For years coming to El Paso and playing - I mean working the system - on the state of getting food stamps (Cause once again I am flat broke.) I have always went to the office on Yandell Ave. Easy. Simple. You walk in at eight in the morning and walk out two hours later with a card a-rarin' to go.
But, the times have changed, Dear Reader. Once again the high muckity-mucks that run this fair land had put a stop to that and made everything a long, tired, worn out dredge. I entered the office at appropriate time - waited in line for an hour to be told to fill out an application. Before they handed it to you at the kiosk and signed your name to see a caseworker and you waited. Nope. Filled out app and waited in line another forty minutes to be explained that I am at the wrong office - change of procedure in lieu of my residing zip code. Okay. Fine. Hop on the bus and clunk halfway across town to the "New Office". Entered - not more than four people waiting, not bad, I thought. Walked straight up to the kiosk and was told by the caseworker - without batting an eye - that I would be mailed an appointment. "But, I got no food in the house.", I plea. Bitch don't care. So, I walk out.
On the way back downtown, I stop at the halfway house called the Opportunity Center - a foul and rancid place filled with piss covered bums and grime crusted lunatics - to ask for a food voucher to the Food Bank. Got it. High tailed it to said Food Bank to be issued one measly bag of groceries. In the past - years ago - they would hook you up with all kinds of shit, so much it was near impossible to carry back home. But, no mas. Ugh.
I carried my pathetic bundle back home and prepared poor mans macaronis - macaroni sauteed in tomato sauce. With the a can of the last of my Pabst.
Was trudging down the street afterwards - staring at the ugly and fat denizens of this town - when I ran into Gabriel, my Native American friend. A few days earlier he was thrown out of the mish for coming in drunk - no fault of mine - and was sleeping on the streets. He looked rough. We sat in Plaza San Jacinto gawking at the alligator statue under a bright blue sky and talking of both our predicaments.
Gabriel was already lit. Pigeons would waddle near and he would extend his fingers cooing, "Here kitty, kitty."
"Wanna go drink?" Gabriel finally asked.
"Sure as shit." I said, dragging on a smoke.
When we approached the Bar Sante Fe, it was closed for remodelling. The roof had caved in - but a sign stated that it would be open for business at 5pm. It was 5:30. So, with a handful of other alkies we stood outside and joked on how thirsty we were. I struck up a conversation with a handsome Mexican named Jesus - struck me as a young Erik Estrada from the CHIPS days. He, too was a regular. And there was a collective sigh of relief when the owners wife showed up with the keys to the bar.
Several minutes later, we all took our places at the bar with a big mug of draft in front of us. "Ah," I sighed to Gabriel and Jesus who flanked me. "All is back to the way it supposed to be."
The night progressed and we three joked and sang to songs warbling on the jukebox getting more ripped as time passed.
Jesus started to degenerate into quite the queer and I was reciprocating. At one point he startled me and all that had non-blurry vision by grabbing me by the head and planting a kiss smack on the lips. Nobody cared. Gabriel continued to flirt with the plump bartender gal as sexual innuendo flew between Jesus and I.
Round 11, Jesus, Gabriel, and I stumbled the few blocks back to my flat for no particular reason. We sat on the hardwood floor passing around a forty of Steel Reserve and a joint Jesus miraculously pulled out of his blue denim jacket. The wind up is, Gabriel crashed snoring like a bear on the floor as Jesus and I lay in the bed talking in the shadow splattered room. Hands started to caress and stroke, erections were exposed and this handsome man found his way on top of me as I lay on my stomach. Jesus viciously lunged and thrusted until he climaxed. We lay silently until our breathing subsided.
Next morning, like a good host, I prepared instant hotcakes for the frazzled guests. Gabriel left for work and Jesus and I shook hands and new we would see each other again at the bar.
I sat at my desk, staring out at the hazy vista of Juarez, Mexico spread out across the horizon as the sounds of gunshots and explosions echoed across the Rio Grande.
I thought, "I like this new apartment, it's exciting."