EXCERPT







1984.—Ghosts are not what I remember of my childhood; but somehow they 
infuse memories of myself as a child, the little girl in a storybook, with 
ghosts hovering around her. The reason is, I intermingle my childhood with 
the ghost stories my grandfather recounted to me countless times, stories 
which he uttered seriously but with the practiced adeptness of a storyteller 
who regards each tale as purposeful, serious, not to be held lightly.
Years ago, after I had urged him to tell me a ghost story, he said, in a 
somber tone, looking away from me, “It is not good to talk too much about 
ghosts,” then he resumed eating a slice of water pear.

Disappointed, I decided to ask a practical question, for we were sitting 
in the kitchen, in which place he liked to talk and in which place he was 
The Storyteller: one had only to say, “Abuelo, tell us about construction days”—
a favorite topic with him—and one was guaranteed two hours, at least, of 
stories, some of which he ended by saying, “This is true, you know. True, true.”

I said, “What’s the best way to beat an evil spirit?”

“Suppose you see an evil spirit,” he said, “singing a song, or you hear him 
beating a drum, or you hear him walking, you can scare him away.” I asked him 
what he meant and he explained that one had to throw a fireball—a sort of 
firecracker—in the spirit’s path. The spirit would vanish. “Not prayers at all 
times drives the evil spirit. You have to know the enterity of a spirit—especially 
when it’s guarding a fortune.”

“Enterity?” I had never heard the word, but he seemed unwilling to explain further 
except to nod and say, “Yes.”

“When they’re guarding a fortune, it’s more difficult. Some spirits drink a lot 
of liquor. Some don’t drink at all. The spirits that drink you can move away....” 
He then paused, coughed, displaying a serene countenance of satisfaction, then added, 
“You can make him talk to you—get him to tell you who sent him.”

I then asked him whether he had met any ghosts in Panama, face to face. He answered, 
quite casually, that he had met with several, one of which held him in a vise until 
a woman in a pale gown intervened by restraining the First Ghost.

“Who was the woman-ghost?” I said.

He said, “Her name was Encarnacion Escobar.—A woman I knew 
before I met your grandmother.”—He sighed. “Well, that woman loved me, 
and she died. And one night I was at a certain place and a voice said, 
‘Luke More, come and kiss me,’ and I said, ‘All right,’ and I crossed over and kissed her.”

He sighed deeply. “And that was Encarnacion—the same woman that saved me. 
That was a good woman."


--from chapter I of PORRIDGE & CUCU: MY CHILDHOOD


Comments