Friday, November 17, 2017

the world is a café

Juan’s two room rat hole with a rusted steel balcony and panoramic view of the Zona Norte. Pleasant if you wanta witness sooty smog, criss-cross of humming, crackling power cables, and bloated hookers clopping up and down the shattered, garbage littered pavement. Diverse categories of sordid junkies and nefarious types lurk in the smoke filled shadows of the colonial apartment’s ill-smelling lobby. Cocaine, marijuana, and booze passed many a hand.
Banda music and squealing and the vecinos rush in like jackals.
There was a sudden knock at the door. When I pulled the flimsy doorway open (it sticks in the frame), a kid stood there; introduced himself as Cesar and inquired if he could speak to Juan. I invited him in and after casual chatter; found out this was Juan's older brother. He resembled Juan very much, except for the macho moustache and receding hairline. Both lads of copper, smooth skin and distinct South American attributes…they actually almost looked Japanese.
We all eased into the cramped bedroom, littered with used Kleenex from the earlier afternoon’s fuck fest. The fragrance of stale semen and anxiety in the tight air. Juan promptly ambled toward the dresser, pulled out a syringe, a foil of heroin, a blackened spoon, and a lighter. Juan sat on the sagging and messed bed like an immobile lizard and I stared in wonderment at the situation. I opened the drawer in the nightstand and pulled out a joint.
Cesar cooked down the shot and, gazing in the mirror on the drawer, thrusted the syringe deep into his neck. Hissing through stained teeth, Cesar pushed the plunger and the solution drained into his waiting veins. Muscles become slack and with a vacant look, he passed the needle over to his brother who did the same. Eyes squeezed shut and with a shuttering sigh of junky orgasm, Juan lay back on his bed and dreamed of dark and troubling things.
I sat there scrutinizing this ritual, legs crossed, sucking on that reefer so nasty.
Later, we hit those fucking insidious streets of a forever opaque Mexican night - whorehouses, seedy bars, a macho goose in the doorway, searching faces hidden in darkness and confusion, an aged whore with clown makeup winks so nasty. Smoke. Reggeaton blasts over speakers. Cocaine is bought. Pile into a taxi. Weed is bought. Walk through evil gloomy barrios. Crystal is bought. Large amounts of cheap liquor consumed. Tequila is the drink of choice. A sinister midget laughs through silver teeth. Smoke. Flashbulb of light. Mucho machismos. Drunken insults to the natives, fists and knives are presented. Whack! Pound. Pound. Pound into someone’s head. The flashing of light and arching of electricity. An Angel falls a victim. Crack of bones and a bird screams. Cesar is swarmed over, a dark mass of fists and kicking cowboy boots. Smoke. Glinting light on a knife and Cesar goes down in a pool of blood and spit. Silver teeth show through snarled lips, “Vamanos, gringo.”
Dragged across wet flagstones, reggeaton wails. Shoved into a taxi and sped off into the night. Air filled with the smell of burnt oil and marijuana. Coffee is shoved under my nose, pills are put into my mouth and I glimpse up to see Juan wiping a wet and bloody hand towel across my forehead with red scraped knuckles. Juan lights a cigarette and places it between my lips, blood trickles out of his nose past his split lip. Looking around, we are in some café. The room is empty. A long counter with metal stools extend toward a glass door inviting no one in.
“The world is a café.” I croak.
Just another night in Tijuana...I stand - extinguishing my cigarette on the filthy warped tile floor. “I gotta go.” And leave that wretch to his horror.
Walking the few blocks back to the guesthouse in that dark cold night - eyeing for police patrols on account my own paranoia is kicking in. I think of my future and of my plans - I cannot allow those past demons to control me. Reaching my room - I undress and climb into bed unable to sleep as the drugs take hold.
Eventually I drift off, horrid nightmares abound. I wake up depressed and disappointed I even committed the act.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

that which is below

Roar through streets dodging buses, kamikaze taxis and mad dashing pedestrians. We pass Avenida Revolucion - el Revo, to the locals - all is what you expect: petulant flabby tourists shuffle in the beating sun ignoring the barking of the pitchmen squinting under that bright blue Mexican sky. Young pacheco kids in their funky hip-hop clothes walk by arm in arm around a tired whore clop-clopping in her cha-cha heels brown eyes drooping and looking forever up at Guadalupe. The shop venders selling gold, silver, leather, liquor, sex - they scream unrelentlessly into the deaf ear of the sweaty tourist. Overpriced restaurants, massive discos, and farmacias vending Viagra with enough potency to kill an elephant, lost among fading whorehouses crumbling into time reflected in the sad eyes of the weary Zonky.
Blocks are splashed with the primary colors of restaurants and consumer store facades of any other Mexican metropolitan city - the dust rises, the trash burns, police patrol by with young cops hanging off the sides of white trucks - black rifles glistening and the mothers sprinting across the traffic with young flailing and babies wailing. Cervezas and guacamole - no matter how diluted with sour cream - still bring in the Mexican culture of memory to the old and young. Culture is life. Life is change. Change is culture - and change is the beauty of Tijuana, no matter how desperate - no matter how congested and overflowing, omnipresent as a McDonald’s baño.
Spitting heat upon pale skin. Dust swirls, thick and ominous like mountainous fog, yet there is little silence among this thumping surge of sprawling land and sea convergence. It's bright and it’s hot, alighting the nonexistent patterns as people and their many motors crush upon humanity and culture - their culture.
It is their land; their noise and debris, the rising dust - clouds into the eternal heat, the rapturous signals, the stoplights and padding feet across cracked pavement before the next race of exhaust pipes flood the streets. The young boys standing in a 1950s truck bed and the workingmen folding leathery hands in deep cooling shadows. Coronas, Pacificos, Dos XX and Sol bottles crushed down dirt side-alleys. Pass peeling paints of white, green and orange. As I sat in the back of the taxi, heat and the accompanying dust drew into the interior through the open windows that sucked like a famished mule.
A dangling faded CD flashed in my eyes, as Jesus and Mother Mary spun from the driver's rear view mirror. Through the dirty window, I watched my beloved Mexico and its culture, passing high-walled penitentiaries and catching the drafts of burning trash and piles of rubber. I breathed in, deeper than the previous, and as rusted tin and red brick turned to unfinished concrete with spikes of rebar, the city-center approached.
Burnt paper and smoky chemicals infused into the sea air until the salt purified the wastes. Suddenly, it froze. A culture - historic in its patternless flow of work, family, tradition, rice, beans, corn tortillas and cerveza, with mother dodging traffic as she interlinks her arms throughout her five children, and the federales rolling in their crisp black '06 GMC pickup trucks and Ford Mustangs, fat signs and stripped lands of acres of sweating asphalt surrounded by cheap simplicities of blue and white, and orange and white swallows its environment.
Then the abominable. Things and their monsters. They let loose to dilute the beauty of this original style of living and culture. Gorging, the corporations find their way as Mexico expands with the born faces of Wal-Mart and Home Depot. My heart pinged. It skipped a beat. Nevertheless, I drew another inhale, observed the life around, and continued to witness an unburdened Mexico thrive. Dust tickled my nose. I sneezed. It reached my throat. I coughed. How unburdened can a culture remain? I was about to find out.
Taxi screeched to a halt in front of the Hotel Coliseo. Old man sat on wood chair by the door focused on me with cataract eyes and junky stoop as I paid the driver and enter the crumbling whitewashed building. The smell of sewage and feces filled the lobby. An obese transvestite sat on an overstuffed green velvet couch sucking a silver tooth as I paid the front desk cien pesos and made my way up to the third floor - old well-worn wooden stairs creaking.
My room was painted olive green, paint flaking. Bed sagged to one side with graffiti scratched above wooden headboard, the toilet ran, and I had roaches for roommates. The distant moan of a whore earning her rent mixed with the banda music wafting through the pungent, dark halls.
I showered in tepid water, got dressed, and left my key with the front desk. Walking sideways through the group of six Amazonian transvestite hookers that guarded the lobby door; avoiding catcalls and grabbing at my crotch.
I strode through the choking night air, the klaxon of car horns and high decimal banda, the cries of cigarette vendors, the smell of scorched meat and sewage, vicious cops patrol and gave me a sour eye. Queers passed staring and giggling and pointed at every bulging groin. Dogs sifted through trash next to their masters.
A few blocks from my hotel was park Teniente Guerrero - by day an idyllic spot for lounging families amid the sounds of playing children among swaying palms and colorful flowers. You look around and see happy smiling faces, the absorbed cancerous faces of police officers, you hear cantina music from across the park of balloons and popsicles and shoeshine stands. In the middle of the park is a gazebo for concerts - generations of mariachi playing Mexican anthems to honor El Gobernador.
By night, the park takes on its sluttish reputation - a notorious hotbed of male prostitution and drug pedaling with sex being acted in the midst of darkened bushes and shadowy corners. When the day boils away and the shoe stands close-up, the boys come out. Every bench is occupied - the trees lining the sidewalk host someone leaning with hip hooked and hands in pockets. Silent shadows beckon and the smell of sex vibrates through the park mixed with the whispering lusty grunts and sighs under a baneful moon.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

so you want to be a writer?

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.


and there never was.

Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

the long goodbye

Enveloped by the silent moan of night he took a gulp of beer from a tepid Colt 45, “You say you don’t care about anything, Blasini, and to an extent that may be true. But, you are by far the most kind and intelligent person I have ever met. You always have interesting topics and project a positive attitude. You’re always so calm, nothing I seem to say – no matter how horrible or perverted – seems to faze you one bit. I do enjoy our talks.”
I glanced up toward the imposing San Diego skyline, sniffed the stench of urine from a thousand hobos, “I have a million experiences. I have lived a million lifetimes, it seems. More so than anyone.” I paused, reflecting. Reflecting a dire truth. “I should be dead. God knows almost everyone I knew is…yet, here I am. Damned to some purpose I have yet to grasp.”
He looked at me, smiled, blue eyes glazed in crimson with pupils dilated so big I could see his brain inside, “I believe you are destined to accomplish great things, man. You don’t realize it…but, you are going to accomplish a lot. Especially when you go overseas. But, when you talk to me, though you try to hide it, I sense so much pain in your voice. So much sadness and pain. You’ve told me of all this travelling…What are you running from, anyway?
“I…I really don’t know, anymore. I suppose I’d rather live than merely exist. I do enjoy travelling. Once an acquaintance wrote that he compared me to an outdoor cat, not an indoor cat. I suppose there is some truth in that. There is a whole world out there and I want to see and feel it…”
“But, what are you running from? I sense the loneliness in you, that yearning to have human contact…” He stops as a scrawny tweeker materializes out of the gloom. He casually asks the tweeker, “Hey, man, can you sell me some meth? I got three dollars.”
The tweeker, an emaciated, toothless and bald man in gym gear, looks at me with canceled  eyes black as night and then him, “I usually don’t sell nothing less than a five, but for you I’ll do it.”
I take two steps back so as not to interfere with the transaction. My friend says, pointing at me with a nod, “You don’t have a problem with this?”
I smile, “Problem? Not at all.” I exclaim in dramatic jest, “I wrote a fucking book on it!
He turns toward the tweeker who is busy shaking an obscene small amount of powder into a cigarette cellophane wrap, “Yeah, this is my friend, he wrote a book about meth. He’s published ten books.”
It was obvious the tweeker didn’t care. I didn’t mind, it was the usual response I received. After the transaction, the tweeker evaporated into the night. I grabbed the can of Colt and took a swig as passing car headlights caused our shadows to dance across dirty warehouse walls.
“Well,” I stated, “I best be getting back to Tijuana. The last trolley to the border is in twenty minutes. Goodbye, Ray. It was a pleasure meeting you.”
He flung his arms around me in a tight embrace, “You take care of yourself, man. You definitely made an impact on me. Goodbye.”
I didn’t want to let go. It is too far and few in between I meet someone on the same intellectual and emotional frequency as myself. Once again, I hardened my heart, turned it to ice, my face as blank and cold as a poker dealer. I lit a cigarette and left him to his own madness under that dull lamp post in the middle of a dark and dangerous city to return to my own lonesome road…

Sunday, November 05, 2017

bitter noches

The night was brisk for November and the boulevard packed. I stood on the corner of Revu and First Street people watching. I had just finished a delicious plate of enchiladas rojo and afterward smoked a joint in the bathroom with the waiter friend of mine, so I was feeling content and smoothed out. I looked up into the sky past the garish neon of Hotel Nelson to a clear star sprinkled sky. Even above the thumping banda from a hundred cantinas, I could still make out the mechanical singing of the Millennial Arche’s support wires.
People ambled by a hundred fold; laughing, chatting, locals and adventurous tourists alike. It was a pleasant night. I reached into my pocket and removed a Lucky, lit up. Down the way on First Street leading towards the Border, there was a loud electronic pop followed by the sounds of arching electricity as a converter box spat out its death throes. People close enough to the light display shrieked and scampered in horror as others laughed and a group of Harley Bikers slowly roared past. I stood immobile as a disembodied phantom enveloped in my own cariogenic effluvia.
“Hey, man, you speak English?” Asked someone behind me.
I turned to the voice and stated, “Fluently.”
He was American. Early twenties. Black hair with steel grey eyes now slightly crimson from alcohol. He definitely was not from California. He had that Midwestern cleanliness to him, that skin texture one doesn’t attain from Southern California sun worship. Tall and athletic in sensible clothing. He stood and tottered a bit, glaring directly at me like an alert dog.
“Do you know this place?” He asked.
“I do. In fact, I live here.”
“That’s fuckin’ awesome, man. You think you can help me out. What’s there to do around here?”
I love that question from tourists. So general yet laced in twisted and sick perversions. I receive this generally when whatever they are looking for, they can’t find on the strip.
“Well,” I began. “That depends on what you are interested in.”
“Where’s the pussy, man?” He blurted, huge smile across his face.
I smiled back, took a drag, exhaled. “Ah, so you’re horny, are ya?”
“Fuck yeah. I just got off base and I need some pussy!” He said jokingly.
Just got off base? Navy.
“Well, you’re in luck. I so happen to know a locale where you’ll be drowning in pussy.” I stated with chin lifted and the air of a carpet salesman.
“Dude, I’ll pay you!”
“No need.” I protested with flat palm up. “Just buy the beer.”
I told him to follow me and we cut down First toward Coahuila Avenue. I was going to throw him into Adelita’s Bar, drink a few, and then ditch him. Let those she-bitches eat him up. As we made our way over shattered concrete past barking doormen, knotted gangs of drunk locals, and an array of endless prostitutes lined up shoulder to shoulder hissing for our attention, I asked over my shoulder to the kid stumbling behind me, “Say, what’s your name, anyway?”
“Jeffrey.” He answered. (A couple of hookers grabbed his ass and/or crotch as he passed, cooing out Ven, Jeffrey)
I told him mine as we siphoned into a small cantina I thought would wet his appetite. A dilapidated place with long wooden tables and dented metal chairs. The bar was actually a rectangular hole knocked through the cinder block wall so as the back area – an area I am certain entertained a variety of sordid vices – lay in shadowed darkness. The section we occupied was well lit: Mexican paper banners strewn across the ratty roof, dusty bullfight posters, soiled beer boxes stacked in a corner, a wailing jukebox blasting ranchero tunes. No one actually paid any bother as we sat against the wall.
From outside, a man in black soiled clothes and scraggly beard shuffled over to our table and asked in Spanish for a few pesos. He smelled of feces and alcohol. As I was reaching in my pocket for some coins, the waiter, an older man; tall and thin, in white shirt and black bow tie, roared at the tramp to get out. The tramp turned to the waiter and retorted with a raspy, “Fuck you!” or the Spanish equivalent. In one swoop, the waiter dashed from behind the bar – face contorted in rage - with an aluminum baseball bat and began beating the tramp right in front of our table. Two other men appeared and tossed the tramp headlong onto the sidewalk where he lay akimbo and battered, leg out in the street with a missing shoe. His dirty toes poked out from a discolored sock. The waiter turned to us, sliding a long hand across his scalp to straighten his greased hair, and asked, “Now, what can I get you, caballeros?”
Jeffery, visually dismayed, ordered us both a beer. I simply slumped casually into my seat with the glazed eyes of the dead and lit a cigarette. As we sat and drank, the boy really went overboard. As he became comfortable in the bar and loosened up a bit, he began ordering shots of tequila with our beer. Bad combination, my friend.
Eventually, he explained how desperately horny he was and wanted to purchase a hooker. So, we walked around the corner to Adelita’s. The place was a nightmare for me but was pussy heaven for my young friend. He ogled and gawked at the parade of long-legged hoochies who strode back and for enticing each man with their jiggling wares. I stood off to the side as a tall, willowy yet shapely lady approached Jeffrey and with a long slender hand firmly on his crotch, asked him to buy her a drink. He did. Then another and then another…and another. I sighed, inquiring what the tab was. The b-girl ran up a seventy-eight dollar tab. Nonetheless, Jeffrey was determined to snag this big boobed she-bitch and was escorted upstairs for the, most likely, worst sexual experience of his young life.
As I stood nursing my beer, not five minutes passed and Jeffery strode down the stairs leading up to the rented rooms and passed me toward the exit.
This can’t be good, I thought.
Outside, Jeffery bemoaned he had spent all his funds on alcohol and did not have the twenty or so dollars to pay for the hooker and the room. He pulled out a wad of crumpled bills and had me count them. Thirteen dollars.
“Can I get some pussy for thirteen dollars?” He asked.
“Nothing you would live to tell anyone about.” I stated.
Cursing himself, we made our way back to the corner of First and Revolution. Jeffrey drunkenly swayed, hands in pockets, looking up the boulevard at the thumping discos. Somewhat intoxicated also, I actually felt sorry for the kid.
“Look, Jeffery,” I began, “You’re not a bad looking guy. Why don’t you simply make the rounds at the night clubs and try to score for a chick who isn’t going to cost you?”
“They’re all going to cost me.” He said bitterly.
“Not going to argue with that.” I quipped, lighting a smoke. “Okay. Be patient. It’s still early. You are bound to squirt your cum somewhere tonight.” I reached in my pocket and removed a half-smoked joint.
He smiled leeringly, glancing at a group of teenage American girls strutting under the Hotel Nelson marquee. “My balls hurt, they’re so fucking full.” I handed him the joint. “What’s this? Weed? Won’t they say anything about smoking it here?”
“Not if you don’t get all goofy about it. Relax.” I said, flicking my zippo up at him.
He took a couple of long drags, coughed, “What about you? You know any Mexican girls that are down to fuck?”
“Me? Ha. No. Not me.” I said and decided to drop the g-bomb. Maybe it would scare him back to the border and I could go home. “I don’t know any girls. In fact, I don’t even like them that much.”
“Wait. You a fag?”
“Fag? I wouldn’t say fag.”
“Gay?”
“I haven’t been gay a day in my life.” I sneered.
He laughed, “What are you then? What do you do?”
“Me? Well, I’m pretty good at sucking dick. Kinda became a pro at it over the years.”
He took the joint and inhaled a couple of more tokes, blew heady plumes into the noisy night air. The weird silence between us began to become downright unbearable. He began to speak and I hoped it was the I’ll see ya ‘round speech.
“You know where we can go so you can suck my cock?”
Well. That was from left field.
I mumbled come on or something like it and lead him across the street to the Hotel Alaska. We brazingly made our way into the hallway past the reception. The fat and greasy bastard behind the desk didn’t even bother looking up.
As we walked down a dark and dank hall, Jeffrey asked, “You got a room here? Is this where you live?” The sound of his voice revealed he wasn’t comfortable, the smell of mildew and dead bugs permeated the dismal hall.
I turned a corner and the hallway ended in an alcove bordered by two doors. I turned and began unbuttoning his jeans.
“Here?” He protested, moving my hands away.
“No other place like it.” I hissed as I undid his jeans and zipped down his fly. A semi-erection flopped out from trimmed black pubic hairs. His penis was circumcised and smelled like alcohol. I plopped the now rigid cock into my mouth and began to suck and stroke the shaft. In the dimness of the hall under low lights amid the reek of stale hooker vagina and stopped up lavatories, I pumped and slobbered as he held the back of my head, guiding the strokes. Behind us, down the hall, someone moved in the gloom. I caught the fat bastard from the front desk lurking in the shadows at the corner of the hall, face blank, fat lips parted with mouth juicy and glistening, watching. In due course, Jeffrey’s cock sprung up, the head of his penis swole, and he let loose gobs of hot semen into my mouth with a shuddering sigh.
I leaned over and spat the matter of semen and saliva onto the dirty tiled floor with a resounding splat.
“Hey! You no stay here you need leave!” It was the fat bastard receptionist, evidently bitter he wasn’t invited to the gathering.
Jeffery embarrassingly fumbled; fastening his jeans and darted out without a word. I followed giving the receptionist a discerning smirk.
Outside, as I was about to console Jeffrey, he quickly said Later or something equivalent over his shoulder and marched promptly back to the border. Not even a thank you? A goodbye? Fuck it. I lit another smoke and coolly made my way down Revolution Boulevard, lost among a thousand revelers and taxi drivers and venders and junkies under a brisk, yellow moon…

Thursday, November 02, 2017

on the same frequency


The park Teniente Guerrero spread out a full block around me. I sat on a bench munching on a mango raspa and checking the scene. Hasn’t changed much. More trees and more families occupy the park during the daylight hours, which I suppose is a positive aspect. In the center rests a large gazebo where local artists from painters to musicians exhibit their talents.
The gazebo is enclosed by iron-rod benches offering shade to the locals and a chance to talk with friends and people watch. To one side is the chess club were you will find the intellects and the not so intellects convening and pondering their next move. Ringing the outside of the park proper under towering palm trees is a sidewalk offering shoe shine booths and various snack carts. On the east side, workers loll on their day off, children play as their parents prepare lunch, vendors hawk various sundries; while in contrast on the west side…well, on the west side lies the hustlers and the predators who stalk them. All day and into the night. That was the side in which I camped. However, being the sole gringo in the park and on the undesirable side at that, I was surprisingly accosted by a fat and bitter faced cop on the mooch.
“What are you doing here?” He hissed in despondent tones. One hand on his piece, the other on his ample hip.
“Doing here?” I stated flatly. “I am resting. I found this park just walking around touring your lovely city and thought I’d have a sit and rest.”
“Resting?” He gazed at me with bloodshot eyes filled with manipulating hate. “We have had a problem with Americans coming to this park and taking pictures of children. Pedófilos. You are not one of them, senor?”
“I should say not!” I said defiantly. “There is no need for insults, senor.”
“Well, rest up and move along.” He sneered as he wobbled away to harass a sickly old queen who sat as immobile as statuary behind a pair of cheap sunglasses.
Fuck you, I thought toward the cop. The Tijuana of old is a dead museum. Impregnated with the viral infection of the United States and its pogrom of hate filled intrusive interference into a citizens every waking thought and action.
My mind began to drift onto nostalgic memories concerning this park. Especially the chain of friends and acquaintances who had met their end in it. Juan Carlos, hustler found face down in feces behind a row of bushes from an overdose, Saul who hung himself rather than dwindle away in pain from acute symptoms of HIV, Ignacio who was beaten to death in lieu of a dope deal gone sour, Enrique found stabbed to death behind the public bathrooms, lying face down in the mud, pockets turned inside out and shoes stolen…no one remembers them anymore. They had become forgotten phantoms in a long line of dead funneling towards the fiery mouth of Moloch.
I walked around the outer perimeter of the park. Passing a covered police paddy wagon, a voice barked out from the small, square slit in the side of the steel canopy of the back.
“Hey! Hey you, gringo!”
I stopped and squinted into the inky black hole.
“Help me get out of here!”
“Help you get out?” I smiled. “How? I can’t do that.”
“Fuck you, then!”
I fished my cigarette pack from my pocket, removed one, lit up.
“Fuck me?” I stated. “No, it is quite obvious which one of us is the fucked one.”
“Fuck you. Gimme a cigarette.” Two grimy, emaciated brown fingers with black soot under the nails probed out from the inky dark.
I expelled smoke at the hole. “No.” Walked away with the muffled sounds of obscenities in two languages being launched at me.
I stopped at a stall and ate some beef tacos with a manzanita fresca. Around me, kids laughed and played, balloon sellers and ice cream vendors egged them on under a obscenely bright blue Mexican sky. As the sun began to sink behind the horizon, the shoe stands snapped close and the sweets vendors closed their candy-colored parasols. I slinked to another bench to have a cigarette and wait, to wait and see if the park had changed significantly during the twilight hours.
So much change. So much tedious uninteresting consequences nowadays…
The overhead lamps of the streetlights snapped on (buzzing like an angry wasp on this clear night) and the Cruisers began their stylized ballet around the park. Within two hours of sundown, shadowy figures moved like somnambulist through the nocturnal fête of anonymous sex and abject degradation. Two bushes over behind me, I overheard whispers followed by slurping and heavy breathing, resulting in a single, drawn out grunt as the two parted ways never to touch nor speak again.
Illuminated under the amber spotlight of an overhead lamp, a lanky hustler in dirty pants and wrinkled summer shirt lounges across a bench like an awaiting puma. His slitted eyes slowly survey from a face frozen in macho lust. A brown hand languidly strokes a long and full erection bulging down the side of his immobile leg. A fat and ancient queen halts and offers him a cigarette. The hustler takes it, not looking at the beaming queen or even acknowledging his presence. The queen reaches down and casually brushes the hard cock with a perfumed and manicured hand. The long and engorged cock jumps up in approval. The two slink quietly into the darkness.
“Are you alone?” Husks a voice in Spanish from the shadows.
I glance over and out of the darkness ambles a short guy, but handsome. As he silently waits my reply, a warm wind rustles through the trees.
“Not as such, no.” I say.
“Can I sit with you?” He asks, face plain and without emotion or warmth.
“Of course.”
Like a video jump-cut, he is next to me scrutinizing out into the shadowed darkness of the park. We sit quietly for a moment, listening to the faded music coming in on the same frequency.
“Do you have a cigarette?”
“Of course.” I hand him a Lucky. “What’s your name?”
“They call me vampiro. (Vampire) My friends here in the park…they call me vampiro.” He said, lighting up.
“Really? Vampiro? Is it because you suck?”
He didn’t respond to the stupid joke and quite frankly I kinda felt like shit saying it.
He sniffed and then looked at me with eyes all pupil. The lights glittered in those unblinking orbs. He was tweeking his ass off. He began moving in small, galvanized jerks gesticulating in that common meth junky movements. “I run this park, you know? Whatever I dictate, my people do.”
“Your people?” I ask, getting bored already.
 “Si, my people. All the hustlers, jotos, y los viejo verdes. They obey my wishes.”
To answer his absolute sovereignty, a shriveled old thing shuffled past, stopped, and glanced at Vampiro. The old coot licked thin dry lips with a tiny white tongue. Their eyes met and the old man gestured with a nod for Vampiro to follow. The boy rose on command and walked with the ancient pervert into the dark, chattering endlessly of things both sexual and insane.
Surrounded by arcane rituals of perverse acts that would make a Baptist preacher squeal in glee, I rose and made my way back to my guestroom. I simply wasn’t feeling it. And with what has begun to become the norm, I really didn’t feel anything. Anything at all.

Monday, October 30, 2017

cities of the red night

"If anybody asks...I'm at the hospital." He muttered walking out the door.
Twenty-four hours later on the following evening he stumbled back red eyed and exhausted. His bitter face, his entire persona, seemed at first glance completely anonymous. Normally pressed and clean, his clothes were smeared in black grime and the entire left of his side was discolored from water or most likely piss from his chest running the length of his leg of his pants. He smelled of rotten cantaloupe.
I stood silent as he simply barged into the room and clumsily and wordlessly began removing his clothes. His legs and arms wielded crimson scratch wounds and already had begun to scab over. As I slowly closed the door to my guestroom, he let his stinking, filthy clothes remain where they dropped and commenced catatonically rummaging through my open suitcase that lay on a corner chair. He removed a clean shirt and a pair of undershorts. Sliding them on, he plopped onto the bed and covered himself with the cotton blanket. The rancid reek of stale alcohol filled the room as almost instantly he began to lightly snore.
I ambled over to the wooden shelf under the flat-screen television set and retrieved a crumpled packet of cigarettes. Removing one, I lit up and observed his prone akimbo form.
Nothing more pathetic than a sloppy drunk, I thought. I need to nip this in the bud. The honeymoon, as it were with this character, was long past and his attitude had become downright petulant and condescending. I had become used to him and his persona. At times sweet and affectionate, but sometimes the man gave me a shock with some indescribable twist of malevolent ugliness. He incessantly ciphered money from me for the sole purpose to drink. Not just beer, but hard liquor. As of late, he would sit on the floor or sometimes I’d find him squatting on the curb outside in crying jags, loudly confessing the most vicarious details of sexual atrocities that had been committed to his person during different chapters in a fantastic saga of misfortune.
I let him sleep as I remained awake due to coffee and insomnia. Tomorrow it is time to cut this boy off.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

brows held high


On a starry and humid night, I found myself sitting across the street from Hotel Cesar on Revu sipping coffee at Praga café. A slight breeze rustled through the towering palm trees. Even at this hour, half past eleven, the boulevard was teeming with pedestrians and cars. Lights flash across my face and the thumpthumpthump of half empty discos echo out into a debaucherous sky.
Being the sole gringo amid perhaps four or five other individuals on the outside patio, I am bombarded by various panhandlers making their final rounds before returning to sleep or dope up in their warrens. Kids beg for pesos, teenagers and the elderly beg to shine my shoes, roving mariachi bands beg to play La Bamba (I hate that song), old women beg to sale flowers. I sit behind my dark shades with the look of a poker dealer. They all move on. I sip my coffee. Order a third or fourth from the far too attractive mesero. Light a cigarette and unleash a vast grey plume up into that unrelenting Tijuana sky.
Popping electricity and the lights go dim for a second. I shiver as if someone vile and distasteful was staring at me. The lights return to normal.
“You’re the new writer, aren’t you? You just arrived?”
I turn to my left and notice a tall, thin young man of about twenty-three or five sitting adjacent me. He wore a pressed blue summer shirt with tan skinny jeans ending in black and white sneakers. His head was square and the jet black hair trimmed short on the back and sides, slicked back on the top. Thick, straight eyebrows and small nose with flared nostrils. He sported a full goatee around pert, thick lips, yet his eyes were hidden behind a pair of cheap four peso sun glasses. A long, veiny brown hand clutched a coagulating latte.
I removed my glasses. I felt slightly dizzy, like an instance of sudden vertigo. Sitting up from my casual slouch, I attempted to play it cool and answered, “A few days ago. I currently just write reports, though. Not exactly writing, is it?”
"Reports?" He smiled a row of small, white teeth. “Who do you report to?”
“Oh…uhm, it’s not always clear…” I mumbled.
“That comes across like writing to me. Did you move to Tijuana for the boys?”
I was somewhat irritated by this blatant inquisition. Took a sip of coffee, a drag on my cigarette, “No, I didn’t.”
“Really? Well, that was quite a hot threesome I saw you with in the Plaza the other night. They’re very cheap and really a lot of fun.”
My head began to ache. He seemed to fade in and out of focus while the cafe itself remained as clear as glycerin. Casually pushing my hat back, with head tilted down, I slowly massaged the dull throbbing in my forehead. I chuckled, “Oh, you saw that? Are you supposed to pay them?”
“You’ll pay them, don’t worry. A missing lighter here, a few borrowed dollars there. It’s all very equitable.” He drew out the end of his sentence with sinister sexual ambiguity.
I felt as if I was falling through bottomless darkness. I became short of breath and began to perspire. Was it another anxiety attack? I had been enduring them so much of late. They were becoming harder to control. When one escalates in public, to save face, my first thought is to return to my room and ride it out.
“I need to go.” I stated abruptly and rose.
“Where are you going?” He asked.
Gravity felt off. My legs were sluggish as around me the streets buckled and contorted in tiny soundless vibrations. The clients and pedestrians around me, who earlier seemed passive and relaxed, now became brutal and vicious.
“Home.” I mumbled. “To write my reports…”
Without another word, I quickly darted around the corner and down the broken concrete steps to the corner of 5th and Madero and the safety of my darkened room.
Later, I sat in the cool darkness of my guesthouse room writing a short piece for a friend's magazine. Across the illuminated laptop screen words moved around on the page of their own accord. They writhed and swelled like glistening leeches. I removed my hands off the laptop keys and it continued to work without me. As the Hewlett-Packard pounded away, not non-stop automatic, but with a human rhythm, complete with thoughtful pauses, I leaned back against the wall and nodded off to the dreamy, comforting sound of the keyboard’s clicking.
click-clickity-click...I closed my eyes. Pictures streamed by. The pictures in my mind are out of control, black and white, without emotion, the deadness lying in the body like a viscous, thick medium. I am back in El Paso, Texas. In the backyard of Juan Holguin. It is spring and the desert air is clean and warm. We stood in the dusty, oxidized sand of a fenced in yard, scraggly yellow grass clung to the fence post. Huge, puffy clouds languidly drift in that too-bright China blue Texan sky. Juan was repairing the car engine of that old beat up Ford. His pride and joy. I watch him. My heart swells. It had been what? Ten, fifteen years? The last person I had loved. Truly loved in every sense of the word. An emotion that, now, seems utterly alien to me.
His handsome face looks up out at me from under the hood. Smiling, he says something I couldn’t hear. A wave of overwhelming sadness crashes over me…click-clickety-click
I hear the toilet flush. I freeze. Someone steps out of the WC and into the guestroom half shrouded in shadows. It is the young man from the café.
I stand up, “What are you doing here?”
“I had to use the toilet.” He stated nonchalantly, as if he’d been in the room all along.
“I locked the door.”
He stepped out of the shadows. Phantom tendrils reach out toward me, feeling for a point on which to fasten. “I have many friends in Tijuana. A friend is a key that will open any locked door.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I could be your friend.”
I stood immobile. My mind whirled and crashed into a pit of despair. The faint hissing of voices sounding like mumblings down a windy street. I asked in a dead tone, “Did Control send you?”
His chest touched mine. I seemed to be paralyzed. He began to slowly caress the back of my neck. I turned to face him to protest. As if some arcane ritual, he shook some pink crystalline powder onto his fingertips from a hollow, iguana-shaped pendant which I notice for the first time. He casually licks me on the side of the throat, then works the powder onto the wet spot.
His breathing mounted as he whispered, “It was you, you who called me. I knew you needed me.”
“That’s not true.”
The powder dissolved instantly, seemingly to soak into my neck, creating a messy purple and yellow bruise as it passed into the bloodstream. He then kisses me full on the mouth. I fight it for a second, then kiss him back. We get into it hot and heavy. The sound of our passion mixes with the sound of arching electricity as the dim lamp on the end table flickers and goes out.
…the sound of crickets in a silent, cold morning. I awaken in my bed among rumpled sheets. I am alone. I shower, dress, and head out for coffee.


Friday, October 20, 2017

plastic tumbler of tequila

...darkness. Intermittent, strobing light from a naked and dusty bulb below on street level. The sound of arching electricity. Down the hall, muffled moans of a hooker earning her rent. Caught a glimpse of her suitor when I was coming out of the loo, big macho vaquero and he was intent on breaking the bed from the sound of it…
…a grey cloud slices across a huge, milky half-moon as I stood at the window of my room slowly taking a drag from my umpteenth cigarette. Below me the streets are empty save for the trash whipping in little eddies and the bearded vagabond in grimy and black rags washing himself next to a car park wall utilizing water from a used plastic soda bottle…
…three twenty-three a.m. on the crimson flickering alarm clock face, a cheap plastic model I purchased for five pesos at a second hand mercado. The store was small displaying discarded junk coated with a layer of grayish dust lay in chaotic piles or leaned against the faded white paint of the walls. The shop smelled like cat piss. Never saw a cat, though…
…I reached for the yellow plastic tumbler of tequila which sat on a wooden shelf below the flat screen television, took a sip. It went down fiery and calming. Cheap, ten peso rotgut. Took another drag from my unfinished cigarette. The red cherry of the Lucky must caught the attention of the bathing vagabond. With ratty pants to his knees as he scrubbed his exposed and dangling crotch with a wet and elongated palm shiny over the dirt, he glanced up toward my window and with a toothless smile, saluted. I waved back. He nonchalantly continued washing oblivious to the world around him…
…my mind, sluggish from insidious insomnia reeled with a million images. Nostalgic mental pages flipped from the Great Tome of my life. The same thought bugged me: I knew, once again, I was getting cold feet. I already purchased a plane ticket to Cambodia for the second of January. The conundrum was: do I really want to go? Now I am back in Tijuana with the brilliant prospect of attaining an affordable apartment in a city I know all too well, do I choose to fling myself onto the other side of the planet and attempt to build the same comfort zone in a locale I know very little about? The main drive to relocate to Southeast Asia is to teach English and, saving what I can, open a small guesthouse in a decade or so and wile away my retirement from the foreboding and suffocating influence of the United States. Certainly the adventure aspect was appealing as so is the new fodder for writing about it. However, I seriously do not know if on a mental aspect I am capable of doing this anymore. This living without any stability. How did I become so paranoid in my old age? Ha…old….I am not old. However, I do feel it. Tired. Worn out. Like a dab of butter spread across too much toast. Bored is an apt word, also. Nothing excites me anymore. Not even writing. A problem which actually terrifies me to the marrow because that and that alone is all I have left in this self-inflicted, turbulent life. All left as in the only thing keeping me from opting out from this mortal coil. (Which I think about far too frequently) I need to make up my mind.
You may ask yourself, Why? Why Cambodia? Well, it is quite simple to the clinically insane: For the experience. To escape the impending police state of America (I believe soon, in a span of perhaps five years tops, the powers that be will begin killing off large sections of the population. Or herding the poor and who they deem useless into FEMA camps for liquidation. I mean, seriously, open your eyes, it’s as plain as day) If I do go – that is it. No turning back…
…as an answer, I hear a slight drowsy cough to my right. I glance over toward the bed and the lithe form of Antonio – the lanky vato from the cock fight I attended a few days prior – who now lay sprawled akimbo on his stomach half covered by the white sheets. His copper-colored, hairless ass and one lanky leg naked across the bed as he slept. I hear his slow, content breathing. Illuminated by the headlights of a passing car, I notice the small bag of marijuana on the end stable, the half smoked roach buried amid ashes and empty shot glass next to a near depleted bottle of aforementioned tequila. His clothes, as are mine, tossed across the floor. The room held the faint scent of weed, dried semen and penetrated rectum…
…I turned back to the panorama sweep of a slumbering city. I sigh. Writers live the sad truth as anybody else. We, as you, endure the hardships and let downs and the intermittent joys of life. The only difference is, writers are cursed to repeat these incidents over and over again. That is when it dawned on me. I had done this – lived this scenario a billion lifetimes – perhaps it is time for me to set tracks for other parts of the world and endure and experience grand new things…or die trying.
You know what, Dear reader, I will. I need to. I mean, really, what else is there? Nothing. That’s what. Nothing at all…