Wednesday, July 25, 2012

dazzling midday sky

The train ride back to the border was a painful ordeal - everything seemed to be in sharp focus and amplified.
A group of American tourists were being exceptionally loud and all I wanted was to kill them. But I digress, I am not a psychopath.
I needed a beer. I hopped the border and made my way through those teeming masses - brown, bloodshot eyes followed my every move - and entered Bar Ranchero in the plaza. Gotta love Tijuana - bars were open almost 24/7.
Of the time of the morning, the joint was mostly empty, save for a small knot of screeching, gesticulating fags and drag queens at the bar. I stomped in and ordered a beer. Taking a table, it was only a matter of seconds before I was accosted by the local ‘buy me a beer, meester’ boys.
“Scattah - let me enjoy my beverage.” I spat.
One of three looking mortally wounded.
Mario entered the stage and sat with me. We sat for a full five minutes without saying a word.
I finally croaked, “You holdin’?”
Under the table, he slipped me a paper and I handed him 100 pesos. I walked into the bathroom - a den of penis peepers, cock suckers, and pervs.
I found an empty stall - closed the door.
Next to me, I heard the telltale sign of sniffing and on the adjacent side, the slurping of some rentboy making rent. The smell of shit, piss, and chlorine wafted in the air.
I emptied my package onto the toilet paper dispenser - chopped out three lines with an old credit card - thanking God it now had a purpose. Rolled up a 20 peso note into a cylinder and snort-wheeee! snort-whooo!!
I leaned back up and asked myself, Why?
Any addict will tell you that it is a well known fact - a tired, long-winded, over-stated fact - that addiction comes from the course of pain and worry.
I scratched my nose - checked for residue.
I returned to my table to find Mario had gone and I finished three quick beers. I struck up a conversation with an attractive, bespectacled lad named Javier and he being quite literary. Well read. We sat and chatted over authors - Kerouac, Selby, Bukowski, Vonnegut, Kafka.
Around 11am, we found ourselves in a hotel and doing that which nature doesn’t abide and I felt nothing. I just went through the motions.
As Javier lay asleep, wrapped around me - my mind spun. I thought of the new book I had begun - this one started at birth and related the story of my adolescence. The horrid parents, the sad school days, the ravaged coming of age. I thought the title fit: Fried Chittlins. Gray and disgusting. That put me into an even more frump.
I lay thinking thinking thinking - smoking smoking smoking. Perhaps I needed a bit of road traveling. Maybe a little adventure through Mexico. I had no goal or plan for my life and that seriously concerned me. My life was so open, so free - yet, so fitfully alone. I couldn’t seem to connect with this human species.
When Javier rolled over, I silently dressed and left the room.
The sun swung high overhead when I found a hotdog vendor on Revolucion Avenue - stood there munching; watching the hung over tourists drag themselves back to the border, watched the patrol cars slowly creep by, the transvestite hookers clomp around.
I stood there under that dazzling midday sky and thought, There has to be more to this life. Is this all there is? I hailed a taxi and went home.
Home. The apartment was near the end of a blind alley that hardly received any sun. I slid the key into the metal door and stepped into the dank.
The air was stagnant and the particles danced in the beams of yellow sun light through the drawn curtains. The two-room apartment was small and grimy. Movie posters of underground directors such as David Lynch and John Waters cluttered the walls and dirty laundry and empty fast food containers littered the carpet.
The bed room itself contained a well-worn queen sized bed with black oak headboard and matching nightstand.
The living room was occupied by a black futon, a small table and a window that looked out into a filthy, garbage littered alley. A dusty ceiling fan wobbled above.
The bathroom was wall to wall to floor white tiles, porcelain sink, and a toilet. The old kind that had a latch you pulled from above. There was no shower - that was downstairs and shared by the tenants. Luckily having hot water. The kitchen had an old, mint-colored refrigerator from the ‘50’s that still ran, sink area, stove, and metal table with two metal chairs. All furnishings could be considered antiques. Slightly worn.
Not a bad place, near Zona Rosa and close enough to the border, so I could walk or make a hasty exit.
Still feeling the methamphetamine, I sat in my room with my notebook and scribbled out a few more anecdotes in my new book holding nothing back - wrote raw, peeled tales of a horrible past.
After a few hours, as I sat in the dim room smoking my umpteenth cigarette, I concluded I had found my calling - but to what end?


NWalker said...

I like the way you describe the bars in Tijuana. There's nothing quite like them anywhere else.

I wish I knew the name of the female bartender at Ranchero. I've seen her numerous times, and another site describes her as "the frazzled bartender, a woman in her 50s with tired eyes and wisps of hair loosening from her ponytail." Good description of what I remember, but I never knew her name. -Norman

LMB said...

Thank you for the kind words, Norman. I believe her name was Carmen. China tended there forever, but moved over to bar Villa Garcia. If you have a link to that site you'd mentioned, I'd greatly appreciate it.

NWalker said...

It was an article about gay life in Tijuana at

I should get down there more often. I live in Hollywood close to the latin gay bar called Tempo, but it is nothing like the bars in Tijuana. There's one in Garden Grove called Frat House that's closer to what I like in Tijuana, but it's a little heavy on the trannies. Thank you for your writing and your information about the bartenders at Ranchero. It makes me want to head straight down there this week.