Chapter 4

In Search of "La Catrina"

Demetrio Alcocer picks up the phone. His hands are trembling. The call from Silvestre Aguilar has surprised him. The library director had never spoken with the powerful landowner. For a man as rich as Aguilar, a municipal employee like Demetrio is of little importance. Regardless, Aguilar knows exactly what the librarian is trying to do, in regards to the last will and testament of Ms. Josefa González.

To his part, Demetrio knows that Aguilar's threats are serious. With his great influence among the "important" people in Querétaro, it would not be difficult for Aguilar to arrange, under some pretense or another, the sacking of Demetrio if he spoke about the will.

"Threatening me again?" Demetrio defiantly addresses Aguilar. But his heart is cold with fear, and not just for his pension.


Rogelio, Demetrio Alcocer's assistant, had had very little luck with the ladies of Queretaro. Rather, he hadn't any luck at all. He was very intelligent, but also quite shy. To put it simply, his physique hadn't attracted a great number of admirers. However, he was honest, kind, and worthy of something more. When he first lays eyes on Jamie González, he believes that this "something more" has appeared before him.

"Guh...guh...good morning, Miss. Can I help you?"

"I'm looking for information about a lady that was from here, from Querétaro. She was my great-grandmother, and lived here during the Mexican Revolution."

"Ah, looking for history. I can help you if you'd like," says Rogelio with a grin.

"Thanks, but they say the director, Demetrio Alcocer, is the expert on the history of this area."

"Oh, yes, Mr. Demetrio knows a lot about these things. One moment, please."

After consulting with his boss, Rogelio passes Jamie off to Demetrio.

"What can I help you with?" Alcocer asks.

"I'm looking for information about a lady that they called 'La Catrina'."

"Ah, Posada's 'La Catrina'; a great artist and engraver. Depicting a skeleton dressed as an aristocratic lady."

Jamie explains that the woman she seeks was her great-grandmother, a person of flesh and bone. Of course, Demetrio knows exactly what Jamie is looking for, but at that moment, he isn't sure if he wants to risk another conflict with Mr. Aguilar.

"Alright, alright, but…I can't tell you anything now. I need to consult the archives, the documents in the library...It takes time. Could you return in a few days?"

So Jamie has to settle with telling Alcocer that she would call before she returned and that she would be grateful for any help. Alcocer watches her through the window as she leaves.


That evening, Jamie and Maria go to the university field house. Coincidentally, Felipe is also there. He has learned a lot about Mexico: the language, the culture, and the habits. But his social life is not as exciting as he had hoped. More specifically, he hadn't met a "special" girl. When Jamie introduces Maria to Felipe, a smile lights up his face. The three start to swim in the pool. Later, when Maria invites him to a welcome party for all the exchange students, Felipe accepts immediately, smiling again.

Dear Rosie,

I finally have a bit of time to write to you more. Did you like the postcards? This place is lovely. How I wish you were here!

There's two things: one good, the other...not so much. Yesterday Maria met Felipe, and they seemed to like each other. I can't believe how relieved I feel! Before, I couldn't be sure that the relationship between Maria and Carlos was just friendship, and nothing more.

Secondly: something quite strange. I get the feeling that I'm being watched. I don't know, it's probably my imagination. I can't imagine a city more welcoming and safe than Querétaro. However, there are those dark shadows…

Please, don't say any of this to my parents!

Your Friend,

Jamie


Dear Mom and Dad,

I'm sorry for not writing to you before, but I've been very busy ever since I arrived in this beautiful country. But don't worry about anything: I'm perfectly settled in with a Mexican family, the Linares. Maria, the daughter, is the same age as me, and we get along very well. Overall, Mexico is a wonderful country and I am rendered speechless.

Write to me and tell me what's going on over there. How is summer in the city? Dad, you're working so hard, aren't you? And you too, Mom? Take care of yourselves!

Your Daughter,

Jamie

P.S.: In case of an emergency, here is the phone number of this house: 52-42-55-57-88 (the first two numbers, 52 and 42, are the area codes of this country and city).


A/N: "La Catrina (English Translation)" is now on Wattpad! If you have a suggestion for a platform that I should publish this story on, please drop me a comment. I may also launch an Archive of Our Own version, if there's interest in that. I'm asking about this because I do want to make sure that people will be able to access this story on school networks, especially if is censored.