This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice. Practice makes perfect.
Elle Cabra settled in New Mexico sometime in the mid-‘90s. She came here from southern Louisiana but told me that she was originally from Puerto Rico. According to local stories she may have also been a Rougarou. Legends tell us that the Rougarou primarily prowl the forests and swamps of Acadiana. They have the body of a man and the head of a wolf or a dog; sometimes a cat. They ambulate on all fours.
One story tells us that if you don’t observe the strict rules of Lent for seven years in a row; you’ll turn into a Rougarou. Other stories tell us that the inflexion is the result of a curse cast by a witch. Some say that you can change by doing nothing more than looking into the eyes of an existing Rougarou. Once turned, the monster develops a taste for raw meat and will suck all the blood from the bodies of its prey.
When she first arrived in New Mexico, Elle travelled the state for a couple of years before finally settling outside the town of Oscuro, in Lincoln County. She kept to herself for the most part and that was about the time that we started hearing all the tales of ‘cattle mutilation’ and the like.
Elle was a beautiful girl with shoulder-length dark hair that curled up at the ends. When the sun shone from behind it almost seemed as though she wore a halo. She was sleight of stature and had a smile that would outshine the eastern sky on a crisp October morning. She had high, sculpted cheekbones, fair skin, and full red lips. Yet she chose to live by herself in what she described as a small adobe house in the high desert of eastern New Mexico. No one could understand why.
I met Elle in 2010 when I came across her walking north on Highway 54 just above the town of Tularosa. I stopped and asked her if she needed a ride. She accepted and thanked me for what she called, my “kindness and generosity.” I have seldom been accused of being kind and generous. It made me a little nervous. I tried to change the subject and I know that most people like to talk about themselves.
I asked her what her name was.
“Elle,” she said, “Elle Cabra.”
I asked her where she was going.
I asked her where she was from.
“Puerto Rico by way of Louisiana.”
I asked her how long she had been in New Mexico and what had brought her here.
“A couple of years, only,” she said in lightly accented English. “I came here because of the Rougarou.”
“What’s a Rougarou?” I asked her.
“Nothing,” she answered, “just an old French ghost story.” She smiled when she said that, but you could tell that it was something she didn’t want to talk about.
We talked about the weather, and the desert, and trucks, and tourists from Texas for the rest of the trip. She asked me to drop her at the cut off that would take her west to Oscuro. I told her that I’d be happy to take her the rest of the way but she wouldn’t hear of it.
“I’ve already imposed enough.” She said as she got out of the truck.
I tried to argue with her but finally watched her waving goodbye in my rear-view mirror as I continued north.
Over the years I wondered about the mysterious Elle Cabra. I even went back to Oscuro looking for her but I could never find anyone who would even admit having heard of her until last week; when I went to a bar in White Oak. There was nobody there ‘cept me and Martha, the bartender, and an old cowboy nursing boilermakers at the end of the bar. Being the gregarious sort I began to strike up a conversation with him. I found out that he was from Oscuro.
“I met a girl from Oscuro once,” I told him.
“Aren’t too many girls there,” he smiled and I could see a single tobacco-stained tooth in the front of his mouth, “what was ‘er name?”
“She told me her name was Elle Cabra,” I answered.
He sat his drink down and stared at me, “There’s nobody there by that name,” he said then he stood while simultaneously signalling Martha for his check. Before she could move down to his end of the bar, he threw a wad of bills next to his mug, turned and left. I got up and followed him out.
“What’s up, mister?” I asked, “Why won’t anyone talk to me about this girl?”
He paused next to the door to his pickup, “You didn’t hear this from me,” he said, “there was a girl in Oscuro named Elle, but her last name wasn’t Cabra. It was Chupacabra.” He climbed in his truck and started the engine and rolled down the window. “Was she a small girl, medium-length dark hair that curled up at the ends?”
I nodded my head.
“You’re lucky to be alive, Mister.” He said, and then accelerated quickly out of the lot throwing gravel from his back tires.
I went home and looked it up.
The chupacabra or chupacabras (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃupaˈkaβɾas], ‘goat-sucker’; from Spanish: chupar, ‘to suck’, and cabras, ‘goats’) is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico in 1995. The name comes from the animal’s reported vampirism—the chupacabra is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock, including goats.
Physical descriptions of the creature vary. It is purportedly a heavy creature the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail.
This week’s prompts:
- the dog in you
- rocking chair
- night-time is the best time to work