Even though it being the eighth of March with the hope of oncoming spring, the skies were a mottled grey which only prolonged the unrelenting freezing winter. I decided to alleviate my current malady of obsessing over my early demise with a simple cure: a cup of coffee.
However, not simply any cup of coffee would do, of course, but a fine cup at a decent café. As I shuffled over the shattered sidewalks of this decaying city, the cold winds chilled me to the marrow and I had to admit, I was feeling somewhat hungry. Around me lay the visage of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The City always held the appearance of what the world would look like after an atomic war – vast panoramas of rotting, crumbling buildings, heaps of mortar and trash congested bricks. Dead dogs, cats, and human feces scattered about great rubbly lots rimmed with bent telephone poles. Antique school buses leftover from the 1950’s chugged by coated in a fine layer of white dust – sad, brown faces stare out at me through cracked and broken windows. In a vast concrete park, several boys play futbol yelping and hollering. Two lovers sit on a chipped marble bench and stare silently into each other’s eyes. I glance up at the skeletal trees and grin as I notice the tale-tell signs of buds forming on the long, spindly branches. It will be warm soon.
I entered downtown and slithered through the congested promenade on 16th de Septiembre, the locals were out in mass. Along with a legion of vendors, shoe shine boys, and sellers of glistening, soot covered concessions. Several live bands positioned at intervals along the lengthy way wailed various styles of music ranging from standard ranchero to 60’s oldies to big band bebop – all competing with the obligatory asshole with a bullhorn screaming about Jeeeeeeesssussss on the cathedral steps…so it goes.
I dart into the dusty glass fronts of Café Central. It too was congested with Saturday afternoon revelers. The long hall was a cacophony of polite chatter, clinking utensils, and the roller-rink type music emitted from an enormous jukebox next to the cashier. I sat at the long, curving counter and ordered caldo de res.
As I waited for my order, I utilized the massive mirrors which lined the walls just below the ceiling to observe the deluge of life around me. Laughing, chatting locals communicated their ideas and passions to one another with such vitality. Why can I not be like them? Why have I alienated myself so far from the simple pleasures of humanity? On an emotional level, I had successfully pulled all the wires and become such a passionless robot. I leered at the animated people around me - how I envied them.
I suppose what really upset me and brought on this chain of dubious thought was I have begun work on my next novel. The quirky love affair between William Burroughs and his wife Joan which resulted in him putting a slug in her forehead. The only problem being, I’m penning it as a love story. How am I to write that? In all sincerity, it has been so long since I have loved anything, I have forgotten what it feels like. Honestly. And the back memories on past relations pulls up black blanks in my mind. How am I to write on something I do not attain any memory of?
I quickly ate my food and stepped out into the bustling streets. I still wanted a coffee, so I made my way over to Café 656. I pushed open the door and was met with silence. There was no one there. I had thought perhaps owner Coco was in the restroom or in the back washing dishes, so I sat at a table and waited. And waited. An entire hour passed. I was becoming concerned by the fact that she would simply leave the café unattended. Her laptop sat on the counter, the lights were on. During my wait, several other customers entered. Two elderly women on canes wobbled in and attempted to make pleasant conversation. One of the plump women stated she was returning a book she had borrowed from the shelves. I explained I had no idea where Coco was and on how I found the café empty.
Mario, a mustachioed street singer – his shtick was to peruse the cantinas and strum ballads on a guitar for pesos – entered and inquired the whereabouts of Coco. He too became alarmed. With luck, he had her number on his cell and gave her a buzz. He eventually stated, she stepped out to make copies and was in her car returning to the café.
“They must’ve been some damn important copies to leave the store open like this.” I quipped.
At that moment, for some reason, one of the fat old women slipped off her seat and tumbled onto the floor. She lay there a moment like an overturned crab with flailing arms and legs as her friend and Mario dashed to her aid. I stood there impassively and didn’t care. I simply wanted some fucking coffee. After a brief moment of awkward mumblings, the women excused themselves and left. Mario stated something about being hungry and he too left. A couple of young girls entered and sat. They looked at me and ordered cappuccinos each with cheese cake. I simply ambled behind the counter and began preparing cappuccinos.
At that moment, Coco bursts in demanding how I got into her café. I simply stated that I pushed the door open and entered. She insisted on that the door was locked and I asserted that it wasn’t. I had enough of this drama and explained the two customers order and sat with my cup of coffee. An hour and a half late. I still believe she was under the assumption that I broke in somehow. I sat and watched the people outside. Happy and set in their ways. And then my mind began to drift into the realization that I need to escape from this city…not to escape this life on account that my life is abundant with strange and wonderful things. I seriously desire to return to Tijuana. The only place in all my myriad travels I ever thought as home. There are too many painful memories here. I want to return and live, not merely exist, and write about it. Convey my passions to other like minded cohorts.
You see, I’ve come to realize there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. As writers, that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.