A co-worker in El Paso, Texas was taking a week off to venture to Alabama to visit his sister and had entrusted in me to purchase for him an authentic Mexican sombrero to take as a gift.
“Make it real festive.” He ordered in that distinct Yosemite Sam drawl. Kind of looked like him, too.
“Heh, you got it, bucko.” I shot back.
But, how I hate going into those Mexican curio shops - the pushy sales people, the bartering, at which I am terrible - however, I agreed and I am a fag of his word.
After work, I hit the frontera and stomped down the main drag past the dirty Indians hawking silver crosses that would turn black within an hour, past the taxi drivers who knew the filthiest pussy, past the sad mariachis that played music to no one and walked into a small mercado that sold tacky tourist trinkets.
Instantly, about five merchants leapt up, caked dust fell off of them as they rushed towards me.
“Fine leather wallets?”
“Authentic Mexican knives?”
“No, I need a sombrero.” I stated.
Grunting off of her chair, India Maria wearily escorted me into her dark shop and offered me her wares. Various sombreros were presented, until I located the most outlandish and ugly one there was and purchased it for five dollars flat. I would later explain to B.J. that I had bought it for ten dollars. Yeah, I’m like that.
The eyesore was made of faded, yellow straw and garnished with sad, beat, green and yellow ribbons with pink, fuzzy balls that dangled around the rim. It was emblazoned with Viva Mexico! stitched in red across the top. Utterly fabulous.
I paid for the sombrero and as the sun swung across the mid-afternoon sky and the heat began to rise, I started home with my bundle.
Turning the corner on my street, I stopped to light a cigarette, when I heard, “Hey, guero, got a smoke?”
I turned around to see a short, skinny, young Mexican in a wife beater, baggy khaki pants, with short-cropped black hair. His brown eyes were large and sparkled with inner youth, brown freckles splashed across his cheeks and nose. He had a smile like a predator that revealed small, white teeth. Nice toned pecs.
I handed him a cigarette.
“Thanks. Where ya going?” He asked, lighting up.
“I was thinking of getting a bowl of menudo. There is this restaurant that I know and the menudo is quite toothsome.”
“For reals? I love menudo. Let me go with you.” He smiled that smile, again.
“Uhm, what’s your name?” I asked.
“Oscar.” He said, extending his hand.
We shook hands as I introduced myself and we walked the couple of blocks to Cafe Central, a ratty joint - yet, offered the best menudo in greater Juárez.
We sat and talked. He was twenty-one years old and explained he used to live in the States for eleven years, hence his perfect English, but was deported with his illegal parents two years prior.
He could live in the States, he insisted, however he preferred to stay with his ailing mother.
“Yeah.” Oscar began. “You know, I was hit by a truck a few years ago.”
“A truck?” I repeated.
“Yup. I was crossing the street – back when we still lived in the States and a truck came flying around the corner and I guess it didn’t see me. Whack!” He smacked an open palm into his hand. “I went flying up onto the sidewalk. All these ambulances and shit showed up and took me to the hospital where I lay in a coma for three months.”
“Really?” I croaked.
A plump waitress appeared and banged down two bowls of steaming menudo in front of us and then walked away without saying a word.
“Yeah. They didn’t know if I was gonna live or die. I lay there all banged up. They did all kinds of operations on me.” He pulled up his shirt and revealed the scars here and there on his lean torso to accent the story.
“I’m a little crazy. They took some of my brain out.” Oscar confided with utmost sincerity.
“Really.” I said as I slurped down my menudo, attempting my best to swallow these apparent flights of fantasy that he spewed.
This person is cute, but definitely a strange character, I thought.
Several cups of coffee and two of my cigarettes later, he asked, “So, watta ya gonna do right now?”
“I was thinking of spending a day at the movies.”
The porno movies that was. Juárez possessed a nefarious porno theater that was legendary - seemed like a nice way to while away the afternoon.
“Can I go with you? I haven’t been to the movies forever.” Oscar asked, lighting up another of my smokes.
“Well, I’m going to a porno theater. You might not like it...a lot of fags frequent the place and suck cock.” I stated as a matter of fact, putting on my sunglasses and reaching for my wallet to pay the bill.
“Oh, man,” He smiled. “I haven’t had a blow job in like forever. If you don’t mind...can I go with you?”
“Sure. Why not?”
Crossing Park Independencia, I paid the lady the sixty pesos for us both and entered the two-theater building.
The inside reeked of mildew and semen. Several Mexicans youths walked out of one theater into the other one, regarding me with a raised eyebrow - themselves were trailed by gray haired, pot-bellied monsters that fed on their kind. Oscar and I walked into the cavernous first theater.
Once a grand movie palace, it was now in ruins with huge, gaping holes in the roof and great cracks ran along the flaking, cement walls – it actually appeared as if the building would collapse at any moment.
Feeling our way in the darkness, Oscar and I found the balcony and sat next to each other on old, wooden seats.
Flickering on the stained screen was a scratchy American porno from the eighties, dubbed in Italian with Spanish subtitles. Scattered around the large theater sat several Mexicans, some in pairs, some alone, others shuffled up and down the aisles.
Oscar noticed a young guy blowing another a few rows away.
“Hey, look! Omigod! Is he sucking that dude’s dick?” He whispered.
“No, he’s probably looking for his lost contact lens. Of course, tonto, what do you think they’re doing?” I joked.
“A guebo, that’s hot.” I heard Oscar whisper from the darkness.
After a pause, Oscar grabbed my hand and placed it onto his crotch. He was very excited. I unzipped his fly and pulled his penis free of his boxers. I played with his foreskin and the little drop of lubricant that formed at the tip.
With the wacka wacka wacka music of the porno movie wafting through the stale air, I leaned over and gave Oscar a blowjob.
Eventually, he hissed through clenched teeth, “Aye, que rico!” and emptied his semen into my mouth.
“Wow, that was the best head I’d ever had in my life!” He blurted out far too loud.
“You need to get out more often.” I quipped.
As we sat through two movies and four blowjobs later, the young boy had become more relaxed and clung onto me like a little monkey.
I looked down into his face in the gloom, his head rested on the nook of my arm draped around his shoulder, “You know, when I first met you, I never thought you would be gay.”
“Everyone is gay.” He stated unconsciously and with that, Oscar held my chin and gave me the most sweetest of kisses.
We sat there, arms wrapped around each other until the movie was over.
Outside, I invited Oscar to dinner and as we ate our burritos al fresco with a Sol cerveza each - we talked of Nike sneakers and science fiction, fat transvestite hookers, the fact that he had never seen the ocean, Mexican wrestling and the latest model of Mustang.
Getting late, Oscar stated he had to take the bus back to his barrio that seemed a million miles away. I walked him to his bus stop.
“Can I see you again? I really like you.” He confessed, eyes looking deep into mine.
We made a date for the following night, to go to the regular movies.
As people bustled around us – each of us with a straight face - we shook hands, in which Oscar clandestinely squeezed my fingers, and then boarded his bus.
The old bus farted out black smoke and chugged down the bumpy road. I turned and walked away and wondered why I was such a sucker for love. An emotion drowned out by doubt and mistrust from a thousand, nameless assholes during my stint back in Tijuana.
Oscar had no job. He hustled the streets for sex and drugs. A faceless rentboy among the legions that populated the Plaza on Friday and Saturday nights, who ran with a pack of Wild Boys hell bent on narcissistic annihilation and mired in wanton perversion.
What disturbed me was the description of his friends who got wasted snuffing paint thinner from paper bags. ‘Spooking’ it was called. An insidious way to get high, if you ask me...but, I’m getting side tracked. Where was I - oh yes, it was Oscar’s looks, of course, that had appealed to me.
He was a straight-acting, street-wise hustler, yet he liked men. He wasn’t a lisping, screeching, obvious fairy and that was my main attraction. So masculine, so…normal.
I didn’t really believe any of his story.
Just the same, I wanted to see him again.