A Writer Writes: Holiday Obituary
Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) has self-published a number of travel books since returning from Honduras. The following piece is from a collection of stories that he will publish soon. In the preface, Larry writes, “Sometimes life offers delicious experiences when least expected. These stories were born in such circumstances a quarter of a century ago, shortly after returning home following five years south of the frontera. Studying art at a local junior college, I was fascinated by students who set up easels in art museums and tried to recreate masterpieces stroke for stroke. This led to my own experiment; to write my own stories while emulating the styles of my favorite authors.
“Today it seems blasphemous to mention their names when referring to my efforts. However, it is worth mentioning that the exercise offered me an opportunity to be as crazy as I wanted to be. Heck, one of these stories was organized and loosely based upon a first-person 16th century Spanish novelette that I actually read in Spanish.
“Together, these stories form a word mural which describes Mesoamerican people and places during the turbulent 1980’s. Mexico was ruled by a dictatorship that swallowed up the opposition. Guatemala was in the midst of genocide (more than 400 villages totally disappeared, even from maps). Likewise, blood on Salvadorian streets was hosed down daily. Honduras became our base for a war against Nicaragua. Our military was funded by the secret sale of illicit drugs. The mural, like reality, is not comedic.”
Here is an excerpt.
The murdered woman was identified as Magdalena Marquez Flores, widow of Garcia. Her wake was held at the Funeraria Martinez, located across the street from the same market where she sold vegetables for seven years. The señora, called Magda by the other market venders, came from a long line of healers. The fine art of curing disease and spells had been taught to her by her great aunt.
One middle aged woman selling pineapples lifted the hair on the back of her son’s neck. She pointed to a scar where Magda, under her great aunt’s supervision, had cut out a cyst. The butcher held up a finger that had been infected until Magdalena had wrapped a poultice around it. Another vender held her son who Magdalena herself delivered.
A seller of dried vegetables, many used in cures, explained that he had known the family even before their move to the capital. He also claimed that the young Magdalena had saved his life in Cocop. “A jilted girlfriend of mine had cast a spell and I puked black stuff for hours before Magda cured me.”
The same man later helped the family relocate in this city after an army counter insurgency force destroyed Cocop. He claimed a strong resemblance between the deceased and her mentor, Doña Romualda. “Anybody could see that profile with the long forehead and beautiful Indian nose. Also, the right corner of her mouth turned up when she smiled just like her great aunt’s,” he said.
All of those interviewed mourned the loss. “Our eldest son Miguél was taken by the army never to be seen again just before Cocop was leveled,” stated another from the market. “There were so many dead. We felt lucky to have a healer and now she’s gone too.” Cocop had been totally obliterated during the last military maneuver under the former president, his Excelencia. One source who begged for anonymity stated, “They’re all military holidays now. Curse them.”
Señora Marquez Flores widow of Garcia is survived by her parents, having been childless during her brief marriage. Her husband was killed by the military just before the destruction and razing of Cocop. “Sargento said that he was a communist,” reported an uncle. “They dragged him away screaming in the middle of the night. I imagine he’s resting now in that berm of fresh turned earth we all saw while being forced to march towards the capital after the burning and looting.” This allusion to a common grave has not been substantiated as the military has since cordoned off the smoldering remains of Cocop and its vicinity.
Magdalena Marquez Flores widow of Garcia died last month, nine years after her husband, during the most recent Veteran’s Day festivities. Her body was released without official comment following the government’s investigation which failed in prosecuting any suspects. The ceremony was closed-casket.
Lawrence F. Lihosit works as an urban planner. Essayist, poet, travel writer, historian, and short story writer, his literary work is available at www.abookcompany.net.