Rolling the Dice with Santa Sofía

Raven Series Part # 4 | Jump to Raven # 1 

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

“Pato is crazy,” Raven said. She swallowed the last of her licuado. “That’s why I gave him the data to hide in the first place. So it’s not surprising we can’t find him.”

Otro, por favor,” she said to Ramón, the boy who ran the licuado cart, and he jumped to make her another. Like every other boy within a 100-mile radius of Tulum, he was in love with her. Between his crush on Raven, the steady traffic from the hostel guests, and the shade the hostel balcony provided from the afternoon sun, Ramón’s cart was a fixture on our street.

“He dives cenotes solo,” Raven went on, “and he thinks he’s going to find pirate treasure, but the pirates were all dead long before Cousteau invented scuba.”

“You’ve got a point there,” I said, “but he missed a couple days of diving.”

“Yeah,” Raven said, “he must be up to something special.”

Raven ran the hostel while I managed the dive shop next door. Thanks to her skill in organizing tours, games, and outings, not to mention managing staff and social media, the hostel was almost always full, even in Tulum’s off-season. She was also the reason I had such a good crew working the dive shop that I just needed to show up every now and then to schmooze customers and suppliers and sign checks. That sort of staff came in handy when we’d had to leave in a hurry a few days before.

As for Pato, he was the best kind of crazy, a friend I’d trust with my life.

Gracias, Monchito,” Raven said when the Ramón handed her the second licuado.

Raven and I headed into the dive shop to get out of the sun. 

“Pato is crazy,” said Santa Sofía. “Of course you can’t find him.”

“He’s missed two days of diving,” I said. 

“Oh,” she said, “that’s different.”

She frowned. “I have a class now. Can you wait an hour?” 

“No problem” I said. I made a beeline toward a hammock shaded by palm trees. 

The smell of incense and sandalwood woke me before Sofía’s soft touch on my shoulder. I sat up and she handed me an earthenware mug of chai sweetened with honey. I raised the cup in thanks. 

She pulled a chair up to the small table beside the hammock, and I brought her up to speed on what had happened and why we were looking for Pato. 

“Raven was right to ask you about eating in the dream,” she said when I finished, “and you were right to come back here immediately.”

I sipped the chai.

“I’m surprised you listened,” she said. “Usually you are so stubborn.”

On the table in front of her was a small cube, each side painted a different color. “The ancestors associated each of these colors with a direction,” she told me. “East is red, South is yellow, West is black, and north is White. Green is toward the center.”

“What direction is blue?”

“I added that one,” Santa Sofía said, “for the inframundo.” The underworld. 

“The cenotes,” I said. 

She nodded. “They connect this world with the underworld.”

“You want to use this cube to find out where he is?” I asked, thinking I might as well find a magic eight ball. 

 She knew I was a skeptic. “Do you have a better idea?” 

“We could drive out to Cenote Cárdenas and see what we find.”

“We will find Silver,” she said, “and nothing else.”

Pato had named his white pickup Silver, after the Lone Ranger’s horse. He liked to say this made me Tonto. I always told him he was tonto, stupid, if he thought he could call me Tonto. 

“I am not tonto,” he would say, “I am Pato.” 

“I need Silver,” Sofia said, “to run some errands. We’ll do this, and then we’ll go get it.”

“What do we do?”

“I roll it, then you roll it.”

She picked up the cube and blew on it. 

“Is that an ancient practice?” I asked. 

“No,” she said, “it’s for luck. We live in modern times. Don’t be a smart ass just because you don’t understand.”

She rolled the cube and it came up green. 

I picked up the cube. I didn’t blow on it, just shook it in my hand and rolled it. When it stopped spinning the side facing up was black.

Sofia looked at the cube for a moment then nodded, as if she’d been expecting exact this result. 

I looked at her.

“Get your keys,” she said. 

It was late in the afternoon by the time we arrived at Cenote Cardenas. Sunlight angled through the trees onto the hard-packed gravel of the parking lot and sparkled on the surface of the cenote.

Some of the rays sliced further, through the water to the sandy bottom or played against the stalactites overhanging the passages leading into the darkness. There were no vehicles in the lot except for Silver. 

Sofía reached under the fender and plucked Pato’s keys off the passenger side front tire “Thank you for the ride,” she said. 

I stood watching the light rays disappear into the cenote. 

“Don’t worry,” she said, “he is fine.” With that she hopped in Silver and drove off without waving goodbye. 

I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I started my truck and headed back to town.

Jump to Raven # 3 | Jump to Raven # 5