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INTRODUCTION

 

I once read that there are books written with the head to impact the intelligence, and books written with the soul to impact the heart.  "Looking at heaven" is a historical story that touches the heart and questions intelligence, achieving that through each of its pages awaken our conscience by presenting the life of a child who never doubted the love of God.

José Sánchez del Río was a child like many children his age, he liked to play in the street with his friends and even a pretty girl had awakened the feeling of first love.  But there was a big difference between Joselito and the others…  he was willing to give his life for God if someone questioned his faith. 

When I heard the name of this boy from a small town in the province of Mexico for the first time, I would never  imagine that six years after beginning the investigation of what would be a film project about his life , I find myself writing this introduction to what has now become a historical novel; a book that simply seeks that the reader can stop along the way and seriously ask himself about the most important question that every person should ask himself about his life... What am I doing to earn heaven...?  

This story that for many can be an entertaining story and for others a story that may make them cry, tells us about the importance of knowing how to stop for a few moments to look at heaven...

 

The author.

 

Chapter I

Darkness in the morning

Mexico 1931.

With the first rays of the sun, a railway machine spits out smoke and insistently whistles its arrival at a small station in the province of Mexico.

Rafael Picazo, a mature and good-looking man, gets off the first car wearing a dark trench coat and a Texan hat.   After walking a few steps on the lonely platform, he hears a hoarse voice behind him calling him...

         —¡Rafael...!

Picazo turns around and narrows his eyes trying to recognize the mysterious figure of a man that appears between the steam of the machine slowly approaching him.  That rough-looking guy with a bad face, stops a few meters away and takes out a pistol, unloading two bullets into Picazo's belly... Don Rafael collapses heavily until he hits the ground..._with a cloudy and confused look, he can see how the boots of his aggressor are approaching, dragging their spurs until they stop in front of him...

"See you in hell Rafael...!" —The subject spits out his victim, and turning around disappears into the steam of the machine... in the same way it had emerged.

 

 

Chapter II

A second chance

The incessant slapping that hit the thick wooden gate of the parish house, arouse a concert of street barking, breaking the tranquility of the night.   

 

—I'm coming...  I'm coming...!. 

Wrapped in a thick serape and carrying a wobbly oil lamp, the priest walks with a hurried step, projecting his hesitant shadow on the stone wall of a narrow patio that leads to the entrance.

 

- I'm coming...!

Reaching the heavy wooden gate, he inserts an iron key that triggers a creaking mechanism allowing the door to seep heavily.  The priest sees in front of him two little nuns dressed in the habit of the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, who looked at him pleadingly...

—Father, you'll excuse the manner and time, but you have to go confess my brother Rafael... 

The priest, who was well aware of the dubious reputation of that man, stares at both women and asks with some disbelief...

"Was it your brother who asked for the confession...?" —The nuns look at each other showing complicity...

—Well, not really, father… —answers the older of the two—  but he's dying and you have to go to confession... —The priest narrows his eyes, slowly going over the faces of those nuns who looked at him impatiently waiting for his answer...

 

—Okay, okay.  Wait here a moment, I'll just change and I'll be right back.

 

Minutes later, the two nuns, followed by the priest, walk through the dark and cobbled streets of the town of Sahuayo, a thriving town in Michoacán that was just over a hundred kilometers from the city of Guadalajara.

Arriving in front of a refined house with a quarry façade that stood out from the rest, the nuns stop and open the door, crossing the threshold into a small hall that was partially dark… 

—Come in father, please come in, my brother Rafael is in there. —comments the older nun, pointing with her finger in the direction of a dark corridor.  The priest takes a few steps forward and halfway there is terrifyingly surprised by Dona Consuelo, Don Rafael's wife, who before the unexpected encounter with the priest jumps...

 

"Dona Consuelo...!"

 

—Father...!  But what a scare you gave me...!

 

"Well, daughter... the scare was mutual...!"

­­

"And how is it that you were able to get in here...?"

—Well, for them, ma'am… they told me to come by.

Doña Consuelo looks over the priest's shoulder and seeing no one, asks him in surprise...

 

-They...?

“The nuns…! The priest replies confidently.

Doña Consuelo looks at the priest disconcerted and, faced with the doubt of that look, the priest turns around and realizes that the two nuns are no longer there... that they had disappeared...

“Wow man…! Well, I don't understand what could have happened to the ladies, they may have been left behind... —says the priest, somewhat confused.

-Behind...?   Excuse me father, but I don't understand what you are talking about.

—Of your sisters-in-law, Dona Consuelo, Don Rafael's two nun sisters who came with me... and I really don't understand why they're gone...!

-My Sister's in Law…? —Doña Consuelo looks over the priest's shoulders again, scrutinizing the entire corridor again without seeing anyone—. and Adela are right now in the Uruapan convent with their congregation.  Just a few minutes ago I spoke with them to give them the news of their brother. —The priest frowns and stares at Dona Consuelo suspiciously...

—No jokes, no jokes, Doña Consuelo,  her sisters-in-law, the nuns, are the ones who brought me here so she could confess her brother…  and I didn't I lie ma'am...

—Excuse me father, my intention was not to doubt you at any time, but everything seems so difficult at the moment that… —the lady interrupts her words without knowing what else to say.  They both look at each other for a few moments, until Dona Consuelo decides not to dwell on the matter and breaks the silence...

—Look father, in any way it was, I'm glad you came here to confess my husband...   Please follow me.

The woman walks the priest down the dark corridor, but during the journey the doubt arises as to whether the father would know the reason why her husband was in that tragic state, so  stops step and ask...

—Excuse me, father… Do you know the reason… —Doña Consuelo stops her words showing insecurity…

"What happened to Don Rafael...?" The priest interrupts her.  Not really, ma'am, I didn't have the time to ask... as soon as the mysterious and disappeared nuns asked me, I came without delay to confess her husband... they simply told me about the gravity of her brother and they brought me here...

 —So you don't know anything...?

"No ma'am...!  because you don't tell me, once and for all...

—Well, we only know that he was on the train from Mexico City, and when he stopped at the Lechería station… someone shot him.

—What a man... And how are you now...?

“Bad father, quite bad.  When they brought him in, the bullets had already been removed, but the doctor still fears internal bleeding.  —The priest looks at her compassionately and asks…

 

-You can speak...?

—Wrong… but if you can father.

—Tell me, Doña Consuelo, do you really believe that Don Rafael wants to confess...? 

 

The lady looks at him with reserve before answering.

—Well, look, father…   It's worth telling you that just your presence could kill him with disgust… but God knows his ways and brought you here.

The priest looks at her recognizing that Consuelo was a cultured and distinguished woman, and that unlike her husband, she enjoyed an excellent reputation as a pious woman, a good wife and a fervent Christian. 

"Then let's leave everything in God's hands, ma'am."

—Thank you very much father… Please, come this way… 

 

Doña Consuelo opens the door and the father perceives as he enters that partially dark room a certain smell of death.   On the bed the motionless figure of Don Rafael seems to be dead.   Doña Consuelo, perceiving the same sensation, quickly approaches her husband's bed...

—Rafael...!  Rafael...

After a few distressing seconds, a slight moan is finally heard from the dying man, who, turning his head, answers his wife in a contemptuous and rude way...

 

—Look old… if you thought I was already dead, I'm sorry to disappoint you, because as you can see I'm not. Doña Consuelo looks sadly in the direction of the priest after her husband's words, but the priest reassures her with his eyes and keeps his distance...

 

"Look Rafael…" Doña Consuelo tells him insecurely. Someone has come to see you... —Picazo turns his head and discovers the priest standing in his room... 

 

"What the hell is he doing here...!"  

 

—Don Rafael… —intervenes the priest—. I have come so that you can be reconciled with God…

 

"Reconcile with God...?" Look band-aid, better ask God if he wants to reconcile with me...

Knowing that this was only the beginning of what would be a real fight, the priest tries to give him confidence and approaches his bed…  Sensing the presence of the priest so close, Don Rafael begins to cough choked and when Doña Consuelo approaches to help him, the dying man, waving his arms agitatedly and reciting a few curses, runs them both away... 

"Go away... get out of here...!"

"Rafael, please, talk to the priest…" Doña Consuelo begs her husband, but Picazo with a swipe knocks his wife away so abruptly that the woman almost falls to the ground… After looking at the defiant priest, she yells in rage:

—Get out of here, you fucking buzzard... Because even though I've been able to live without cures...  I can also die without cures...!  

The father realizes that the situation had become more complicated than he had imagined, and with a gesture of authority he tells Doña Consuelo to leave the room as soon as possible... which the woman does quickly but not very convinced. .  Once the priest closes the door, he puts on his stole and pulls up a chair next to the bed…

—Look Don Rafael… I have come here so that you can repent and be able to become friends with God…

Picazo looks at him with contempt and with great effort he opens the drawer of his bureau from which he takes a pistol and directs it threateningly at the priest...

—Look, Band-Aid... Either you leave right now, or there will be two of us dead here...! 

  When the priest sees that wobbly gun barrel pointed at his face, he backs away and corners himself against the wall... 

"Please Don Raphael...!"

-Coward...! Picazo shouts with a smile enjoying that moment...

—Keep that, Don Rafael, it can be fired…!

—And remember, Band-Aid, that weapons are loaded by the devil…

—Look, Don Rafael, calm down, the only thing I want is to talk to you for a moment…

 

—Speak...?  —Picazo shakes the gun in front of her face— here the only one who speaks is this one…! and I swear he's going to talk… —Picazo pulls the trigger…  Bang…!  the bullet lodges in the wall a few centimeters from the head of the cura…  The detonation causes Doña Consuelo to appear immediately accompanied by her servant...

"My goodness...!"  But what happened...! exclaims the lady looking at her husband with the gun in his hand... —Picazo arches his eyebrows and turns the gun in the direction of the women, which causes the maid to start screaming like crazy, taking refuge behind her employer as if she were his shield…

"Oh shut up, or I'll do it to you too...!" Picazo points his gun at them. The priest reacts to that situation and with a daring movement stands between the gun and the women...

—Don Rafael, lower the weapon… I order you…! 

Picazo when seeing the priest standing in front of him, he chokes with laughter with such outbursts of laughter that it provokes a coughing fit that causes the gun to shake dangerously in all directions... The priest, with light shoves, hurries the two ladies to leave out of the room quickly.

"Come out now please...!"

"Listen to me, you miserable buzzard..." Picazo addresses the priest, pointing the gun at him.  You'd better hollow out your wing and be the one to get out of here,  because this corpse is still moving and it's going to kill it...!

"Calm down, calm down Don Rafael...!" I promise you that if you don't want to confess I'm not going to bother you anymore, I'm not even going to speak to you, just let me stay with you... —Picazo points a gun at you maliciously...

"I warned you, little band-aid... and I swear that this time I'm not going to fail you..."

-Stop, please...! —The priest places his hands in front of him in a defensive position—.  I beg you, Don Rafael, listen to me and don't shoot, I can explain it to you...

­

Picazo breathes and as he tries to pull the trigger,   a gesture of pain appears on his face, forcing him to lower the gun to put his hand to his stomach...

 

—You saw what he did...!  —Picazo shows the priest his blood-stained hand…

—I…?  —answers the surprised priest…

"Listen to this, you bastard... and listen to it very well because I'm not going to repeat it." Picazo says those words in a threatening manner, showing him the gun. long, do you understand...?  Six…! because on the seventh I miss it. —The priest, with a nod of his head, accepts…

"If you would only lower that pistol, Don Rafael... everything would be easier."

—Look, you wretch, I told you I had six words and you already finished them…

"It's alright, it's alright...!" the priest replies.  Look Don Rafael, being a priest I have had to confess many people before their death... for this reason, I have been able to witness the very moment in which their souls go to heaven...

-Y..! What do you mean by that...! Picazo answers, hurrying the priest.

 

"What I want to tell you, Don Rafael... and please don't take it the wrong way, for I have had to be present at the moment when many souls are taken to heaven after confession, but I have never been able to be there." the moment in which a soul is snatched to hell... so I ask you to allow me to be with you... —Hearing that, Picazo holds the gun with both hands pointing at the priest who simply closes his eyes...

 

—You know something, fucking band-aid… I had never heard of such an irreverent request from anyone,  so let me tell you that right now you are going to visit your boss before I do… —The gun remains trembling in Picazo's hands pointing at the priest,  but surprisingly he drops it on the bed and begins to cry...

 

Hearing that disconsolate cry, the priest opens his eyes and is surprised to see that man cry as if he were a child... The priest approaches and with two fingers moves the gun from the bed as if it were a scorpion and places it on the bureau …

 

—Father… —says Picazo between sobs—.  You know me, you know what I did and that for that I have no forgiveness from God…

 

—You say well Don Rafael, we all know what he did, but I also know the mercy of God.

 

-Mercy…? what mercy, father, if I know that I've screwed up many along the way… But what happened to José, father…! I can't even forgive myself for José,   how the hell can God forgive me...?

 

—You're talking about justice, Don Rafael, and I'm talking about the love of God; of the love of a father who forgives things that justice does not forgive.  And the confession, Don Rafael, is not an act of justice, but an act of love.   So I ask you to I give you the opportunity to experience God's mercy, and give me the opportunity to exercise my ministry as a priest —Picazo abruptly wipes some tears from his face and lowers his eyes before beginning to speak…

 

—José was a good boy, father... and being his godfather, I kicked him out... And do you know why, father...?  Because he did not want to give up his faith.   Now tell me, father, if you believe that God's mercy can forgive me such a sin...?

The priest sees in the words of that man who cried in front of him, the pain he had kept during those years...

 

—Look Don Rafael,  God's love is greater than any sin, the only thing God asks to forgive it is our repentance and humility to ask for forgiveness.

­

—I swear to you, father, that I did not want to kill the boy,  but José left me no alternative… I looked for many ways to save him, but none was greater than his desire to go to heaven.  Now if you say that God can forgive everything, help me father and I ask you to listen to my confession…  It has been more than three years since his death and the pain that I feel in my soul torments me as if it were yesterday...

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