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Opening paragraphs of The Affliction

No one would have believed Ricardo Blanco if he had tried to explain that Javier Castillo could disappear. What was the point in trying to explain it to someone, explain how he had seen it himself, how he had watched as Javier Castillo stared deeply as if he were concentrating and then, slowly, disappeared? Ricardo always began the explanation in the same way, by stating that it wasn’t a sudden thing, that no, no, it was a gradual thing that took sometimes as long as three minutes.

Ricardo was an odd man, to say the least. He wanted to believe Javier Castillo was a god of some kind. But Ricardo did not believe in gods. He did not even believe in Christmas, angels, or miracles. He barely believed in magic. Ricardo was a man who even found it difficult to believe in kindness. What I can tell you is that Ricardo left his wife and family to follow this man, this Javier Castillo, a man about whom he knew very little at the time. What he learned about Javier Castillo was that he possessed an affliction. This is the very word Javier Castillo apparently used to describe his ability to disappear: “affliction.” Ricardo wanted to believe in that, but what he felt was something more like envy. And maybe some- where within his messed-up head Ricardo believed that the longer he was around Javier Castillo the more likely he, too, would gain this unbelievable ability to disappear.