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A surrealist—yet true—event that happened somewhere in semi-rural Mexico. Originally written for the catbox, archived at ascorbic dot net

Clockmaker notes in the catbox:

»See, I know what your problem is. Your camera has Mexican magical realism


Last night I got home and found myself out of bread and milk. My hunger was really ramping up, so before settling in, I took my bag and walked to the store, barely 2 blocks away.

Now, I live on a tiny street—not even 200m, or yards even—so it’s very rare to see more than two people at once. You can imagine, then, my surprise when I see my next door neighbors’ door wide open, all of them out on the street and a crowd gathered on the corner. A pick-up truck wants to turn in, but the people signal him to turn back, which it does.

A few steps later I see the reason: there’s a dead dog lying on the corner. I ask around, everyone denies being its owner. Moreover, no one recognizes him: there’s several strays around here and this isn’t one of the usual mongrels at the taco stand. The poor pup doesn’t have visible wounds and looks healthy—or as healthy as any stray can be, anyways. It’s also resting in a corner, not in the middle of the street, so there’s talk of foul play.

My landlord (who also lives on this street) tells me he’s already called Animal control. Given the circumstances, I decide that my hunger is still a more immediate need and I walk away.

I got only the most important stuff: A loaf of bread, a carton of milk, a piece of both Oaxaca and “prensado” cheese, a caguama of beer (Victoria), a can of beans. Once everything is packed, I greet the shopkeep and wish her a happy new year. Her son asks me if I saw the commotion back there, but I decide against telling a young kid about dead dogs. I couldn’t have been there more than 15 minutes.

On my way back, I see the corner empty. «Poor dog, but at least it’s in heaven now» I think. «There’s no need for this much fuzz».

But then I actually turn at the corner and see that the crowd hasn’t dissipated, it merely relocated. The abandoned house on that corner was kept close only by a padlock that now lay cut on the floor. Everybody seemed to be inside.

My first impression was that this place was even more abandoned than I thought: there wasn’t actually a house, only the floor and a foot-high wall remained, apparently demolished the old fashioned way. More than half of the actual plot would have been a patio or garden of sorts, but it was now completely invaded by wild grass and other opportunistic flora.

Then I realized that everyone was looking at the center of the plot. Someone—I don’t know exactly who, wasn’t anyone I know—was digging a small grave with a spade. Everyone else was watching, discussing whatever. Someone cracked open a beer and asked his ‘compadre’ if he wanted one. He did. Someone asks if the authorities were informed; I don’t see my landlord anywhere.

A few minutes later, we make way for a girl carrying what I presume was the mongrel’s body under a drape. She gives it to the digger who in turn buries it and starts covering it again with dirt. Mongrel he was and unto the ground he was returning.

Once the deed was done, everyone made the sign of the cross, maybe muttering something to themselves. We all greet each other good night and see you soon. I don’t see if anyone closes the door.

Epilogue

My neighbor two doors down called everyone passing by to share some hot chocolate and Pan de Muertos a delicious way to finally start satisfying my hunger.

It was only until this morning that I realized something: we’re full swing in Día de Reyes1 mood, and the traditional pastry of these days is Rosca de Reyes. No ‘panadería’ is making Pan de Muertos until the next Día de Muertos.

Postscript

The door is apparently closed, but there's no padlock to be seen.
  1. In Catholic tradition, the day of epiphany: January 6