It was strange to be around
Luz. She was always happy, always cheerful; Luz is one of
those people who can manage to see something good in everything
and everyone. She did have trouble with one thing though
- she had not come prepared to have a man make dinner for
Well, the fact is, I like to cook, I am good at it, and
it is my home - I felt like cooking so I insisted. I didn't
realize that culturally, and according to her life's experience,
everything about that concept was completely, and totally
I thought I'd made her mad, because once the dishes were
done, she disappeared. It was early, we'd just met and I
thought we'd have some time to talk a bit once the kids
were in bed. I turned around and Luz was gone.
I wasn't annoyed, or anything even vaguely like that -
it just struck me as a little odd that she had vanished
that way. I had no idea at the time that little Miss "Luz
y luz" was going to spend the next few years of my
life showing me just how "odd," odd could be.
I remember that night like it was yesterday. I sat at
the table, in the quiet of the evening and had a glass of
wine. I remember the wine, an inexpensive White Zinfandel,
and the crystal wine glass. I remember wondering how old
that glass was, and what had become of the rest of the set.
I remember thinking that one glass is no more intelligent,
capable or durable than the next; sometimes survival is
just a matter of luck.
Anyway, me being me, I got up the following morning
intending to go right on asserting myself around my house
. . . it was Saturday, and on Saturday mornings I make breakfast.
It is my habit to make an elaborate breakfast, but I will
confess that I got up a little earlier, and got a little
more carried away with it, than has been my usual practice.
I made Eggs Benedict with a Hollandaise Sauce that never
saw the inside of a jar, and a French toast sort of concoction
that will hurt you. Huge slabs of homemade bread dipped
in French vanilla cream, eggs and spices, then fried golden
brown with real, genuine, honest-to-goodness maple syrup.
A fruit medley, milk and juice - delivered to our new houseguest
as breakfast in bed by a troop of little blonde servers!
I let them deliver it, so I didn't get to see the look
on her face, but I will say she still looked a little shocked
when I collected the plates and things a while later. As
was the case with dinner, she ate it all - every last bite.
Yessiree, I will definitely do things my
way in my house - I guess I showed her!
Luz had a few things to show me too. Somehow, by the time
I had picked up her things at her Aunt's and delivered them
to her, she had manage to wash, fold, sort and organize
and rearrange pretty much everything in the house. My kids
have always been great kids, with wonderful attitudes and
willing help, but she had them "rockin and a rollin"
- when I walked in the house, there was a lot of giggling
and laughing going on.
That first weekend, Luz had an issue of priority to
deal with. She wanted me to help her locate a church - not
just any church but a Pentecostal church. It wasn't even
that that simple, there are lots of Pentecostal churches,
Luz wanted to find a specific Pentecostal church affiliated
with the Iglesia Pentecostal Unida Latinoamericana (IPUL),
or in English, the United Latin American Pentecostal Church.
She had been referred to this church by her church in Miami.
She had some clues to help me in a box she had under the
bed - a box that held clues and answers about a lot of things.
It was just an ordinary box, and the ragged looking Bible
in it certainly wasn't a new thing to me, but everything
in her box related to religion. Books, tapes, CD's, endless
handwritten notes, recordings of spiritual lectures . .
. everything. Looking into that box was like looking into
her life - full, focused and completely dedicated to the
Naturally, being a detective by profession, and having
heard a bit more than I'd liked about characters like David
Koresh and Jim Jones, I resolved to make it a point to find
out what sort of religion it was that she was so wrapped
up in. This young lady was going to be making my kid's Kool-Aid,
if you know what I mean.
I soon discovered how serious she was.
My first clue was when we called the Pastor, Fernando Moya
to let him know she had arrived safely from Miami and found
a place to stay. It was getting late, and I felt disinclined
to call anyone after 10PM on a Saturday night, but she insisted
and I felt pretty sure we'd get an answering machine so
The phone was answered by Pastor Moya's wife, Merly, and
it was clear that she was much relieved to have heard from
When you attend a church that has a membership of more
than 5000, you don't expect to get a Pastor on the phone
like that, let alone have them know who you are and be worried
about you, especially when they haven't even met you yet.
Like everything involving Luz, things just seemed to get
curioser and curioser.
My next clue was our Sunday Movie Matinee - we sat down
to spend Sunday afternoon watching movies I had rented.
No sooner had Jason murdered his first teenager than Luz
wanted to watch something else. I try to be easy to get
along with, "OK, no horror movies."
Luz, who doesn't wear slacks, bathing suits, makeup or
much in the way of jewelery, wasn't to keen on semi-clothed
bodies either. "OK, no nudity." I suppose
it almost goes without saying . . . "OK, no violence,"
. . . "OK, no profanity." Finally, Luz disappeared
in disgust saying, "Meester Beeel, you put many
garbage in your children's minds."
"Jeremy, am I missing something here, or did I
just get spanked by our twenty year-old houseguest?"
The bratty teenager could have at least pretended that
he wasn't amused.
As I thought all that over, I had the clearest picture
of the sober look she'd had on her face as she solemnly
agreed, just two days previously, not to behave like a drunken
sleaze around my kids. Truthfully, I felt a bit foolish,
but I subsequently learned that my wholly absurd efforts
to "restrict" her behavior were a big part of
the reason that her church and family accepted the idea
of her living in a home with an unmarried man.
Anyway, I am not quite sure how it happened, or when it
happened, but the next thing I knew, I had the distinct
impression that I wasn't running things anymore.