Chaneque (Short Story)


A Chaneque (cha-NAY-kay) is sort of a Mexican version of a Leprechaun. Once a Chaneque assigns himself to you, he will be with you for the rest of your life. You will never be totally alone again.

A Chaneque is about 18 inches tall. They appear human in every way. They are just smaller than we are. Chaneques have some magic at their disposal and only make themselves visible to those who believe in them. If you do not believe they exist, then you will never be privileged to see one. This serves to widen the gap that exists between believers and non-believers. Chaneques take great pleasure in knowing that they are invisible to the non-believers.

They do not have a verbal language, but communicate by using telepathy. The “language” used is not Spanish, nor is it English or any other language. It is merely a simple expression of thought patterns that do not need translation. A Chaneque is capable of conversing intelligently with anyone on the planet. Anyone who believes that is.

A while back I was sitting at the bar in the Old Azteca in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. I needed to use the men’s’ room. In order to get there, one must exit the building in the rear into a walled courtyard, then make a U-turn to the left and re-enter the building via another door. This second door services only the men’s room.

I stepped outside into a clear, balmy night, listening to the insects in the trees and bushes for a moment when something struck me solidly on the lower shin.  I reacted with a loud “Ouch!” and looked down as I took an involuntary step backward. Before me stood the smallest man I have ever seen! He only came up to about my knees. I realized that he had just kicked me.

“What the hell?!” I blurted out.

“Shut up! Moron,” came his response. I didn’t hear him, but somehow knew that was his answer.

I stared at him openly. I was awestruck. Finally I asked, “Who are you and what do you want with me?” I knew instinctively that this situation was anything but ordinary.

“OK, it’s like this. I was told to assign myself to the next man to come through the door. I didn’t know it would be a Gringo.” Then he shook his fist at the sky and asked, “Why did you send me a Gringo? You know I don’t like them!”

“You know, I’m starting to not like you, too” I told him, still talking out loud.

“Just a minute, just a minute…OK Gringo, we are stuck with each other.”

“I don’t think so!” I answered, using the telepathy experimentally.

“Oh, so you know how to think. And thank you for speaking properly.”

Then he went on to inform me that he would be at my side for the remainder of my life. It seemed to matter not how little either of us thought of this situation. There was some higher power that dictated to him the need to be with me.

I tried to figure out his age. It was impossible. He may have been 35 or he may have been 85. No way to tell. When I asked him he snorted and told me that I was his 30thhuman to whom he had been assigned. They all lived to a ripe old age. He claimed not to have been born and because of that he could not die. It seemed logical for some reason that I could not quite fathom.

It is difficult for my brain to comprehend this, though I try in every way that I know of. Chaneque tells me that this is my problem, my limitation. I am only able to try things that I know of.

I have been thinking about that. I have heard knowledgeable scientists declare that a given planet would be too cold to support life or another too hot. What they should add is the caveat: Life as we know it.  There may be a form of life out there that would need mittens and a scarf to be on our sun.

I had a really tough time explaining Chaneqe to my lady friend. Of course she does not believe he exists and accuses me of hogging the covers when we are in bed. The truth is that Chaneqe is sleeping at the foot of the bed and pulls the blankets where he wishes. He has no manners to speak of. If she knew that he was present when we are being intimate she would be totally embarrassed.

Recently, while out walking, I felt him tugging at my pant leg. “Stop! Gringo, you are missing this.”

I turned to look where he was pointing and saw a very beautiful girl. She appeared to be 18 or 19 years old. Chaneqe told me he had been reading her thoughts and he believed she was in need of a man.

He told me to ask her. I responded that I was not interested in children and maybe he should ask her himself. He walked up to her and said something that I could not get. He seems to be able to focus his telepathy on an individual. She looked down at him, obviously aghast, pivoted and ran without saying anything.

“At least she could see me. That’s always a good sign,” he stated flatly.

“Oh my God! What did you say to her?” I asked, dumfounded by the apparent fact of her seeing him as much as anything.

“Damn! Would I like to get an assignment like that?”

I am well over 65 years old and while I have noticed that I can say things to women that would have gotten me slapped 30 years ago, Chaneque seems to be able to state his intentions in a very blunt manner.

While I am getting used to having him around, I am confused as to why he or some greater power seems to think that I need him. Maybe I don’t. It could be that he needs me.

I have tried telling myself that he is not real, thinking this will make him disappear. It only makes him laugh. Then he will do something to show me how real he is. Like kicking my shins when I am just out of the shower and not dressed. It always leaves a bruise that is very real.

He wears a red shirt that buttons up the front and what appear to be blue jeans. He never changes clothes and does not shower or bathe that I am aware of. He does not have body odor of any kind. He does not like water. I have never seen him eat or drink.

He has a difficult time getting on the bus. It is necessary that I let him pull himself up using my arm. I have developed a way of doing this that is inconspicuous. Stairways wear him out quickly. Each step is nearly to his waist.

When he was first with me I inadvertently left him behind at a bus stop. I got on the bus without him. When I returned later and got off the bus it looked like a cyclone had struck. A garbage can was upended, spilling its contents over a wide area as he rolled the can around. There was a bench on which people waited. He knocked off hats and dumped purses in his rage.  He was seen only by two very young children and a baby. All the adult minds were closed to the possibility of his existence.  This gave him a free hand. The children thought it was great fun.

When I arrived I told him to stop it or I would throw him in the lake. This actually scared him. I have now discovered a way to keep him in line to a degree. He does enjoy tormenting people who do not believe in him.

Even as I write this, he voices his disapproval by rattling my window and continually trying to open my door. I have him locked out of the room in which I do my writing.

Chaneque does not like dogs. They are very aware of him and some are not afraid. Standing beside him a small Poodle appears to be the size of a Great Dane. It appears that all animals are aware of him and he communicates with them just as he does to me. I can never get what he says to them.

He continues to call me Gringo, even though he knows my name. I call him Chaneque because he claims that he does not require a name. It would be of no purpose.   For awhile I tried calling him “Pancho”. This irritated him and caused me to get a couple of more bruises on the shins. Chaneque tells me not to be concerned with who he is as much as what he is. I’m just not sure what he is. At times I have tried to figure out why he is with me.  He interrupts my thoughts and tells me that it is not for me to worry about and I will know in time. This further confounds the situation.

When I asked him where little Chaneques come from if they are not born, he simply gave me a wry grin and said, “We’re all little.”

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