Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows
Myths, my abuela used to say, are truths long forgotten by the world.
Which is probably why she collected them the way some people collect stamps. Or mugs with pictures of kittens on them. She gathered tales of enormous, horned, snakelike sea creatures, of two-headed vampire dogs with glowing red eyes, of terrifying man-eating ghouls that stalk the night, searching for naughty children to kidnap.
The myths came from all over the Spanish-speaking world. From Madrid to Quito. Mexico City to Buenos Aires. Most of them were hundreds of years old, almost as old as the cultures that had inspired them. Some had spread quickly around the globe, spread like wildfire. Others never even left the tiny rural towns where they’d first been told.
All her life my grandma had been obsessed with Hispanic mythology, with all the legends and stories and folklore, and had spent years teaching them to me.
When I was little we used to hang out in the kitchen on lazy Saturday afternoons, me in my Power Rangers pj’s and chancletas, my abuela telling her favorite tales from memory, making the epic battles and ghoulish monsters come to life with every gesture of her brown and wrinkled hands.
Afterward, she would quiz me on what I’d heard; we played this little game, sort of like Pictionary, where she’d draw a quick sketch of one of the characters, and I would have to guess who—or, in most cases, what—it was. If I got four in a row, she’d let me eat leche condensada right out of the can, which might’ve been the only thing I enjoyed more than listening to her stories.
At the time I thought it was all just for fun, a cool little game between the two of us. But I should’ve known better; my abuela hated party games.