Black Magic–Part 1
Conchita fled from the processing center as though pursued by the devil himself. Screaming and babbling incoherently, she bulldozed through the glass entrance doors to the human resources office and raced for the first available office. There she found Jeff Fenton, the service center's human resources manager, deeply absorbed with his budget projections. The moment she rounded the corner and tore into his office, Conchita broke his concentration. Her face was ashen and her body trembled. As she leaned against the wall to catch her breath, Jeff jumped up from his seat and dashed to assist her.
"What's wrong?" he asked, ushering her toward a chair.
"No habla Ingles, señor," Conchita choked between her tears.
Once Jeff realized she couldn't speak English, he raised his index finger in the air. "Un momento. No problema." Then he motioned for her to sit down and smiled reassuringly as he attempted to leave his office. On his way out, Conchita reached up, grabbed his jacket sleeve, and with both hands latched onto his arm like a python preparing for dinner.
Because she seemed so frightened, he tolerated her vise-like grip and maneuvered one foot on the threshold of the doorway so he could stick his head out into the hall. He called down the corridor to the office next to his, "Amy, please come to my office! I have an employee who doesn't speak English and she's nearly hysterical. Hurry. Please!"
"Be right there," said Amy, the employment recruiter, who arrived in less than 15 seconds.
"What is your name?" Amy asked Conchita in Spanish.
"Conchita Hernandez," she responded, still clutching tightly to Jeff's arm.
"Why are you so upset?" Amy asked.
"When I came to work today," Conshita stuttered in Spanish, "I . . . I . . . I . . . saw the work of the evil spirits."
"What evil spirits?" Amy asked, as she provided a continuous translation for Jeff.
"There was a voodoo doll on my desk. I think it could be the work of Santeria!" Conchita sobbed.
"What does she mean?" Jeff asked.
"I'm not sure. Like black magic, I guess," Amy offered.
"Why would someone do this?" she said to Conchita.
"I don't know," Conchita cried, "but they are trying to put a spell on me."
"Did you bring the doll with you?"
"No. I wouldn't touch it," Conchita cowered. "I thought it might hurt me."
"Why do you think it will hurt you?"
"I don't know. I'm just scared that it could," she sputtered.
"Well, don't worry," Amy consoled her. "We'll find it and get rid of it for you. If you'll let go of Jeff's arm, he'll go to your work station and take the doll off your desk. Then we'll try to figure out what this is all about."
"You won't leave me, will you?" Conchita asked fearfully.
"Of course not, I'll stay here with you," Amy reassured her. "But you'll have to tell us where your desk is located."
Finally, to Jeff's relief, Conchita relaxed her grip on his arm and told them the location of her work station. As Jeff rode the elevator to the floor where Conchita worked, he rubbed the circulation back into his arm. When he reached her work area, Jeff spotted Conchita's desk. On top he saw a small doll with red hair lying across a china plate. As he got closer, he noticed that the doll also had a red bow wrapped around its neck and five different-colored stick pins piercing its heart. The doll's left arm had been crudely amputated and placed alongside the body. Then Jeff noticed a tiny brown paper bag. He opened it and found a granular substance that appeared to be salt with a sprinkling of spices. Next to the bag was a partially burned candle and three pennies.
He removed the entire display and brought it back to Amy's office. Then he called Lupe Braga, another employee. Jeff knew Lupe was familiar with the rituals of Santeria. He explained what happened and asked for her help.
When Lupe reviewed the display she asked Jeff, "Does this woman, Conchita, have red hair?"
"Yes," Jeff responded.
"Ah, I see," Lupe mused, as she continued to view the remainder of the display.
Jeff waited nervously for her assessment. "Well, Lupe, don't keep me in suspense. What's this all about?"
"Well," Lupe began, "first of all, the red hair tells me the doll represents Conchita, since Conchita has red hair. The red ribbon is associated with a particular saint. This one happens to be Saint Barbara. That means the person who cast the spell is asking for the help of Saint Barbara to make the spell work. The three pennies represent an offering–it's more or less a payment."
"What about the five pins in the heart?" Jeff asked anxiously.
"I'm getting to that," Lupe assured him. "Each pin is a different color and represents five different saints. The red one is, of course, Saint Barbara again. I can't remember exactly which saints the other colors represent. The pins suggest that whoever cast the spell wants to inflict pain on Conchita by doing some damage to her heart. I don't think we're talking a death-type thing, maybe just sort-of break her heart. The salt and spices in the bag are designed to sour or spoil Conchita's life. And the arm was ripped off as a kicker. It can pretty much be interpreted literally. They'd like to break her arm."
"Wonderful," Jeff said sarcastically. "So, what about the candle?"
"Oh yeah, I forgot. Sorry," Lupe apologized. "It's typical to light a candle when you pray to the saint. It's all part of the deal. They go through a prayer or incantation, and then they blow it out when they're done."
"Boy, they sure didn't give me guidelines for dealing with voodoo when I was in graduate school," he sighed, as he considered his alternatives.
Jeff wondered not only how he was going to handle this situation, but also just what it was he was going to handle. "I suppose this is probably some form of harassment," he thought. "But how am I going to identify who the harasser is? Certainly no one is going to come forward and admit doing this."
To Lupe he said, "Right now I've got to get Conchita calm and somehow counteract the effect of this whole thing."
"Well, if I can be of any help . . .," Lupe offered.
"You know what, Lupe? I think you can. Here's what I'm thinking . . . ." Jeff described the creative plan he'd come up with to Lupe.
To learn about Jeff's creative plan, Click here for Part 2