Mexican folklore is full of stories about witches and evil-eyes and ghostly women weeping by the river. I grew up hearing them all. I also heard about the headless horseman my Aunt Janie chased around the family home with nothing but a broom and pure guts. About the possessed young girl at the edge of town who could neither read nor write but who spoke Latin and French when in the midst of her possession. And the story of the young girl who defied her mother's wishes and went to the dance all alone. Dancing all night under the stars with a dark, devastatingly handsome man who turned out to be, when she looked down, the rooster-footed devil himself. All these stories I took with a grain of salt even at a young age. Yet I still grew up with a love of all things supernatural and weird and read everything I could get my hands on that dealt with anything unexplainable.
It was the summer of 75 and I had managed to get thru my freshman year of high school. My younger sister and I lived with my grandmother in a small town deep in the very heart of the Texas hill country. My relatively young aunt, had recently rented a house with 2 other women and was in the process of moving in. She worked at a local Senior center as an events coordinator and was very well liked and respected by all, save for one woman who desperately wanted her job. One roommate was an elementary school teacher and the other, Alejandra, or Alex as we called her, from Mexico was a bit of a genius, being only 21 and already working on her Masters degree at the local college. My sister and I got along well with her roommates, seeing them as an extension of our small family.
My sister and I visited them often and on Saturdays we hung out, watching movies, playing games and making elaborate 5 course meals. One Friday night, the 3 of them were over at our house and we began to hear that things were not as normal as we had been led to believe. We hadn t noticed, because it had happened gradually, but Friday nights they would rather be anywhere except for home before midnight. It s not that they were out partying, as they were usually over at our house & it was something unsaid. They d find excuses to stay, always acting as if nothing were wrong and keeping one eye on the clock. Laughter would become forced then suddenly as midnight came and went you could see the obvious relief on their faces as they said their goodnights and went home.
Elisa, the schoolteacher had always been sensitive to things, she could sometimes see colors around people and always spoke of the little white ball of light that she knew was her dead grandmother protecting her. My aunt, Tea, had had flashes of intuition. We had all been present when one afternoon in 1968 she had shouted, THEY KILLED HIM THEY KILLED HIM! then turned on the television later that night to see that Martin Luther King had been shot. And later in 1978 as I sat eating a sandwich in her kitchen she had suddenly whispered, "Castelgandolfo" and wondered what that meant. Almost a week later we heard the news that Pope Paul VI had died in Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence. Alex, though she didn't make it known to many people, had grown up with her mother in the Spiritualist church and was not a stranger to supernatural happenings herself. Maybe it was Alex's connection with it, or maybe it was the fact that all 3 had certain proclivities for the paranormal that what happened to them happened in such a forceful way.
One of the first strange things that happened was that my aunt, Tea, began to get into a lot of car accidents& some minor and others almost serious. She crashed into a telephone pole, she lost control of the car and knocked over a telephone booth. There were other minor wrecks and the strange thing was that her car, a 69 blue Buick LeSabre never suffered any damage. It was weird& no dents no dings no scraped paint. We heard a lot of what happened later. One of the things being that one day, Elisa had refused to get in the car because when she opened the front door of the house and looked out at it she saw it oozing and dripping with a black tar-like substance which no one else could see.
Tea and my cousin from across the street had played with a Ouija board a lot when I was in elementary school and Tea still lived with us. The spirit that they had contacted was startlingly accurate, giving them names and addresses of people and even long distance telephone numbers related to questions like is Marta s (the cousin she was playing with) boyfriend dating while he s stationed in California? He was and it spit out all kinds of information that later turned out to be true. Anyway, Alex thought this might be connected in some way or have something to do with what was happening now. One Friday she suggested that they stay home and try to confront whatever this thing was that was residing in their house. So they formed a circle and held hands to pray. Years later they still talked about how as it got closer to midnight the air in the house got heavier. How they felt something trying to physically pull their hands apart. How they could hear doors slamming and things being thrown around in the back bedrooms and the lights flickering. And the smell of something horribly rotten in the air, and then near midnight a solitary dog howl that lasted for almost a minute. I still get goosebumps as I m writing this even now.
Tea began losing weight and looking gaunt. She was not a thin woman to begin with but athletic and strong. The weight coming off with no outward symptoms of disease was alarming. Elisa and Alex both told us later how one awful Sunday they had seen the image of her laid out in a coffin on the wall just outside her bedroom. Elisa had fainted and Alex had cried all afternoon but they refused to tell Tea about it. A few days later, Alex had seen the image on Tea s bed and had prayed from the doorway in an attempt to banish it but it did no good. Tea s bedroom was always cold, even with the air conditioner off. Things disappeared from one room and then you d find them in another, strange noises, weird smells, all these things happened on a daily basis. One day an ashtray missed Alex s head by about an inch and broke against the wall behind her. The house was very hostile. One day, my sister and I experienced the happenings first hand.
It was one of our Saturdays over and I was on the phone in Tea s bedroom, as teenagers always are. I was sitting on the bed and my sister, then 12 was sitting on the floor watching the portable TV. We were both kind of nervous and kept looking around. We were waiting for Tea to get out of the shower so we could go shopping. She finally came in, wrapped in a towel and looking for her glasses& she d worn them all her life and was blind as a bat without them. She felt along the top of the dresser where she had left them. They weren't there. We helped her look for the glasses and just about tore the bedroom upside down looking for them. We looked on the floor, under the bed, on the bed in drawers, everywhere. She had been having trouble with her glasses staying on, she kept misplacing them but this was beyond misplacing. We could find them nowhere, we even pulled the pillows and sheets off the bed, as she sometimes fell asleep reading. We looked in places we knew they couldn't be. Meanwhile something was going on that you need to know about.
An old lady at the senior center had given Tea this weird little homemade doll. This wasn't unusual as she often got gifts from the senior citizens she worked with. Cookies, preserves, ceramic pieces that they had made in class, things like that. She had brought the doll home and Alex had had an immediate reaction to it. She didn't like it. She kept taking it from Tea s room and hiding it, but it always turned up in the room again. Later on she had said she felt it was evil. The weekend before all this happened with the glasses, Alex s mother had come to visit and had taken a liking or so she said, to the doll and asked Tea to give it to her. She did. Alex had told her mom what had been going on for the past few months, though she didn't have to. The old lady had heard the same noises and smelled the same bad smell. What she hadn't told anyone was that she also felt something was strange about the doll and had wanted to take it back to the pastor at the Spiritualist church and consult with him about it. On the flight home she had wrapped a cloth around the doll s head as the eyes were the one thing she couldn't stand to look at. The doll had gone in her purse and she had forgotten about it until a few days later. All that week, Tea had been misplacing her glasses.
So back to the lost glasses. We had looked all around the room then we took the search to the rest of the house and still could find nothing. Finally Tea dug out an old pair and used those until she could go get another prescription for some new ones. Later that day Alex received a frantic call from her mother, was Tea alright?? Alex told her mother that aside from the commotion with the glasses earlier in the day Tea seemed alright. Her mother sighed in relief. It seems that the eyes on that doll had really bothered her so she had taken a knife and poked them out earlier that day. When she phoned her pastor and told him this, he panicked and told her she could've blinded Tea. It seems that this doll was connected to all that was happening in the house and to Tea. The wrecks, the Friday night strangeness, the things they had all seen, the weight loss and now the missing glasses. He was convinced that had she not worn glasses she would've been blind by now. That night he took the doll and in a night-long vigil he and a few members of his congregation did some ritual which was supposed to end the whole ordeal for Tea, Elisa and Alex. Alex s mother said that the morning after he had awoken cut and bruised, almost as though he d been beaten up while fighting this thing off.
They say the doll had been cursed. Brujeria (Mexican witchcraft) and the evil-eye had been cast with Tea as the appointed victim. No one knows by who or why, though they have their suspicions. Things didn't completely stop after that. They still heard weird noises, knocks, strange smells, things still occasionally flew across the room and they still caught movements out of the corners of their eye. Whatever it was that was living or haunting the three roommates and their house didn't vanish completely. It just became less and less until one day they noticed that not any of them had experienced anything in awhile and just like that, it was over. I don t know if you would consider this a spooky story. All I know is that it scared the devil out of all of us& if you know what I mean.
Note from Katrina: As a practicing Witch of 17 years in the US, I can say with complete assurity that it is NOT the practice of American Witches or people practicing the Craft in most countries to cast the evil eye or otherwise harm or "curse" others. In fact, it completely contradicts our basic tenet of "Harm none." I am not familiar with Brujeria or its practices, so I cannot speak for them. I do not want people coming away from this story feeling that it's "what Witches do," because within my extensive experience, I have not found it to be so.