The following story was told to me by a 14-year-old boy who went to Mexico to visit his grandparents:
In my town, a small village in Oaxaca, people believe in ghosts and spirits, and they believe that you can know when death is coming.
Vicente knew he was going to die and that the man they called "the Loco" would be the one to kill him. During the New Year's celebration, when all the men in the village drink until they are crazy drunk and dance and shoot their guns in the air, a bullet from Vicente's gun accidentally hit the Loco. It made a small wound, the size of a bug bite. Vicente knew then that some day the Loco would come to kill him.
And it happened a year later, just before the celebration of the new year. A few weeks before that night, Vicente began to act like a child. He left the house of his wife and child and went to his mother's where he stayed in bed and complained of bad dreams. He became like a child, fearful and afraid to leave his mother's side. And the Loco came and shot him, and the men made me hold his head while he bled to death. He could not be taken to the hospital because there was not one close enough. The men looked all over for the Loco, but he was not found.
After Vicente died, the people in the village complained of strange noises at night, doors slamming shut and windows banging open. They said it was Vicente's ghost because he had died before it was his time and his soul was unhappy. Nobody would go out at night. The dark made them afraid.
I don't want to be afraid, and I heard that if I walked up in the mountain known as La Montana de Diablo in the dark and then walked all the way down, I would leave my fear behind, and that is what I did.
I don't want to be afraid. I am learning to ask questions and study and learn about the truth. I know that truth is important, and knowing what is true and real helps in becoming brave.
Lolly Mesches is a retired counseling psychologist and member of the Occidental Center for the Arts board of directors.
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write email@example.com.