Secrets Kept, Secrets Revealed is one of many short stories that have spun from Cindy Davis’ novel Zipacna’s Legacy. As an author and psychic, she strives to help adults connect emotionally with this sometimes-confusing always fast-paced world. Often when we’re young, we have questions none of our elders can answer. We wonder about the shadow in the corner of the bedroom that no one else can see. We wonder why something we dream about comes true a day or so later. These aren’t things to fear. They are normal. They are part of our spiritual awakening.
Secrets Kept, Secrets Revealed
Cadence pushed the Send button of the order form, gave a satisfied sigh and rolled back the chair from the computer. Supplies for Stonemason’s General Store would be delivered tomorrow afternoon. Business had been excellent, as it had in establishments throughout town for almost two years. Whatever economic boom was occurring, she prayed it lasted for a long time to come.
The bell in the church clocktower pealed; the first echo of the chimes resounded along the narrow main street. She gathered keys and handbag. By the fifth ring of the antique brass bell, Cadence Stonemason was heading for the front door. Although the store had a private rear exit, she always left through the front so she could say goodnight to the shop owners on either side who were also locking up for the evening.
She looked forward to a quiet evening at home with Abraham. They hadn’t seen much of each other lately. Though she didn’t begrudge it in any way, all week church duties had absorbed his free time. As deacon, he’d performed two baptisms, one marriage, and a very long emotional consultation while Priest De León was at some kind of conference.
The only stoplight in town turned red and she stopped the car. Cadence waved to Juan, the best handyman in town, across the intersection. The top of his son Miguel’s head barely showed above the dashboard. In the past few weeks, Juan had begun taking Miguel to work with him. Cadence heard rumors that there was something wrong with the child, but on this the gossip line was quiet as to the details. The boy had come with his mother to the store a number of times. Though she’d examined him carefully, he seemed his usual bubbly self. She smiled in spite of herself, remembering the child’s infectious grin. The boy raised higher in the seat and leaned out the window to wave with excitement at someone in the park. Cadence followed his gaze, and her smile died as quickly as it appeared.
Zipacna, the elderly nutcase who was determined to open a cult here in town, waved at Miguel with equal energy. It was bad enough he’d attempted to corrupt everyone in the village with his ridiculous beliefs about magic and spirits. He should not be allowed to voice those opinions to children. They were too young to fight his words. Too young to make the right decisions. Should she speak with Juan—remind him about the danger?
Really, it was none of her business, but still…the fate of a young child was at stake. Suddenly, her burgeoning problem disappeared—popped like a circus balloon when Zipacna stopped near one of the ancient live oaks dotted around the park. He leaned forward to embrace someone Cadence couldn’t see.
Behind her, a car beeped. The light had turned green. She got her car moving, head craning to see the person Zipacna greeted so heartily.
“No!” The word squirted between her lips.
Cadence drove slowly, eyes wide at the sight of her husband and the elderly Zipacna hugging hello. The two men began walking side-by-side, immediately deep in a serious conversation. Gosh, what was wrong with her? She was acting like a woman scorned. There could be any number of reasons the men were meeting.
Maybe Zipacna saw the error in his ways and wanted redemption. He’d built an enormous building a few miles outside of town. Possibly he was giving Abraham a big order for supplies. Sigh. Which would mean the cult was indeed moving forward. This idea brought up a question: was it a good idea for their store to be involved with something like that? Then again, it could be a financial godsend.
On a more positive side, maybe Zipacna had decided to scrap the cult idea—couldn’t get enough converts, too far from anything, the wrong climate—and he was turning the property over to the church. That would certainly warrant a generous greeting from her husband. Buoyed by the idea, she couldn’t wait for Abraham to arrive home with the wonderful news. She would pretend not to know anything…which, really, she didn’t.
At home, Cadence started a dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Abraham’s favorite. Well, his favorite of the recipes she’d brought with her from the US’s upper Midwest. The phone rang…Abraham saying he would be late: church business. She’d never questioned his tardiness before, but the only thing that rang in her head was that he wasn’t telling the truth, that he was really with Zipacna. She maintained a good attitude about it; the men had gone out to the property so
Abraham could explore their new acquisition. Cadence laughed. Of course this was a ridiculous notion. But Abraham was an honorable man; he would tell her when he arrived home.
She fell asleep watching some dumb reality show broadcast from the States. The next morning her husband was gone when she awoke. They were unable to speak at the store—the place was crazy-busy from the moment she arrived. Abraham left the store early to handle his duties for the church. Still, they hadn’t been able to talk, except she’d asked how things went the night before. He said, “Good, we’ll talk later.”
Evening came and she closed the store by herself as she did most evenings. On the way past the park, she gave an involuntary glance to where Abraham and
Zipacna had been walking the day before. Of course, they weren’t there.
Her husband’s car was pulling out of the hardware store parking lot. She fell naturally into line a few cars back, glad they’d have dinner together. He didn’t turn at the intersection toward their home. He kept going. Why, Cadence couldn’t answer, but she followed him.
Most definitely, he was headed to Zipacna’s place. She didn’t bother to speculate on the reason. She would find out when he stopped and got out. But he didn’t turn onto the road to the cult property. Cadence’s mind spun. Where was he going? What was he up to? In the thirty years they’d been together, he’d never given her any reason to mistrust his motives or deeds. Until now.
It was dumb to follow. She kept thinking of turning back home. But on and on he went, leaving town, getting on the highway heading south. After a half hour, they moved off an exit and cruised west on progressively smaller and smaller roads. By now it was just the two of them. Cadence let some distance come between them so he wouldn’t spot her car. Now they were bumping along a narrow dirt road, still heading west. Thank goodness they didn’t meet any other vehicles. Thickly lined with ceiba, cypress, pine and live oak, there wasn’t much more than a foot of shoulder.
All at once, the road opened into a giant parking area—a field really. Abraham had left his car and was striding with purpose toward an area flickering with what looked like fire.
She found a place to park, which wasn’t easy; the place was crowded. Cadence stepped quickly but cautiously toward where Abraham had gone. The hum of voices and crackle of fire came on the brisk breeze. She wished she had a jacket. One thing that had become clear, Abraham was doing nothing nefarious. No other woman was involved in his lies. But what could be happening that would make him keep a secret from her? He’d said he was on church business. She’d been involved in the church for thirty years, since she’d married Abraham and moved to Chi’país. Never had she known any of their holdings, or events, to be located in this remote place.
Really, it would be best if she just turned around and went home. The thought made her laugh internally. She’d been so intent on following him, she didn’t pay attention to the roads. She’d never find her way home. Well, she might, if GPS worked this far from anything. There were many places in Mexico that were off the grid.
And gee, if anything was off the grid, this was definitely one of those places. No matter, she’d deal with it when the time came. For now, better to see what was going on. She’d come this far.
The hum of voices grew louder. The air was scented with something herbal. It smelled like her great grandmother’s kitchen during holidays. As she stepped closer, the let the image of their family’s Christmas dinner—which she hadn’t visited in several years—creep into her memory. She would definitely phone her family tomorrow. For now, Cadence remained in the deep shadows of the underbrush. No telling how these people would react to an intruder, even if her husband were involved.
The area was lit by undulating ripples of light as the fire waved in the wind. People—there had to be more than a hundred—stood or sat in a semi-circle around the fire. The open area of the circle was set with what looked like log benches. Behind the benches, several people—all men—dressed in flowing robes—mingled.
Whatever was going on obviously hadn’t begun yet. Most of the robes were purple, but one man wearing such stark white that it glowed in the light, nodded. He must be the leader because they moved forward and took seats on the logs.
One person dressed in a yellow robe walked along the outer perimeter waving a smoking bundle of something. That’s when Cadence realized, sort of, what was happening. The person was smudging the area, to clear away negative spirits. For the life of her, she couldn’t imagine why Abraham would be in this place. Negative spirits—the devil—could be rejected by only one method: prayer. No one she ever knew, even back in the States, ousted the evil one with something as simple as smoke. He was too powerful.
Intense emotion flowed into her. Emotion so strong, it buckled her knees and she grasped onto the nearest tree for support. Only one person could be responsible for this: Zipacna.
What to do?
She couldn’t pick the tall white-haired man out of the crowd. Nor, for that matter, could she locate her husband. Better if she got the heck out and dealt with this in the light of day. Cadence stepped away from the tree and made her way back to the parking area. The ceremony began, which meant her exit was unobserved.
She unlocked the car and was about to climb in when her upper arm was clenched in a powerful grip. She was spun in a circle, to come face-to-face with a very angry Abraham. Angrier than she’d ever seen him.
“When I was told we had an trespasser,” he hissed, “I had no idea it would turn out to be my own wife.”
“What the hell is going on over there?” she asked.
“Lower your voice, Cadence.”
“Abraham,” she said in a normal tone even though everything inside her wanted to shout, “what are you doing here?”
He sighed with resignation. “I will explain it when I get home.” He released her arm with a nudge toward the car. “Go home. We’ll talk later.”
She peered around him. “Where is Zipacna?”
“Zip—why would you expect him to—“
“I know he got you involved in this.”
“You know nothing of the sort. Now, go home. I will see you later.”
Two choices: obey or cause a scene. To make a scene might bring down the wrath of the hoard of people not that far away. She climbed in the car and drove from the property, his silhouette remaining there, arms crossed, purple robe rippling in the breeze.
The hour-long trip left ample time for contemplation. He was mad. What right did he have to be? He was the one sneaking around, not her. Well, yes, she was sneaking too. But he’d given her every reason to be suspicious. Lies never left good feelings in their wake.
What was going on? The only sure thing: some sort of ceremony that needed the air cleared. What sort of evil spirits could there be in the wilderness? Where was Zipacna? Why were some people wearing robes and some in regular street clothes? That’s when the biggest realization hit her—Abraham had been wearing a purple robe! Didn’t that mean he was one of the ‘officials’ in whatever organization this was? She slowed the car, lowered her head to the steering wheel and gave herself some time to recover. Before her mind went back to work dissecting the situation, she turned up the radio and sang loud and long all the way home.
Abraham arrived at 1:11. She had been lying there listening for the rumble of his car, and picked it up as he came through town. Easy since it was the only sound out there.
She heard him in the kitchen getting a glass of water. He went to the bathroom and came into the bedroom carrying his street clothes. She wondered where the robe had gone, but it was low on the list of importance right now.
He must’ve known she’d be awake; the bed dipped under his weight. With no preliminary, he said, “Tonight was my initiation into the shamanic community.”
Shaman? Her husband, a solid, dedicated member of the Catholic church was a spirit hunter, a drugged out nutcase? This couldn’t be happening. If people learned about this, their store, their livelihood would go up in smoke. Tears popped into her eyes.
Abraham thumbed them away. “I’m sorry you had to find out this way.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you have such preconceived ideas about things. Because you—I’m sorry, querida—you are very judgmental. You automatically dislike or distrust things you don’t understand. I tried a few times to talk to you about what was happening with me, but you squashed everything I said.”
Anger shot into her being. “How could you let Zipacna do this to you?” She realized she’d spoken too loud and lowered her voice. “He’s a charlatan, a fake. He brought you in to…to—"
Abraham laughed. “See?” He patted her arm. “You are doing it again. You are judging something you know nothing about.”
“I know shamans chant to spirits. I know they take lots of drugs.” When he didn’t respond, she added, “Can you deny this?”
When he said, “No,” her spirits soared. She was vindicated.
“For centuries, shamans were the only medicine men, the only doctors,” he said. “They believed that to call forward the deities they needed to do a healing, that chanting and drugs were the only way. Times have changed, my dear. Yes, chanting is still done during ceremonies.” He chuckled. “Even that practice is diminishing.”
He patted her again. “Drugs aren’t used any more.”
“Then what the hell did I smell?”
“Herbs. They are used to cleanse the air.” He shrugged. “Some rituals are still used. It’s a proven fact that it works.”
Suspicion surfaced. “How is Zipacna involved?”
“What makes you think he is?”
“I saw you with him yesterday in the park. Don’t deny you were there.”
“He was congratulating me on my upcoming initiation. He has been instrumental in helping with my lessons.”
She sat up straight, pulling the covers to her chin. “Lessons?”
“Come on, I’ll make some tea. I’ll explain the whole thing.”
Settled with steaming cups of tea, he continued his story. “Two years ago, I had my first psychic experience.” He waited as if expecting her to comment, but she could say nothing. “I—“ He ran a hand through his hair, head bent as if he needed time to construct a sentence. “I was in the woods on my daily walk. Querida,a tree talked to me.” He waved a hand for her to keep quiet. “I know how it sounds. Believe me, all the obvious thoughts went through my head. When it happened a few more times, I went to Zipacna to ask his opinion.” He laughed then he shrugged. “I thought I was cracking up.”
“What will you do with this so-called shaman’s certificate? How will that benefit your life as it is? Do you realize the implications it could have with our business?
With your job at the church?”
“I realize there could be problems.” He was quiet a moment, staring out the window. Then she realized the blinds were down. “I felt this was my calling, if you want to use those words. I can’t expect you to understand.”
She didn’t like the implications behind the words. Had she really been so close-minded? Not that she cared a lick about shamanism or initiations, but if she had been closed to listening to this, what other things might she disregard? That knowledge didn’t bode well for her personality. Perhaps for their future. How many other things would he feel the need to keep from her?
“I could not ignore the pull,” Abraham said. “It kept me awake nights. I—“
“Again, I ask how it will benefit you. What will you do with your knowledge?”
“Shamans work with Mother Earth. They heal people. The environment.”
Cadence’s mind reeled with the information he’d presented. She had known forever of his draw toward earthly things. He preferred to spend time outdoors above everywhere else, including church. They’d camped and hiked and picnicked.
“What is Zipacna doing at his place out there?”
The slight change of topic threw him for a moment. “He is going to open a school.”
She couldn’t stop the rise to her eyebrows. ”A school?”
“Yes, for advanced shamanism. He wants to teach the world how to handle their spiritual needs without resorting to drugs and intense chanting. He is convinced there is a place in this world for his beliefs.”
“Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Cadence, I do.”