With his eagle-feathered hair and bracelets of turquoise and jade, Ruben ruled at the front desk of the American Reforma Hotel in Mexico City. It was May 1972, the hottest day of the year, when a young woman in sandals and denim shorts strode to the front desk and tapped on the tall marble counter. “I’m Sandy Thompson. I have a reservation.”
“Welcome to Hotel Reforma, Ms. Thompson.” Ruben said, his obsidian eyes gleaming. American women were his favorites, designed to amuse with bold eyes, bare legs and long hair.
With a flourish of his hand, he pulled a file card from a drawer. “Your room is ready, #712.” He handed her a room key and a stack of brochures: Bus tour Reservations, Visit the Castle of Chapultepec and the Fine Arts Palace.
Shivering in the icy lobby, she pocketed the room key and ignored the brochures. When a porter approached, hands outstretched, she pulled her shoulder bag tight against her body.
“I’ll carry it,” she said.
An hour later, with a bouquet of red roses and calla lilies in his arms, Ruben punched the chime on #712. A woman yelled, “Who’s there?”
“It's the desk clerk delivering your complimentary gift.”
He bowed as she swung the door open. “Allow me to set the flowers on your table." The two of them alone in the room just as he planned, but the next puzzle piece would be hers to place.
“The flowers are magnificent, just like the city. Were you born here?” she asked.
“Yes. I can tell you stories--back to the days of Huitzilopochtli.”
“The Aztec Sun God,” he answered.
“I’ve read about those human sacrifices,” she said, her lips quivering.
“It happened here in Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City. Where are you from?”
“Los Angeles. I’ll be heading back in two days.”
“A short visit,” he said, his eyebrows raised. “Room service or will you be dining out?”
“I’m not eating. Tomorrow, I see a doctor.”
Ah, the thin ones, cursed with weakness, not like his sturdy wife, mother of six children. The flasks of sangria, the private whirlpool, none of it would delight this woman. “Will you need a taxi? he asked.
“Yes. I have an address." She dug into her bag and produced a scrap of paper.
When he noted the address, his body stiffened. “Be ready at eight, tomorrow. Have a good night." If he stayed, she’d plead and weep, but his fingers could never wipe the stain of death from her heart.
Tomorrow, fresh blood would seep down the steps of the ancient Templo Mayor: Huitzilopochtli would extract her bloody sacrifice.