A Tale of the Grandma Vampire


Now that I was settling into the small town of Tlamachiliz' center, I could converse longer with residents than my earlier transience could permit. I might even procure new interviews with them. Nesto, while occupied with the visitors to his small shop, could talk with me on my questions regarding the nagual--and more thoroughly than could most in Altepetl, perhaps because he was Mestizo, even if a rather umber one. Witches might afflict him less.

"Nagual?" he asked with a twitch of his eyebrows. "What race do they belong to?" Again the confusion between the indigenous Nahua and the metamorphic nagual. The confusion wasn't just phonetic but even semantic; only indigenous people were ever associated with such amazing powers.

"'Nagual.' I'm talking about witches that can transform into animals."

"Ah! I knew a woman here in Tenamitl who could do that! She was a little old lady who lived in a shack beside my house, where my brother's now stands. She died about ten years ago, but she was advanced in years. It's said that she sustained her life because she drank the blood of babies."

Holy cobra, that is interesting. "Can I record this?"

"Let me remember all of it first. Then I'd have it ready to record." Nesto stepped behind the shop counter as Miriam and a schoolboy approached. "They say that witches turn into birds to fly into houses and suck the blood of children."

"You're talking about witches?" Miriam asked. "I knew another grandmother who turned into a vulture and flew out at night."

"Not the same woman, though!" Nesto replied.

Even the student had insights on these tenebrous hags: "These witches prefer children's blood because it tastes sweeter." Just as at Hníní, what started as a dual conversation became a clatter on the powers of the supernatural.

Nesto: "The rumors went that the old woman next door turned into a turkey to attack children. By day she was the old señorita, but at night--not every night, just occasionally--she took the form of a turkey to do her witchery. Now I'd never seen her in the act of transformation, but the proof was there, when the child was found all covered in blood. Once, there was a turkey near the victim's house, and someone went at it with a knife, cutting it along the leg! And get this--the next day, when she came out of the house, she had that same cut right along here," with which Nesto ran a line along the inner of his right forearm.

No one could ever tell me whence came this power. But it was always among the elderly. Perhaps the age itself enabled it.

"It's all pretty interesting," the shopkeeper concluded.

"Yes it is. Could we record this?" It was worth asking again.

"Better on a less busy day, when there's less commotion at the market and less heat."

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