(page 9 of 13)
“I can now leave my wife and live in sin with you, my love, as long as I enter damnation with a full stomach.”
“You don’t need my help for that. But you are safe, Nestorcito, since the Devil himself wouldn’t take you.”
Both laugh, and I laugh at their laughter.
Nestor turns to me and says, “Looks like you need a beer and another taco. Blanca, get my young friend a beer and some more food. Fix him one of those delicious Chihuahua tacos.”
Blanca covers Chancho‘s trembling ears, holding him close to her saying, “Don’t worry Chanchito, Nestor is envious of your beauty and brains.” She kisses the dogs head and Chancho bares his teeth, looking more demon than dog. I begin to talk soccer with Nestor.
“I swear, it’s true the Toltecas will win. I will bet my grandmother’s grave on it, God rest her soul.” Nestor had thick curly hair which he constantly brushed back. His mustache seemed to have thick curls as well. It’s not wispy like a hairy girl’s or too thick like a monster. It’s good, strong and honest. Like I imagine the man to be.
“The Chivas, man, the Chiva’s,” is all I say. Nestor and I are having a beer and tacos piled high with cilantro and cesos. “You are wrong. Their pantywaist of a coach panics. He allows his star players too many freedoms. They are never ready for the big games. He is more interested in dating movie stars than coaching a real soccer team.” Nestor takes a large swig from the bottle and I copy the swig, too quickly as the beer overflows into my nose.
“So what are you doing here at Blanca’s truck?”
“I am traveling to the border, going to the other side.”
“Ok, Ok. I know the score, my friend. So many go. Well it’s the only way now, isn‘t it? There are no jobs, no money here. Politicians sign their treaties. They come on TV and say life is improving. For them, no, Blanca.?” Nestor winks at Blanca, who sets another plate of tacos and begins humming a familiar tune. “No, you’re right to leave. Save your money, make your small fortune. Return, buy a truck like my Rosalinda. Find a good woman, a real good one, a woman that tolerates the failings of a man with love”
Nestor speaks quickly. Each time I open my mouth to respond, he fires something back. The beer‘s fumes work on my thoughts, bringing out a boldness not normally available. I raise my voice, pushing against Nestor‘s. “I want to work to get the good things in life.”
Nestor ignores me, continuing to say, “Going as wetback, very dangerous. But who has papers? Who is legal anymore? We are all criminals in a land where starving is a crime. Be very careful. You are traveling alone?”
I think it a bad idea to mention Litio. The old man is gone anyway, returning to a life of whores and drink.
“Yes, I’m going it alone.”
“Not a good idea. What do you think Blanca, huh?”
“No, young man. Nestor is right. There are many people who take advantage… people have many vices there.” Blanca’s Chihuahua growls in approval. A large blood- filled tick, the size of a pea makes its way from under the dog’s belly. The animal bites at the insect, catching it between it teeth and a small pop is heard as the tick’s body explodes. Nestor sips his beer, and taps his fingers on the metal table. In the distance, an accordion plays, the same few wheezy notes turn over and over, sounding like a old man struggling to catch the last of his measly breath.
Nestor stops tapping his finger, finding the right rhythm to his thoughts, “But you can make it. Guard yourself, your money. Never take it out in front of anyone. I had a friend who was robbed twice, once by gangs, of course. And then by the police. In fact, when he told the cops about the robbery. They asked if the gang got it all. He made the mistake of showing them the money sewn into shoes.”
“Guess what the police did?”
“They robbed him?” said Blanca, a little slow on the uptake.
“Of course they robbed him. Left him naked on the roadside. No, the police are the most experienced thieves in Mexico. The only difference between bandits and police is that bandits will leave you a little to get home. The cops take it all.”
The Other Side continues...