The Magic of God
By B. Craig Grafton
Rudolpho and Gloria were an old mestizo couple of many married years, having lived in a small village on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande all their lives. They were growing old now. Gloria could accept this, but Rodolfo could not. He pined for the days of his youth when he had been quite the handsome young debonair ladies’ man. He still had his looks, or so he thought, for he still had all his hair and all his teeth, which was more than most men his age in the village could say. So based on that, and that alone, he set out to have one last fling before he died.
He sought to do so with a woman named Felina, a sleek young creature of dark beauty who was the proprietress of La Gata Negra cantina. Rodolfo fell under her spell the second he saw her, and Felina knew this, and thus wove her charms around him so that he spent all his money at her cantina. She had no interest in him personally. She did not find him, a dried-up old prune of a man, attractive, for she was a beautiful young woman and could have any man she wanted. All she had to do was purr.
Gloria knew of Rodolfo’s infatuation with Felina. When they went to the market, he always wandered off to La Gata Negra where she would find him and drag him home by the ear. She was afraid of losing him, for she loved him so dearly, and could not bear the thought of living without him, not in this world nor in the next. So she went to her priest Father Tomas to seek his advice.
“You must put your faith in God,” he told her. “Pray to God that your husband will change his ways and return to you and God will answer your prayers.”
So Gloria prayed to God.
But her prayers went unanswered, and Rodolfo kept spending his time and money at La Gata Negra rather than with his wife. Now worried more than ever, Gloria went to speak to Father Tomas again.
“Do not doubt the Lord but trust in Him,” repeated Father Tomas. “For the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
And so Gloria prayed again to God.
And like before, her prayers went unanswered, and she began to doubt that the Lord did work in mysterious ways. To her it was Felina who worked in mysterious ways by placing a spell on her husband. A spell that must be broken. So she went to see Felina to make a deal with her.
“So you have come to see me,” said Felina. “You mestizos are all alike. You claim to be good Catholics, yet you still believe in the legends, myths, and magic of your Indios ancestors. You still believe in magic and witches.”
Gloria was ashamed of herself for being there. But she believed that God had let her down. She was quite desperate. She had to take matters into her own hands now. So she said to Felina, “I know that you are a witch and can use your magical powers to remove the spell you have cast over my husband. How much will it cost me?”
Felina gave her a price.
“That is more than my husband spends now each week at your cantina!” Glory cried. “If I did not love him, it would be cheaper to let him carry on as always.”
“Oh, but it is a fair price, my dear,” said Felina. “For I am a businesswoman, and this is an opportunity for me to make money. You will pay it each week to keep your husband in tow and I mean that literally.”
“Tell me first what magic you will work and then I will tell you if I’m buying, for I too am a businesswoman,” Gloria bravely countered.
“Remember when your twins were little and you came to the market,” said Felina. “They were wild and rambunctious, so you tied a leash around their waists like they were dogs so that they would not stray. I can have your husband kept on a short leash too. I will sell you a magic leash to tie around him to keep him in tow.”
“He will not consent to that.”
“Oh, but he does not have to. You only have to put the leash on him once. When it is removed the magic will remain and keep him tied to you. Here is the leash,” she said magically, making one appear out of thin air. “Trick him into putting it on.”
“Here is your price,” said Gloria, not so magically making the coins appear.
So Gloria took the leash home and said to her husband, “Look Rodolfo, here is an old leash that I found that we used on the twins. Try it on. Maybe you can use it as a belt. I bet it would fit you, for you do not have the belly of a fat man like all the other old men in the village do,” she said, enticing him.
Rodolfo answered the call of vanity and tried on the leash.
“It more than fits,” he said, “because I am slim and trim. Look at all this extra length. I can’t use it as a belt and there is no need to use it as a leash. I do not need to be kept on a leash,” he joked. “Now quit all this nonsense, Gloria. It is time to go to the market.” He took off the belt leash not realizing that the joke was on him.
So they started for the market, and along the way Gloria tugged on her new invisible magical leash every now and then to test it. Each time she did so she could see the reaction of her husband as he looked strangely at his waistline. So she tugged harder and harder, over and over again as they walked along, amusing herself, for she kind of liked jerking her husband around. She now knew that the magic worked, that her money was well spent.
At the market Rodolfo tried to slip away to Felina, but when he did so, Gloria yanked on her imaginary leash and immediately dragged him to her side. And when he tried again, she yanked him back once more. Rodolfo was baffled by all this but said nothing, for he did not wish to appear as a fool in public.
Now that night, Felina came to see Rodolfo. But first she cast a spell over Gloria and put her in a deep sleep so that she would not awaken when they talked. Then she woke up Rodolfo.
“Your wife has paid me to put a magical leash on you so that she can control you,” she told Rodolfo. “For the sum of,” and here she named her price, which was much more than what Gloria had paid, “I will remove it.”
Now having heard this, Rodolfo knew that it must be true, for he had felt the tugs on his girth and he had no other explanation as to what was happening to him.
“Well?” asked Felina. “Are you going to pay me or not?”
Rodolpho could not believe what he had just heard. His feelings, his pride had been hurt by this demand for money. He thought the woman liked him, wanted him, because of all the attention she gave him at her cantina. But now he realized that she only wanted money.
“And I was foolish enough to believe you wanted me,” he blurted out.
“A shriveled up old prune like you? Surely you jest.”
Rodolfo became enraged with that answer. She would never get another centavo from him ever again.
“You may be a witch. But you cannot make me pay. Go! Leave!” he ordered.
“Then the leash shall remain on you forever,” she screeched in a fit of anger and vanished in a puff of smoke.
“So you have placed a magical leash around me,” Rodolfo said to his wife the next morning at breakfast. “A leash that makes me never leave your side. Felina told me this last night, and she wanted money from me to remove it. But I did not pay her. Is that true woman?” he asked, seeking a confession.
“Yes, I have done so,” Gloria said. “For I love you dearly, husband, and do not want to lose you to her. I will pay whatever price she demands to keep you. In fact, a payment is due today to keep the magic in place.”
Now it suddenly dawned on Rodolfo that this woman truly loved him and that he truly loved her. He realized that he had been a foolish old man chasing after Felina trying to be young again. So he said to his wife, “Do not pay her.”
“But why, husband?”
“Though the magic will be gone we will pretend that it is still there. Felina will see me always at your side and feel cheated. She will think that the magic is still working somehow even though you haven’t paid for it.” He did not tell his wife that Felina said the magic will remain on him forever because he loved his wife ever so dearly. “This will drive her crazy that you are getting something for nothing. This will be our revenge.”
So Gloria did not pay Felina, and the next time they went to the market Rodolfo acted as though he was still leashed to his wife and never left her side. Though she never tugged on him at all.
Felina saw this and became enraged because she remembered that she had placed the leash on Rodolfo forever in her fit of anger and she wasn’t going to get paid for it now. Gloria would get her magic for nothing and this drove her crazy.
They were so happy now, happy for having fooled Felina, or so they thought, for Rodolfo never left his wife’s side as per their plan of revenge.
When Father Tomas saw them so happy together he said to Gloria, “See, didn’t I tell you not to doubt the Lord? That the Lord moves in mysterious ways? He has answered your prayers, Gloria. You and your husband are together here on earth now and will be so in heaven forever too.”
Gloria’s faith in the Lord had been restored, for she did now truly believe that God had intervened in her life, that He had answered her prayers.
Then one day Felina, who was not able to deal with her failure and humiliation anymore, appeared before Gloria and spit out in a fit of bitter anger, “You may be together in this world but will not be so in the next. For I have put a curse on your husband, and he will go to the depths of Hell when he dies.”
Gloria laughed off the curse and said, “God will not let that happen. My husband will be with me forever, for I no longer believe in your magic or curses. Go away, you witch.” And with that, Felina left in a puff of smoke, cackling as she went. Gloria was not scared of the curse for she always prayed daily to God to keep her husband with her.
Now the few remaining years of the old couple’s lives went by quickly. Gloria became ill and she knew that death was coming for her that night. So she prayed to God and then said to her husband as they lay in bed, “Lay next to me tonight Rodolfo, your hip against mine.”
Rodolfo did so and they went to sleep.
Father Tomas went to check on them the next morning, as he had been doing so for several days now since Gloria had fallen ill. When no one answered the door, he went in and found the old couple both deceased, lying next to each other in bed. He smiled.
“Why are you smiling, priest?” asked Felina from outside the open window, for she too had been keeping an eye on the old couple. “I have put a curse on Rodolfo, sending him to Hell. And Gloria will be in her own hell as well, for she will be without him in heaven.”
“You are wrong, Felina. You have no power over people that believe in the magic of God. Come see.”
Instantly Felina appeared at the priest’s side.
“See,” he said and showed her the two bodies. In fact, they were one body now, they had become one flesh, for the Lord had joined them together at the hip that night as they slept. Thus, when Gloria died, she took Rodolfo to heaven with her.
“See, the Lord has answered Gloria’s prayers and joined them together for eternity. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways,” said Father Tomas.
But he was speaking to himself. Felina had already vanished.