Goddess of Filth
Copyright © 2021 by Violet Castro
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Luísa Dias
Spine illustration by Rachel Kelli
Dedicated to all the women finding their way.
You are not alone.
Chapter 1 … 1
Chapter 2 … 23
Chapter 3 … 37
Chapter 4 … 57
Chapter 5 … 69
Chapter 6 … 81
Chapter 7 … 89
Chapter 8 … 111
Chapter 9 … 123
Chapter 10… 135
“I only found ones with saints or Jesus on them. You think they will scare the spirits away?”
Fernanda rolled her eyes, snatching the candles from Ana to light them. “It’s just a little fun. Besides, it’s my damn early birthday after all, and the last one I’ll spend with you pendejas for a while.” Fernanda was leaving, and soon. This Saturday night we celebrated the birthday we would miss once she left for college.
I took my place on the floor next to Fernanda and Ana, and Perla handed me a glass of a fizzing brown concoction I hoped would be strong. By the looks of the half-empty glasses and open cans, the others had started already. I took two big refreshing alcoholic gulps of Southern Comfort and Coke, nasty shit only good for getting fucked up. The ice felt good in my mouth, even if it made my teeth ache. My empty stomach chewed on the booze, sending a sense of relaxation through my body. Five of us sat in a circle doing our best to emulate the girls in The Craft, hoping to unleash some power to take us all away from our home to the place of our dreams. But we weren’t witches. We were five Chicanas living in San Antonio, Texas, one year out of high school.
“So, who is doing the honors of calling on the universe to find a ghost or demon to talk to?” Pauline chugged the last of her Modelo.
We exchanged glances in an alcohol-induced haze.
Fuck it, it would be me leading this séance. I’d do it as a leaving present to Fernanda, since not a dime from my fortnightly paycheck could be spared for a gift she could take with her.
I made eye contact with my four friends, letting them know I was serious.
“All right, hold hands and don’t let go. I want you to believe in your hearts we can be heard.” What I meant was, I need to be heard because my thoughts barely carried over the pop of the deep fat fryer during a double shift. I was sick of feeling like splattered grease stuck on the wall.
Fernanda giggled at my sudden onset of clairvoyance. She always said I was so fucking dramatic. Yes, bitch, I am! was my response. When your insides are egg white soft, you learn to develop an exterior tougher than fossilized dead things.
I first became aware of this fact with a boy by the name of Tip Top; he was a Mexican wannabe member of the ’90s group Kris Kross with his oversized polos and Dickies too baggy for his spindly limbs. He parted his hair in the center and applied so much gel it crunched to the touch. We stood facing each other, arguing the way adults would. He kept pressing me to hold his hand when I didn’t want to. Pressing me to fool around when I didn’t feel ready. “You hate me so much, so just go on and hit me. I dare you,” I sneered, taking a step closer to him with my fists balled at my sides, ready to receive a blow I’m not sure why I felt I deserved. I shook inside, wanting to run and hide.
He glared at me. “Nah, you ain’t worth it.”
I raised my chin in defiance, hoping the tears on the verge of falling would roll back into my eyes. They did. The following day most of the cliques heard about the fight.
“You’re a hard bitch. I heard about your shenanigans, acting all angry. That’s not pretty you know,” one of the cool boys whispered in passing, also wearing an oversized polo and strong Drakkar cologne. I couldn’t tell everyone, I’m really not.
“Okay, Lourdes. Give us your best dramatics and call something.” Fernanda chuckled.
That second beer had made it to her head. Good, she would be nice and tipsy for a cheap scare. I thought about who I wanted to contact. If I could reach a spirit, it would have to be a thing of power, something to give me hope.
I concentrated every ounce of will, the kind of ganas you would need in a life or death situation, then released it all through my lips with authority.
“I want to reach a spirit. An old spirit, one from before the world was what we know today. If you are there, speak to us. Give us a sign.”
Ana, Perla, Pauline, and Fernanda had their eyes closed. Not me. If there was something or someone listening, I had to see it. I was as broke in faith as I was in pocket. This was a time when you had ICE storming around like possessed Storm Troopers on crack, people getting shot trying to learn or pray or buy milk. Stories of people going missing. Bodies of displaced people washed up on river beds and coastlines for all to see, to cry about, but ultimately forget. You’ve heard of the Cold War? This was the beginning of the Border Wars. I wondered how much time was really left for any of us. I think I would have settled for the devil himself if he promised me things would work out in the end—for me, for my friends, for my sisters who couldn’t even spell their names yet.
It was quiet when the candles flickered from an unseen breath, illuminating the sacred heart of Jesus and La Virgen with a glow that seemed too