Javier left the brick house that he shared with his dad. He walked on the cement path that led to a gate which was cemented into a brick wall. He squinted as the hot sun reflected off of the glass shards stuck into the top of the wall. The heat that came off the paved road hit him hard in the face and tiny beads of sweat began trickling down his face. It’s going to be hot and muggy as usual. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and flicked it to the ground.
He walked down the street toward the main road where cars sped by. It was always loud and it didn’t seem like things ever slowed down. He walked down the sidewalk a little farther to the ramp that crossed the road. He adjusted the bag on his shoulder and took the steps two at a time.
The bag was full of candy. He had been selling candy on the street since he was six to help out at home. His dad worked in the city center but made very little. He had been doing pretty well since moving to this spot and was able to use the extra money to help his dad out with the rent.
Javier reached the top of the stairs and stopped. Who’s that new boy? He’s in my spot. He put his hand into his pocket and grasped a small knife then walked up to the boy.
“Who are you?” Javier asked.
The boy couldn’t have been much older than him. “I’m Rafael. What do you want?” he said. Rafael pushed the bleached blonde hair from his face. His brown eyes glowered at Javier as if he was inviting him to start something.
“This is my spot,” Javier responded. Everyone knew this was his spot.
Rafael looked Javier over and said, “I don’t see your name on it and besides I was here first.”
Javier’s heart started to pump faster and a cold sweat trickled down his back. He rubbed the back of his hand across his forehead to get the sweat out of his eyes. He had had to fight for his spot once before. It hadn’t gone well. He clenched the knife in his pocket.
Javier put his bag on the ground not taking his eyes off the other boy. “I’ve been setting up here for a while now. Just move on and there won’t be any trouble.”
Rafael stepped a little closer and a ring of people began to form around the two. He pulled a knife from his pocket and flicked it open. “I don’t think you understand. I was here first. So unless you want to get hurt you better leave.”
Javier pulled his knife from his pocket and crouched. His dad had taught him how to fight.
Rafael lunged at him but he was able to move out of the way in time. Javier slipped and Rafael swiped at him again with the blade. Blood mingled with the sweat that ran down Javier’s forearm. He stepped back and the crowed moved with him. They were cheering the two boys on hoping one of them would get killed.
The knife felt cold in his hand. He waited for Rafael to lunge again but he didn’t. The crowd dispersed as quickly as it had formed and Rafael was quickly packing his stuff. Javier looked behind him and saw what the problem was. Four policemen were heading their way. Javier put the knife away, grabbed his bag and started for the stairs. Rafael was right behind him as they flew down the stairs, their feet barely touching each step.
The heavy boots of the policeman stomped behind them on the cement stairs sending a chill up Javier’s back. A flash of his friend lying cold and lifeless in the street went through his mind.
Rafael tripped and hit Javier in the back. They both tumbled to the ground in a heap.
“Stop!” one of the policemen said.
Javier quickly untangled his arms and legs from Rafael and was up and running in a flash. Rafael was right beside him. He pointed to a small hole in the wall and said, “Over there.”
Javier nodded and ducked through the hole a second later. They ran to the other side of the yard and came to a large brick building. There was an old rusty door and several windows. Javier yanked on the door and it creaked as it swung open. They ducked inside and pulled the door shut.
The wall felt warm against Javier’s back and through gasps of air he said, “Do you think they saw us.”
Rafael looked at the door. “I hope not,” he said.
The room was musty and looked as if no one had been in it for ages. The dirt floor was littered with rat dropping and the windows were so dirty little light came through. There were several chairs surrounding a large wooden table. In the center of the table was a statue of the Savior on a cross. It reminded him of the one that his father had put on his mother’s casket the day she died.
Tears stung Javier’s eyes as he looked at the statue. Why did you take my mom? If you cared about me you wouldn’t have taken her. He bit his lip hard and looked away from the table.
“I think I saw them duck in here,” a man said.
Javier wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans and his heart thumped. He pulled the small knife from his pocket and opened it. Crouching low beside the door he waited. Rafael squatted next to him and Javier saw a flash from his blade.
Heavy boots stomped behind the door and Javier swallowed hard. The handle turned and the door slowly swung open.
“What are you doing here?” a woman asked.
The door stopped and a man said, “We’re looking for some street kids.”
“Well I can tell you no one has gone in there for years. It’s been cursed by a Macumbeiro,” she said.
Javier’s heart stopped and he looked over the room once again. It had grown dark and silent. Not your normal dark and silent but a darkness and silence like a black hole where all the light has been sucked out.
His father had told him about the Macumba and how they would use black magic to curse people who had made them angry. There was a boy on his street who had taken some bread from one of their offerings on the street. He was sick in bed for weeks and never really recovered.
The door closed and the boots stomped off. We need to get out of here. Javier walked to the door his breath came out in white puffs of air and goose bumps formed on his arms. Putting his ear to the door he couldn’t hear anything other than the busy traffic zooming by. He pulled on the door but it was stuck. He grabbed the handle with both hands and leaned back hard but it still wouldn’t budge.
“What was that?” Rafael asked.
Javier turned and looked into the blackness. Nothing. He pulled on the door again, still it wouldn’t move. Rafael started to pull on the door with him then turned to the window. “Maybe we can get out the window?” he said.
They crept to the window not wanting to disturb the evil they felt all around them. Rafael wiped some of the grime away from the window and looked out.
“Do you see anything?” Javier asked.
“There’s no one out there.”
Rafael pushed on the window and said, “It won’t budge.”
There was a loud bang behind them and both boys turned pressing their backs against the wall. “Wh… who’s there?” Javier asked.
There was only silence as they stared into the darkness. Rafael ran to the door and tugged on it again. When it wouldn’t move he banged on the door and screamed, “Let us out of here!”
Javier couldn’t move. A feeling of dread washed over him like a wave slamming into the rocks on the beach. His legs buckled and he collapsed to the floor. He clenched his eyes shut, willing the fear to leave. He opened his eyes and followed a stream of light that came from the spot Rafael had cleaned from the window. The light illuminated the statue of Jesus.
“Jesus, please save us,” Javier whispered.
He closed his eyes again. All hope was gone.
The door flew open and light filled the dark room. “I command you to leave, dark demon!” a woman said.
There was a hiss from the corner of the room where the light couldn’t reach. “You cannot command me, foul witch,” the hiss said. “You have no more power over this place.”
“I command you to leave in the name of our Lord. He has all power both in Heaven and on Earth. Now leave this place and come no more into it.”
Javier was able to open his eyes and he looked at the old woman who stood before him. She wasn’t much to look at, her grey scraggly hair fell to her waist, her face was wrinkled and she leaned heavily on an old gnarled stick that looked better than her. But when she spoke she spoke with power. Her voice was strong and it carried to all the corners of the building. Javier felt a light coming from her that he hadn’t felt before in his life. The light filled his soul with hope and joy.
The light chased the darkness from the farthest corner and the hiss was no more. Javier looks back on that day often as the changing point of his life. Rafael and he became looked out for each other in the streets from that time forward. Javier still didn’t understand why his mother had to leave him but he trusted in his Savior that it would all be made right again just like that day in the old brick building.