Real Stories


On a warm summer night at the Pine Resort, Santa Ana hosted a local legendary Cumbia act, The Campero Band. Leo Linares, a charismatic and charming Falsetto, was the bandleader. Lindo, as they liked to call him, had a seductive stage presence.

“I love Lindo.”

Lupe was a 16-year-old fan. She purchased all his albums and begged her parents to attend one of his shows. Lupe’s father, Jorge, scored a pair of tickets on her birthday. Her adult aunt, Jessie, would be her chaperone.

“Take care of my baby,” Jorge told Rebecca.

They arrived early to the show, where Jessie made eye contact with the percussionist, Pedro. He swooped in, and they were soon engaged in conversation. He then summoned the bartender for the Lindo Special. Partygoers had crowded into the venue by showtime, and Jessie drank liberally. As the Cumbia played and her hips swayed, Lindo and his band enchanted Jessie and the dancers under the night sky.

“Vamos!” she gleefully exclaimed.

Hours later, Jessie was shaken awake. Her clothes had been torn, and her hair was a mess. Fear and confusion overwhelmed her. Suddenly, she heard a wail.


The screams now quieted, and the approaching male voices grew louder. Jessie recognized Lindo and Pedro through her slightly opened eyelids. Behind them, two more women, beaten and battered, crashed onto the filthy beds. Laughing, he and the band members left the room.

“We have the young one in my room,” he said.

Jessie ran to the door. At the end of the hallway, she looked into the room and found Lindo’s dungeon; Lupe was his slave. Suddenly feeling a tap on her shoulder, Jessie turned away from the fire.

“Please, no, don’t!”

Soon after, Jorge learned the girls were held captive at the Pine Resort, where many of the town’s women were enslaved as drug-addicted sex workers.

“I’ll find them,” he declared.

The vengeful inclination to search for his daughter motivated him. Jorge entered one of the trap houses outside the resort. Walking through the damp and dark house and near a filthy bathroom, her eyes void of light, he found Lupe. She was barely alive, her skin bruised and wounded, riddled with needle holes. With all his strength, he cradled her, and Lupe took her final breath in her daddy’s arms.

“My baby,” he whispered.

by Ricardo Santos

Ricardo Santos is an aspiring writer from the South Bronx. He was born and raised in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx by a Puerto Rican mother and African-American stepfather. His grandmother was a reliable support system as well, as his Dominican father had been absent for most of his childhood. He is a product of the New York City Department of Education, having attended PS 30, PS 27, and then the accelerated honors programs at PS 31 and JHS 149 and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from Fordham University with a concentration in Political Science and Communications. From there, he worked in the social work field, working with individuals with mental illness for over ten years. In 2012, he earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Lehman College. Soon after, he transitioned from social work into teaching and graduated with a Master's Degree in Teaching from Pace University. These experiences, including his life experiences, molded the stories in his first published novel, "Justice." (now available on amazon.com)


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