I was cold and my shadowy room silent and for the first time in a while I actually desired to go out. I had been mired in a depressional frump for some time and been purposefully avoiding contact with people. Standard manic-depressive crap.
I showered, dressed and made my way out into the street-light frosted chilled air. The dark navy sky was crisp, splashed with a myriad of twinkling stars ringed by obsidian shadows of surrounding barrios and the branches of dead trees grasping up toward a half-moon. Across shattered concrete of the sidewalk, I step over a dead cat on the corner whose week old corpse was now in its final state of decay.
It was just past nine and the promenade on Juárez and 16th of Septiembre still hosted a crowd of people. Mostly heterosexual lovers and bored families. I lit a cigarette and sat on the cold bench to people watch and think. Me being inert of course flagged several beggars to approach with grasping hands, black fingers shiny over the dirt. I deny all their advances. I care little these days for the struggle of the human species. We should had bombed ourselves into extinction back in the ‘80’s at the height of the Cold War.
A gust of wind blew down the boulevard creating small eddies of trash which swirled in locked doorways. Damn, it was cold! I extinguished my cigarette with the toe of my shoe and quickly strode with hands in coat pocket towards the swinging doorway of Bar Buen Tiempo. I stop at the wooden door and exhale a sigh, listening to the muted thumping of the rockola from inside, readying myself for whatever ignorant faggotry likely to be hurled at me.
I was relieved when I pushed the door aside to find that the bar wasn’t crowded at all. A total of nine or ten men sat around the square counter commanding the middle of the large bar. The plump female bartenders, dressed in their best day-glow spandex and hookerish attire largely stood slumped against the bar chatting with clientele.
I took a stool in the back, facing the door. Several prehistoric pedos and doe-eyed twinks eyed me like animals sensing danger, not for the fact of fresh meat but why a goddamn gringo was in the joint in the first place. One of the bartenders approached me all smiles brandishing silver capped teeth and I ordered a caguama. After handing over a crumpled bill, I squeezed a lime in my glass, poured my beer, took a sip. The refreshing drink cascaded down my gullet, I emitted a satisfactory sigh. I lit a cigarette – reveling in the freedom that people can still actually smoke in bars down here – and clandestinely scanned my constituents. Mostly made up of pot-bellied old men in faded white Stetsons, the others were two young queens with their fag-hag, animatedly cackling and squawking loudly as fags do, across on either side of one another sat two masculine, college-types attempting their best to look aloof and uninterested in their surroundings, and the ever present hustler perched on the corner with the look of terminal sadness, a high-ball glass in front with a sip of beer left which had not been touched for hours.
I took another swig as the song on the rockola switched to El Ruletero by Prado. That was when he burst in. I say burst, because it seemed he literally slammed open the door to the bar. Or perhaps it was the wind. This caused all eyes, bloodshot or lust filled, to swing in his direction. If it was a movie, the rockola would had scratched to a stop.
He was tall and lean. Late twenties. His clothes, pedestrian as they were, pressed and void of dust or smudges. Despite the wind outside, his wavy, ebon hair was meticulously slicked back, a handsome face: thick eyebrows, full lips, commanding jaw. Hazel eyes were enveloped in dark lashes. Yet, what appealed to me was his copperish skin color which suggested Mayan heritage. He confidently struts toward the back of the bar, possessing that slight, macho bow-legged gait I secretly find so appealing. Of all the empty stools lining the counter, he plops one over next to me. Of course, he does.
I take another drag and nonchalantly swing my gaze toward him. Elbows on the counter, he petulantly sniffs, stroking an index finger against flared nostril and orders a small bottle of Indio. Adding a lime, he downs a healthy chug and lightly exhales his approval.
“That wind is getting bad.” He says to me in Spanish with gaze still fixed forward.
“It usually is this time of year.” I answer.
The following conversation was in Spanish:
“Do you live in El Paso?”
“No. I live here.”
“In Juárez? Why is a gringo living in Juárez?”
I grin, “I’ve been asking myself that for a year now.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“A writer? What do you write?”
“I really despise having to repeat myself.”
He smiles a smile that could launch a thousand ships, “It’s the first time I’m hearing of it.”
“I write reports for the citizens of the United States.” I state in a monotone.
“Are you the FBI?” He chuckles, uncomfortably.
“No.” I take another drink.
“What are you then?”
He purses his full lips, clicks his teeth with his tongue, nods. “I like people who are different. They make life exciting.”
I laugh, “Oh, man, are you in for a fucking Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!”
“What?” He smiles again, utterly confused from my blatant American reference.
At that moment, one of the two fags on the other side of the counter saunters around the bar and approaches us. Standing between my new friend and me, the fag places a folded napkin in front of my colleague. My drinking partner arrogantly sighs through his nostrils, unfolds it, revealing a scratched phone number. He balls it up and lets the offending tissue fall to the floor. With annoyed anger on his handsome face, he imperiously looks the fag up and down and then hisses, “No. Don’t ever bother me again.”
I shift awkwardly in my seat as the fag returns to his place, mumbling obscenities under his breath.
He leans over toward me and asks casually in Spanish, “Do you want to be with me?”
“Be with you?”
“Not in a relationship. I was at home and simply need physical contact. No strings attached.”
“You know that type of thinking is looked down upon in the homosexual lifestyle of today.”
“What can I say, I’ve always been a rebel to conformity.”
“Can I at least get your name first?” I grin.
Alto means Stop in Spanish.
“My name is Alto.”
“Really? Your real name is Alto?”
As if doing the action a million times over, he fishes out his I.D., and sure enough, it was Alto.
“How did your parents come across with…” I began.
“I don’t know. Perhaps that’s all my mother screamed out during child birth or perhaps during conception...”
I laughed, “Oh, and he has a sense of humor! I've oft said humor is a powerful aphrodisiac.”
“Let’s go.” He stated, slamming back the rest of his drink.
Outside the bar, the gusts became a full on dirt storm. Particles of grit and flotsam stung my cheek. Squinting, I glanced up and down the street, the near horizon lost in a shimmering tan haze.
“I don’t live far…but let’s get a taxi?” I stated, spitting grit off my tongue.
Alto and I wordlessly sat on either side of the back seat of a cab as the street lights displayed strange phantasmic shadows across the dusty windows. The fat driver hurled over every bump and pot-hole at fantastic speeds as ranchero blasted from the radio.
On the corner of Bolivia and Insurgentes, I pay the taxi and we silently stride to my house huddled in our coats in a vain attempt to thwart the dirt storm.
Inside, I light the gas heater as Alto cases the joint. Luckily, earlier that morning, I took time to clean the place a bit. After relieving his bladder in the restroom, Alto makes his way into my bedroom. I call from the kitchen, opening the refrigerator, “Want something?”
“Come here.” He says.
In the bedroom, we embrace, kiss, fumblingly remove our clothes. He guides me onto the bed, kissing my mouth with passion, up and down my neck. Our exposed erections pressed against one another. He breathes into my ear.
“Do you have any condoms?”
“No. I’m sorry. I’m out.”
“Then I’m not going to fuck you.”
I smile jokingly, “What are you? Catholic?”
He slides off me, leans on one elbow, one hand on my chest, “We can sixty-nine. I’ll tell you when I’m going to cum.”
Without any other verbal commands, he places me in position and we blow each other. Long, pleasurable minutes pass as he grabs my head and jerks it away. Hissing through clenched teeth, he squirts semen onto the gray comforter I had laundered just yesterday. His tongue probes my mouth as he jerks me off to a climax. Afterwards, we lay side by side sharing a cigarette. For some time, we lay there casually conversing in the muted night. He is a student of agriculture and economy at the local university. He has a two year old son from a girl he despises. His mother lives in Chihuahua City, hasn’t seen his father in decades. He wishes one day to relocate to Canada, maybe Europe. A mundane life.
We shower and I walk him to the corner to hail a cab. The winds have died down and the street is silent and lonely.
I shift from one leg to the other, hands in my coat, "Alto…you want to meet up again? Maybe for some coffee or something.”
“No. Not really.” He glances down the street, raises his lanky arm to hail an oncoming cab. “I thought I made it clear I just wanted physical contact tonight.”
I grin, “I understand. Logical.”
He hops into the taxi, “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye.” I turn and return to my home. Sitting at my desk, the cold inside getting colder, I flick on my laptop and write this out…