I sat in Café Taco Lucas chomping down some crunchy flautas on the corner of Avenida Juarez and Calle Ignacio Mejia - eyeing the handsome vaquero with his henpecked wife two tables over - he looked over and smiled - I grinned back, lit a Lucky and my blue eyes all sparkly and the man blushed.
His bitch grabbed his square jaw and jerked him around, “Are you listening to me?!”
Ugh - women.
Pablo decided to show up and looking like Pablo did, his lateness was pardoned - he kissed his wife hello - the cashier/hostess Gracelda was indeed his wife. Nice as far as broads go.
Pablo was dressed in his dark denim and black leather and I nearly creamed my dry goods lusting over that thick, stocky man-frame as he scraped up a chair to my table and ordered a beer and some tacos al fresco, cabron.
We ate as men eat - great gulps of flesh and swigs of beer - laughing at antidotes of wild drunken times of adventures and sexual escapades.
A few of my cigarettes later, Pablo asked, “Hey, guero, have you ever drank tequila called Xuxupaste?”
Pronounced Chu-chu-past-eh for you dumb fucks that don’t know Espanol.
“Nope.” I said, ordering another beer. “Can’t say I have. Is it any good?”
“Ay, guey! The best. Finish up - I’m taking you around the corner to the oldest bar in Juarez and offers the best Xuxupaste.” Pablo explained like an excited teen ready to burst my cherry - eyes a poppin’ and biting his bottom lip.
“Okay.” I sighed.
As we walked to the door ‘where are you going’ or more like ‘donde vas’ was roared at us from that mammoth woman of his.
Whirling around - Gracelda stood there like some supreme Aztec earth goddess, arms crossed and flanked by the condescending, greasy cook.
“Out for a beer.” Pablo sheepishly said to her.
She clomped over and towered above - holding up one finger. “Bueno, Pablo - ONE BEER! Okay?! Solamente uno!”
“Okay, baby!” He smiled - kiss on the cheek. “One beer - I promise. I love you.”
Out the door, the hot concrete passes under our feet. Past the crumbling adobe and the ravaged, heroin hookers - past the piles of garbage and the roving packs of cholos - we came upon a small cantina called El Arbolito.
I remembered visiting the bar with Oscar. As usual, the cantina was populated by the friendliest group of working class guys I had ever encountered in Juárez City. Behind the counter, the bartender was a friendly, jovial man that emitted warmth and hospitality.
Pablo ordered one beer each, cerveza Sol. He then ordered two shots of Xuxupaste. It came in a clear bottle with some sort of large root in it - to me it resembled a petrified hand. Slice of lemon - salt on the wrist. Slamming it back - the taste was bitter, with a hint of clove. Not bad - smooth kick.
Ten more and Pablo and I were fucked up. And we still hadn’t finished our first beer.
A fat guy at the end of the bar produced a guitar and the entire cantina burst into singing old Mexican folk ballads - it was something out of a movie. We all laughed and slapped each other on the back - told jokes and stories and downed more of that delicious Xuxupaste.
Eleven thirty rolled around and the bar shut down. Pablo and I - arms around each other for support - stumbled back to Taco Lucas.
Waiting at the door - arms folded and mad as a hornet - was Gracelda. “Look at you two! Borracho! I told you - one beer!”
Pablo looked at her - focused for a moment, “I didn’t break my promise, honey - we had one beer.”
“Ten tequilas - but one beer.” I snickered.
We both fell on the red cobblestone sidewalk, wracked in uncontrolled laughing fits.
Gracelda tapped Pablo across the back of the head, “You’re impossible!”
Pablo and I were both so gone that two pot-bellied Mariachi had to help us to a table as Gracelda brought us black coffee. However, when Pablo went to the washroom - he never came back. For over an hour, he remained in there.
First, Gracelda was at the locked door, angrily banging on it - calling his name - but to no avail. Then a line of mariachi continued knocking, calling out his name – but, Pablo still would not come to the door. Finally, the police were called to force open the door and there was Pablo - curled up on the soiled floor under the stained and cracked sink with a smile on his face, passed out.
With a splash of tepid bucket water - Pablo was revived and it was my duty to walk his drunken ass the two blocks to his house.
“Fine.” I told Gracelda. “I’ll crash on your sofa.”
“Look at you two! Borrachos!” She shrilled, as I helped Pablo down the cobblestone sidewalk.
Once back at Pablo’s house and after thirty minutes of drunken Three Stooges comedy of trying to get the door open - Pablo and I crept into his bedroom.
It took Herculean effort to control myself as I stood there and watched Pablo drunkenly peel off his clothes and crawl in bed. Damn - he had a physique like a pro wrestler - muscles bulging all over the damn place. He flopped onto the sagging bed in blue boxers.
He passed out again, snoring loudly and abundantly. I stood there a moment, until I simply staggered out of the house and returned to my own lonely, empty apartment.