Quickies for Halloween 03- The Rider and La Siguanabana
The dark of night draped the land with its black veil. Yet, the moon was bright, and Luis could still see the old road that cut through the banana plantation. It was the shortest route, though not the easiest on account of having to cross the Black Stones river up ahead.
"Sorry Kiko," he said patting his horse on the neck. "But you know how women are, and Paquita is a feisty one."
The horse snorted.
"I know, I know. It was my fault. But to throw us out just like that, so late in the day. That's cruel."
The horse and rider prodded along the muddy road, where the torrential rains of the past few days had left their mark.
Presently, he came upon the river shore and saw the crystalline waters glittering under the moonlight. Fireflies winked on and off over the surface like spirits from a dream.
As he approached the river, the horse began to shake its head nervously. Luis reached over and patted the animal on the neck.
"I know you don't like water, Kiko. But we have to cross. It doesn't look too bad. See? We'll cross to the other shore, and we'll be home in no time."
The horse kept moving hesitantly but seemingly satisfied with his companion's reassurance.
Luis stopped and beheld a sight that made him wonder if he was indeed dreaming. Was that a woman sitting on that rock in the middle of the river? As he got closer, the murmur of the river grew louder, but strangely, he could also hear a low mournful hum. Yes. He could see her clearly now. She had her back turned to him, and her long black hair looked radiant under the moonlight. The hem of her diaphanous gown floated lazily like wispy tendrils upon the stream.
Approaching the riverbank, he felt his heart beat faster.
Kiko reared back his head.
The truth was that Luis himself felt a little scared of the mysterious figure in the middle of the river. She could be La Siguanabana. Of course, he didn't believe in such childish tales, but a woman out here, alone at night in the middle of nowhere... well, that didn't seem right. On the other hand, she could be just an Indian girl from the nearby camp. They were very brave and not at all bashful. A sly smile spread across his lips in spite of his fear.
He had heard many tales of La Siguanabana when he was a kid, and he remembered one in particular that prescribed a formula on how to avoid her.
Clearing his voice, he called out to her, "You're not going anywhere Maria of the chicken foot."
The woman stopped brushing her hair but did not turn around. She placed the brush on the rock beside her, its handle glistening like gold. Right next to it, there was a bowl that also glistened with a golden color. Reaching with her lean fingers, she picked it up and dipped it in the stream. Gracefully, she arched her back while raising her arm and poured the water over her head and body.
Her hair shone so bright in the silvery moonlight. How marvellous she looked: the curve of her back and her creamy skin bared beneath the wispy gown.
He began to repeat the nonsensical formula, which had to be done three times, but she cut him off.
"Stop shouting like a deranged man," she said in a sonorous voice, "you'll wake up the whole camp."
Letting out a sigh of relief, he stammered, "I'm sorry, I thought that-" He paused in mid-sentence.
"Nevermind," he said in a bemused tone and dismounted Kiko.
She poured more water on herself, half-turning as she did so. Her wet gown clung to her body, revealing the side of her breast, which looked so soft and plump like a ripe mango.
"I didn't mean to bother you, miss. I was just passing through with Kiko... I mean, my horse, his name is Kiko."
She laughed. "Kiko is a funny name for a horse."
Her voice sounded like the sweetest music. Oddly, she didn't speak with the Indian accent that was common of the local tribes.
"Come closer," she said. "I could use your help."
"I-I think I should get going," he said. "I'm still a few leagues from home."
"You're not afraid of me, are you? You catrines are always scared of us Indians. We don't bite, you know. Come, don't be a curmudgeon."
He promptly removed his muddy boots and rolled up his pants. The water was cool. Beneath his feet, he could feel the pebbles and stones.
She hummed the melancholic song again.
When he reached her, he put his hand on the rock to steady himself.
Without turning, she handed him the golden brush. "Go on, my little dove, brush my hair."
With a trembling but eager hand, he began to brush her hair. It was silky and smooth to the touch.
"Do you like my hair?" she said.
"Yes. It's- it's very beautiful." He felt light headed and his vision grew blurred. He could hear Kiko neighing, but he sounded far away.
"Do you like my body?" she said turning slightly while keeping her face hidden beneath the shadows of her hair.
His legs began to tremble.
"Yes," he said, entranced by her bewitching beauty.
She giggled and lifted her breast. "Then take your tit 'cause I'm your mama!" She laughed and let out a blood-curdling shriek.
Luis stumbled backwards and fell in the water.
"Take your tit 'cause I'm your mama! Take your tit 'cause I'm your mama!" she screamed over and over.
The water washed over his head and he jumped up, a part of him realizing that his life was in danger. A white shadow ran down the riverbank and instinctively he scrambled towards it. "Kiko!"
"Come back to me, my little dove. Come back and take your tit!"
He tripped and again fell in the water. The current dragged him downstream. He heard the loud rush of water falling over a cliff, and he kicked his feet until he managed to grab onto a broken branch.
La Siguanabana shrieked and laughed as she waded toward him. Her gown was now torn and dirty, her scraggly hair falling over her shriveled and rotting face.
She reached out towards him. "I'm your mama, little dove. Take your tit! Take your tit! Take your tit 'cause I'm your mama."
Looking into her eyes, he felt like screaming, but he knew that if he did so, he would never escape her spell. He wrapped his left hand around the branch and with his free hand, he reached under his shirt and pulled out the medallion of the Holy Virgin that his mother had given him for his first communion.
"Come with me! I'm your mama."
With the medallion between his teeth, he let go of the branch and fell back on the water.
La Siguanabana clutched at him with her sharp claws.
Trying hard not to throw up at the sight and smell of her green rotten flesh, he reached up and pulled her hair.
She wailed and let out a mournful "Noooooooo!"
Kicking his feet wildly, he propelled himself to the shore until he managed to hold onto a rock outcrop. He watched as La Siguanabana shuffled towards the edge of the waterfall, wailing at the moon, she spread her arms and jumped.
Then, like a ghostly apparition, Kiko appeared on the riverbank.
"I'm almost there, Kiko. I'm almost there, old friend."
Under the stars and the moon, Luis rode across the plantation. His vacant eyes staring ahead at the old and muddy road.