My name is John Matthews and I am an Architect by profession and I am worried ,very worried for I hadn’t heard from my wife in a forthnight and it was out of character for her not to write weekly.
She was a member of an Anthropological Society in the States , and was on an expedition in the Amazon to study the culture of some tribes in the area especially the Jivaros Indians
In her last letter, she wrote that she was okay, and was enjoying the scenery and the flora and fauna of the forest, They would next be visiting the Jivaros Indians,and that was the last letter I received from her.
I contacted the Anthropological Society here in the States to see if there was any news on the expedition and it’s progress. They told me nothing was heard from them in the last month,and were planning to send a team in the coming week to investigate.which was too long for me, so I took an early flight to Peru the next day.
I arrived at the Lima's Chavez Airport, a little after two o’ clock, and took a taxi to the Sheraton Lima Hotel,where she said she was staying.
The Hotel was a fifteen storey affair built of concrete and glass,with the name "SHERATON LIMA HOTEL AND CASINO" written in bold letters above the entrance.
At the reception desk,I showed a photo of my wife to the receptionist and asked if she recognized the photo .she said that she did. She was , a black hair , Hispanic woman about twenty four, with a Munroe bust, a Bardot hip line and a charming smile.
I signed the register, was given a key, and took an elevator up to my room on the fifth floor.
It was overlooking a huge swimming pool ,with the Sheraton logo in its center. A few people swam around in it.
I showered, change my clothes, and went down to the restaurant for a meal.
After eating, I went to the Casino and played a few games of Blackjack to unwind. After a couple of hours losing, I returned to my room and stretched out on the bed, watched some news on the Telly until I fell asleep,
The next morning, I went to the Lima Cultural Museum which was about a block away, and paid a visit to the Curator. I explained to him the situation concerning my wife. He told me that the expedition had left two weeks ago, and they haven't heard a word from them as yet, a team went to investigate, and they too had disappeared. It was a dangerous part of the Amazon, he said, where the dreaded head hunting Jivaros lived. He couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go there.I replied that she was a professional and enterprising woman
I thank him and left.
The Jivaros , I later learned, were an old, hostile tribe ,who shun outsiders. Most people gave them a wide berth, even the Authorities.
After a few days of making several inquiries, my hopes began to fade of ever seeing her again because most of the answers, I received were negative. They said that she was probably killed by the Jivaros,who hated everyone especially whites. All that bad news made me sick and more depressed.
I put her photograph of her in the newspapers, offering a 1500 Pounds reward to anyone who may know of her whereabouts in thee hope that she may have been seen.
I also asked around the locals if there was any one who would take me to the area. They looked at me as if I were nuts or something.
As the days passed,I started drinking to drown my sorrow. Then one day, when I was about to give up, I got a call from the desk, saying that a man was asking for me.
I went downstairs to meet him . He was a short ,hispanic, middle aged , man in his fifties . He introduced himself as Pedro Amerez,of the Ministry of the Interior. We shook hands , and sat down in one of the booths in the lobby.
I offered him a drink, but he refused, saying that he was still on duty, that, maybe, some other time.
“I think that I may be able to locate your wife.” he said pleasantly, with a heavy Spanish accent .
My hopes began to rise.
“Yes?” I said excitedly.
"Two weeks ago ,a trader reported having seen a red hair woman among the tribe.“
My hopes sprang, maybe she was still alive!
“Can you take me there?”I asked hopefully.
He began shifting in his seat.
“No !, no!, Senhor, you must not venture there. It will be very unwise, and very dangerous, going into that area,these people,they are still primitive, and it’s very risky, they trust but a few outsiders and hate the whites.”
“So I understand, “ I said, “ I will pay anything to get her back”
He raised his hands in protest, “No! no ! senhor, no payment is necessary. I heard of your plight , and thought that maybe I can be of help.”.
He looked at his watch ,got up, and said “Well, senhor, I must be going,I shall inform you of any new development."
We shook hands , and I told him I would appreciate his help very much,that I was extremely worried about her safety,of course.
He nodded and said” “I understand , Senhor, I love my wife, too.”
I gave him my room number to call anytime. He turned, and left the lobby,
A week later, I got a call from Amerez.
“I have some news for you, senhor , could you please come to my office tomorrow?”
I told him I would, and he gave me the address and hang up.
Somehow I didn't like the tone of his voice. It sounded grave, ominous.
Bright and early the next morning I arrived at the office and spoke to the receptionist . She was a blonde in her forties, with an expression that would have frozen an Eskimo. Her green eyes were hard as glass and just as expressionless.
I told her who I was .
She told me in a surprisingly pleasant voice that Mr. Amerez was expecting me.
She got up and led me down a long corridor lined on either side by polished mahogany doors. She stopped at a door marked with a brass plate“ P.AMEREZ, DISTRICT COMMISSIONER” in bold , gold letters. She knock,'A voice said to come in . She opened the door and waved me in .
Amerez got up from his desk looking grave and solemn . He shook my hand and beckoned me to sit in a straight back chair opposite him across the desk.
"Mr. Matthews,I am afraid I have some bad news for you,'he said solemnly.
He pulled out a desk drawer, and placed a pearl necklace on the desk.
'Do you recognise it?" He asked." I figured it was hers. She was wearing it from the photograph posted"
I gasped. Indeed, It was June's necklace that I gave her on our twentieth anniversary. My heart skipped a beat as a cold chill ran through me.
“Yes.” I replied, quite shaken, " Where did you find them?" I replied, shocked and feeling a little numb.
“ We found it among others at a trading post in the Amazon River,” he explained. “ I am sorry,
but I am afraid, she’s dead, Mr Matthews,” He said avoiding my eyes.
"But, but " I stammered, "Surely she could have misplaced it?"
"No! no !,Senhor,I am afraid she is dead. We have positive proof, but I think you should let that suffice, Mr. Matthews.”
“Please,” I begged ," I must know," I felt tears welling up in my eyes “If there is anything else, show me.”
He hesitated for a moment, and said,” I rather not, Mr Matthews,”
I insisted, becoming a bit angry at his reluctance.
He sighed, and said, “If you insist.”
He slowly took out another object from the drawer. It was wrapped in black cloth.
"It was found along with the necklace".He said quietly.
He set the bundle down on the desk, got up, and left the room .
"I will be in the hallway, be brave," He said,
closing the door behind him. I wondered what he meant by that?
However,with trembling hands I reached out and began unwrapping the bundle, a series of confused thoughts racing through my mind.
I finally unwrapped it and recoiled in horror, shock and disbelief, for there before me, was a shrunken head, the size of a man’s fist, with sewn-up lips and flaming red hair.