She Prayed

One morning while sitting in a local doctor’s waiting room, a guy came in and sat down, but he started telling stories right away.

You could tell he was one of “those guys” because when he checked in with the receptionist, his last comment was, “Well I’m part dog anyway, so …” And later, as we were laughing together he said, “You saw me when I came in. So …”

He was probably my age or thereabouts and he said he grew up in Taos, so I had a little bit of a handle on what kind of a life he might have lived.

He said after Viet Nam he lived in LA for a while before returning to Taos, specifically Talpa, he said, and made one of the classic remarks about all those Talpa Witches.

One story he told me involved his mother. He said his father didn’t drink as a rule, but every once in a while he’d go off with some of his friends, and his mom was always upset and concerned. On these nights, he said, his mother would get on her knees in front of the refrigerator and pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One night, he said, she was very distraught, and, “she prayed and prayed that all the bars in town would burn down.” According to this guy, on that night, three local bars burned down.

I wasn’t able to verify if it had actually happened or if this was just good storytelling, but the image of a young mother on her knees in her kitchen praying to the Virgin that all the bars in Taos would go up in smoke has stayed with me, so I painted it.