Christian Vazquez

Aquí Para Lo Que Viene


Christian Vazquez is a writer born in Brownsville, Texas and is currently ateacher at Southwest Key. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology from theUniversity of Houston at Victoria, and earned a Master of Fine Arts inCreative Writing in December 2020 at the University of Texas Rio GrandeValley. His instagram is christian77vazquez, and Twitter handle is@christian77v

The mug of coffee clattered upon the table along with an audible gulp as he swallowed the last remaining warmth of it. It clattered a bit too hard, because a sharp pain seemed to puncture through his gallbladder. That was the only reason he was working so late at night, well the most obvious one. His only companion was a window beside him, and its transparency flirted to catch his attention so that it betrayed the task at hand. He focused on the glow of cars passing by, jetting through the empty night of traffic lights. His thoughts went away with the passing of those occasional cars, and for a moment there was nothing on his mind. Yet, the task was loyal to his attention. It remained there in the back, waiting for the attention no matter how long it took, always welcoming its return. Tonight was no different. The documents spread on his desk in an arc like a blank rainbow, and the lamp directly on top was the sun that shined its golden rays upon it.  His attention returned upon the papers, and his pensiveness brewed in the empty office building, maybe even perceived among the darkness like the aroma of a lonely coffee maker.

His outdated i-Phone began to ring. He had set its ringtone as the ring of the first telephones invented, so sharp he swore he could see the sound making the dimness in the building brighter. 

“Raul Treviño Investigations, how may I help you?” Raul answered.

“Habla Laura, Raul. Another body was found in El Frutero. Get over here if you can,” Laura responded.

“Really? That’s…I’ll be there in like ten minutes.”

“Okay. I’ll be here. It’s getting crazy.”

After the call, the end of the blank rainbow promised no gold. Laura’s cold case dispelled all the flirtations and claimed him once again. It was thawing as the seconds passed by. Even the beads of sweat that had begun to trickle from his forehead were cold. How many years had passed? Four? He couldn’t remember exactly. Then that pain again, putting seconds to a halt until it left at fast as it came like a heavy furious tide.

 All he knew was the exact amount Laura still kept pouring into his bank account ever since she first came into his office. He had long ago accepted the case, thinking it would easily unravel by itself. He had stopped believing that after the first months of investigation.

Laura’s longtime friend, 62-year-old Josefina, had been found murdered outside of her house at 3:00 a.m. with her left arm missing. The police department was focused on the case as much as the whole town. He had even heard of the whole thing before Laura had walked into his humble office building, looking like lady mystery herself. Her tigress eyes seemed to have been the source of the youthful glow that freshened the brown skin of her face, covered with deepening wrinkles. Depending on the light, he saw her as 60, other times 40. That day he had not asked why she had wanted him to do the work the entire town was already doing.

 He only remembers her saying, “E escuchado de tus corazonadas,” as she looked at his humble wooden desk, and with one sweeping look, the whole small office. Her statement had been true. Many clients had spoken of his findings that sometimes seemed to come just out of the blue.

He took in the details of her story, details he was sure the other detectives had already known, and got to work, hoping for a finding to come quickly.

Then the months passed, and all directions had been exhausted. No DNA, fingerprints, weapon, no witnesses. Progress was not even crawling. Even the aficionados had nothing to say. Nobody knew who had killed Josefina. There had been no wave of information he could surf. The once tumultuous waters of the case had turned into a placid lake, freezing as the days passed. He had been forced to go out on his own finally, hoping he would find Josefina below the thin layer of frozen information. Never once did he consider that some arm would reach out and pull him under, and anybody who dared peek, to freeze along with Joesefina’s mystery. Quite literally because her missing arm was never found. It was as if her arm had become another missing person. Where the hell was the arm?

Laura’s phone call may had just announced the end of that winter. He wondered who else had frozen along with the case. Who else was thawing as he grabbed his phone and headed out?

He felt like an action figure being repeatedly scanned upon a conveyor belt as the night lights swiftly flashed upon his windshield on the lonely dark road. The omniscient palm trees of Brownsville looked like scarecrows to him. All he could think about was what he was about to encounter. That was driving him tonight, and he was a mere passenger on the driver seat. Maybe he was just tired. He couldn’t tell anymore. Tiredness was his normal condition. Exhaustion was his tired.

El Frutero was the neighborhood where Laura lived, where Josefina had also lived before she died. The road that led to it was perpetually under construction, even before Josefina passed away. The orange cones and signs were still on one lane as Treviño neared the neighborhood. The people had grown used to it, to the point that it somehow became unnoticeable to them and nobody protested. It made him wonder what else could the city of Brownsville get away with, what else could they make the people get used to? What other things had they gotten used to which they were not supposed to?

 The entrance was marked by a long, but short white fence, and each street was named after a fruit. The ones with sweet names were the first. All the rest were sour. The new body was found on the same street as Josefina’s had been. Mandarine street, a fruit Treviño would have considered bittersweet. Had it been bittersweet for the killer too? At least for Treviño it was. He felt that for the first time he was finally doing something that mattered other than the usual gossip he was paid to silently verify. Long ago he had accepted that his detective work was not going to bring him fame or anything grand, had gone straight to investigative work, but it had not always been that way. There had once been a dream, an ambition, maybe even love, one that was suffocated out of him by monotony. Private investigation had not turned out to be what he thought it would. It had not been just Josefina’s case that had frozen, but his life as well. How many years had it been that he was in the same place? The only thing that had changed was that his belly had gotten bigger and the lines of his forehead had gotten deeper from years of pretending to be interested. Maybe he needed a companion. Of course, he needed a companion, somebody to share that late-night coffee with. He felt he simply had forgotten to search, and now he had remembered once again, or had he chosen to remember? Did it work like that?

This was a case where real detectives measured the true strengths of their wits. This was the one he needed to get things moving within him again, where something meaningful would come out, but the damage it left in its wake of existence was tearing the neighborhood apart, maybe even the entire city. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. That had been drowned in a flood of mistrust.

Maybe his car door had some magnetizing effect because the second he slammed it closed after arriving to the crime scene, the heads of the gathered neighbors turned in unison like puppets. Yes, they were all scared puppets waiting for the puppeteer to take control and quiet their fears as the alarming red and blue police lights colored the small neighborhood homes. It was Monday, around three a.m., and hardly anybody sleeping. A light pole’s golden brilliance was the spotlight of the whole thing, illuminating in a cone shape so that it appeared as if everything was trapped upon a yellow transparent pyramid. The houses looked as if they too were gathering, silent and observant beyond the curb in the background. Their windows, reflecting distorted versions of what they saw. He swore he could see a small version of himself upon one of the reflections as he neared the scene. A tiny darker figure of himself. He focused on that as the eyes of the people stayed on him, trying to avoid them. He wished he could swap places with his small blurred reflection.

In the golden cone, among the crowd, was Laura. She was covering her body with a red rebozo, a phone in hand.  Of all, she stood the closest to the yellow caution tape. The police force already on the scene began to order everybody away.

“You’re late,” she said as he stood by her side.

“I still can’t believe it,” he replied watching the neighbors beginning to walk further away from the scene.

He recognized some of them from long ago when he had gone digging before, when Josefina’s case had barely opened. There was Lucero, a woman who was said to have been young before the life decisions of her four sons squeezed all her energy away. Petrona, the one who never aged in spirit. Still at 47 she never missed a weekend to host a party in her backyard, along with her grown daughters, where the laughter and mingling could be heard echoing all around the neighborhood streets until the next day. Saul was there too. A middle-aged man lonely with his sterile wife, who was seen every now and then with binoculars outside on his porch. Maybe it made him feel less alone. When asked about the binoculars, he claimed he used them to see the sky. None of them where much help when Treviño had searched for answers.

“To think they were beginning to forget. I’m sure nobody is going to be able to sleep again,” Laura said.

“You think it’s the same killer?” Treviño asked.

“Her arm is missing too.”


“It’s witching hour, Treviño. I don’t think Dios is here. You look sick. Are you okay?”

He looked at the detectives trying to make sense of things in the distance.

“Yes, I think it’s just something I ate. Who found the body?” he asked.

“Her neighbor. The young man that rents the house next to hers. The one that lives by himself. They’ve been talking to him for a while.”

“You’re somehow always more informed than I am. Why do you keep paying me, Laura?”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Treviño. I pay your competition too. The other P.I. has a whole team. One of his workers just left.”

He lit a cigarette, hoping to repel the darkness of the night. He offered, but she politely rejected. They walked away further form the scene, towards her home that was not too far. The smoke left a trail on their slow path through the sidewalk, lingered in the windless night. He sensed a tension, and noticed her watery eyes quickly before locking with them. To him, they shone brighter than the stars that were watching their fates play out, and not even the sadness of a star that burned alone in the distant darkness of the universe was sadder than her silent tears. Before her tears became something he was forced to confront, she wiped them away with her rebozo.

“I just hate to think that somebody is walking around thinking they have the power to do such a thing these women without consequences. First Josefina…Now this poor woman that nobody knew,” she said staring at the sidewalk extending away from them, into the distance of dormant homes.

“He’s getting too confident. He’s tired of having no spotlight. He wants attention again. That’s where he’ll fall,” he offered.

“You think it’s a he?”

“It almost always is.”

“You say it with more confidence than the rest. Some used to think I did that to Josefina.”

“I remember. Laura, I know I’m just another of your army of investigators, but I feel like he’s close, like if I might actually have a chance…and I’m nervous.”

There was a pause. They stood before the door to her home, guarded by two rose bushes on either side. He took a drag of his cigarette, and she observed him closely.

“My army of investigators? Ay Treviño. You need some rest. Focus.” There was no trace of tears across of her face.

He did not know if he should have admired her strength in pushing back away her sadness, or respect the chameleonic change of emotion.   

“Buenas noches, Laura.”

“Buenas noches. Despabílese por favor,” she smiled, “Hablamos mañana.”

The red door closed, and he heard the click of numerous locks like metallic tongues clicking in disapproval. Just as the door locked so did Laura upon his mind. He stared at the crime scene in the distance, walking towards his car. Laura had disappeared again, he was thinking, hiding from society once more, and we are left to wonder when will she stand among us again.

Laura, behind the red door. The woman people now forgot still existed, until the sun found her again when she stepped outside and announced it to the four winds. No known relatives or friends ever gravitated towards her home. It was rumored her money came from a retirement check, but that added to that was the bonus of a fortune she had made in her youthful years as a model who bathed in all flashes except those from the cameras of fame. Her ringless hand was never seen grasping the one of another man. Josefina was the closest thing to a husband that was ever seen in the retired life that lay behind that red door.
         Before her death, Josefina had shared every sunny evening with Laura. They took turns visiting each other’s patio. One week Laura was seen in Josefina’s, three houses down from hers, and the next the other way around. On their round patio tables they sat cross-legged, facing their small green healthy lawns and the rest of the small homes beyond, as if they were Xochiquetzal and Chalchiuhtlicue amused by the happenings of mortals.

Josefina was Laura’s mirror image when it came to their lives. They were both alone, except Josefina had purposely abandoned her old life, her family. Some say her adult sons were in Florida. Truth was, nobody pressured the investigation as much as Laura did. Another truth was that they were the most despised of the neighborhood. The neighbors felt their seclusion was an act against them, an unjustified separation, even though nobody in the neighborhood ever got past the greetings when talking to each other. Treviño had gathered a long time ago that what at first had been perceived as mysterious and reserved, grew to be taken as delusions of superiority.

“They just sit there, laughing with their coffees. At what? At who?” Treviño had heard from one of the neighbors, another middle-aged man tired from his job’s early mornings.

Treviño’s car trembled back to life, shaking the beads of late-night dew. He was going somewhere, but where? The course of everything had just changed. Whatever it was that he needed to do, it had just been stacked beneath the new murder of Josefina’s killer. He knew that as soon as the sun dried the land again, the town would be infected by a fear that would spread right from the wide gaps of the local news on Facebook and all over the local newspapers, maybe even national. Could sleep be stacked beneath this case as well?

No, what use would he be if feebleness manned the ship that was his body. Just like that, the destination changed. His mind locked to his home, and he could see the roads in his mind like a GPS. The signal to his thoughts went silent, and the only noise came from the glaring red and green lights.

A growing pain came to him right above the right side of his abdomen as if some hand was tightening a grip on his gallbladder from the inside. He missed a turn he was supposed to make. Taking advantage of the desolate street, he was about to make a U-turn when a sign demanded him to stay. It was like one of those fast food restaurant signs. The like that just caught the eye no matter the direction, a pole with a rectangular neon brightness at its pinnacle. The sign read “Temple of Christ’s Opened Arms.” He almost stopped the car right there and then. Maybe because of the word arms, more because of the pain. Instead of turning around he went straight into the driveway of the building. The pain now throbbed faster. The building was dark, except for the blue neon light from the sign. It looked like a house that had been renovated into a church, and beyond it the natural wilderness of unnurtured trees stood encroached like frozen creatures that had been creeping in before he got there.

The shadows were over the roof, dark claws keeping it in place. The white door of the entrance was slightly open, but there were no signs of light inside. One hand gripped his handgun while the other lay over his gallbladder, trying to repress the pain by just being there. The throbbing consisted, followed the quickening rhythm of his heart, both tapdancing on the stage that was his mind.

He wished he had brought a flashlight, but when he entered he noticed the darkness had been repelled by some candles near the altar, where a huge statue of Christ stood with opened arms, but one stone arm was missing. There was no sound. The place seemed to be airtight. Ahead of the long row that led to the statue, a shadowy figure was kneeling before it, small and undisturbed by Treviño’s steps.


“...Yes…” Treviño responded knowing that an hour had barley passed since the new murder, knowing that it was probable the words and odd behavior of this man whispered a confession to something, and the throbbing pain seemed to raise his weapon like a compass directing north.

“’The LORD has bared His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God.’” He stood and faced Treviño, the flickering glow of candles revealed a man with disorganized curly hair, and the tiny dancing flames of the candles were enough to reveal his clerical collar like a wide tooth on his neck. “What are you doing?”

“You’re him...You killed Josefina.” Treviño said, gripping his pistol harder and calling 911 with the other hand in instant strokes of his thumb. The throbbing had quietened as if not wanting to interrupt.

“That brown bitch...”

In the next moments all Treviño could focus on was the handgun they both battled for. His phone had fallen and slid away from them below the pews to take refuge. The faint voice of the operator echoed in the church, as if a prayer had been answered. It was responded to with the grunts of both men, and the sound of their shoes squeaking in desperation.

They rolled across in the dimness of the church like a pair of demons, writhing under the statue of Christ. Two men running on a fuel of fear, and it was only a matter of time until one of them spent it all first.

Treviño’s energy began to weaken, the pain on his gall bladder screamed as if it was a sensor that picked up on danger. The gun loosened away from his grasp. His heart sank along with his lungs and everything.

The shot that killed Treviño was first like a lightning bolt followed by a thunderous sharpness. Several candles blew out after.  Treviño had stared at the gun pointing at him with the same expression he would have done if he had seen the statue of Christ move on its own.

The throbs of his gall bladder quietened like the beeps of a life support machine announcing a decline. A bullet replaced them. Treviño felt gravity gently pull his body to the floor until he was on his back, his hand upon the wound, and his white shirt getting redder with each second passing.  Gravity was feasting as his body returned to its origin, the ground sucking the blood out of him. An empty drowsiness conquered his bloodstream until there was no church, no killer. A rain of peaceful nothingness fell upon him, each drop a lovely quietness, and only he knew what came after.

Josefina’s killer stared at a blurry version of Treviño. The blood was flowing away from each side beneath him so that it looked like he was growing small red wings. How had he known?

He envied Treviño, dying quietly, and not having to keep playing this game of life in this planet. He wished it could be game over, for that beloved blackness of the screen to introduce whatever lay at the other side, to be away from demonic women plaguing the Earth. How easy it would have been to let everything figure itself out. 

He did not hear the sirens until the red, white and blue flashes flooded the pews and all. It was time to leave. Straight ahead of him was a church window depicting a multicolored version of Christ with open arms. He shot right through it, and the left arm fell before the right. A rectangular darkness lay ahead now, and he leaped right through it. A shard of glass that had protruded from the bottom had cut his leg, deep into the fabric of his black pants. Already outside, he stood there staring at the blood shard, triumphantly holding his blood. His leg was bleeding. He knew what this meant. There was no way of finding every drop of blood he had already spilled. He dashed straight into the forest, for the first time, finally worried under the crescent moon.

A cold front arrived the same day Laura found out the police department had matched the blood to the that of the local priest of the church, “Temple of Christ’s Opened Arms”. Padre Joaquin had been a drifter for decades before acquiring his new place in Brownsville, where he had tasted his first kill. The Federal Bureau followed his blood like a hunter does for a wounded animal. It was not long before Treviño’s ceremonious funeral began, not long when the headlines and the interviews of the local news station became a normal thing. He turned into a national hero.

Laura sat outside on her small patio table a week after with a cup of coffee, and a cigarette for the one that she had rejected from Treviño, for the many things she had rejected for herself. The leaves of the past Fall were circling about her. The gray sky seemed not to be made of clouds, but heavy smoke. The cold winds slapped her face, tugged her hair, pinched her jacketless skin, blew away her single tear. Some neighbors, from the cozy shelters of their homes, peered through the window. They saw her bare the wind as if she was waiting for something that might be carried back to her. The rebozo tightened her shoulders. She took another sip of her coffee, another drag of her cigarette, and stared down the approaching Winter itself. Lightning struck from afar as if Chalchiuhtlicue herself was about to speak and without knowing, without wanting to, Laura was striking the best pose of her life.

© The Acentos Review 2020