“I need to sit for a while,” the policeman says in Spanish as he eases himself down at the opposite end of the bench from where I am sitting at Hospicio Cabañas.
“No hablo español,” I reply.
So, he switches to English. “I need to practice my English,” he says with a smile.
During our brief conversation, I learn that the policeman, Jose Luis, was born in Acapulco, but came to Guadalajara as a young man. He became a policeman at age 26, and is looking forward to retiring from the police force in three years, when he turns 55.
“What will you do then?” I ask.
“I want to work with my hands,” he says as he displays his broad, powerful hands for me to admire. “Construction, I think.”
In the meantime, he pulls guard duty at Hospicio Cabañas, often making his rounds at night.
“There used to be a lot of children here,” he says of the former workhouse, orphanage, hospital and almshouse, “and some of them are still here.”
“Do you mean ghosts?” I ask.
“Yes, the spirits of some of the children are still in this place. Especially boys. I hear them playing futbol and laughing in the darkest hours of the night.”
stillness at midnight—
even the mice stop gnawing
the old foam pillow
Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved