The Spanish Curse

By Oliver Dean Spencer

Crime & mystery


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2 mins


The first wild birds of the morning
Are breaking out of the trees.
And now the night is dying
On the sharp edge of the stone.
Let's find a corner of darkness
Where I will love you always,
And I won't care about people
Or the poison that they spread.

Blood Wedding


I FOUND HER THAT MORNING sitting by herself, at a table tucked away in the corner of a cafe, over on Michigan Ave. I thought of going to her and striking up a conversation—perhaps unearth further details about who she was. But I decided against it. She seemed intensely immersed in her book—whose title and author I couldn't quite make out. The book's cover held a macabre image of a limp figure hanging from a tree, contrasted by large block lettering in red and black ink.

After about an hour of struggling with crossword puzzles from a local rag paper, I saw that she was finally ready to leave. She left some change on the table for her coffee and croissant and headed to the front door. I pretended to concentrate on my crosswords as she walked by.

Exiting a few minutes later, I caught sight of her a few hundred yards ahead. Her limp was more prevalent now as she made her way down the middle of the street, her body convulsing back and forth, from leg to leg. The sun had been bearing down hard that day, and the soles of her shoes left mirrored imprints on the black asphalt below. She turned right off Michigan Ave, onto Wabash St. Halfway down the block, I spotted a black sedan cruising towards her. It came to a crawl as it passed by her but didn't stop. She didn’t seem to take any notice. She was too absorbed in reaching her destination. As the sedan moved by me, I tried catching a glimpse of the driver, but all I got for my troubles was a goofy mugshot of myself staring back—off its black tinted windows. I did manage to get its plates though, as I watched it make a right at the next corner and disappear out of sight. But not for long.

Returning my attention back to the girl, I saw that she had almost made her way to the intersection and was about to make a left when the sedan reappeared, moving fast towards her. I hit the pavement at a full run—holding out hope that I could reach her on time. But it was too late. The sedan had already come to a stop, as two men got out, grabbing the girl and forcing her into the back of the vehicle.

By the time I reached the spot, they were already half a block up Wabash. Out of breath and lungs aching I wasn't ready to give up yet. I pushed forward like some crazed wannabe marathon runner. The sedan then made a sharp right turn onto Dalzelle, disappearing from my view for the second time that day. I searched the adjacent blocks, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vehicle. But nothing. I tracked down a phone booth a few blocks east of where I was and fed it a couple of quarters. I was put right through to Detective William Ant.

"Cartwright," he shouted into the receiver, busting an eardrum in the process. "Where you been?"

Ant was still pissed at me about the last case where a teen shot and killed her mother. But the bullet had been meant for me. The mother had jumped into the bullet's path to save my life. I figured that was why I was getting Ant's full and immediate attention. Usually, it took a parade of elephants to get Ant to answer my calls. He blamed me for the mother's death. He'd argue, and not for the first time, that if I'd gotten the authorities involved, things would have turned out different. But I didn’t buy into any of his self-serving rhetoric. Besides, I'd been hiding under a bottle of Kentucky bourbon for the past couple of weeks. All that was important to me now was saving this girl’s life.

"Listen, Ant. There's no time for any bullshit. I need your help tracking down a kidnapping. The girl's about five-ten, thin figure, walks with a limp and is probably in her late teens. I was tailing her when she was grabbed by a couple of thugs who threw her into the back of a black sedan with the plate numbers BEA6615. They were heading south of Wabash the last I saw.”

“OK, James," realizing that this was not the time for bad blood, "I’ll issue a BOLO right off. But you need to come in and file an official report with us. You hear me, James?”

I heard him alright—his voice being cut off, as I dropped the receiver back onto its cradle. What I needed to do was find the girl fast. There was no time to feed the bureaucratic sloth.



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