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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 29: Hammer And Chalice And Jail

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

As the evening rolled on, and Luz became warmer, the little man in the corner—if indeed he was a man—played a mournful, soulful tune on his violin. Luz realized she was humming along, and was about to ask where the song came from, but the old woman spoke first, almost as if she heard Luz’ question in her mind.

“Yes, that’s an old Swedish folk tune,” the woman said.

“But we sing that at my uncle’s church,” Luz said. “It’s called “Soplo …” She began to sing, “Soplo de Dios Viviente…”

“About the breath, the wind of God, am I right?” the woman asked.

“Yes!” Luz replied. “But how did you know that?”

“Oh, that song is sung in many lands,” she said. “It started in Sweden. Or should I say, it came from Sweden. Where it started, nobody knows.”

“The breath, the wind of God…” Luz hummed. Just then a burst of wind—the last breath of the storm that had already passed—blew the storm door open and rattled it.

“Go ahead, my dear”, the old woman said. “It’s for you.”

Luz opened the solid oak front door, and there stood Angel, shivering in the cold.

“Here you are!” she shouted.

“As it was in the beginning…” laughed the old woman.

“And will be and can be and sure to be,” croaked the little man—if indeed he was a man—as he jumped up and began playing a Gaelic reel.

The old woman grabbed Angel’s hands and pulled him and Luz into the dance. After they sat down, flushed and out of breath, she looked straight at Angel.

“Welcome, son of Mateo!” she said.

At the mention of that distant, troubled ancestor, both Luz and Angel put their hands up and stared at the old woman.

“What did you say?”, Luz said, trembling a little.

“Just a greeting from of old,” the old woman smiled.

“What do you know about Mateo?” Angel asked her.

“Oh, much!”, the woman said. “But here, sit down, point your feet toward the fire. Your Santa Lucia here is almost warm.”

Angel sat down, took off his soaked boots and socks and pointed them towards the fire. What is—or who is—this Mateo Kelly? he wondered. I don’t know if I’m his descendent or if Luz is, if he was killed as a boy or kidnapped back to Mexico, if he is an evil spirit or some kind of guide. Angel was glad that he was drinking hot tea, or all these thoughts would have spilled out of his mouth.

“Don’t worry, Angel,” the woman said. “He is all of these, and none of these. He is hammer and chalice and jail. You are from him, but I do not think you are of him.”

“I don’t mean to be rude,” Angel said, “but if you think that cleared up things for me, you are sadly mistaken.”

The old woman laughed so hard that Angel thought she would have a heart attack.

“Oh, no, my son. I was not trying to clear things up for you. I’m afraid that’s beyond my powers!”

Luz looked intently at the old woman. “You remind me of someone that we met. Do you know Mother Light?”, she asked.

The old woman put down her crocheting and smiled so tenderly towards Luz and Angel. “My children, I was Mother Light.”

“But…but we just left Mother Light early this morning—at Denny’s—we started Santa Lucia Day at midnight with her, and my Dad…” Angel blurted out. It seemed like years ago, but it was still December 13. All that had happened: the encounter with Luz’ past, the carjacking, the storm—all had occurred in one day. On this Santa Lucia Day, they had eaten pancakes with the real Mother Light, he was sure.

“You can’t be Mother Light,” he said. “I know where she lives. I’ve been to her house.”

“Oh yes, I know all that,” the older woman said. “I did not say I am Mother Light. I said I was Mother Light.”

“What?!” Angel and Luz shouted at the same time. The little man in the corner—if indeed he was a man—began to play a slow, tender waltz.

“There is a Mother Light in each generation,” the woman said. “We are all together, but we are not all now.”

Angel looked at Luz as if to say, “Do you know what’s going on?”

Luz took Angel’s hand and looked at the woman. “Do you know then, what—or who—is chasing us? Angel and me?”

The old woman raised her hands slowly, as if in blessing, and said to both of them, “Maybe the question really is: What are you running away from?”

Both of the young lovers looked deep inside, not with fear, but with wonder. They turned their eyes toward each other and exhaled.

“How do we find what we’re running away from?” Angel asked.

“By searching,” the old woman replied.

“Where should we start?” Luz asked.

“Start at the very beginning…” She was interrupted by the little man—if indeed he was a man—who blurted out “a very good place to start!”—and then proceeded to play the do-re-mi song from the Sound of Music.

“Halcon, stop that at once!” the old woman shouted. “Where was I? Oh, yes—where did this all start?”

“I was walking by the cemetery,” Angel said. “I heard an owl, and…”

“And you thought it meant death,” the woman said.

“Yes.”

“Well, owls can be tricky. You know as good as is an owl’s eyesight, their hearing if far, far better.”

“Are you saying we should listen more than look?” Luz asked.

“Now why would I say that,” thse woman said, smiling a big smile. She handed the two their coats, and gave Luz a small, beautifully wrapped present.

“I guess we’re off to the cemetery, then,” Angel said as he and Luz embraced the woman. At which, the little man—if indeed he was a man—began playing “We’re Off To See The Wizard”.

“Halcon!” the woman shouted, a roar that shook the mantel and made the candles dance.

 

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