Angel of Death Chapter XIV

XIV

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?”

“Old enough.”

“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.”

“Okay.”

“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. 

Sometimes simultaneously.


Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca.

ANGEL OF DEATH Chapter XII

XII

FATHER FIDEL

After I got rid of my father, my ego got a huge boost. His presence was suffocating. His disappearance gave me freedom and power.

I never understood why he wasn’t more supportive and less critical. On the surface, he seemed harmless, but his attacks were steady and relentless. I tried to ignore him and let him know he was wrong, but all was in vain.  
To me, life had always been contradictory. When I was a good person, I was miserable. But after I committed the first murder, things started to turn around. As the murders increased, so did my happiness.

God’s been doing it backward. When I was naive and vulnerable, he ignored me all the time, and when I became a mean, heartless killer, I began to get rewarded. Hell must be the punishment I deserve. Although, for a psychopath like me, hell could also be a reward.


*****

Joy came out with great news one day.

“Hey boys, Pablo asked me to marry him, I told him to give me a few days for my answer, what do you think?”

“Why didn’t you say yes, right away?” Sadie asked.

“Yeah, Joy, what’s wrong with you? I like the guy. He seems to be madly in love with you.” I said.

“I don’t know, I love him too, but I have some doubts. He’s not legal in the country. If we marry, he’ll become an American citizen. I’m not sure what he’s after, me or a green card.”

“How can you say you love him and still doubt his motives?” Sadie said.

“Sadie’s right Joy, I don’t think Pablo is capable of doing such a rotten thing. You’re so smart and beautiful. He adores you.” I said.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. I’m smart and beautiful.” Joy replied with a smile.


*****

 One day, I joined grandma at church. After mass was over, Father Fidel hurried down the steps from the altar to push grandma’s wheelchair. The following morning he was was our first customer. Father Fidel was in his early forties, short and a little on the chubby side, and with a receding hairline. He rarely smiled. When he approached the register, I told the girls not to accept his money. “It’s on the house,” I said.

After he left, Sadie began to tell us a little about Father Fidel.

“You know, he just came back from Rome, he went to the Vatican. He spent two weeks there. He even showed grandma and me a picture of him with the Pope. And you know who paid for the trip? That’s right, grandma.” 

I had no idea about that, but somehow, it didn’t come as a surprise. Later, I found out grandma made a church donation or personal contribution of six thousand dollars for that trip. That didn’t bother me too much. After all, all properties belong to both of us. Nevertheless, I decided to put a stop to all those absurd donations.

“Do you know what else I heard? That he is abusing some of the kids in the choir. So far, I’ve heard two different stories from two different kids. And now, Father Fidel is trying to convince grandma to give a larger donation to build a boy’s club behind the church.”

“Are you sure about this, Sadie? These are serious accusations.” Joy asked.

“Nobody’s accusing anybody; I said ‘I heard’, these might be just rumors, but what would these kids gain by spreading false accusations? I know they’re afraid to tell their parents. They think that no adults would believe in them. They know I’m not an adult that’s why they trust me.” Sadie responded.

“I’m glad you’re telling us about all this. I’ll talk to grandma before she makes us file for bankruptcy. It would be good to give some small donations to the church if they did something good with the money, but I’ve never seen the priests feeding the homeless.” 

“I agree with you, Angel. You should tell grandma about that pervert and his sinister plans to have dozens of kids at his disposition. Do you think we should alert the police?” Joy asked.

I was about to call Father Fidel a ‘pedophile’. Then, I remembered the relationship I had with Sadie. In the eyes of the law, I was also a pedophile, even if the sex was consensual.

“We should wait until we’re sure it’s true. There have been dozens of cases like that in California. Also, I think priests are just like the police. They protect each other to cover up their misdeeds. It’d be good if we see a pedophile priest put in jail for a change.” Damn, the word escaped my mouth. I was trying not to say pedophile, and I still said it.

My carelessness didn’t go unnoticed by Joy’s shrewd mind because she followed my comment with this: “Excuse me, Angel, since when are you allowed to judge pedophiles?”

I showed her my middle finger, and all three of us ended the conversation with a friendly laugh.

Even though I was thirty-four and Sadie seventeen, I’ve never considered myself a pedophile because she loved me, and sex was consensual. I didn’t cause her any mental or physical harm, but I was legally a pedophile. And she wasn’t my first victim. 

In the end, we agreed that Sadie was going to talk to those kids. She said she would try to bring them to tell us their stories.

That night, I told grandma to put on hold all future donations to the church. I was glad she accepted.

A few days later, Sadie convinced one of the kids to come and talk to us.

His family had been in Visalia for three years. They came from Mexico. He never told his parents about the abuse because he was afraid they would punish him. He told us Father Fidel abused another boy too. But his family had moved to another town to avoid further contact between their son and the priest. He also said Father Fidel had a room where he punished or rewarded kids from the choir. The punishment and the rewards were the same: sexual abuse. His name was Pedro. He was thirteen.

There was no doubt in my mind he was telling the truth. 

Before he went away, I spoke to him in Spanish and told him we would never say anything to his parents to anybody. I promised him all the abuse would end soon. And that Father Fidel was going to disappear forever, very soon.


*****

Of course, grandma didn’t say anything when I gave her all that information. She just kept tightening her fists on the armrests of her wheelchair. I explained everything I had found out about Father Fidel, the same priest that, until that moment, she considered a saint.

Father Fidel was proudly beaming when I invited him to join us for dinner the following Friday. He probably thought we were accepting his petition, which was thirty thousand dollars to build a boy’s club. If he knew what was about to happen, he would accept an invitation from hell instead.

The next day, I went to the bank and withdrew thirty thousand dollars in cash. Just in case something went wrong and I needed an excuse or alibi.

On Friday, when Father Fidel arrived at our house, he extended his arm, maybe expecting me to kiss his hand or his ring, but all I felt for him was a total aversion. To his disappointment, I barely touched his hand. I had noticed how grandma greeted him with reverence. I thought it was very antiquated and ridiculous. That’s probably why some Catholic priests were so arrogant. My grandma kissed his hand anyway. Old habits die hard.

When he entered our house, I knew he wasn’t coming out alive.

I was a monster there’s no doubt about it. And my father was a monster too, but this priest was worse than both of us. He was abusing children, and he was depriving them of joy and happiness. 

Their mental health would be affected for the rest of their lives. This guy was worse than my dad. At least my dad never touched me. I couldn’t believe guys like this could represent God. What could be worse than that? I’ll be a hero and a villain at the same time. 

Grandma gave me a couple of Valium pills to sedate Father Fidel. I didn’t want him to be unconscious, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have a difficult time controlling him. I offered him something to drink. He preferred brandy over tequila. 

At the kitchen table, he kept exalting his humble idea of building a shelter for his boys.

He said: “I love my boys, I need to keep them away from drugs and gangs. They’ll be busy and won’t have time for impure thoughts,” 

The only part I believed was: “I love my boys.”

The unsuspecting priest had a few shots of brandy and sat at the table expecting a feast on his honor.

Before continuing with his hypocrite speech, I grabbed him by the neck and dragged him to the butcher shop. He didn’t even get a chance to react; he was a little drunk, sedated, and disoriented. He didn’t fight back. He was more confused than obedient. He couldn’t even defend himself verbally. 

I whispered in his ear: “We know you’re a pedophile. We know you’ve been abusing kids from the choir. Instead of reporting you to the police, I’ll take the law into my hands. If God didn’t intervene to save those kids, he won’t intervene to help you either.” then he looked at grandma, imploring for an intervention.

I used a roll of duct tape to tie him up. With his mouth gagged, he sat in shame on the floor. He looked a world apart from how he proudly appeared in the pulpit. 
Then I heard someone knocking on the door.



Edmundo Barraza
Lancaster, Ca. Apr-7-2014