The cold and equally bitter winds of fall wash over The City. The sky is a crisp, midnight blue speckled with pinpoint lights of long dead stars. My hands in my black jacket pockets and my shoulders hunched up to my ears, I dart around the corner of an adobe building with exposed yellow brick in a vain attempt to thwart the offending gusts.
Fucking desert, I mumble. Spitting grit from my dry mouth, squinting watery eyes. Loose trash swirls in eddies as I stride past a blue tiled wall of a whorehouse. The neon sign of the marquee had given up decades ago and the building is lit in ghastly yellow from the towering street lamp.
A gaggle of plump hookers stand leaning by the entrance. Their tight, spandex attire fail to cover their protruding love-handles, sagging guts, and cottage cheese thighs. I walk by, they smile through silver capped teeth, mutter lascivious offerings. One grabs my arm, I stop, look Imperiously down on her.
Her face is a heavily made up face of a woman of sixty five or more. The make up is applied to allude the impression she is younger. It doesn't work.
"You wanna fuck me, baby?" She quacks.
I grin, "Why would I want to that?"
"You wanna fuck me, baby?" She repeats.
I then understand that is the extent of her English, so I simply mumble no and turn to continue on my way.
"Yo no gusta." (I don't like it) I say calmly.
She glances into my bloodshot, dry eyes and smiles, asking in Spanish, "You don't like women?"
"I simply do not like prostitutes," I answer in Spanish.
"Why? We are people, you know, earning a living." She states with mounting anger. "You are no better than us."
I realize by her defensive stance on the topic, it was not her first time having this discussion with an American. Most likely with a stereotypical ugly American. However, as with me, she was missing the point entirely.
I began, smiling warmly, "I have complete respect for you and all the ladies of your ilk. With that said, my reason being, you sell a fantasy. However, every time I am propositioned by a working lady.."
At that moment, an obese slob of fifty shuffled out of the whorehouse entrance. His buttoned shirt hanging out of stained, filthy trousers. His sagging face unkempt and covered in a fine layer of grease. His salt and pepper hair receding over a large, misshapen head. He smelled like a compost heap. He actually snorted and spat a huge loogie onto the sidewalk.
I look at the old whore, then nod at the slob shuffling away down the sidewalk, "...for me, the fantasy you sell is destroyed because I know...no matter how beautiful and pleasant said girl is...someone like him just fucked her before I did."
She cackled, placing a small, wrinkled hand on my chest, "Oh, mijo, we are all clean!" Her witch-like laughing echoed against the surrounding buildings.
I smiled broad at her and said, "And I prefer men, anyway."
She actually hugged me, "Oh...I knew it! My son is un joto (is gay). Maybe you can meet him?"
I stuttered and laughed, "Maybe another time?" The very fact that an old prostitute was attempting to fix me up with her son in the middle of a Mexican slum struck me as completely and utterly surreal. I had to dodge this woman, most likely her son was a simpering, sullen drag queen who performed in some dive bar nearby. Nope.
I bid her goodnight and continued through the gathering dirt storm towards the cantina I haunt. I sat nursing a cold caguama amid cackling queens and preening vaqueros. As I lit a cigarette, a drag show on the tiny stage in the corner began. A frail thing of about twenty-two years old dressed in a black and silver glittery gown came out from behind grimy, red velvet curtains and began belting out a forlorn Mexican love ballad. I watched and mused, I wonder if that is her son? Their faces look similar. I thought sadly how rough these peoples lives are compared to our privileged existence on the opposite side of the border.
That train of thought was broken as I felt a hand slide softly across my back. I turned to see a handsome, young man smiling holding a beer glass. Clean and well dressed, he leaned over and whispered into my ear, "Mind if I join you?"
"Not at all." I replied.
Outside, the wind howled and The City continued...