“Here we go”, Cesar stated, “Another round before we all succumb to cancer or swine flu or whatever bullshit causes us to become more relatable as characters” - his delighted morbidity was a trait I, to this point, found quite endearing.
He poured two modest glasses of well-aged tequila, tossed a couple limes in each, and slithered across the hot, cigarette-butt littered bar floor with them - each of his hundred-million eyes were locked onto both of mine. His cheap summer shirt – a too short, wrinkly, white thing smudged with god knows what - clung to the bones of his lanky torso, except the parts where bits of caramel-colored flesh popped out like a broken can of biscuits. I probably loudly swallowed.
"So, what we waitin’ for?” He beckoned. “I don’t got a lot of time left”. I sighed a heavy sigh and felt the cartilage in my neck crack and then separate, releasing what I imagined to be some sort of fossilized, gaseous, tar. Liberated from the innermost workings of all of the accumilated aches of all of the creatures on the planet, ongoing since the dawn of time. Seventeen billion years’ worth of stress had dissipated from the train wreck of a body I’d been lugging around the previous five months. It was a nice moment.
“To heck with it", I croak.
I took the beverage and threw it all down into my insides. Herds of rhino and buzzing insects. In the back of my mind, a voice, That was really a mistake. Sorry, honey, that’s what tomorrow is for. Tomorrow is for dealing with now’s mistakes.
Cesar, now apparently super pleased to see I’d decided to join him on whatever lascivious adventure he’d been cooking up, was already holding the swinging bar door open for me.
Leaving the cantina, we scurried toward a taxi waiting for us in the rain. Its headlamps shone toward the bins. Broken caguama bottles, used condoms, needles.
He smelled a bit like mold, nonetheless his smile was a bug catcher and my entire heart crumpled like a stink bug who lost its limbs to some miserable child with a magnifying glass and a free afternoon. He could scoop me up and trap me in whichever jar he chose and with no hole in the lid, I’d suffocate happily.
The cab pulled up to the curb and I don’t know where I am. He pays the driver with a colorful wad of peso notes and flashes a glance at me like “why didn’t you pay the driver?”. I simply sigh and mumble gracias toward the driver and look around at the dreary industrial surroundings.
It’s raining still and I’m beginning to smell like mold.
We walk for a while, shooting the shit. Catching up. Remembering drips and drabs of how the evening had progressed. Unconsciously as we walked, we were both avoiding stepping on the cracks between the shattered pavement. Not for fear of causing further anguish to our poor old mothers with their leaky spinal fluid (bless ‘em) but because both of us were warned that night that crack can kill.
“Crack kills”, Cesar murmured as he merrily skipped across the stones. He paused and took my hand. “This is me”. It also happened that we were stopped directly adjacent to his ‘living arrangements’. A dilapidated adobe building with peeling, graffiti covered paint, barbed wire, rusted metal balcony. The corpse of a rotting dog lay near the entrance in a pile of soggy garbage.
We enter his apartment – the over-powering reek of mold mixed with dead bugs and dried semen and we watch television all night until dawn climbed its lazy ass over the horizon. As he sat slumped snoring on the ratty couch, I slipped out and made my way home under a gloomy sky.