The wind carried dust and garbage down the long, dark streets. The gusts were so fierce, the lamp posts shook - causing shadows to play against silent lonely brick walls. We slipped through the cracked glass door of the St. Jorge Hotel, but not fast enough to not let in a blast of gritty wind. The door snapped shut. The lobby was cavernous and empty. Even the receptionist was gone.
We began making our way up the old wooden stairs which creaked under us to the second floor, we walked along the poorly lit halls on faded red carpet that smelled of mildew and bleach. Here and there, small bags of garbage sat neatly tied outside a few doors.
Unlocking the faded, pink door, I switched on the light. Cockroaches scattered. There were two old hotel chairs, an antique bureau with a small television perched on it, a worn bed lay against the wall with the smelly blankets and sheets wadded up into a corner exposing a sagging mattress. The carpeted floor was littered in food containers and cigarette butts and unwashed clothing thrown about. The room smelled of sweat and dried semen mixed with tobacco ash.
Miguel Santiago. He’s stated when we met the day before Christmas, he was the ninth son in a family more broken than the hearts he leaves in his wake. And there had been a lot of hearts. Apparently. Eighteen going on nineteen, Miguel claimed during sips of coffee at the café he did not have anywhere to call home. He used to live with his grandmother. Had his own room in the back of her panaderia, but that old witch gave him the boot when she found out what he did. That he sucked cock. He gave up his last chance to reverse his curse. He gave up his last chance to stay alive.
Ingrata. That’s what she said when he left that shit dimension of windowless, concrete walls of sad back rooms. A world of monsters and unwanted souls and ghosts. A world saved by a girl who will never forgive him. Can he blame her?
But that’s in the past. He’s supposed to keep that in the past. His criminal mother. His brothers and sisters who might as well be dead. But, the girl? She’s the only one Miguel can’t keep in the past, no matter how hard he tries. So, as he reclines on the bed in the run-down room in centro Tijuana, he thinks of her.
Miguel isn’t sure what he feels for me. He doesn’t think its love. I wouldn’t have him, anyway. It’s something else. There was something about me that called out to him. It was as if we are the same kind of lost. It was, after all, his magic that was supposed to save me.
I lit a cigarette and handed it to Miguel, “You hungry? Want something to eat?”
He took a puff, stared at the stained ceiling. The gloom of the room caused the sparks of electricity in his eyes to go out. He continued to stare and stated, “Do you realize, cells in your body die and new ones are created all the time? About every seven years pretty much all the cells in your body are new. Which means you are not who you used to be. You’re a brand new person. You’ve completely changed and you will again. Basically, you’re already dead…. someone else took over, and it’ll happen again…”
I glanced at the empty tequila bottle on the ratty end table, sighed, “So…no? Not even a taco?”
He smiled, “Make love to me.”
“I rather get a taco. I’m hungry.”
He smiled a wide smile of careless youth, outstretched his arms, “Come here…I’m hungry, too.”
There was a loud pop as a conductor on a lamp post outside exploded and the light in the room flickered and went out. Enveloped in cold darkness, without any trace of emotion, I did it just the same…