Nearly every pre-dawn, relatively pitch dark, prior to Puerto Escondido’s collection of chirping avifauna’s song, contrasted by their B-side, 18 wheelers barreling down the distant highway, an eery sound can be heard directly above us, coming from our third floor palapa rooftop gym — iron gates opening and closing, secured by corroding hinges, understandable if a gate did in fact exist upstairs.

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For the overindulgent, there are four flat screens inside this three-story haunted house we rented off Carrizalillo’s Rinconada; our place is outfitted with cable, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not well versed in Spanish. The unsettled specter who also cohabits this house with us is more of a nuisance than anything else. From what we’ve gathered the owner is still living, yet incapacitated, enough so a nephew in Mexico City manages this estate and nearby hotel.

The furnishings that were selected are cumbersome, nothing budges. Would’ve been attractive circa ranchero 1870’s, however, this bulky interior sprouted from the mass manufactured 1970’s. What often happens occurs attempting to use a television or air conditioner remote, light switches, ceiling fans, swimming pool pump and our Samsung tablets. If you were me, I’d bet you’d believe this home’s invisible visitor is shiftless, not finding it necessary to lift the heavy stuff. Depending on this spirit’s awareness, perhaps impatiently reading these words unfold, sneaking a peek over my shoulder might incite an accident of poltergeist proportion to overtake me: stumbling down steps, slipping across ceramic shower tiles, igniting the gas range, chopping produce or another calamity, conceivably more severe than an unexplainable five-day burning rash I endured two weeks ago.

Rooms here feel spacious, ceilings are vaulted; what can’t be detected by sight will become evident opening cabinets, drawers, hutches, closets, armoires and office desk. Previously owned personal effects are gone; every nook and cranny is empty except the kitchen’s bare essentials. During the last fifty years here, someone else’s wardrobe hung on these hangers, other clothing articles were folded; keyrings, wallets, jewelry, belts, bags, hats and footwear laid out for easy access. I have an aversion opening these armoires where our clothing now hangs; this odor isn’t distinctly Mexico’s version of cedar, it’s not sage, musty nor stale perfume; the strongest fetor surrounds a concealed safe. What startles me more than electronic devices, alongside other mechanisms going haywire is that irrefutable scent a ghost leaves where their most personal belongings were kept; it freezes peach fuzz at the back of my neck on end.

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After dinner and showers Jeanette and LouLou play charades, sing karaoke, read, then find a movie online. I’m moderately amused, physically alone upstairs watching (depending on luck) four or five English speaking channels. Several mysterious Saturday evenings ago I left the TV on one of seventy-five channels in Spanish. I’m a habitual channel surfer — makes no difference watching VH1 Classics: Amy Winehouse, The Doors nor Parliament-Funkadelic or absorbing Robert Duvall’s character in Jayne Mansfield’s Car on Platino, same with Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal seeing Last Chance Harvey. Something baffling pinned my entire body onto our bed; I couldn’t move a muscle, both eyes were glued to the TV screen, my vocal cords paralyzed, preventing any rescue from that Saturday night’s blood and gore.

If anyone in this civilized world closed their eyes listening to a Mexican solo trumpet’s invitation, most will sense an iconic wild animal is about to enter the floodlit arena. Viscous saliva drooping from his foamy jowls, its greasy torso beats a three-count pant, digging all four hooves into blood-stained soil. Do those cigar chomping onlookers in truth care the bull was drugged, abused and starved three days before his tormented final minutes? Probably not. Do the tarts throwing floral bouquets to their heroic matador believe he is truly courageous? Most likely, yes.

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Any Halloween parade on Santa Monica Boulevard, Pride Day along San Francisco’s Upper Market Street or Friday night inside some quintessential Greenwich Village bar couldn’t hold a candle to the matador’s flamboyant ensemble. He wears a distorted mouseketeer hat atop his low-centered man bun, white button-front shirt, skinny black tie, bolero cut jacket, matching vest and high-waisted form-fitting knee length britches in kelly green, pale blue or cherry red, an outstanding background for emblazoned gold applique — lastly, bubblegum pink hosiery and black ballet flats. What poised confidence the queerest of queer projects, his Latino antagonistic glare, gripping hidden sword beneath customary muleta.

Not all killing is in vain; on the bright side, well sort of — this morning I glimpsed makings for
evening sopa: a skinned bull’s head with horns, bulbous eyes and elongated tongue intact,
displayed by five inch meat hook inside the mercado’s carniceria, droplets creating an alloy
puddle below.

Whomever this phantom is who provokes our six-week home surely could’ve been a
bullfighting aficionado; for all we know an admired matador — compelled to have me join himwitnessing Saturday night’s sickening slaughter. He, heretofore, raised an arm waving in victory, prancing throughout Mexico’s bull rings, catching personal items, touching each to his heart before returning them back into ecstatic hands. Olé!

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