mateo campos

A beautiful woman was struck and killed by a whiskey-soaked scorned lover in his stoic father’s borrowed car along Fire Road some 50-odd years ago. It was a picturesque, cinematic scene: the full moon reflecting on the ocean and a sleepy truck-stop town twenty miles away from anything in particular in an eerie silver light, this young woman whose name we won’t ever know or remember slowly dying at the edge of a steep, cliffside road you’d live off of fifty years later, inky blood slick on the asphalt and staining a one-of-a-kind cocktail dress only countless overtime hours put in waitressing a mediocre Italian joint up in the city could buy. Jesus, I’m sure it was a beautiful dress, wasted on a body so soon forgotten.

They say a wendigo haunts this Pacific hillside. I heard it in your mother’s voice bidding us have fun, be safe, be home before eight, and it might’ve just been kid stuff and ghost stories and a superstitious pair of immigrant parents but God, there’s that clunk of a deadbolt clicking into place and the lights in your windows shutting off like the horror-movie murderer deliberately and deliciously snuffed out the only candle in the room and the fact that I know you’re purposefully ignoring my texts and calls and every footstep between your front door and the driver's’ seat feels like a mile and the fog’s starting to roll in, damp and heavy like my abuelita’s kitchen after a dinner of caldo de pollo, agua caliente misting outlines of our family against the windows and maybe the air is full of moisture explained through scientific weather phenomena or maybe I’m coughing up blood and the scent’s going to lead her right to me, and the revenge that should’ve been rightfully enacted on some pretty-boy jock swerving down a streetlamp-devoid suburban road in his dad’s well-loved Ford will instead leave a bloody outline on the concrete next to my mother’s still-running car, and my body nowhere to be found.