It was 12:30 in the morning. All of a sudden I woke with a start. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. What was that? I usually wake up at the slightest noise. There was a lot of noise outside the bedroom door. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. My husband rose to answer the door. Upon opening, my sister-in-law shouted, “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! There’s a man inside!”
Without another word, we slipped out the door and made our way to the garage. We didn’t know what was going on, where the strange man was, or how they had seen the man in the house. As we entered the garage, a team of about six or seven policemen, donning bulletproof vests and drawn pistols were infiltrating the house. It was like a SWAT team in Hollywood movies. I later found out that there were at least another four or five policemen upstairs in the house at that same moment.
Mexican houses are almost always equipped with heavy iron bars over the windows and doors. The idea is to make the house impenetrable, but the same bars that are made to keep people out also trap people inside. You can count out escaping unless you can make it to a door with your keys! In any event, my in-laws did not know where the strange man was, so they couldn’t go downstairs to let the police in the door. So the police had to jump the neighbor’s garage gate to reach the second floor terrace in my in-laws´ house. The door to the terrace is near the bedrooms, so my in-laws snuck out, unlocked the terrace door, and let the police in. Once the police were inside, they made their way downstairs and unlocked the main gate to the house in the garage. While all this was happening, my husband and I were still asleep. It was only once the police were in the house that they knocked on our door to tell us to get out.
Once we were outside, we began to put the story together.
Ever since my sister-in-law had her new baby (this past August) she has been living back home with her husband. Before she was married she shared a room with her younger sister. Well, when the older sister decided to come back home with her husband and new baby, they displaced the younger sister to the sofa bed in the TV room upstairs. The TV room is open, with no doors at the top of the stairs. At about 12:25, she was fast asleep with her back to the stairs. All of a sudden she felt a hand reach down her pants and touch her bare buttocks. With this, she woke with a start, and her first reaction was to swat away the hand that had touched her. As she turned around to hit the hand, she got a glimpse of a figure on its hands and knees, crouched beside the bed. Then it went running down the stairs. She never saw the face, but the short, slender figure was dressed all in white and wearing flip flops. As soon as my sister-in-law saw the figure run down the stairs she ran to the nearby bathroom and screamed for help. My in-laws opened their door, and knowing that the figure had gone somewhere downstairs, my sister-in-law went into their room. At that moment, they called the police.
While the police were searching, they came across the live-in servant who lived in a room behind the laundry room, but separate from the main house. They quickly shouted out that they had found someone inside, and upon pulling the servant, Pepe, out of his room, my father-in-law identified him as the live-in servant. Upon finding absolutely nothing disturbed, broken, or destroyed, and no doors open and unlocked besides the door to the laundry room, the police determined that the man must have left the house. They began to look outside, and finally they left having found nothing.
As the police were searching the house looking for the man, my sister-in-law described the figure she had seen. Suddenly the light went on in Carlos’s head and he went to drag Pepe out of his room to see what he was wearing. Pepe came out to the garage wearing a white shirt, black soccer shorts, and flip flops. When my sister-in-law saw Pepe, she immediately realized it was him, and began to shout at him at the top of her lungs. She yelled that it was him, and she knew it. She wanted him to leave that minute and never show his ugly face in the house again. She was crying, furious, and hysterical.
Pepe was emotionless and unfeeling. He said nothing.
Here it is necessary to describe Pepe. He was a skinny, 18-year-old boy from Veracruz, a poor “indio” that had come to Monterrey looking for work. His sister was working for one of Carlos’s family members, and when Pepe arrived in Monterrey looking for work, the relative called my mother-in-law to see if she wanted a servant. From the start, Pepe was extremely bizarre in the sense that he hardly talked. At first we thought he was just shy. Or maybe it was the language barrier since Spanish was not his native language. The only things he ever really said were “Sí,” “No,” and “No sé” (I don’t know.). No one had ever been able to really talk to him. In any event, my mother-in-law was happy with his work around the house, not because he really did a good job, but because for the first time in years, she had some free time to relax instead of having to clean the house.
After about three minutes of my sister-in-law screaming at Pepe, and then the whole family, Pepe admitted that it had been him. They started to ask him why he was in the house when he shouldn’t have been. In fact, the laundry room door is always kept locked at night because my mother-in-law has always been very protective of her family. However, this particular night there had been some confusion and no one locked the door with the key. But aside from having a lock, you can only open the door from inside the house. There is no knob from the laundry room. Pepe had put something in the door earlier in the night so that it would not shut all the way. He had PLANNED his little adventure.
Surprisingly, my in-laws did not want to call the police back. They only wanted the jerk out of the house for good. They told him to get his things together immediately. Pepe did not react. He asked for another chance. This only got him some more screaming about how he could get out of the house in that very moment. Then he insisted on leaving in the morning.
This only made everyone even angrier. Finally he seemed to get it through his thick skull that he was leaving that night, and he went for his things.
Carlos and I used to bring Pepe to his brother-in-law’s house every Saturday night and pick him up every Sunday night. He would always bring a backpack with him, but we never checked what was inside. After this event with my sister-in-law, Carlos told him that they had never invaded his privacy before, but now that he had broken the trust of the whole family, he was going to check his bags. Carlos began to take out Pepe’s shirts, then a pair of my earrings that I had “lost” three months before, Carlos’s old watch, a picture frame that I had been given as a favor in my wedding shower, and a pair of my underwear! In this moment, Carlos exploded and yelled every bad word in the book at Pepe. He gave Pepe a big shove. Then my father-in-law got angry too and gave him another shove and a rain of insults. We had to pull the two angry men off of Pepe. At this moment we began to realize just how perverse the situation was. We wanted Pepe out of the house, but there was a debate about whether we should just open the gate and kick him out (he could worry about finding his way to his brother-in-law’s house), put him in a taxi, or bring him directly to his brother-in-law’s house.
We finally decided that we should bring him to his house because we were afraid that he would try to come back later in the night or that he would do damage to the cars or the outside of the house. As we opened the gate of the garage, Pepe took off running. Carlos and I went in the car to find him. My sister-in-law went with my brother-in-law in the jeep to help out. We could not find Pepe anywhere. We circled the neighboring streets and found nothing. He had heavy bags so we figured he couldn’t have gotten too far. By now all the neighbors were outside. Finally a neighbor spotted him hiding in the park across the street. Carlos and I followed him and tried to convince him to get in the car so we could bring him home.
Now, all of a sudden, Pepe changed dramatically. He was no longer the “simple” guy of two or three words that we were used to. He pulled an attitude with us. Finally, we reached a point where we could no longer follow Pepe. He turned around and told us sarcastically, “Go on, follow me.” This ticked off Carlos, who decided to finally get the police involved again. Luckily, at this moment, my sister-in-law pulled up in her jeep and actually was able to follow him because of the 4×4 vehicle. This surprised Pepe, and he didn’t try to run anymore. The police came for him and took him off to the neighborhood police station.
At the police station, they frisked Pepe and somehow discovered that he was wearing a pair of pink lady’s panties – they belonged to my sister-in-law! This was the last straw! We felt so disgusted! He had a pair of my underwear in his bag, he was wearing a pair that belonged to my sister-in-law – who knows what he had done with the rest of our underwear!
As soon as Pepe left with the police, we all began to tell stories of things that Pepe had done that we had seen and not talked about because we felt uncomfortable telling my mother-in-law since she was so happy to have his help. He used to spend hours cleaning all of our rooms, so he would have had plenty of time to go through drawers and find things to take or wear.
What’s more, after he left we searched his room and found some postcards that belonged to my sister-in-law. She kept them in the inside pocket of a suitcase that was stored in the back of a closet that was behind the headboard of her bed. Finding those postcards would have required a real effort on his part. It appears he left no corner unexplored. That is a very violating feeling.
The scariest thing for me was that I have a new puppy that sleeps in a room near where Pepe slept. When she was younger, I used to get up to take her out at 12:30, 2:30, and 5:30 in the morning-alone. I was literally right next door to his bedroom and I suspected nothing. My mother-in-law told me after all this had happened that one day he had said out of the blue, “Amy likes to sit on the floor and play with the dog.” My mother-in-law looked at him with an expression that conveyed the words, “What do you care?” or “So, what’s it to you?” But he said nothing more and my mother-in-law didn’t suspect anything until this whole thing transpired. But the only time I sat on the floor with the dog was when I took her out at night. Yuck, he must have watched me.
Things are fine now. My sister-in-law has recovered from the shock, and we feel safe again now that Pepe is no longer in the house. Pepe spent a few nights in jail before he was released. We are not sure if he posted bail or if they let him go, but he is back living with his brother-in-law. We only hope he doesn’t pay us another surprise visit.
One thing I have learned: I will never have a maid or servant in my house.