The stars were out and the moon was full and I decided to take a stroll through the plaza in front of the Guadalupe Cathedral.
There was a crowd that watched a group of youths dressed as Aztec Indians that danced to a tribal beat.
While I was playing spectator, two American tourists approached me. Young, early twenties and obviously lost.
“Hey man.” Said the tall, blond one. “Do you speak English?”
I took a drag on my cigarette and croaked, “Fluently.”
“Do you know of any hotels?” Asked the other blond one with a scraggily, yellow goatee.
I smiled, “Well, I know of several. There is one nearby for fifty pesos.”
“How much is that in dollars?” Asked the taller one.
“Oh, about five dollars. But, you pay extra if you want a door or not.”
“What?!” The shorter retorted. “Is it safe?”
“Well, you didn’t say anything about that.” I said heartily. “That’s going to jump the price up to twenty dollars.” I asked them to follow me to Hotel Bombin - a shabby, whore hotel near the frontier. “You’ll like it. It’s clean and it has three channels on the TV – English, Spanish, and porn.”
As we walked through the dark and bustling streets of the red-light district, the two tourists blabbed on nervously that they were travelling from California on their way to Florida and stopped over to enjoy Mexico for the first time. I also caught on that they were meth junkies. Could tell that the first time laying my eyes on them.
Got to Hotel Bombin and crawled up the grimy, white porcelain stairs to the reception where a queer bodybuilder with a ponytail checked them in.
They stashed their bags in the dingy, double-bed room and after asking me several times if their shit was safe, we hit the streets.
Walking down the dark lit Calle Mariscal, it was bound to happen - like barracudas on bikes - three cops rolled up on us.
“Please senor against car please senor hands against car step up to car.”
We all knew the position and spread out on the hood of a nearby parked vehicle. Our pockets were emptied and I was lucky enough to get the intelligent cop.
As my two new friends were being picked over, my interrogator and I had a hearty discussion on my literary interests and love of Mexico. The officer was quite pleased and interested. I didn’t have centavo one in my wallet - “I live in Mexico, Senor, I’m poor!”
The cop laughed at that.
Unfortunately, my two comrades were rolled for sixty dollars.
The two other officers continually pulled items out of the Americans pockets - pens, papers, keys, wallets, condoms, and then a small plastic bag of methamphetamines.
El Capitan looked at me with pursed lips. “Oh, this is very bad, senor.”
I feigned shock and stated in Spanish, “Look, officer - I don’t even know these ding-dongs. I just met them and they asked if I could show them around since I lived in Juárez. I had no idea they were junkies.”
The officer smiled, placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Do not worry, amigo - why don’t you go home. We will take care of these two.”
I glanced over at the two sullen boys. The look of desperate finality on their faces. Welcome to Mexico, gringos!
While the police officers continued to harass the two tourists, I shook my cops hand, offered him a Lucky Strike, smiled and said in Spanish, “Well, enough of this circus. If that is all, officer, I’m going home.”
“Good night, gabacho.” He smiled.
I wished those two guys good luck, waved goodbye to the cops and walked the few blocks back home.