying Women, the myth of La Lechuza or witch/harpy bird, and of course, the legend of Chepita Rodriguez, whom many say was the first women to be executed in Texas. Wrongly accused of theft and murder, the legend says she haunts San Patricio County in South Texas to this day-with a noose around her neck.
The following is a similar story, albeit one lesser known. In fact, beyond that of my family and my elder’s closest friends, it may not be known at all. Today, it will be. In the late 1930’s there was a young man named Andres. Andres was a little over 13 years old. Andres was, to say the least, a very angry child. Here is the account of Andres, as it was told to my father, by his father Bruno, and how this young boy’s life was forever changed.
I call it,
Socorro and Alejandro were immigrant workers in South Texas and prided themselves on a hard day’s work. They did their part during the day, toiling in the heat of the summer, and each evening when the sun would start to fall, they went home, tired but happy. Whatever food they could afford was more than enough and Socorro would always provide a decent meal for herself, her husband, and their only child, Andres. Somehow Andres, when he was actually home, found room to complain. The food was too hot or too cold, too bland or too spicy it was always never good enough. When he was younger, Socorro made excuses for him and blamed it on simple child-hood pickiness. As the years went on however, she began to believe that he truly meant to discourage her. This attitude was true for everything she did in the house. Alejandro intervened and begged Andres to listen and to show respect, after all, she was his mother. Andres cursed his father each and every time. When Alejandro went to further discipline his son, Andres would be gone in moments, prowling the neighborhood, looking for algo que hacer, something to do.
“¡Tienes que obedecer, hijo! Tu eres el unico que tenemos!” “You must obey, son! You’re the only one we have!” his mother would cry out to him as he walked away. She loved him unconditionally.
He would yell back to her, “It’s not my fault your barren!” among other curses and obscenities. He was getting worse and worse and the more they tried to discipline him, the more he resisted.
The elderly neighbor, Mariana, a close friend of the family’s, would hear every curse thrown at them by Andres. When she would visit, Socorro would appeal to her and ask her advice. Many times Mariana would console her and explain that it must be a phase and to keep disciplining him. But she knew it was not enough.
One day, while Alejandro was away, Mariana tried to intervene. Andres threw piedras, rocks, at her and cut her cheek with one of them as he cursed at her. Fed up with how he treated his parents, she yelled at him, “¡Nino miserable! Los demonios le mostrara si no aye nadie mas puede!” Miserable child! The demons themselves will show you, if no one else can! Forget about me, obey your parents!”
He spit at the ground in front of him; a sign of disgust towards her and kept on walking.
“I pray to God for your protection but Lord knows!” she yelled at Socorro before slamming the screen door of her home.
Later that evening, Socorro paced the living as Alejandro sat on the couch. It was after midnight and Andres had not come home yet. This was rare. He would be in his room by this time, everynight, regardless. Then they heard a noice outside.
“Andres?” his father yelled out.
“¿Que te importa? Ya bete a dormir, pinche hombre viejo. Tu y tu mujer! Voy para el bano! Ya dejame!” he yelled.
“What’s it to you? Go to sleep already, you old man. You and your women. I’m going to the bathroom. Leave me be!”
In those days, an outhouse served as a bathroom for families.
Alejandro and Socorro looked at each other and their faces fell in sadness. “What do we do?” she began asking him. Not having any solutions, they stood in silence and bowed their heads.
Their voices were drowned out by Andres’ sudden screams coming from outside. His screams were so real and horrible, his parents froze for a moment, but soon Alejandro gathered himself and darted out of the door. He grabbed his machete. Socorro ran behind him. The screams became louder and ominous.
“Andres! Que te pasa, hijo?” Andres! Andres!” Alejandro shouted with terror. They reached the outhouse as it moved from side to side slightly. Loud and intense pounding of the walls filled the night as Alejandro tried desperately to break down the locked door, hacking and attempting to slice through the splintered wood. They yelled to him again and again. Andres’s cries were otherworldly. “¡Ama! Ama! Apa! Son muchos!!!” He yelled. “Mother! Mother! Father! There’s many!” The hitting and scraping of the outhouse walls and door intensified with screams of “leave me! Oh, Lord! Leave me!” Andres let out one last cry that shook his mother’s heart and caused her to fall to the ground. Then complete silence. Alejandro, out of breath, gave one final chop to the door and yelled out to his son. There was no answer. Alejandro opened the door and knees buckling, fell to the ground, making the sign of the cross over and over…and over again.
Andres lay huddle in the corner of the outhouse, one bloodied hand almost clutching the wall, the other around his knees. He was brutally beaten. His clothers were torn, tattered, and long, deep cuts crossed his chest. His fingers were bleeding and scratches covered his face. Clumps of his hair were strewn on the ground, covered in blood. As Andres stared blankly at nothing in particular, he whispered a single word, over and over:
Overtime his wounds healed, though the scars remained. His mental state was what the doctors called, “perdido“…lost. Andres was sent to an asylum.
The only word he would ever speak was “forgive me” in Spanish:
Alejandro and Socorro never had other children. They were never the same.
*This story was published in Underneath The Juniper Tree’s blog 10/2011. Here is the latest and greatest Halloween /13 ISSUU!