IN A DESCENDING CYCLE
Instead of waiting for the police to come to the house asking questions about Father Fidel, I decided to go and talk to them. I had to assume their investigation would lead them to my house anyway.
I told them he was one of grandma’s best friends. I mentioned the donations grandma had provided to the church, and I had bank receipts and cashier’s check copies. I told them about the thirty thousand dollars in cash he had asked for to build his boys club. I said we gave him the money when we invited him to dinner last Friday.
I didn’t mention he was a pedophile. They would discover that during the investigation. I never talked about him in the past tense, which could give the impression that I knew he was dead already. I referred to him as if he was alive, and he could show up any minute. I told them another lie that he might hire a general contractor from the L.A. area. Grandma supported my story.
The money was still in the house, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I could make small deposits at a time and return the money to the bank. But for the moment, I was stuck with that cash.
I told the same story to Joy and Sadie. Either they believed it or were troubled with the possibility that I got rid of him. In any case, they didn’t say a word after I presented my ‘true’ facts.
The church offered a reward of fifteen thousand dollars for any information leading to his whereabouts. The City of Visalia put up another fifteen thousand dollars for a total of thirty thousand dollars, the same amount Father Fidel was supposed to have at the moment of his disappearance, ha!
That entire week Father Fidel was on the front page of the local newspaper.
A few days later, the police found Father Fidel’s ring in a pawn shop. A homeless person had pawned it, and he claimed it had appeared in his hamburger. They didn’t believe him and put him in jail. Since the cops had a suspect in custody, news of the priest went to the second page, and things settled down a bit for a while.
The name of my shrink was Jennifer. She was forty years old. She was elegant, and the smell of her perfume was discrete and subtle. And she was a classy lady.
I called her office to make an appointment. Since our first meeting was interrupted by another client, I decided to be the last appointment of the day.
I didn’t know if the treatments were effective, but I enjoyed our meetings. We talked about depressing things, phobias, obsessions, disorders, and other mental dysfunctions. Except for my crimes, I exposed all my hidden secrets within my soul in our conversations, including all the mental abuse my dad made me suffer. It felt strange not knowing anything about her.
On my way home, I would always regret having talked so much. Nevertheless, exposing my soul was a great relief.
“I’ve noticed some improvements in you, Angel. You’re not so shy anymore, and you don’t complain so much about your father . . .” she started.
“I’ll never stop complaining about my father. But you’re right. I feel like another person now.” I replied.
Having turned into a killer to become a regular person must sound ridiculous, but killing my father was the best thing I’ve done my whole life. That was my turning point.
“What would you do if your dad reappeared in your life?”
“I would kill him again.” (I thought) “I could never relive the same situation, I would rather die,” I said.
It was insane because I knew he’d never come back. Still, I sincerely imagined he could. Deep in my mind, I was sure I would kill him again.
“Do you consider yourself a violent person?” she asked.
“I know I could defend myself if the situation arises,” I replied.
“What I mean to ask is if you think you’re capable of killing somebody.”
I got scared, it felt like she knew all about me, but I tried to keep my cool.
“Yes, I think I could be able to kill somebody, but only to defend the three persons I love the most in the world, my grandma, Sadie, and myself.”
I was sincere. I had no reason to kill Fredo and the prostitute, but things had changed. I knew I wouldn’t kill anybody without a motive anymore.
“How old is your girlfriend, Angel?”
“How old, Angel?”
“She’s nineteen. Why?” I lied again.
“I saw you with her a few days ago. She was pushing your grandma’s wheelchair. She seems to be sixteen or seventeen years old.”
“I said she’s old enough. Can we change the subject now?”
“I’m sure you know that having sex with an underage girl is a grave crime. It’s a felony, and you could go to jail. I’m here to give you advice, and that’s what I’m doing.”
“It feels like you’re conducting an investigation, not a conversation. It feels more like an interrogation.”
“I’m sorry if you feel that way, Angel. But I must help you in any way I can. And for that, I need your collaboration.”
“Did you read the newspaper today, Angel? There’s an article about some people that have disappeared near The Oval Park. Right around the area where you live. I’m sure you know about it, having contact with so many customers in your butcher shop,” then, she grabbed a newspaper from her desk and continued.
“The list includes an old lady named Ana Suarez, a sixteen-year-old girl named Leticia Gomez, Alfredo Lugo, whom they believe was gay, and of course Father Fidel. Should your dad be considered on the list, Angel?”
My face turned hot and red, and I began to sweat like a pig. I’ve never been good at faking or hiding my feelings. I wanted to run to my room and hide under my bed. I’m sure my attitude was revealing my guilt.
“Of course, I’ve heard about all those people. In a meat market, you hear about all kinds of stories, but if you’re implying that I have anything to do with the disappearance of those people, you’re wrong. It seems that you are accusing me of those murders, and that’s completely unjustified and unfair too.”
“I never said anything about murders. The authorities are investigating disappearances, not murders. At the moment, they’re missing persons they haven’t found their bodies.”
“I don’t know if they’re dead, and I don’t care at all. I didn’t even know any of those people.” I was feeling trapped. I couldn’t compete with an expert, especially when she was right.
“Well, Ana Suarez was your neighbor. She lived all her life behind your house, and Leticia worked in the butcher shop. You’re contradicting yourself there’s no need to be nervous. Oh, and another thing, about the homeless person who claimed to have found Father Fidel’s ring in a hamburger, didn’t you serve those hamburgers to the poor people in the park? And weren’t you the last person to see Father Fidel alive? I believe he was in your house the night he disappeared.”
“You’ve been following this case very closely, but everything you mentioned is public knowledge. We never saw Ana Suarez. She was a recluse. Leticia worked for me for a few weeks, and then she went to Hollywood to look for fame and fortune. It feels like you’re accusing me, and that hurts deeply.”
“You’ve mentioned some details concerning these people. My obligation as a psychiatrist is to take care of your mental health. Part of the treatment requires questioning your social behavior. I need to get inside your mind to be able to help you better. About those missing persons, they’re just that, missing. If they don’t find the bodies, there’s no crime to follow. If you know anything about those people, you should talk to the police. I intend to help you, not to hurt you.”
I felt relieved when we were interrupted by her secretary to let us know she was leaving. The interruption was heaven-sent. That session was pure torture.
Sadie had never stayed in my room overnight, maybe, out of respect for Joy and Grandma, but we made love several times a week.
Sadie was my savior and the main reason my sanity was under control. I didn’t know what I would do without her.
The day after my shrink shook me and crushed me without mercy, Sadie came out with some shocking surprises. After we closed the shop, she said that we needed to talk. She said Joy had accepted her boyfriend’s marriage proposal and that they had plans to move to L.A.
“Joy wants me to go with them. She wants me to go to college. And I think she’s right,” she said.
“No, she’s not right. You belong here with me. L.A. is three hours away, and if you go, I’ll lose you forever. Why don’t we get married? My life would be meaningless without you.”
“No, Angel, I wouldn’t know what to do if I was married. I want to go to college. I can come and visit you every month, and you can visit me too.”
“No, Sadie, that would never work. I know that if you leave, I’ll lose you forever. If you leave, you’ll change and forget about me. Long-distance love could never last. You’ll meet a bunch of guys your age. Please don’t leave Sadie, I beg you.”
“I don’t know Angel, I love you very much, and it breaks my heart to leave you, but I can’t be without Joy in my life. Joy is like a mother to me. It’s a tough decision, but I’ve made up my mind. You’ve been an angel to us. We will always be grateful to you. It won’t be easy to say goodbye to grandma either, especially since I won’t be able to call her on the phone. I’m sorry, Angel. We can visit each other as much as we can. Let’s not consider this the end.”
“You’re killing me, Sadie.”
She had finalized our relationship. It felt like she had ended my life too. I felt a desolated emptiness.
But she wasn’t done with the bad news.
“There are a few more things I need to tell you, Angel. Joy and I believe you killed Father Fidel. He was a monster. But as bad as he was, there was no need to kill him. I don’t need to know whether you did it or not. Also, people suspect you have something to do with the persons that have disappeared in the area. They say you were involved with Leticia, the young girl that used to work in the shop. They say she disappeared the night you went with her on a date. They also mentioned a hooker and a thief that used to hang in the park.”
“But that’s absurd, Sadie. If they disappeared, it doesn’t mean someone killed them.”
“That’s the other thing, Angel. They believe you’ve been feeding them with human flesh, especially since they found Father Fidel’s ring in a hamburger. Things are about to explode Angel.”
“Is that the real reason you’re leaving then? Tell me, Sadie, do you believe in those rumors?”
At that moment, I knew I had lost her. I felt she was a million miles away from me. I wouldn’t dare to cause any harm to her. She was the love of my life. The only love I will ever have. But her love had disappeared too. I knew God would never allow guys like me to be happy.
“No, Angel, the reason I’m leaving is to be with Joy and to go to college. I never forgot about that promise I made after our mom left. I will always love you, and that’s a promise too.”
Then, I asked her to spend the night with me, and she gladly agreed.
We both knew that that night would be our last night together. That night, we made love, and we cried, and we made love again, and we cried again.