The wind blew dust and garbage down the long dark streets. The gusts were so fierce, the lamp posts were wobbling - causing the shadows to play against silent lonely brick walls.
We slipped through the cracked glass door of the De Soto hotel, but not fast enough not to let in a woosh of gritty wind. The door snapped shut.
"Hey!" Roared a voice. "Can't smoke in da lobby!" It was the fat receptionist behind the desk.
I turned quickly and flicked the half smoked cigarette out the door. It didn't even hit the ground, zipping off into the gust.
The lobby was a small oblong room with flaking paint, bare with the exception of a well worn red carpet, and faded dusty prints of bullfighters on the wall. The yellow light from the high florescent lamps gave the room a ghastly tint.
We three - Manny, Juan, and I - walked up to the old dark wood reception desk cluttered with paper work and dust. Manny was the skinny, handsome friend I had known for a while, his friend Juan was a squat cholo with a boxers physique - wife beater and khakis with shaved head and gold steel rimmed glasses. He claimed he was a member of the Aztecas - local charter group of wannabe gangsters here in our fair city. Couldn't finish a sentence without the word fucker in it.
A fat Mexican with a lined face full of moles sat there eyeing us in hostile contempt. His baby blue t-shirt was soiled and spotted from sweat and food and God knows what else. He stank like baloney and farts. "Whattay boys need?"
We explained we were here to visit a guest named Kamal. He grudgingly grabbed a phone, dialed - dialed! - a few numbers, "Kamal...yeah...yeah...well, they're three guys here to see ya...yeah...ok." He hung up the receiver and buzzed us through a metal gate. "Go on up, room 219."
We started up the old wooden stairs that creaked under us to the third floor, we walked along the dark shadowy halls on faded red carpet that smelled of mildew and bleach. Here and there, small bags of garbage sat neatly tied outside a few doors. Reaching Kamal's room we knocked.
Kamal answered the door - a grotesque, pot bellied redkneck in torn black t-shirt and dirty jean shorts. I knew him from my time at the mission. He was unshaven with a buzz cut. His teeth were long and discolored. What he lacked in outward offensiveness he made up for his sociability. With loud gaffaws and back slaps he invited us into his room.
There were two old hotel chairs, an antique bureau with a small television perched on it, a worn bed was against the wall with the smelly blankets and sheets wadded up into a corner exposing a sagging mattress. The carpeted floor was littered in food containers and cigarette butts and unwashed clothing thrown about. The room smelled of sweat and dried semen mixed with tobacco ash.
Kamal asked blubberingly if we had it and Manny pulled out a little baggie of coke.
"Awright! Let's get this party started!" Kamal stood up and took the mirror off the wall placing it on the bed, wiping the dust off with a soiled, ratty towel. With a Cosco card, Manny cut out four fat lines of the whitish powder. Rolling up a dollar bill into a cylinder, we took turns snorting that stuff.
First Kamal - it was his room - so, I guess the fat fuck went first, then Manny. I stood there and watched as they snorted the dope up into their nostrils - Juan watched too, with concentrated hostile glare on his face.
I leaned over the mirror, glancing at the other anxious faces lit by the dim light of the sole lamp in the room and said, "No body sneeze."
Juan snapped, "Just do it, fucker, and stop playing around!"
Kamal made the off kilter comment stating as matter of factly, "Man, Juan - lay offa my buddy, Louie. He's my bestest friend - he may be gay and all, but he's cool as fuck!".
Juan glared at me as I inhaled my line in a steady intake, "You gay, man? Shit, you don't act queer."
I just shrugged it off and lit a cigarette. The effects of the coke popped and tingled up my spine and activated in my brain. Everything sharp and clear. I snorted and hacked the residue down my gullet.
Manny cut out four more lines and we repeated the ritual - almost silently, with reverence. We did more after that.
"Fuck! We need beer." Kamal blurted, the effects of the drug showing in his face - his jerking movements.
"What's open?" i asked.
"There's a Chevron gas station open near - we can get a thirty pack there." Manny said, taking one of my smokes.
Kamal and Manny took donations to make a beer run, leaving me alone with Juan. Juan plopped on the bed and I sat twitching in a chair. Juan was still lit from the fifth of whiskey he bought before we found him wondering the streets earlier that night.
Juan sat up and turned on the television. We switched on the set and found a channel playing porn. Two lesbians went at it. I started making gay cracks and Juan just mumbled shut the fuck up. He was horny, laying on the bed, back propped against the wall with one leg up obstructing my view of his crotch.
He lay there, uttering comments at the screen, "Yeah, bitch - eat that pussy. Yeah - like that. Go ahead, put them fingers up there. Oh, yeah, that's right."
"You never ever done anything with a dude in your life?" I asked, taking a drag, blowing blue smoke up to the peeling ceiling.
He briskly shook his head. Eyes blood shot, squinted - feet twitched in amped convulsions. Silence. Another lesbian scene started as Juan continued with his commentary.
"What you need is a blow job." I said. "When was the last time you came?"
"Shut the fuck up, dude!" He snapped, eyes glued to the images flickering onscreen. "Fucking faggot..." He pronounced it 'feggit'.
Long silence as I sat there watching this brute watch the porn. The scene ended and another started with some tired looking guy getting his cock sucked by a coked up blond.
"Fuck yeah, suck on that shit." Juan whispered - head full of liquor and coke.
I finished a cigarette in silence - vibrating off that great coke. Manny always has good shit and was always liberal with it. On various occasions we would meet in bars and with a look in the eyes, we were in the bathroom stalls snorting that shit off of the toilet paper dispenser cover.
Eventually, Juan twitched and mumbled something that sounded like "C'mere."
"What?" I said softly.
He lowered his leg exposing his erection in his khakis. "C'mre, you wannit - c'mere?"
I stood up from the chair plopped next to him, placing my hand on his cock, it was long and throbbed through his pants. I reached for the zipper, but he pushes my hand away. "Nah...nah, just play with it."
I stroked it a few times, going for the zipper. His cock throbbed three times up through his pants. He pushed me away, "Nah...I'm done...I'm done."
I noticed a big wet splotch on his pants. The fucker shot off in his pants! No grunt, no heavy breathing. So fucking masculine...
"Why don't you go wash yourself off?" I recommended.
"Man, you better not fucking say anything to fucking anybody - got that?" He stated, pointing at my face.
You can count on me!
I returned to my chair and sat watching a big, giant cockroach skitter up the wall disappearing behind a framed picture of the sea. As Juan walked out of the bathroom - the splotch still noticeable, flipping the channel to Rambo. We sat in silence a few minutes watching the movie as suddenly the door banged open with Kamel and Manny charging in with several cans of Steel Reserve.
"All right!" I said cheerfully. "About time! What took you maniacs so long?"
"Dude!" Kamal stuttered. "That bitch at the store was giving me the heat about all those pennies ya'll gave me! Fuck that cunt!"
We sat for the next two hours drinking and bullshitting. I sat quietly as they stated how they wanted to fuck every woman that popped on screen in every commercial - Juan even more dramatically so.
Manny busted out four more lines and we all took our turns. Kamal howled his conversations in a drug fueled frenzy. The discussions fluctuated back and forth between girls, Mexico, girls, beer, girls, coke, girls, movies, girls, sports, girls...
Round 3:30 in the morning - my mind swimming from beer and dope - I said my good byes and started out, down the silent stairs and past the fat asshole glaring at me through the lobby. Fuck you, too.
Dark winds were blowing in the night, a train howled echoing in the distance, and somewhere a dog barked. Feeling that burn of solitude gnawing away like a stomach full of maggots. Strutting with hands in pockets and shoulders up to my ears in a vain attempt to hide from the vile gusts, my mind raced, reflecting on past loves. Where have they all gone? This life is long and inside it is getting colder...