The Weeping WomanSunbury Press, Inc. has released a new novel, The Weeping Woman, a contemporary detective story threaded with an old Mexican ghost tale. The result – a story of horror, suspense and action. The book was written by Patricia Santos Marcantonio.

Description: When children begin disappearing in San Antonio, Detective Blue Rodriguez discovers the case echoes an old Mexican ghost story, that of La Llorona, the doomed weeping woman seeking her lost babies. The detective must come to terms with her psychic visions of the dead and her troubled past to find the stolen children.

A former police reporter, Marcantonio said her parents first shared the story of La Llorona when she was a child as a warning to keep away from strangers. The tale scared her then, and has intrigued her ever since.

Her children’s book Red Ridin’ in the Hood earned an Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award and American Library Association Starred Review, and was named a Best Collection to Share – Wilde Awards. The University of Arizona Educational Theatre Company has also adapted stories from the book into a children’s play.

Her screenplays have also hit the top percentage in several contests, including MORE Women in Film, Screenwriting Expo 5, Women in Film Las Vegas and the Phoenix Film Festival contest.

Excerpt: Claudia Reyes put her hand to her eyes. The coming sunset was richer than usual because of all the smoke in the air.

“It’s that loco man again, my baby. He’s setting fires all over San Antonio,” Claudia told her daughter, Irma, as they sat in their front yard. Claudia spoke Spanish, her first and best language. “We should thank God he hasn’t come over here with his matches.”

The three year old smiled as she always did, a happy baby, making bubbles out of the sides of her mouth. Black ringlets hugged her face, which had two deep dimples like her mother’s. Irma rarely cried, even when her ears were pierced with tiny gold studs at the mall last week.

The young mother tickled her child’s belly. Irma’s giggles made Claudia forget about the late August heat and the summer of fires. Claudia stopped the tickling long enough to take a tissue out of her pocket and wipe dirt and ash off the Virgen de Guadalupe’s face.

Sitting back on the grass, Claudia admired the three-foot-tall statue in the corner of the small yard on Commerce Street. Similar statues belonging to neighbors were stone white and rough as the plaster from which they were formed. Not their Virgen. Even though her husband, Carlos, scrubbed floors at the Bexar County Courthouse, he had the hands of an artist. The year before he died, Carlos painted the figure with heavenly yellow stars in its bright blue-green mantle. His brush strokes made the dark, humble face come alive with compassion. During the Feast of the Guadalupe in December, Claudia always placed a bouquet of red roses at the statue’s tiny feet. Considering the cost of the flowers and her wages at the hotel where she cleaned, the homage was a sacrifice. But she believed entirely in the Holy Lady’s patronage and protection.

As a result, Claudia felt perfectly safe leaving Irma in her stroller in front of the statue while she searched for house keys.

“Ay, I must have left them inside. Our Lady will watch over you, Irma. Back in a second.”

Tucked under Irma was her favorite pink blanket decorated with a line of white bunnies. Claudia kissed the top of Irma’s head, the curls smelling of Johnson’s No More Tears. The mom sprinted in the house. She spent longer than expected to find the keys. She had left them behind a cereal box on the kitchen counter. When she returned to the front yard, Irma had disappeared. The stroller was tipped over on its side.

From the grass, Claudia picked up the crumpled blanket as if playing a hiding game with the baby. Underneath a green lizard flicked its tongue at the air and took off under a bush. At first, she feared her daughter had wandered out into the street. But the gate on the chain-link fence was closed, and her child was not on the asphalt. She fought a blackness seeping into her chest. She yelled Irma’s name and began to cry.

A young Hispanic couple stood on the sidewalk. Claudia ran up to the fence. “Have you seen my little girl?” She choked out the words.

The couple shook their head and fled from the wild woman whose face shined with snot.

As Claudia ran up Commerce Street, she spotted Mr. Garza sitting on his porch on the other side. Drivers honked and cursed as she ran across the street, clutching Irma’s blanket to her chest. She did not hear the drivers anyway. She had blocked out all sounds except the cry of her baby. Claudia stumbled on a sizable crack in Mr. Garza’s sidewalk and scraped her hands. She picked herself up quickly and charged to the tiny old man, almost knocking him off his plastic chair.

“Mr. Garza, have you seen my little girl? Have you seen my Irma?”

“What?” Confused, he peered through thick, smudged glasses.

“My baby, my baby, Irma! I went inside my house only for a minute. When I got back, I could not find her. Did you see who took her, Mr. Garza?”

“Wasn’t she with you?” he said and sucked on his cigarette.

Claudia staggered. For a brief moment, she believed herself crazy. Maybe she had imagined everything. She ran to the house and straight to Irma’s bedroom. The child’s brown teddy lay in the middle of the crib. Claudia grabbed the rails of the crib and shook hard. If only she had not forgotten the keys, if only she had not wanted to go to the store for butter, tortillas, and the pan dulce, the sweet bread, she had been craving.

If only. She hoped those words would not haunt her forever.

Claudia returned outside.

“Carlos, please guide me to our Irma,” she prayed aloud, staring up at the darkening sky. “Look down from Heaven and point the way to our baby.”

No sign came.

For ten blocks, she ran and screamed Irma’s name. By the time she returned home, her throat hurt. Her hands trembled. The falling sun resembled the blazing eye of God.

Her baby alone in the dark. Claudia vomited at the thought.

Wiping her mouth, she knelt before the statue of which she was so proud. Clapping her hands together and, head bent, she could only pray please, please, please. When she lifted her head, the Virgin’s eyes had turned black with accusation and the night. Claudia screamed loud enough to wake old Mrs. Hernandez next door.

“Desaparecer,” Claudia muttered. Before that evening, she never had cause to say the Spanish word for vanish and especially, not when it came to her daughter.

Desaparecer. Desaparecer.

Another word worked its way into her head as if a troubled soul squirming up through a grave.

Muerto. Dead.

Claudia spoke some of the few English words she knew.

“Help me, help me, help me.”

Check it out on Amazon here: The Weeping Woman

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