No Stone Unturned

I filed a missing person report this morning. This is the third day that Maria has not checked in –- with me, her husband-to-be, her mother, or any of her friends. I told the police detective that she had been following up on a lead she’d received, about a stolen painting. That was according to her boss, Professor Ramos Torres. Let the police interview him.

I’m walking up the hill toward the larger-than-life statue of Cristobal Colon — Christopher Columbus –- and thinking I’d like to discover something –- when an old woman crosses my path. She hobbles alongside me a ways, chattering in Spanish. I nod and keep walking, not wanting to be bothered — and not understanding what she’s saying.

She pulls on my arm, and I pull it away. When I stop to do this, I recognize her. She’s the old homeless woman Maria and I had bought a cake for once. The same dancing eyes and toothless smile. A different dress was all, not so tattered and dirty as before. Today, she doesn’t smell all that bad. Of course, I haven’t showered for two days myself.  She says in broken English, “Come with me, Mister now. I show you where.”

She nods and keeps walking, when I ask “What? Where?”

We walk up through Old San Juan toward del Morro. Before we go up the long drive, she stops. “We need light, Mister. Dark inside.”  I am not too keen to follow her further. I’d walked all over del Morro yesterday looking for Maria. I didn’t want to look at anything else here. But I am too tired to walk away.

“Here, this has a flashlight,” I show her my cell phone.

“No good,” she says. She rummages through her sack and pulls out an old metal torch, shakes it, and it lights up. She shakes it again and it goes off. “Senor venga!” she says, pulling my arm.

We get into the fort as it’s opening up. (Yes, I pay two admissions.) And I follow the woman down and around back to this tunnel. She says, “Meester, you go in there. You find her.”

del Morro tunnel gate

tunnels under Old San Juan

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