Missing Mi Melao
“Don’t worry, Will. Maria is a very capable young woman. Wherever she is, I’m confident she can take care of herself.” (The man’s a jerk.)
Yesterday, I tracked down Professor Ramos, Maria’s boss. He said he just returned from a conference in the States and that he spoke to Maria by phone two days ago. (That would have been the morning of the wedding.) I asked him what they had talked about, and he was a bit taken aback. “She did not tell you?” he said.
I’m waiting for the uppercut to the ribs: “She’s left you.” But he says, “She said she found a woman who knew something about the missing painting.”
“Who was the woman?”
She didn’t say.
“Well, Maria’s missing.”
“Por favor?” I couldn’t tell if that was a question or he was just saying, “C’mon.” I’ve found that sincerity is often lost in translation, but he showed his true colors. He decided to patronize me by telling me Maria could look out for herself.
So now I think maybe Maria’s disappearance has something to do with the painting Virgen de Belen. It was stolen from San Jose Church some thirty years ago and has never been found.
For the past year, Maria’s been researching the 1797 siege of San Juan and this painting for the professor. I’ve never trusted him. The more I think about our conversation yesterday, I think Dude Ramos’ nonchalance about Maria’s disappearance tells me either that (1) he truly doesn’t care about her, or (2) he knows where she is.
Now, if Ramos knows where she is and won’t tell me, it is either (1) because Maria told him not to tell me, or (2) he is responsible for her disappearance.
Shit Sherlock. This is serious. I’m either going to have to go to the police and prepare to be frustrated with them not doing their job, or talk to Maria’s brother Silvio. He’s got a drug network and knows people throughout the island. He’s even got guys at the airport. Of course, Silvio and I don’t exactly get along. I can’t remember last time we talked. I didn’t see him at the wedding, come to think of it.
If he’d been there, he’d have said, “I told you, man. Maria knows better than to marry you. She knows you are a fool.” Something like that . . . Yeah. Probably good I didn’t see him. Now I’ll have to put the word out in La Perla, “Silvio and me gotta talk.” Surreal, sure. What are her mother and brothers thinking? She ran off because she really didn’t want to marry me? I’ve got to find her — soon.