I looked at the bar, thinking to myself.
“What the hell am I even doing here? This is nothing but a scam, a complete waste of time.”
The keys of my car were dangling in my hand, still unsure about my decision. I pressed the key and I heard the locks of my car getting activated. I pressed it one more time, just to be sure. One can never be careful enough, especially in a place like this.
I made my way towards the bar, and walked through the double door, made completely out of solid wood. The door made a high, groaning sound as I pushed against them with all my might. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to keep the young kids out, but it would take an adult male’s strength to even get in. The air inside was stale, and there was a faint hint of something burning. There was an empty stool at the end of the bar. That’s where I took a seat and ordered the Carajillo with a twist. I took one little sip and immediately, the taste of sweet vanilla, chocolate, and citrus notes came alive. It wasn’t until a few seconds later, that the taste of tequila came in, blended with the rich notes of black coffee. An acquired taste, but I was still wondering why I had to order this exact drink.
“What am I doing here? I’m telling you, this is all gonna turn out to be a hoax.”
I wasn’t even sure who I was talking to. It didn’t matter if I was the only one listening, but it felt right at that time. At the same time, an older Mexican farmer glared in my direction from across the bar, watching me talk to myself.
One week earlier – It all happened so fast. One day, I was still happily in love with the same woman I met a couple of years ago, and I still had a house to live in. And, I still had a decent enough job to pay for that house. Then one day, everything changed. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying my breakfast while I was getting ready for work, when I heard that devastating knock on the front door.
I still remember every little detail about that morning. How the streets were soaked outside by the midnight rain, how an eerie mist was creeping over the neighbourhood. I could even still remember the steam rising from the wet asphalt, as it was heating up by the morning sun. My girlfriend had left for work about an hour prior. The last thing I said to her was:
“Drive safe, and call me when you get there.”
She had a big meeting planned for that day and I wanted to wish her luck before she walked inside. The roads were slippery because of the rain, and I told her to watch out for aqua-planning. It happened to me a couple of days ago and I wasn’t sure if she knew how to react when it would happen to her. I took the small, black box out of my jacket and opened it. A shiny, diamond ring was reflecting the morning sun. That night, I was going to propose to her. We had been together for four years now, and I just knew she was the one. That night, I wanted to make it official. That’s why I asked her to be careful. But I never got that call. Instead, I got two police officers knocking on my front door.
It wasn’t aqua-planning that got her, but a desperate young man who needed a car. The officers told me that my girlfriend was waiting at a red light, when a young man held her at gunpoint, asking her to get out of the car. From what the officers could tell, she refused, but she offered him a ride instead. That wasn’t to his liking, and he just shot her point-blank. Then he threw her body out of the car and drove off. A morning jogger saw it happen and called an ambulance. But she died by the time they got to the hospital. They found the carjacker a few miles further, with the car wrapped around a telephone pole. At least that fucker got what he deserved, but it wouldn’t bring her back.
One night, I was talking to my best friend over a few drinks.
“You know, I just can’t believe what happened to her.”
He didn’t say anything at first, only listened.
“Just a few moments earlier, we were sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying our breakfast. She was clapping her hands against mine, like she always used to do, remember?”
He nodded. It was something she always did when we sat at a table somewhere.
“And then some lowlife had to ruin everything. That night I was gonna propose to her, can you believe that?”
As my best friend, he knew exactly what I was planning that night. I could always count on him, and he was the first one I called when the officers left that morning. He dropped everything and he drove off to see me.
There was a long pause before either one of us said another word. Then he coughed a few times, clearing his throat.
“You know, there might be a way to say goodbye to her.”
He looked down at his whiskey, afraid to look into my eyes.
“I’m not even sure if it’s true or not, but I heard a rumour last month when I was in Mexico.”
“A rumour?” I asked.
“Look, it’s probably not even true, but I feel like I should at least tell you about it.”
“Go on, spit it out.”
“Alright, look—back when I was in Sinaloa, having some shots of tequila with some of the local farmers when they told me about an urban legend. Apparently, there is a witch doctor at the end of a little town named El Pozo. They say she’s able to bring someone back from the dead, only for one night though.”
I looked him in the eyes and took a sip from my bourbon. I wasn’t sure how to react to that story.
“But I’m telling you,” he continued, “they said it’s an urban legend, so it’s probably not even true.”
Quickly after that, he changed the subject and we dropped the whole subject.
Truth be said, that urban legend never left my mind as soon as he put it in my mind. I wanted to know more, but I wasn’t sure whether my best friend would tell me more about it. If he even knew more about it. I decided to do some research on my own. Everything could be found on the internet these days. I became obsessed with it, asking myself the same questions over and over again:
What if wasn’t just an urban legend? What if it was true? And most importantly, what if I could spend one more night with her?
I would do anything to hold her one last time, telling her that everything will be okay with me, and how much I miss her.
After that night with my best friend, I completely lost track of my normal life. The only thing that mattered to me was finding out the truth about El Pozo. It even got so bad that I lost my job because I didn’t show up for work anymore. When I couldn’t pay the mortgage on my house anymore, the bank took it back. I had lost pretty much everything I ever loved or owned, except for my old Dodge Charger and a few hundred bucks in my wallet. I figured that was enough to get me to El Pozo, Mexico. What was I supposed to do? She meant the world to me, so I owed it to both of us. I was entitled to at least say goodbye to her, for the last time.
Present – That brings me back to this bar. As soon as I got down to El Pozo, I started asking around. I was sure some of the locals must have heard about it. But some way, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. Just when I told them I was looking for a Curandero who could bring someone back from the dead, they looked at me like was crazy, or just another drunk tourist. Some of them had heard about the urban legend, but they told me I was chasing after ghosts. That something like that couldn’t be true, otherwise, they would have heard about it. That’s when I met him, an older Mexican. Everyone else seemed to be avoiding him, but at least he could tell me about the Curandero I was looking for. I thought I knew everything there was about that urban legend, but he told me things I hadn’t heard of before.
“What you need to do Gringo, is go to a bar called El Enano Loco and order a Carajillo with a twist. The bartender will know what it means.”
Then he got up and walked away, not saying anything more. I stood at that dusty crossroad for a few minutes, watching that old Mexican walk away. When he was out of sight, I opened Google Maps and looked for a bar called El Enano Loco. And what do you know, there was a bar like that just outside of town. I got back to my Charger and drove towards it. And now here I am, sipping from that Carajillo with a twist and clueless about what was going to happen next.
It was already getting dark outside and my drink was almost finished. I was getting ready to get up and leave, admitting that my best friend was right about all of this, when a woman took a seat at the stool next to me, ordering the same exact thing, a Carajillo with a twist.
She placed one hand around her glass and faced me.
“So, what brings a Gringo like you down to a place like this?”
I wasn’t sure whether she was hitting on me or not, but I didn’t mind the company. To be frank, she was a bit old for my taste and I really hoped she wasn’t hitting on me.
“You know, I heard they had great cocktails.”
She started laughing as if she knew I was kidding.
“But I have an alternative motive,” I continued, “I heard something through the grapevine, and I wondered whether or not it was true.”
She took a sip of her Carajillo and let out a sigh when the notes of vanilla hit her taste buds. She looked back at me, smiling. That was her way of asking to tell her more, so I did.
I told her the real reason I came to El Pozo and El Enano Loco, about what had happened to my girlfriend and me. I told her I was looking for a Curandero, someone who was able to bring someone back from the dead for just one night. I was sure she would get up and leave, rendering me to my own, lonesome self again.
“But it’s all probably just a hoax or something,” I tried reassuring myself.
But she didn’t get up and leave—she stayed exactly where she was. Still, she didn’t say anything. The only thing she did, was finish her Carajillo and ordered another one just for me.
“You enjoy that one, Gringo,” she said, and place one hand on my shoulder and whispered something in Spanish.
Even if I could understand more Spanish, it was too soft to translate it in my mind. She removed her hand from my shoulder and walked out the front door. But the strange thing is, I didn’t hear the creaking of the wooden doors when she walked out. Even when I turned around, the door was closed, but there wasn’t a trace left of her. I turned back around and took the first sip of my new drink. It was then when I heard the double, wooden door creak. I turned around to see if she had returned, but I couldn’t see anyone. The doors were closing again, but I couldn’t see anything.
“Maybe it was just the wind,” I thought to myself, completely forgetting how much force I had to use to open those doors myself.
I faced back to the bar and held the Carajillo in my right hand. A few drops of condensation ran over my warm fingers as I brought the glass back to my lips for another sip. When the glass touched my lips and the fresh liquid ran inside my mouth, something behind me was happening. But I was completely unaware of it. The wooden doors were completely closed again, and a strange white mist floated towards the bar. By every inch it took, the mist took more of a solid form, until it changed into someone made out of flesh and blood. Yet, I was completely unaware of any of it. I was too busy trying to empty my glass, so I could get out of there, back home where I could admit defeat to both myself as my best friend. It wasn’t until I noticed a figure taking place on the stool next to me. I was still gulping down my drink, as it seemed to be bottomless at that point. I only stopped drinking when I felt two hands clap against my left hand.