They called her the Witch, the same as her mother; the Girl Witch when she first started trading in curses and cures, and then, when she wound up alone, the year of the landslide, simply the Witch. If she’d had another name, scrawled on some timeworn, worm-eaten piece of paper maybe, buried at the back of one of those wardrobes that the older crone crammed full of plastic bags and filthy rags, locks of hair, bones, rotten leftovers, if at some point she’d been given a first name and last name like everyone else in town, well, no one had ever known it, not even the women who visited the house each Friday had ever heard her called anything else. She’d always been you, retard, or you, asshole, or you, devil child, if ever the mother wanted her to come, or to be quiet, or even just to sit still under the table so that she could listen to the women’s maudlin pleas, their sniveling tales of woe, their strife, the aches and pains, their dreams of dead relatives and the spats between those still alive, and money, it was almost always the money, but also their husbands and those whores from the highway, and why do they always walk out on me just when I’ve got my hopes up, they’d sob, what was the point of it all, they’d moan, they might as well be dead, just call it a day, wished they’d never been born, and with the corner of their shawls they’d dry the tears from their faces, which they covered in any case the moment they left the Witch’s kitchen, because they weren’t about to give those bigmouths in town the satisfaction of going around saying how they’d been to see the Witch to plot their revenge against so-and-so, how they’d put a curse on the slut leading their husband astray, because there was always one, always some miserable bitch in town spinning yarns about the girls who, quite innocently, minding their own business, went to the Witch’s for a remedy for indigestion for that dipshit at home clogged up to his nuts on the extra-large bag of chips he ate in one sitting, or a tea to keep tiredness at bay, or an ointment for tummy troubles, or, let’s be honest, just to sit there awhile and lighten the load, let it all out, the pain and sadness that fluttered hopelessly in their throats. Because the Witch listened, and nothing seemed to shock her, and frankly, what would you expect from a woman they say killed her own husband, Manolo Conde no less, and for money, the old fuck’s money, his house and the land, a couple hundred acres of cultivated fields and pastures left to him by his father, or what was left of it after his father had sold it off piece by piece to the leader of the Mill Workers Union so that, from then on, he wouldn’t have to lift a finger, so he could live off his tenants and apparently off his so-called businesses that were always failing, but so vast was the estate that when Don Manolo died there was still a sizable tract of land left over, with a tidy rental value; so tidy, in fact, that the old man’s sons, two fully grown kids, both out of school, sons by his legitimate wife over in Montiel Sosa, rolled into town the moment they heard the news: heart attack, the doctor from Villa told the boys when they showed up at that house in the middle of the sugarcane fields where the vigil was being held, and right there, in front of everyone, they told the Witch that she had until the next day to pack her bags and leave town, that she was mad if she thought they’d let a slut like her get her hands on their father’s assets: the land, the house, that house that, even after all those years, was still unfinished, as lavish and warped as Don Manolo’s dreams, with its elaborate staircase and banisters decked in plaster cherubs, its high ceilings where the bats made their roosts, and, hidden somewhere, or so the story went, the money, a shedload of gold coins that Don Manolo had inherited from his father and never banked, not forgetting the diamond, the diamond ring that no one had ever seen, not even the sons, but that was said to hold a stone so big it looked fake