The Witch Doctor of Barcelona
|“How many do you need this time? Two, three? It will cost you; you know that.” The woman shoved her cloak downwards and revealed her beautiful long hair.
Her customer stayed in the dark, nodding. He understood. He gave her a cotton moneybag.
She took it from him and counted the money. “Five hundred, that’s not nearly enough for two, let alone three. How many do you want?”
“One,” he said reluctantly as if he didn’t want to do business with her but was forced to. “Do you have one for me at midnight? I’ll come and collect myself this time. My servant will stay at home.”
“As you please,” she couldn’t be more indifferent. The money was all she was interested in.
The man nodded in agreement, turned, and left in a hurry.
She continued her walk down Main Street. A few people stared at her, some whispered behind their hands. “That’s Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés. She is a witch doctor. She can cure tuberculosis. I heard from …”
But she was already a few houses away.
Swift-paced and with her red cloak mantle covering up her hair and posture, the woman was an awkward image in Barcelona of 1910. People would stare, they would talk, but they let her be because of her alleged powers and reputation. Some were even afraid of her, though they never would admit it.
Enriqueta Martí hurried on. She chose the back alleys of the old city. The evening had set in; the moon shined through the clouds.
Only one delivery for tonight that shouldn’t be too tough to handle. Her eyes prowled and scanned her surroundings carefully. She was searching, hunting down the possibilities.
Then she saw it; within minutes, she had captured what she was there to do without anybody noticing. She hid underneath the long clothing and took an alternative route home. There she took the necessary preparations for her midnight caller.
At twelve o'clock at night, there was a knock on the door. The man, dressed in dark gray with a black hat, had arrived in a carriage parked near the entrance. The coachman sat in front, waiting.
"I am in a hurry. Did you get the package?" The man was sweating and looked worried. She took him inside and led him into the basement.
In the corner of the old, filthy bricked space, there was a metal cage. He adjusted his eyes to look closely, and a smile arose on his face when he saw what was inside the cage.
Two sorrowful eyes looked at the man; arms were stretched through the bars of the cage. The child, only ten years old, looked at him in desperation and fear. She stayed silent.
“She is lovely’, his voice sounded husky with emotion. “Worth all the five hundred I gave you. Where did you find her?”
“None of your business,” Enriqueta told him in a stiff voice. “Take her. I bid you goodnight.”
She led the man and child through the back door and closed it. There was more work to be done tonight. The hoof sound of the horses echoed in the night while she entered her basement again.
For the next two hours, she was busy making potions. Dozens of bottles were lined up and carefully filled with a liquid. When she ran out of supplies, she would open a heavy door and enter.
Inside a horror scene unimaginable. Two tables were set in the middle. On them strapped and already dead, two children. Attached to their arms were cannula's filling a bucket with blood. Enriqueta had performed the phlebotomy on them before killing them.
Now it was time to grain their bones and skin into powder. It would take her all night. But when the morning light would enter the basement window, she would have her day’s supplies of potions to sell to the public. It was a trade well established. Nobody suspected a thing.
Three years later, the police would accidentally arrest her. In 1913, inmates hanged her in jail. Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés became known as one of Barcelona’s most notorious serial killers.
Word count: 692