I had just arrived back in Oaxaca and my hostess had just demonstrated how amazingly one could improve even the blandest beer with a dash of mescal when she began telling me all that had happened since my last visit.
A prominent portrait artist had been kidnapped, but was later released without ransom, and it was not what you might think. He had been taken blindfolded to a large house and put into a room and treated quite courteously. He was shown a door in the room with an old-fashioned latch and told to look through the keyhole where he saw in the adjoining room a beautiful woman, undressed and facing away from him. He was told that the lady was the wife of a prominent individual and had for some time wanted him to paint her picture, but this had not been possible, and so she had arranged for him to be brought there to paint her portrait secretly, though only from the back and only by seeing her through the keyhole. He was supplied with paints and carried out this most unusual commission, whereupon he was paid his fee and returned blindfolded to his home.
I told her that the story sounded like a piece of Edwardian gentleman’s literature, but she insisted that it was so; that it had happened in Oaxaca and while this was not the official story everyone knew it was the case. And that I should not apply gringo logic to things that happen in Mexico. And to drive home this point, she began another story.
Everyone knew, she said, that a certain prominent politician was responsible for the murder of one of his opponents, but the body was never found. Then recently the police, acting on the advice of a bruja -- a witch -- had dug up the garden of the politician’s brother where they found a body, but it was not the body of the murdered political opponent, but of the bruja’s missing husband.
At this point someone came to the door and we were called off on other business and my hostess never had the opportunity to finish her story, other than to repeat that I should not try to apply gringo logic to things I found in Mexico.