proved to be a gift from God. My
parish was truly blessed by her presence and no one was more affected
than Michael Aragón. She
and her daughter returned to Aragón's home late in the evening. When
Anna rang the doorbell, a
handsome young man came to the door.
They had been expected this time.
The young man introduced himself as Miguel
and led them to an upstairs bedroom.
The room was large and comfortable.
The walls were covered with drab yellow wallpaper that featured
drawings of cups and saucers. The
closet was large but musty. Walking
into the adjoining bathroom, she found it surprisingly clean.
Everywhere she looked, Anna found work to be done. To
Aragón’s credit, clean sheets had been left on the edge of the bed for
their use. It was 9:00 that
evening when Anna and Christina finally settled in for the night.
Holding her darling Christina close to her, Anna
wondered what this new life would bring.
She felt safe there in the musty old house.
Michael had not stared at her with that sexual hunger that most
men did. Instead, he was
kind and respectful. As she
fell asleep, Anna thanked God
for sending Michael to her.
The next morning, Anna
rose early. It was still
dark outside when she dressed, preparing for the day ahead.
Leaving Christina to
her dreams, she made her way downstairs.
There was no movement in the drafty house, only the creaking of
an old home. She wandered
from room to room. As
she’d suspected, the house was in need of a thorough cleaning.
There were dust and spider webs everywhere Anna
looked. Anna decided that the best place to start would be the kitchen.
The kitchen’s tan colored linoleum had become stained and
discolored over the years. The
old kitchen sink was clear of dishes, but cracked from wear.
Adjacent to the kitchen was a pantry containing the icebox and
washing machine. The washer
had two rollers attached at the top of the round cylinder tub for
wringing the clothes out before hanging.
The place was sorely in need of scrubbing and cleaning.
Before she began her cleaning, Anna
made a pot of thick, black, Spanish coffee.
The trick was to drink it in small cups served with generous
portions of cream or milk. After
a cup of coffee, she began scrubbing and cleaning the floors.
The work was hard. She
scrubbed for an hour on her hands and knees.
Finally, the drab floors took on a new shine.
After completing the floors, Anna
began washing down the cabinet doors, balancing herself on an old wooden
chair. It was then that Aragón
entered the kitchen. Walking
over to the counter, he continued reading his morning newspaper.
He took his favorite white Navy coffee mug out of the cabinet and
poured himself some coffee. He
added some milk and sat down at the kitchen table.
took a large gulp of the liquid, his reaction was immediate.
“My God! What is
this stuff?" Michael
shouted out loud to himself. The
Spanish coffee was several times stronger than his usual American
prepared coffee. Aragón gagged
as the concoction made its way down to his stomach.
“Is it too strong for you?”
Anna asked playfully in
Spanish. Embarrassed, Aragón only shook his head no.
Laughing to herself, she returned to scrubbing the cabinets.
The two spoke little as Anna
cleaned the kitchen. Aragón
was lost in the sport pages. Remaining
in the kitchen, he read the newspaper and occasionally added milk to his
coffee. Anna glanced at him while she worked, attempting to size up her new
employer. Michael studied
his paper carefully, never bothering to ask what she was doing.
Despite the silence, Anna
felt comfortable in his presence, as if she’d known him for a long
The sun was up when the two boys, still sleepy, shuffled into the
kitchen. Kenneth told his
father that they were hungry. Nodding,
Aragón walked into the pantry.
When he returned to the kitchen, he was wearing an apron.
This, the boys knew, was the signal that bacon and eggs would
soon be served. Kenneth and
Benjamin sat at the kitchen table, watching as their father began frying
bacon. As the bacon cooked,
he placed several slices of bread in the oven for toasting.
Michael used grease from the bacon to baste the eggs.
Anna was appalled at
the spectacle. “Do you
often cook eggs like that?” Anna
asked him with a look of surprise on her face.
“Yes, of course.” Michael responded, a little taken aback by
the question. “Do you
cook?” He asked irritably.
“Yes, and by the looks of it, I’ll soon become the family
chef.” She answered with
playful sarcasm in her voice.
Aragón liked her
straight forwardness and her sense of humor.
She was different from the other women he’d known.
The others had hung on his every word, catering to him because of
who he was. But Anna was different. She
was sure of herself and certainly wasn’t afraid of hard work.
As Aragón served
up breakfast to the boys, Christina
came into the room. “Are
you hungry chica?” He
asked tenderly. Smiling, Christina
nodded yes. Serving Christina, he sat down next to her.
As the children ate, Aragón
continued reading his newspaper. The
four sat at the table while Anna
continued her cleaning. Quietly
observing Anna, after a few
minutes, Aragón brought her a cup of coffee.
He invited her to join him at the table after the children had
left to play in the living room. The
two sat silently drinking their coffee, neither wanting to be the first
After breakfast, the remainder of the morning was spent cleaning
the kitchen and pantry areas. Anna
was left alone with the children while Aragón went to conduct business.
By the end of the day, she had worked wonders.
The floors were washed and waxed, and the cabinets scrubbed and
polished. The stove gleamed.
The home had never been cleaned properly.
Aragón was a bachelor, and his house showed that.
When he returned home that evening, Anna
informed him that dinner would be served in a half hour.
He found his sons scrubbed squeaky clean.
Their hair was combed and they were wearing freshly ironed
clothes. The little girl, Christina, was sitting on the couch in the living room.
across from her in his favorite brown leather chair.
As Christina played
with her doll, she studied Aragón out of
the corner of her eye. “Where’s
your mommy?” She asked Aragón.
Motioning to the little girl, he called her over to him.
Placing her on his knee, Aragón smiled and explained to Christina that there was no mommy in his home.
“Are you the mommy?” She
asked innocently. “Yes, I
suppose I am.” He said
softly. Before they could
finish their conversation, Anna
entered the room and announced dinner.
The dinner table was an interesting sight.
Anna had set out an
assortment of bowls and dishes of different shapes, sizes, and styles.
Nothing matched. Even
the flatware was made up of odds and ends.
This was truly a bachelor’s home.
Once served, the five sat quietly eating their meal.
was unaccustomed to having a woman in his home, but the boys seemed
comfortable with Anna and Christina. When the meal
was over, the three children went upstairs to play as Anna and Aragón
sat drinking coffee. “Mr. Aragón,”
she began, “I’ve prepared a list of items that are needed for the
household.” She passed him
the long list consisting of cleaning items and kitchen utensils.
There were dishes, bowls and an assortment of glasses.
Studying the list carefully, Aragón asked Anna
if this was all that was needed. After
some discussion, he agreed to purchase them.
He then drained his coffee cup and went into the living room.
Sitting in his large, overstuffed, leather chair, he began
reading his newspaper. Anna
sang as she washed the dishes in the kitchen.
The sound reminded him of his mother’s singing.
was beginning to realize how important a woman was to a household.
Unable to resist, he walked into the kitchen and found himself
surprised at how different the place looked.
He liked what he saw. Anna
was hard working. He’d
been right about this woman. Complimenting
her on a fine job, Aragón
returned to the living room.
The next several weeks passed without difficulty.
The children enjoyed playing together.
Anna’s hard work was
slowly transforming the old house into a home.
Every few days there was another list to be discussed.
liked her attention to detail. Room-by-room,
the place took on a new look. The
hardwood floors were washed and waxed.
The walls were scrubbed clean. And
the worn furniture was cleaned and polished.
There was a new freshness to the place.
Gone was the stuffy odor and layers of dust.
Windows and sills were now clean.
Even the old drapes were washed and re-hung.
A new sense of life had been brought to Aragón’s
home. The children ran
around the house laughing and playing.
No longer quiet and restrained, Kenneth and Benjamin had come
alive. The boys reminded
Michael of Arturo and him when
they were children. Aragón liked
what Anna was doing for his
home and his family.
A few weeks later, Anna
asked if she could speak with Aragón.
As the two sat in the living room while the children played
upstairs, Anna requested
money. She asked Aragón for a weekly housing allowance to be used for
food and other items needed to run the household.
At first, he felt uncomfortable with the idea.
He had learned through years of experience to trust no one and
suspect everyone. After
discussing the costs involved in a weekly allowance, Aragón decided to break his own rule and allow Anna
to maintain a household account. After
all, how far could she go on ten dollars?
was pleased that Anna had
taken control over the household duties and the shopping, and he began
to put trust in her. Over
the next few months, the house began to take on a bright appearance.
Every week, some new item appeared inside, a vase, a picture on
the wall, or a new throw rug.
At dinner one evening, Aragón found
himself eating on new dishes which appeared to be expensive china.
“Anna, where did all
of these new things come from?” He
asked, concerned that she might be spending her own money.
“On the weekends while you’re out, I take the children with
me on the bus and we search the nicer areas of town for garage sales.
We spend hours walking from sale to sale finding little
treasures.” She explained
proudly. Her response seemed
humble and honest, but he was now concerned about the safety of the
children. However, the more
he thought about it, the less he objected.
Several months passed without problem or incident.
Anna continued to work
hard, and the family became closer.
The boys began calling her mama.
Her daughter, Christina,
became more attached to Michael. They
had become a family. Aragón's
three body guards took great care not to interfere with the new family
routine. Spending less time
in the kitchen, they eventually stopped hanging around the inside of the
house altogether. They made
a point of being considerate of Anna's need to maintain a normal family and became more discrete.
Working in ten-hour shifts, the youngest, Jesus,
was stationed on the hill above the home, always watching the house
through binoculars. A second
man, Juan, sat in a car half way down the block and watched for anyone
approaching the house. The
third man, Miguel, lived in
the house. He stayed in the
spare bedroom and regularly walked downstairs to check on things.
From his vantage point, he could peer out into the backyard and
watch the children at play and with another short walk Miguel had a full view of the front of the house.
that the three men were making every possible effort not to intrude.
He appreciated the fact that everyone tried to give the children
the room they needed. He
particularly respected Anna's ability
to make everyone feel comfortable.
The men liked her. She
was very kind to them, making a point of delivering sandwiches and hot
coffee to the men while they were on duty.
Never did Anna make it
appear to be a chore. Walking
up to the top of the hill, Anna
brought food to Jesus.
Miguel would find
snacks left for him in the spare bedroom at different times of the day. In
Juan’s case, he always had a
cool drink brought to his car by Anna. The men
appreciated being pampered by Anna.
She wasn’t only well liked by the men, she was respected.
As time went on, the men began to refer to her as Doña Anna,
but never señorita.
It was early one evening when Miguel,
the bodyguard, arrived with his girlfriend, Maria.
They were going out for the evening.
As usual, Miguel checked
in with Aragón
before going off-duty. Maria had heard much about this Doña Anna. Intrigued by the
respect this woman had earned from the men, Maria
made a point of meeting the mystery woman.
As the two men spoke in the study, Maria
entered the kitchen and introduced herself.
The two instantly liked one another.
After a few minutes, the women were trading stories and laughing.
Anna had found a new
friend in the young woman. Over
the next few years, they would become close.
and the children visited me regularly at my parish.
Anna and I spent a
great deal of time discussing how best to raise the boys.
She was particularly concerned about the Levy boy, Benjamin.
told her of his Jewish background. The
Jewish faith of his dead grandfather was an issue that both felt was
important. Though Benjamin
was young, both felt the need to ensure that he would be given proper
religious training when the time came.
It was agreed that he would attend mass with the other children,
but it was decided that once he started school the advice of a Rabbi
would be sought. Neither I,
nor Anna, wanted the boy to be cheated out of his heritage.
We both understood the importance of the Jewish faith.
Kenneth was another matter. Anna
was concerned about his religious instruction and inquired about Kenny's
past. I said only that he
would be a good Catholic. Once,
Anna pressed me on the whereabouts of Kenny's mother.
I was quick to explain that it was better that she not question Aragón
about the matter. The child
responsibility and he took it very seriously.
I cautioned Anna that
she would do well to consult with Michael on all matters related to the
boy. I knew the depth of Aragón's
love for the boy and also understood that this was an area where no one
was allowed to intrude. The
two had a special bond. Aragón
allowed no meddling when it came to Kenneth.
Even I knew my boundaries when it came to Aragón's
sons. I was particularly
fond of Christina.
She had her mother's graciousness.
Bright and very loving, as time passed, she became very close to
boys. The three spent
countless hours together, playing games and laughing.
Under Anna's care, the
three became inseparable. The
boys loved Christina and
became very protective of her. They
couldn’t have been closer.
Michael himself seemed to blossom under Anna’s care. The
changes appeared slowly, but were certainly noticeable.
A doting father at heart, not a week went by that Aragón
wouldn’t bring Christina
some small gift. He had even
taken to attending church with Anna
and the children on holidays. But
it wasn’t just the Aragón household that was changing.
Soon, the neighbor women began to spend time at the house.
At first, it was only for the speedy delivery of a hot plate of enchiladas.
Later, came the sharing of a cup of coffee and good conversation.
The barrio women enjoyed this Spaniard’s hospitality and
always had a kind word for them in times of trouble.
As the days went on, Aragón
couldn’t help but notice the steady stream of neighborhood women
regularly visiting his home. They
were always discrete, arriving and leaving quietly.
Usually, they sat in the kitchen speaking in low voices.
Sitting and reading his newspaper in the dining room, Michael
heard Anna dispensing womanly
advice to them. Often, he
heard the women laughing. When
he entered the kitchen the laughing stopped until he left the room.
As the door closed behind him, the women would pick up where they
left off. Day after day,
they came to share a story or a problem with Doña Anna.
She always had a hot cup of coffee and a kind word.
There was never a problem too small or a story she was unwilling
to hear. Soon, Anna
became well known for her wisdom and her caring nature.
influence with the neighbor women began to grow.
Soon, they began to help around the house.
returned home in the evenings, he found room’s repainted or new
wallpaper hung. When asked
about the changes, Anna said
only that the neighbors had helped her to do the work.
Aragón found it strange that the changes were being
made without additional funds. To
his knowledge, Anna never
asked for money to purchase supplies.
Everywhere he looked there were improvements.
When a used sewing machine was given to her by one of the
neighbors, new drapes and curtains appeared.
By the time Anna’s
first year with Aragón
had passed, the old house was a home.
During that time, she never asked Aragón for
anything beyond the weekly housing allowance.
She was certainly a resourceful woman.
It was late in the evening when Aragón
arrived home. Anna asked Michael to join her in the kitchen for a chat.
Anna’s request was
simple. She asked Aragón to consider buying the children a piano.
When he inquired as to why, she explained.
“The children need to learn early in life the finer things
which the world has to offer. Music,”
she said, “is important to the growth of the children.
It teaches them movement and grace.” After
some discussion, Aragón
agreed to the purchase. A
week later, a used baby grand piano appeared in the living room.
Old Valdez, the
neighborhood handyman, had been called upon to restore it.
Valdez had come to
America as a young man to pursue his dream of becoming a concert
pianist. But, prejudice and
poverty had ensured that the doors to his dream would remain closed to
him. This was the case for
many Mexican immigrants. American
society was not yet ready to open its doors to the new arrivals.
For Valdez, working on
this great and beautiful musical instrument was a labor of love.
Arriving at the house every day in the early morning hours, he
carried with him the tools and supplies necessary for the day’s work.
Daily, he and Doña Anna
would discuss the details of the restoration.
found himself as much involved in the process as Anna. Each morning he
would rise early and survey the master's work.
While having his strong coffee, Michael sat at the piano and
quietly observed the latest improvements to the instrument.
Though he didn’t discuss the matter with Anna,
never failed to offer advice to Old Valdez
on the restoration.
In the late mornings, the neighbor women would arrive to have
coffee with Anna and discuss
the progress. Each offered
advice to Anna about the work
at hand. There was no
shortage of expert advice in the neighborhood.
Several weeks had passed. The
removal of the paint and the sanding of the fine wood was difficult
work. The repainting and
finishing work was very detailed and involved combinations of layered
paint. In the end, the piano
was restored to its original beauty.
Clearly, Valdez was an
artisan. The last several
days were spent on the tuning of the instrument.
Old Valdez certainly
hadn’t lost his fine ear for sound.
When the restoration was finally completed, the instrument became
a great source of pride for him.
Soon after the restoration was completed, Anna found Aragón
playing a simple tune on the newly tuned instrument.
Embarrassed when Anna
entered the room, he quickly rose from the piano and walked into the
dining room. followed him
into the room and sat with him. “Do
you play?” She asked him. The
big man peered at her over his newspaper.
“I would have liked to,” he said casually, “but I had
little time for such things as a child.” Anna
smiled and told him that perhaps it was time that he learned to play.
With that pronouncement, she left the room and returned to her
agreed to teach the children to play the beautiful instrument, and he
soon became a permanent fixture in the household.
In the evenings, he would play for Doña Anna
and the children. Aragón
would arrive home and read his newspaper in the kitchen.
Sitting alone, he listened to each of the children as they played
for Anna. He began to look
forward to the evening recitals. Never
allow anyone to know his feelings on the matter, believing such a show
of interest might lessen his image as man.
To him, pianos were children’s play things.
Another year had gone by quickly and Aragón’s
respect and admiration for Anna
had grown. Anna
was admired by both her neighbors and by the three young men who worked
for Michael. She was as
beautiful in her heart as she was physically and the children loved her
dearly. It was so obvious to
now why I had sent her to him. Michael’s
home said it all. The big
drafty house had become alive with the sounds of happy children; it was
now a home.
It was late summer when Anna
came to Michael again for help. Anna
asked if Aragón
would teach her to drive an automobile.
When asked why, she told him that the children needed to visit
museums and art galleries to learn more about the arts.
She felt that the children should understand life beyond the barrio,
and was quite insistent. At
first, Aragón resisted. He
was concerned for their safety beyond the areas he controlled.
But in time Anna was able to convince him of the need for the children to
understand the outside world. Once
Aragón agreed, an old car appeared in the driveway.
Michael was surprised since he hadn’t paid for it.
Soon, he found neighbor men working on the engine.
Old Valdez removed the
seats and returned with them reupholstered.
He then replaced the carpeting and polished and repaired the
dashboard. In a short while,
the neighborhood men had repainted the auto.
When Aragón asked Old Valdez
who had paid for the work on the auto, the old man said no one had.
Valdez went on to tell Aragón
the neighbors had agreed that Doña Anna
should not drive an unsafe car. The
men decided that each would provide the necessary repairs at no cost.
When the automobile was finished, Anna
became the neighborhood shuttle service.
In the mornings, she and Maria would load
up the children and travel to the museums.
Soon, concerts in the park and days at the beach were added to
the schedule. Aragón was
never required to pay for gasoline.
When Aragón asked Maria
about the costs of such outings, she said only that Miguel or the other men had paid.
Michael’s life had taken on a new meaning.
With two sons and a daughter, he now had three little ones that
needed him. In his home,
there was no talk of the Family and its cold hard realities. With
Anna and the children, Michael
was himself. Surrounded by
love and caring, Aragón grew
kinder, resembling the young man I had known so many years before.
Some months later, Anna
with questions about investing her savings.
Surprised at her questions, Aragón
asked Anna how much she wanted
to invest. He was surprised
again. “Three hundred
dollars,” she answered. This
was the beginning of many long evenings of financial discussions.
Soon, the two spent many hours together going over the financial
section of the newspaper. The
truth be known, Anna began to
about finance. As time went
on, Anna demonstrated an
uncanny ability to buy stocks in winning companies.
In Aragón’s estimation, by the end of the year Anna
had tripled the value of her stocks.
In a short time, Anna
proved herself to be an excellent business woman.
She traded her automobile for a newer one, and again, the
neighbors helped with the restoration.
noticed changes in her appearance. Anna
began wearing different, more expensive clothes.
girlfriend, also began to change. She
and Anna became close friends.
Anna liked the young
was eager for a teacher and Anna
was ready to teach. The more
time she spent with Anna the
more of a lady Maria became.
It was about this time that Anna
became active at my parish. When
I became aware of her involvement with the barrio, I wasn’t
about to let a good thing get away.
I drafted Anna onto
various church committees and work suddenly got done.
During the day, she and the children spent several hours at the
church. While the children
played in the rectory garden, she and I spent hours planning fund
raising activities. As time
passed, Anna had many of the neighborhood women involved, eighteen in all.
During fiestas, the women ran the booths and food stands.
Husbands and sons constructed booths and later attended church
bazaars. The men also
assisted me with the necessary decorations.
Anna also surprised me
with the large amounts of money she was able to raise for the parish
from the barrio and the local merchants.
She was a wizard at getting services and donations for the
parish. The money she raised
paid for needed parish repairs. Later,
due to her efforts, the people of the barrio painted the church
school with supplies donated by local merchants.
The church grounds were suddenly tended by the husbands and sons
of Anna's neighbors.
Old Valdez was repairing what had been left in a state of disrepair due
to a shortage of funds. As
always Anna never asked for
anything for herself. She
always thought of others first.
Though still quiet and reserved, even Aragón
had begun to change. Hair
now neatly cut and trimmed, he had taken to wearing suits and having his
shoes polished daily. A new
Cadillac automobile was parked in Aragón’s driveway. Anna
certainly had changed many things.
Aragón's Family business had also changed over the past two years.
Splitting his organization into three groups, he had made it more
efficient. At the top were
he and the other men who had served in the military; they had the wisdom
of years. Next, was a core
of selected veteranos from the gangs; these were his soldiers.
Finally, there were the barrio gang members, the vato
locos, who knew nothing of the real workings of the Family business.
The vato locos partied and fought one another.
These were the future soldiers of the Family, still young,
knowing nothing of the real world. From
this group only the smartest were chosen.
With Aragón’s legitimate businesses going well, the local banks welcomed his
money. Leveraging his
finances, it was arranged for certain Family members to be employed at
the banks. Now it was only
blood relatives discretely handling Aragón’s bank transactions. This
was the beginning of the laundering of the Family money.
Plans for the growth of the Brotherhood had also been well-laid.
knew that as long as the Family didn’t venture into unknown territory
it was safe. The Anglo world
could care less what happened in the barrios.
But that same Anglo world wouldn’t tolerate Mexicans moving
into White areas. Racism was
real and could have terrible consequences.
had become a master of legitimate investment, others lagged behind.
Realizing that he could only grow the legitimate side of the
business in the barrios, Aragón
worried that the businesses might exceed the growth capacity of the East
LA barrios he controlled. It
was during this time that a solution was found.
The Family joined with families of the other barrios in
East Los Angeles to share their knowledge.
This new group became officially known as the Brotherhood.
The other East LA families were making good money from
prostitution, the protection racket, and drugs.
They were now ready to expand their legitimate businesses.
Unfortunately, they lacked Aragón’s
knowledge and sophistication in matters of business.
Unable to invest their profits well, they needed Aragón’s
was known to always keep his word, and in the matter of money, trust is
Having consolidated his power throughout the barrios of East
Los Angeles, Aragón
met with family heads of the other Los
Angeles barrios to negotiate an expansion that would benefit
all. Once agreements were
reached, Aragón implemented his strategy.
Setting up small Brotherhood controlled businesses in barrios,
a relative was chosen as a front for ownership.
Since they were blood relatives there was little concern about
betrayal. The people chosen
for this responsibility were happy to have an opportunity in a world
where Mexicans weren’t wanted. The
types of businesses were always the same, dry cleaners, small markets,
liquor stores, appliance repair stores, and car washes.
Using Family and Brotherhood money, Aragón
funded the operation. With
unlimited cash his new businesses soon drove the competition toward
failure. His prices were
always lower because he subsidized the venture for the first year.
Within a short time, his competitors couldn’t compete with the
rock bottom prices. Closing
up shop, one after another, they moved away.
Over several years the Family had established some twenty
businesses. As a rule the
businesses did well because the members worked hard, providing their
patrons with good services and products.
Good service brought profits.
And profits mingled with the Family laundry business, equaled
success. Now the only game
in town, all were doing well. They
were one big happy Family.
Profits were always reinvested.
The buildings that housed the businesses were eventually bought.
Later, the businesses were loaning cash to one another for
expansion or improvements. Of
course the money came primarily from the real Family business, the
laundry business, as it was laughingly called.
Soon, the Brotherhood was into commercial real estate, cornering
the barrio markets. Later,
the Family also provided cash to members to buy homes.
The Brotherhood took care of its own.
Everyone shared in the prosperity.
No one was left behind.
was now seen as a powerful but generous businessman.
Michael’s image was polished weekly through large donations to
the church and other charities. The
barrio saw him as a good and decent man.
Long ago, Anna had been
told by Lourdes that Michael Aragón
was one of those bad men of the barrio.
Over time, Anna
convinced herself that he was a decent family man.
What he did at home supported her conviction.
He was always generous when it came to the children.
On birthdays and holidays, he gave Anna
extra money for presents. He
was a loving father to his boys. Even
Christina was drawn to him. Aragón was the father her daughter needed.
Anna knew him as a
quiet man, shy in his demeanor and a hard worker.
Where there had been reluctance on Aragón’s
part to become involved in matters beyond those directly concerning the
children, this also changed. He
rarely spoke to the neighbors or them to him.
They came and went from the house without bothering him.
He was always considerate, but distant.
As the years passed, Aragón
became a pillar of respectability in the barrio.
In Anna’s mind, Aragón
was a successful businessman who returned home to his family every
evening. Convinced that Aragón needed his three bodyguards for protection
against local hoodlums, Anna
made him into a hero of the barrio.
After all, he was a successful man and no one told Anna any different. Maria
often told Anna of Aragón’s
kindnesses to others. Careful
not to elaborate, Maria had
given Anna enough information to understand why Michael was respected by
the people of the barrio. He
was the reason many of the barrio people had jobs.
But in her heart, Anna knew why Aragón
received so many men at his home. The
regular stream of visitors seemed to be rough and hardened men.
They were not at all the type of men her father would have
The children were now in public school.
refused to allow them to attend the Catholic school.
Catholic schools were fine for other children, just not his own.
They were to stay close to their roots and this meant attending
school with other barrio children.
Dedicating herself to them, Anna
was forever trying to expand their horizons.
Having grown to appreciate music and art, the three children
eventually mastered the piano. Trips
to museums continued, and symphonies in the park were Anna’s
passion. The three had few
friends save one another. They
rarely played with the neighbor children.
The only exception was a neighbor girl with the beautiful green
eyes, the daughter of Mr. Solas,
only obsession other than the children was investing.
She dedicated herself to the stock market and investments became
her passion. With a natural
talent for it, Anna turned her
three hundred dollars into three thousand.
Aragón's cousin, Alfredo, was a
broker and helped Anna on many
an occasion. Anna was quiet and industrious, reading the newspaper and studying
the market each morning. Her
choices were always conservative, as was her life.
Keeping her dreams to herself, even Maria
knew little of Anna’s investments.
Though they were becoming close, Aragón knew only that she was investing.
By the summer of 1957, her fortune had grown to thirty thousand
had taken to loaning money to the neighborhood women when their families
were in need. They always
repaid her, insisting on paying interest.
The men also repaid her with respect and the occasional odd job
around the house. Following Anna’s
lead, Maria had begun to
spent many afternoons with her explaining the workings of the market.
Old Valdez and Anna
had grown fond of one another over the past several years.
The old man idolized her. Valdez had long ago taken to joining her at the free concerts in the
park. Anna loved the old man and arranged to help Valdez with one of his life’s dreams.
She helped him to open a small music shop where he sold musical
instruments and gave music lessons.
He subsidized his new business by continuing to do odd jobs.
Once the music shop opened, the two sponsored the barrio
children in forming a Mariachi
band. The band played at
church picnics and other barrio affairs.
Anna’s kindness had brought Valdez
back to his love, music. His
world had been brightened by her friendship.
In time, Anna also
changed things for Maria by
helping finance a small dress shop.
Her specialty was wedding dresses.
Maria quickly expanded
the business to include wedding planning, catering, and entertainment.
With help from Anna, Valdez added music
to Maria's wedding
presentations. Within two
years, her shop became the place to go.
While Anna’s business interests flourished, so did Aragón’s.
By now, his power had extended beyond the barrios of East
LA. But his future would
hold something that would go terribly wrong.
All his influence and power couldn’t protect him.
Aragón was to experience the horrible possibility of
losing everything that was dear to him and take away any feelings of
security he might have believed he had.
His elaborately constructed security screen would be rendered
useless in one, thirty-second time frame.
really knew that there was no such thing as security.
A man, one man, would remind him that life was uncertain and a
mere moment away from being stolen.
All his carefully laid plans could be canceled in the twinkling
of an eye.
The humiliation he would suffer would be a warning.
In those future terrifying days and nights, Aragón would be taught a great deal about himself.
He would no longer take his life for granted, understanding more
than ever that he needed to provide for Anna and the children. It
was during those hours of torture that he realized how deep his love for
Anna and the children really
was. Throughout the ordeal,
he had only one thought in mind, to get back home to Anna
and the children. Aragón
promised himself then, that they would be taken care of in the event of
Aragón had enabled
several young men from the barrio to complete college.
Many were now successful lawyers, bankers, businessmen, and
policemen. Usually, they
provided services to people from the barrio, but their advice and
assistance to him was free of charge.
None had forgotten how much Aragón
had given them. One of them,
a young man, named Armando Diaz,
was now a practicing attorney. As
with many from the barrio, Aragón had helped the boy's father establish a business
and provided the down payment for the purchase of a home.
never asked the family to repay either debt, but the Diaz family was more than happy to repay the debt of gratitude.
that Anna needed to be
protected in the event something happened to him.
He trusted that she would always be there for his two sons and Christina and had already ensured that their financial future was
secure. The law firm that
handled his legitimate business affairs had executed a large trust for
the boys and Christina.
A second trust fund was now set up for Anna,
one that would leave her a millionaire in the event of his death.
The firm would act as executors of the trust fund for the
There was only one matter left to be resolved, and it involved Anna's
immigration status. Aragón
dispatched an associate to Mexico to obtain both birth and baptismal
arrangements were simple. The
mayor of a small Mexican town was a relative of a Family member.
For a small fee, the mayor provided the needed documents.
With legally obtained records in hand, Aragón proceeded with the second phase of the plan.
Diaz’s law firm was very well connected.
As good citizens, they supported the Democratic Party machine in Los
Angeles. As members of
the good old boy's club, business was conducted over drinks at the
country club or on the golf course.
A little help here, a little gift there, and a favor could always
be arranged. The cost was
minimal. An envelope with
ten thousand dollars in cash bought many friends.
The transaction was clean, and the entire process had taken less
than six months. There had
been no waiting in line at a foreign embassy, no forms to be filled out;
all matters had been handled by friends.
Even the Immigration Service could be bought.
The woman chosen for the official photographs bore a striking
resemblance to Anna.
It was late in the evening when Aragón
returned home with the gift in hand and an expensive bottle of
champagne. The papers had
been delivered to him early that day.
Maria came along behind him, announcing to Anna that the children would be going out with her.
Anna was suspicious
about the coincidence. Maria
and the children left and it was only the two of them.
said nothing during their meal together.
suspicious. After dinner,
she and Aragón
were enjoying their nightly coffee together.
excused himself and went into the kitchen.
Returning with the bottle of champagne and two glasses, he stood
and opened it without spilling a drop.
Pouring them each a glass, he sat down across the table from Anna.
“A toast to you Anna.” Aragón
happily offered the cavalier gesture.
As they drank, he removed an envelope from his coat pocket.
Placing it in front of Anna, he asked her to open it. “What
is it, Mr. Aragón?”
She quizzed him playfully.
“My name is Michael. Isn't
it about time you call me something other than Mr. Aragón?”
He scolded her gently.
Smiling, she reached over to the envelope and opened it.
Inside, were two documents and Green Cards.
Each had the name Anna
Duron on it. “What are
these? Who do they belong
to?” She asked confused.
“They’re your future.” Aragón
replied with a smile. “Anna,
I know you have a past which you don’t wish to share with me.
It’s no matter. I’ve
no intention of inquiring. I
accept you at your word. In
return, you’ve never questioned me or my past.” Aragón
was sincere in his statements. “You’ve
honored your commitment to me over these many years.
Caring for my sons and home without question, you treated them as
if they were your own. You
have never asked me for anything for yourself in all of these years.
You’ve given to everyone, including myself.
In return, I’ve chosen to give you a gift.
It is the gift of a new life.
What you see before you is completely legal.
You are now Señorita
Anna Duron. How this has
come about is of little importance.
What is important is that you are now free to pursue your life
without fear. The government
of the United States has granted you legal status.” Having
said his peace, he sat silently. Anna
was so stunned she could only force a smile.
“Anna, you’re no
longer a prisoner here. You
are now free to live your life as you see fit.
Go or stay, do as you like.” Aragón’s
words were sincere. He
wanted the best for her. She
stared at him in amazement. She
was shocked by the whole gesture. “Michael,
do you understand what this means to me?
Do you know what it means to be a legitimate person again?
This present of yours makes me whole again.
I’m no longer a person without a country.
My dignity has finally been returned to me.” The
words spilled out as tears filled her eyes and her hands trembled. Embarrassed,
she held the documents tightly. The
words had come out before she could stop them.
Seeming to be in a state of shock, Aragón
waited for her to catch her breath and calm herself.
“Señor Aragon, I am very
grateful for this gift. What
can one say, words aren’t enough.” Thinking
on her next words, Anna paused
for a moment. “As for
leaving,” she continued, “I have my home here with you and the
children. We’re happy, Christina
and I. I hope you want us to
remain. Am I correct?
You do want us to stay, don't you?” Anna
asked with some confusion in her voice.
“Yes, Anna, I want
you to stay. It was only
that I wanted you to have a choice in the matter, to know that you were
a free woman, not trapped here with me and the boys.” Aragón had told her the truth.
“But who is this woman?” Anna
asked, genuinely concerned. “The
girl died as a child. Her
parents also died many years ago.” Aragón
answered truthfully. “I
know many people, powerful people. They
assist me when needed. In
this case, they were able to legally obtain the documents and to create
a new identity for you. Believe
me Anna you’re now free to live your life without concern for
yourself or Christina.” With
those words, Aragón
left the table for the living room.
sat alone at the dining room table for a short while.
The thought of finally being free overwhelmed her.
She’d dreamed of this moment for so long, but had never
believed it possible. And
yet, here she was with her passport to freedom in front of her.
This large, quiet, imposing man had made it possible, giving her
a new life without asking anything in return.
Observing him over the years, Michael Aragón had seemed so aloof and cold.
And yet, he was able to show great kindness.
Anna realized that she loved this gentle man.
Over all of those years, she’d learned to respect him for his
strength. He had respected
her, never suggesting anything inappropriate.
Leaving the table, Anna walked into the living room.
She smiled as she heard him playing a simple tune on the piano.
Sitting down next to him on the small stool, she began to play.
Choosing to show him her feelings through her music, Anna
selected a piece that was calm and flowing.
With no need to exchange words, the two sat enjoying the moment.
When she was finished, Anna leaned over and kissed him tenderly on the cheek.
to her and held her close to him. Feeling
his strong arms around her, she felt safe and protected from the world.
thoughts drifted back to an earlier crisis that made her realize what
this house and its owner meant to her.
She had never shared with Michael how afraid she was when he
didn’t return home for several days.
The terrifying incident had upset everyone in the household.
She could tell by the behavior of Jesus
and Miguel that something was
wrong. There were constant
telephone calls and strange men arrived at all hours of the day and
night. And then there was
the strange silence from the two men.
Gone was their playful bantering back and forth.
Each had become cold and hard, ready for what was needed.
remembered vividly that third night.
That was the night I came calling.
I had never visited her at home.
To Anna, I must have
seemed concerned and ill at ease. Asking
her how she was, we spoke primarily about the children.
We tried to discuss church matters, but we were both distracted,
almost disjointed. Anna
watched as I studied the two young men out of the corner of my eye.
Anna heard me command Miguel
to bring her and the children to the rectory the next morning.
I was definite as I delivered the order.
It was apparent from Miguel's
behavior that he would comply with my wishes.
Shaking his head in agreement, his eyes remained looking downward
as he responded.
After I left, Miguel glanced
at Anna for a fleeting moment
with a mixture of fear and pain in his eyes.
She knew then that something terrible had happened to Aragón.
At that moment, fear gripped her soul.
As Miguel stood by the
front door, Anna confronted
him. “Miguel, where is Mr. Aragón?” She
asked in a panicked tone. Miguel
looked at her for a long time before answering.
please don't ask me any questions,” he pleaded.
“Is he dead, Miguel?”
her voice calm and cool. Miguel
turned away from her toward the window.
Moving the drapes aside, he looked into the darkness of the
night, his face now pensive. “We
don't know. We’ve had no
word from him for three days. We’re
searching for him now.” Miguel
said with finality.
“Who is we? Miguel.” Anna
asked with insistence. “The
Family,” Miguel answered.
“I can’t tell you any more.
There are some things you shouldn’t know.” With
those words, he moved away from her.
Jesus had called to him
from the second floor and Miguel
left the room to join him.
The children sensed that something was wrong, asking her several
times when Papi would be coming home.
Anna lied and told them
he was away on business. Kenneth
came to her afterwards and told her that everything would be all right.
He was a calming influence even then.
She watched as he cared for the other two children.
He was very much Aragón's son.
The two were very much alike.
Each readily accepted responsibility.
It was early the next morning when she heard the front door being
unlocked. Sensing Aragón’s
presence, Anna lay there in bed next to Christina.
When she could stand it no longer, she rose quietly from the bed.
Not wanting to disturb her daughter, she opened her bedroom door
quietly and made her way through the darkened hallway.
Within seconds, Anna
was down the stairs and into the kitchen.
There she found him lost in his thoughts.
eyes were shut tightly, and he grimaced in pain.
Watching him in silence from behind, Anna
was shaken by what she saw. The
profile of his face showed him badly bruised and covered with stubble.
His handsome face was now swollen to twice its normal size and
battered almost beyond recognition.
He had removed his shirt, and she could see that he was covered
with welts and bruises. Badly
beaten, he leaned forward over the sink.
With both hands resting on the edge of the counter, he spit up
bright red blood into the spotless white basin.
It took everything in her not to rush to him and place her arms
around him. He looked like a
lost child in pain. He was
clearly exhausted. Knowing
he needed her, in her bravest tone of voice, she called to him.
“Would you join me for a cup of coffee?” She
asked in a calm, quiet tone. At
first, there was no answer. As
he turned slowly toward her, Anna
saw the full extent of the damage to his face.
His right eye was swollen shut.
The left side of his face was dark blue from bruising and there
was a deep gash above the left eye.
His normally thin nose was almost three times its normal size,
his jaw blackened. Shocked
by the extent of his injuries, she looked down at his chest and stomach.
Both areas were also badly bruised.
“Yes, I would.” Aragón finally answered, stumbling on the words as he
grimaced from the throbbing pain. His
swollen lips, broken and scabbed, caused each word to be slurred.
Anna put on a pot of
coffee. The two said little
while they waited for the coffee. In
great pain, his body was racked with alternating sharp pangs and
throbbing convulsions. Pouring
the two cups of steaming coffee, Anna
sat next to him. “So, did
you have a good time while you were on vacation?” She
asked, trying to bring humor to the moment.
winced from the pain and coughed loudly.
He said only that it was good to be home.
As he said those words, tears began to well up in Anna's
eyes. Seeing this, he
reached out his broken hand to her and tenderly wiped away the tears.
His first attempt to drink the coffee was painful.
The hot liquid burned his broken and scabbed lips.
“You need rest.” She
whispered to him. Helping
him to his feet, he staggered as she held him close to her side.
Anna guided the big man
across the living room and up the stairs.
When they reached the top, Michael collapsed against the wall.
Holding him tightly, he leaned heavily against her.
She then walked him to his room.
It took all her strength to help him down onto his bed.
From the moment his head rested on the pillow, an exhausted,
beaten, and battered Aragón was asleep.
Sitting in the chair next to his bed, she sobbed silently for
several minutes. When Anna was sure that he was resting comfortably, she left him to his
Aragón had slept
for an entire day. I arrived
late in the afternoon. Anna saw the look of concern on my face when she told me of Aragón's
condition. Excusing myself,
I walked quickly up to Aragón’s
bedroom, leaving the door slightly ajar when entering.
What I saw shocked me. Michael
had been badly beaten. Whatever
had happened, I knew it was deliberate and vicious.
I knelt by the side of his bed and kissed him on the forehead.
The anger rose in my heart as I pulled the blankets up around the
neck of my dear friend. Later
Anna told me that she had come
to look in on us and found Aragón still
sleeping and me there kneeling in prayer.
She knelt down beside me and joined in the petition.
Her mind returning to the present, Anna was now looking at Aragón’s
handsome face as he fingered keys on the piano.
He had healed quickly. Standing
up from the bench, he reached his hand out toward her.
When she took his hand, Michael Aragón
pulled her to him. Tilting
Anna’s head upwards, he kissed her.
Anna’s soft lips yielded to him, her mouth eager to accept his.
Michael lost himself in her.
It had been a long time since he had allowed himself to feel
anything so deeply. Anna
pressed her body up against his and the two held on to one another
tightly. Neither wanted the
moment to end.
Aragón was first
to regain himself. “Anna,” he said with tenderness in his voice, “I’m in love with
you.” The words were out
before Aragón had a chance to stop them.
He hadn't thought about the words, they had just poured from his
heart. “I love you too,
Michael.” Anna answered with
a voice filled with love and admiration.
The two kissed again. It
was a long tender kiss. Standing
alone in the middle of the room they were finally safe from the world.
Each had sought to find love and here it was.
God had heard their prayers.
Having not told Anna
about his wound, Aragón
was suddenly filled with fear. He
had been selfish, thinking only of himself.
“We must talk.” He
whispered to her. Taking her
by the hand, Michael led her to the couch.
Sitting her down, he paced nervously in front of her.
“What is it, Michael?” She
asked patiently. “There’s
something you must know about me.” He’d
forced the words from his mouth. “During
the last war, in Korea, I was injured.” Once
Michael began he couldn’t hold back.
Seeing the pain in his eyes, she knew he was about to share a
dark secret. “It had been
snowing for two days.” As
he spoke he began, reliving the moment.
“The North Koreans had sent in wave after wave of soldiers
against us. We were in the
command post, cut-off from our rifle companies.” His
breathing was now heavy, as if reliving the terrible ordeal again.
His eyes narrowed as he began again.
“The North Koreans had gotten past our rifle companies and were
attacking on all sides. The
fighting was bloody. There
was a sudden push. Attacking
in full force, there were too many for us to handle.
My rifle platoon held them for several minutes.
I can remember hearing a lieutenant next to me on the radio
trying to get reinforcements. Suddenly,
the mortar shells began landing. The
last thing I remember was a loud explosion.” Aragón's
words stopped abruptly. “I
lost my best friend, Captain Peter Wellington.
He died in my arms. Then,
everything went black.” Tears
eyes as he spoke.
rose from the couch and held him close to her.
trembled as she put her arms around him.
He buried his face in the hollow of her shoulder and his strength
left him. They stood there
holding one another for several minutes until Aragón
was once again in control. Moving
away from her, Michael knew he had to get the words out before his fears
got the best of him. “When
I woke up, I was in an army field hospital.
The doctor told me that I had suffered a bad injury.” Aragón had been assured that he was very lucky to be
alive. The nurse attending
him said that he should thank God his life.
He then took a deep breath and finished.
blurted out as he turned to face her, “I lost my manhood.
I can never give you the pleasures that another man can.
I can love you with my heart but not with my body.” He
forced the words out. No man
should ever have to say such a thing.
Standing there in front of her, Aragón
had a look of shame on his face.
At first shocked by the news, Anna
was now moved with great pity and compassion for the big man standing in
front of her, hurting and exposed. How
could she tell this man that love was not physical, but something
deeper? Could she ever
convince him that his physical loss was something that she too could
overcome? How could Anna explain to him how much his kindness and respect meant to her
as a woman? “Michael,” Anna
began softly, “I fell in love with you for who you are in your heart.
You are what I want and need.” She
said almost whispering. “I
want to spend the rest of my life with you.
Not just for minutes or hours in bed, but always and forever.” She
hoped that her words would be enough to convince him of her sincerity.
listened carefully to what Anna was saying the little boy in him felt
moved by the sincerity. But
the man in him still missed the passion and the power of lovemaking.
How could he turn off animal instincts that were such a deep part
of him? He looked at Anna’s beauty and wanted to sweep her up in his arms, carry her to
the couch and ravage her. Michael
wanted to be deep inside of her, to be one with her and feel her beneath
him. He wanted to feel her
want him. “Michael,” her
voice interrupted his thoughts, “you are a man in every sense of the
word. I’m in love with
your mind and heart, not just your body.
What I have with you is the most precious of all gifts, a passion
for living.” With those
words she stopped talking. Michael’s
pain had triggered Anna’s
memories of the loss of her family and friends.
remembered the feelings of desperation it had brought her.
Tears suddenly began streaming down Anna’s
face as she remembered her shame at being raped and beaten.
The feelings she’d neatly hidden away were suddenly present in
the here and now. Standing
naked to the world and reliving all the pain and sorrow she had buried
for so many years, Anna’s strength and denial abandoned her.
The pain tore through the thin, protective veneer surrounding her
mind. She began to cry for
her father and Uncle. Anna
wept for Hans, Helga, and Rolf.
was moved by what he saw, sensing that she too needed to be held and
comforted. In front of him
was a broken little girl. Walking
over to Anna, Michael took her
face in his two large hands and kissed her mouth tenderly.
Reaching out to him, Anna
buried her face in his muscular chest.
Holding her very close to him, she felt protected in his strong
arms. With his help, Anna
regained her strength. He
had taken the first step in telling her his story.
It was now her turn to risk everything.
“Michael you’ve shared your fears with me.
Now I feel that it is only fair that I tell you the truth about
my past. My name is Antoinette
Castillo-Von Furstenburge. I’m
an Argentine of the Estanciero class.
My father was a member of one of the finest families of Argentina.”
looked for a reaction from Michael.
When there was none, she continued.
Wanting to hear it all, he waited for her story to unfold.
“Michael, I was once a wealthy woman.
But then something terrible happened to me and my family which
changed everything.” Anna
stopped for a moment to compose herself and then began again.
She told him everything. The
wedding, the arrival of the tanks, and the horrible attack on the estancia
all came tumbling out of her neatly sealed past.
Tears coursed down her cheeks as she recounted watching Hans
die at the hands of Peron’s
men. She told him of Rolf and his loyalty to her dear Hans. Michael’s face
took on a strange look, but he said nothing.
She wept as she told him about her trek across the countries of
South America. When she
recounted the horror of her rape, he reached out for her but she pushed
him away. “I must get this
out no matter what the cost. These
memories, bad evil memories, I’ve kept from myself for far too long.
It’s time I deal with them once and for all.” Next
she spoke of the kindness of Abraham and Ester and told how they had
facilitated her eventual arrival in America.
“Michael, you’ve become my strength.
I couldn’t face my past until this very moment.” She
stopped, looking directly into his eyes.
stood up from the couch and walked carefully toward her.
As he sat beside her, Anna fixed her eyes on him. She
was with him in the here and now and yet she was still back there at the
estancia, frozen in time.
Speaking directly to Aragón, Anna
believed Michael to be Jose,
the family servant. “Where
is Papa?” She
Turning away from him, she looked back at something.
gently grasped her hand. “No
one is moving down there. Are
they dead, Jose?” She
asked, her face that of a frightened, lost little girl.
said softly, “they’re all gone.” She
was lost in that moment of long ago, raising her hands to her face, she
sobbed uncontrollably. Gathering
her up in his arms, Michael held her close.
“No one can hurt you now or ever again.” Michael
offered sweetly, in a voice filled with strength.
“I will always be here for you, to protect you.” Feeling
her pain and sorrow, Aragón held Anna
for what seemed like an eternity. Crying
for her and himself, a frayed Aragón had
tears in his eyes. “The
world is an evil place.” He
said out loud. “Each of us
has his demons.”
He stopped talking and remembering Peter Wellington’s wide smile
and deep laugh. Aragón
smiled as he thought of their times together.
Peter had taught him the meaning of life.
Aragón owed a
great deal to the man. In
the end, Peter had given him the greatest gift of all, Kenneth.
The boy had become his reason for living.
And now, God had given him another reason for living, this woman
he held in his arms.
Feeling Aragón’s strength, his arms held her together.
The scent of his body filled Anna,
bringing her back to reality. Suddenly
grabbing him, Michael was surprised by Anna’s
strength. Holding him even
closer, her vice-like grip almost took his breath away.
Then he kissed her deeply. She
needed the closeness. The
kiss was deep and hard. Feeling
her love, Aragón experienced not the physical woman, but the
essence of her.
He wanted to help her, to save her.
It was then that he told her the truth.
“They’re not all gone.” He
assured her. Pushing herself
away from him, Anna wiped the
tears from her eyes. “What
do you mean?” She asked
him forcefully. “Rolf,
he survived.” Aragón
caught himself, but it was too late.
“How do you know this?” Anna
he’s here. Here in Los Angeles.” He
commented factually, not knowing what to expect next.
“Where? How?” Anna
demanded of Aragón,
needing to know badly. Suddenly
the knowing that something, someone had survived her past gave Anna hope.
“I didn't want to tell you until I was sure.
So I kept it a secret.” Aragón
answered honestly. Anna, confused and angry, confronted Aragón.
“How could you not have told me?” She
shouted angrily. Sensing
that the situation was spiraling out of control, he tried to appeal to
her logic. “The man, Rolf,
kidnapped me,” Michael began. “He
was the one who beat me so badly. Rolf followed you here from Argentina.
He's been tracking you all these years.
How he was able to find you, I don't know.
But the fact remains, he’s found you.” Aragón
stopped, awaiting her reaction. The
anger leaving her, Anna wanted
to know even the smallest detail. Anna
was both happy and sad. She
was saddened by what Rolf had done to Michael, but she was overcome with joy at the
thought of something, anything, having survived from her demolished
“Why did Rolf do these
things to you?” She asked Aragón, genuinely confused.
Not wanting to discuss the details of Anna’s
life that Rolf had shared with him, Aragón left
the matter alone. He knew
that there was much more that Anna
needed to accept about her past. She
had only touched the surface of her pain.
decided to explain only what was needed.
Later, they would explore the other things that he knew.
“Rolf knows things
about me and he was afraid for you.” He
wasn’t ready to discuss the Family business with her.
“Rolf thought that you were being held here against your will.
He believed your life was in jeopardy, so he followed me and
watched my every move. Rolf
waited for an opportunity to kidnap me and hold me.” Aragón
was cautious as he said the words. “Kidnap
you, but why?” Anna
prodded in disbelief. “To
find out if his suspicions were true.” Aragón
responded as calmly as he could. “And,
what did you tell him?” A
confused Anna asked.
explained to Anna, that he’d
told Rolf the truth.
Michael told Rolf that it was I who had sent her to his home to serve as
governess to his children. He
told him that Anna had always
been free to go or stay as she liked.
went on to explain to Anna, Rolf's
state of mind. Rolf
was a shattered man obsessed with protecting a woman from his past.
shared with Anna, Rolf’s
relationship with me.
Anna was in a state of disbelief.
The entire story was too far fetched for her to believe.
The man described by Aragón
was not the kind and considerate Rolf
she had known. He had always
been gracious. “What had
happened to him?” She
remarked out loud. “When
may I see him?” Anna demanded. “When
would you like?” Aragón
replied accommodatingly. “May
I see him now?” She
requested respectfully. Puzzled,
didn't know how to respond. “But,
why now?” He asked,
frustrated and on the verge of anger. “Why
not now?” She questioned
with a tone of determination in her voice.
The talking then stopped, both were spent.
For several minutes they sat thinking over what had just
transpired. Both were
relieved knowing that the other was past the pain of the last few hours.
It was the calm after the storm.
Aragón knew she was stable now.
And Anna was happy that
the man she loved also loved her. Suddenly,
began to laugh at the absurdity of the moment.
He felt they’d just gone through hell together, and here Anna
was making demands. It was a
deep hearty laugh. Grasping
the silliness of the moment, she too began to laugh.
Anna had never really seen him laugh before.
Soon they were laughing together, both understanding the insanity
of it all. Michael and Anna were finally free of the many demons which had held their souls
hostage for so many years. They
were now friends and lovers and were safe together.
She laughed as she wrapped her legs around his and held his hand.
Finally, feeling free of their demons, they sat looking at one
another. Each decided to
withhold the last of their secrets until another time.
He now wondered how he would explain the Family to Anna,
questioning whether she could accept his true identity.
Though theirs was a life apart from the Brotherhood, the
Brotherhood still needed him. He
had built it with his own hands and they depended on him.
Yes, he had built the organization in a way that it could survive
after him, but it was a part of him.
The question was, how would he tell her.
Anna would have to
understand that it wasn't a simple matter of right and wrong. Living
one's life in black and white was impossible.
The world was too corrupt for this simplistic notion.
Aragón hoped that Anna
could understand that life was an ever-widening area of shades of gray.
She too had lived a life that cared little for right and wrong,
black and white. Survival
had been the only mission for her and Christina. Anna
would understand someday, he assured himself.
11/24/2015 10:07 AM