I fall on my ass and I’m outside, sitting next to Saul and a pond and we’re having some sort of picnic. It’s sunny out and the air is clear, and his black hair waves about in the tranquil breeze. He’s all smiles and bumble-bees and he looks good in his black denim jacket. I try to smile but there’s blood and broken teeth. Saul puts his thin, brown hand out towards my face, says something, but it gets lost in the mirage.
And then a white flash. Back to reality. Raucous noise of hollering Mexicans:
The queers behind me move away from the bar and I get some blood on their Abercrombie & Fitch shirts and their designer jeans. He grabs the back of my collar and throws me to the floor. The air gets knocked out of me and my vision begins wobbling. He kicks and my ribs, get a burn. Someone yells to let me up and he laughs and steps back. I get to my knees and someone helps me to my feet, pushes me in. I put my hands up and try to wrap my head ‘round things. I throw a punch and he dodges, follows with a body shot and I cringe. He steps back and laughs some more, takes a hit off a joint making the rounds. The fags begin screaming and the pretty boys start hollering and I catch my composure and put my hands back up.
Crazy mambo jazz be-bop blares from the rockola. A bottle half-empty with Fundador is alone at the bar littered with wadded napkins and beer nut husks.
Something puts weight in my boots and I stand up and stare at him. Things make sense and I let him strut about high-fiving his lackeys. My nose is clear and my fists are tight. He looks back and seems a bit surprised that I’m still standing, still staring. When he comes forward I fake another takedown and get his shoulders to dip. With his face coming down I bring my fist back up and force my middle knuckle into his nose. I feel it break and I feel the ring rip into his skull. He steps back dazed, and I put a left into his kidney, and a knee to his open jaw when he buckles. There are bones broken in him and I pounce. The heel of my boot breaks into his ribs and the glittery fags on the bar stop dancing. A beating happens and I lose myself again. The white becomes red and the strong becomes the shattered, bruised, and bottom. They all stop yelling. Smoke lingers - grey and acidic - about us and lets me catch my breath.
“Check him,” someone in the back says.
A thin, Mexican man runs up and checks the guy’s pulse. We wait like tension and sweat and I could really go for a fucking drink.
The man looks up at me and announces to the room he’s out. They all start whispering and murmuring in Spanish and it all grows to be a mob of chatter until that voice speaks out again.
“Bring him up.”
The Mexicans part and a kid pushes up a man in a wheelchair, old and hooked up to a tank of air. The kid locks the wheels and gets back in the crowd. The old man waits ‘til it’s silent and then he coughs and hacks. He pulls out a tissue from under his plaid blanket and wipes away some blood, puts it back under.
I’m sweating and bleeding and only came in to make a phone call, but all I fucking want is a shot of fucking tequila.
“Anything to say, Americano?”
I shrug, wipe my nose.
“What do you want?” the old man gargles up.
“Admirable.” And he nods to someone behind me.
I look back and the flash hits me before the bang.
I fall back and I’m outside again. Saul’s lying next to me and it’s night out. The stars come in clear and I point a few out to him, the ones I’ve heard about. He curls up and we bundle up in the soft, Mexican blanket, the engine of his father’s junker purring beneath us, warm and soothing. I kiss his smooth, copper cheeks and he asks me what I think space smells like.