Los Sures, Part 19: The Child Eater

"Duérmete mi niño, duérmete ya . . . . Que viene el Cuco y te comerá!"

There was an old, old man who dressed in black who used to walk down our block to find children to eat. Inch by inch, step by step, slowly he walked. When he would see any kids he would growl at them and paw in the air like the Mummy or like Dracula. He never did this to me because he always walked on the other side of the street, and I wasn’t allowed to cross the street on my own yet, so I didn’t get to go way over there very often. But I saw him do it, I saw him claw in the air, and I saw some kids run, and I saw some of them yell at him to go away.

The other kids told me this was the Child Eater. If you were alone, and he walked slowly by, he would take you to his house and cook you and eat you. He had been doing it for years. They said that’s why there were missing kids.

The funny thing was he looked a little like Santa Claus, with his big white beard and white face. And he wore a black suit and black shoes and a black hat that was flat on the top and had a white flat brim. But he also wore white socks.

One night I had a dream that the Child Eater was in the apartment and he had eaten my brother and my sister and Mami and Papi, even though Papi didn’t live with us. And I was alone, and he was somewhere between me and the door and there was no way I could get out without him catching me and eating me. I ran to the window to get out by the fire escape, but I couldn’t open the window it was too heavy and the big metal piece inside there that Papi said he was gonna fix still didn’t work and I could feel the Child Eater behind me, he was right behind me, I didn’t want to turn around, he was gonna rip my ear off and eat it first.

And then I would wake up running, my legs moving fast in the sheets and getting tangled.

I didn’t go outside a lot but I stopped seeing the Child Eater in the street. Maybe the police got him. Maybe he died. Or maybe he moved away to another place, where they didn’t know him, where he could pick up children to eat and no one would know.

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