All the broken streets sloped downward between deepening canyons to a vast, rectangular-shaped plaza full of shadows. Faded, candy-colored adobe walls of the plaza were perforated by debilitated dwelling cubicles and cafes, some a few feet deep, others extending out of sight into a network of dank rooms and graffitied corridors, hidden by rank mist and steam - smells of beans, seared meat, mota, and shit. Catatonic, emaciated whores stood gray and withered in their doorless, diseased cubicles of Viral Death – beckoning with flashes of silver teeth.
Salsa music wailed – cops stood with ominous sneer and truckloads of them rumbled by kicking up dust with the screams of the prey that wailed in anguish – drunk, loud, Americans stumbled in turn groped by transsexual deviants of all sorts - Americans needed it special.
Nevertheless, there was tequila induced vomiting in the streets - the moans under a neon heaven, spattered angel wings covered with soot – angels in Hell they, their broken wings huge in the dark.
Entering an apartment building dark and sinister like you don’t know, we traveled down feces ranked hallways - the green walls flaked like sclerosis. We came into a garden in the middle of the building with an opening to the sky.
Then I saw eight, maybe ten other people who milled around the corners with charred glass pipes and flicking lighters – all of them junkies, rugged and suffering features, covered terminal sick, slick faces with beaded sweat – the eyes alert, the mouth alert - sports cap, jeans, cell phone, glass pipe, meth, worked swiftly on pipe hits, orange flame sparked in the smokey gloom. Everybody was lighting up.
Smoked my fill and faded out, back into the streets.
Old man draped in filthy rags blinked in the unrelenting Mexican sun. His face creased the color of a brown, paper bag and sporting a dingy, yellow cowboy hat. He watched out of tired and rheumy eyes as three, white Ford trucks - Tijuana paddy wagons - hurtled down a broad street, kicking up dust. The dust stung his eyes, yet he stood immobile. Several police clung to the sides as they raced by - dark eyes filled with fear, hatred; caramel-colored faces hidden in black masks - one stared at the old man back, fingering his shiny, black AK-47. The old man stood glaring in apathy - seconds later and blocks away, gunfire and rumbling explosion. Five more trucks careened past, followed by monstrous paramilitary vehicles - street teemed with pedestrians casually going about their affairs.
I stood in the coolness of an awning sucking on a cigarette; backdrop of dusty greenery of park Teniente Guerrero - three squad cars roared by - sirens squealed, scaring the mother clutching baby to her breast, five kids raced behind her crossing the street of kamikaze taxis and rickety buses belching black smoke. Several shifty and dubious milandros turned and hid their faces from the barreling convoy. The police always traveled by car in threes, now - ever since the local cartel executed 46 of them the week prior. Their faces cold and featureless masks of fear and suspicion.
I remembered two nights ago in my room, hearing the ratatat of machine gun fire in the distance - last night the symphony repeated itself down on the corner. Seven bodies lay akimbo in the darkened lamppost splashed streets; blood oozed onto black concrete and vecinos didn’t care. Thirty minutes later, fat cop chewed cigar stump surveying the scene...
In the rural hills of Independencia where you could score for mota, speed, heroin, coke, crack - anything your junky heart desired - fires ran rampant in the shanty adobes across from the school where a five year old boy timidly scuttled home clutching his textbook past roving gangs of cholos, faces vicious in hate, prowled and brandished pistols to deter the inquiring placas.
Yet, down on Avenida Revolucion - the arrogant tourist still lurked, still drank, still danced, still bought that one-tequila, two-tequila, three-tequila...floor! t-shirt that they must have for the folks back home, unaware of the slaughter occurring a few blocks from their reverie. This was Tijuana - my Tijuana - a place that I called home.