“Afterwards a man finds pleasure in his pains, when he has suffered long and wondered long.”
--Homer, The Odyssey
--Homer, The Odyssey
A ticket was bought, a bus boarded, and headed west.
The bus ride back to El Paso was mired in deep depression and loathing.
Through the custom checks and police patrols, through Eagle Pass and down in a blast of desert breeze, warm wind in the face and three armadillos ran across the road, down into the sound of running water (Brown sludge of the Rio Bravo, cabrone.) Everybody on the bus seemed high, laughing and talking at once, swinging around curves over a misty void, and the driver pointed out the white crosses with little brays of laughter and sipped aguardiente from a bottle proffered by a shy Indian cop.
“Veinte y dos muertos.”
“Dos jovenes quemados vivo.”
“Viva la sport!” Ejaculates an American queen, two cameras dangle on his great bosom, extension and light filters across his breast, seeking the succulent young subject with a dead tinted eye…he leans back into the seat and squeeze the light filters...leering at my succulent crotch.
Shift of gears, squeal of brakes, we roll into El Paso, Texas. Here the dream is suffocating, more real than real, the past actually, incredibly, invading the present. It's like you can reach out and have your youth all over again so solid, nostalgia taking solid form and face... but the fraud is immediately apparent. And the horror, the fear of stasis and decay closes around your heart. Down to the end of the road town of El Paso. Black Stetsons and the grey malaria faces color of dirty paper, muzzle loading shotguns and vultures pecking in the streets…
El Paso. Black winds of hate blew through dead colorless trees. On a bleak day, rolled into town broke and stomach ached from doubt and hunger. Stumbled to the Rescue Mission, newly painted puke yellow, water tower torn down, trees uprooted, old Mexican man passed out in mud and piss near the doorway…
Met with viscous hostilities from Juana Ortega. The whole town seemed to scream:
Get out! You are no longer welcome! Go home!
Home? I have no home.
During my absence, my craftiness pay off as I received my last paycheck from the Wal-mart job that I held in Cooperstown. I lucked out again and attained a room at the old apartment building I lived in before in Juarez City over the border in Mexico. Even my old neighbor, an ancient black man who has lived in Juarez since day before one commented, “Damn, white boy! Cain’t you ever stay put in one place?” Other neighbors of dim past, the Amazonian transvestite Lupe LaChata and next door my queeny little friend Rene Nunoz.
The apartment is a clean studio, fully furnished, in a dead end alley behind a whore hotel. Rent's $120.00 a month American. Will get my ass out and hustle up a job. Things are going to get cool.
Ah, Juarez! There is something there you never see or find, in a silk stocking thrown over a rotten teak wood balcony, secret police in a black suit and black glasses, the dull liver sick hate congested in his eyes like toad poison…
The smooth brown loin of the pimp swells and rots in syphilis, albinos blink in the sun, boys sit in long rows under cool arcades reading manga comic books—they do not move their legs as people walk by…
Yesterday, afternoon I was shopping in Wal-Mart in El Paso when I ran into Juan Holguin and his wife. Juan just passed his wife and daughter over the border two weeks ago. After saying hellos and being very cordial, Juan offered to first take his wife home and then to drop me off at me apartment in Juarez. His wife, Maribel, eyed me with contempt and distrust. How was I to blame her after her finding out that I’d been banging her husband.
Once at my apartment it didn’t take us long to get the bedsprings to start squeaking. Man, I am such a fool for that boy! I don't need to go into the sordid positions that I was flung into, I was never the type to kiss and tell, sweethearts. However, after that little interlude of homosexual hankypanky, Juan and I decided to go play pool and have some beers. It was a pretty calm afternoon, until this guy walked into the pool hall wearing a white goddamn doctor’s coat and offered to sell Juan some cocaine. Juan, being his usual suave self, conned me out of thirty dollars and bought the coke. Like a greedy kid with candy, Juan raced me back to my apartment. He promptly pulled out a syringe that he bought from God knows where and shot the coke into his arm. I went ape shit! I called Juan all types of sordid names and threw him out in a rampaging fit of rage. My nerves a wreck from the long trip I just endured, I stood on my balcony crying, Rene, that little Mayan hero, at least came out of his apartment to comfort me. My heart sank and I became bitter and depressed. Why the ones we love are always the ones that hurt us.
What else was there to do? I blasted Girls Are Doing It For Themselves by Annie Lennox and Rene and I, with beers in hand, danced wildly until the sun set over the grimy landscape...