south-side of nowhere

And then we ran away. We ran away like roaches run away from a large shoe, like insects escaping from rolled newspapers, we ran away, crossing the streets, almost getting hit by buses. Every single one of us had a scared look on their faces. Except, maybe, for Mario. Mario wasn’t one that got desperate looks on his face for such small things.

So we crossed, like a hive of black flies, and scattered around, into the small streets of the city, some of us to the left, some others to the right, inside alleys now starting do darken. I held Mario’s hand in fear and adrenaline, yet, once again, his face did not change. As previously stated, Mario’s face wasn’t one to change for such trivial things.

The streets seemed empty now, no one was after us. The weather wasn’t looking good, with a sky full of grey, heavy clouds, announcing a big downpour on top of our heads. Still, even with the menace of rain just minutes away from us, the heat did not dim a single degree, like the sun burned as hot as usual on our sweaty necks.

The heat was always the same in Mexico City. It wasn’t a pretty city already, see, and the heat made fumes of the garbage like in no other place. The whole placed smell like rotten, sweat, cheap beer, jalapeños and other foods. Yet, I have learned to love the spicy smells of Mexico, the ones that make the other gringos’ noses cringe.

At that exact alley where I was standing, we could only sense the burning vapors of stuffed onions, big large purple onions stuffed with chorizo, peppers, eggs and garlic. And sauce, lot of spicy, thick sauce, like chili. At first, it wasn’t very appealing to the eyes, since it looked like a big pile of brown mush stuffed into a purple-brownish bucket… still, it was good. Very fragrant also, so I was happy to be standing next to it. And it was cheap, most importantly. I bought one to myself, Mario didn’t want any. I guess that, since he is a Mexican, he doesn’t get the exotic, Kerouacist feeling that I get when I eat the street foods. Also, he was much more annoyed by diarrhea than I was.

Still, this little bucket of spices was hard to swallow, and hot, so I decided to wash it down with some cold cheap Mexican beer. And that is what I like the most about Mexico. One could be a total pauper and still not starve nor get sober for a single day while having a few centavos. With a hundred pesos or a few dollars, one could easily eat, drink an sleep like a third world king of everything.

So I entered the closest bar, the crummiest one on that whole street. This wasn’t a bar for the Yankees, a bar with tacos and sombreros. This one was a badly lit, barely clean bar, so small it only fit a few, 5 sitting on high stools over the counter, and others scattered, smoking with their large mustaches, leaned against brick walls.

I sat at the very last stool, placed mi cebolla on the counter and asked for dos cervezas. Ever since I stepped inside the bar, all eyes turned to me and seemed pinned to my body, like a butterfly to a frame. The thing around here, see, is not that foreigners are not welcome – we are just weird. Of course, some of them had prejudice against our looks, but I was so in rags as most of them were. I was dirty, holding cheap-ass onion in my hand, asking for the cheapest beer possible.

Most of the people inside were bricklayers, from the constructions here and there. Their bosses were rich Americans, white collars that did not care to learn their language. I, myself, could not understand nor communicate much in Spanish, still, I was different – I was poor. Therefore, in the same way, I was just like the others. There were the eventual prostitutes too. So, we didn’t bother each other, and there was peace. That was one other thing I liked about Mexico City: no one seemed to care. Of course, strange looks were thrown here and there, yet no words were spoken, no whispers were heard: you could be white, a beggar, a fag. No one cared, no one bothered.

If one was bothered, he would have his motives. And if he was really bothered, he would not scream – just shoot or stab the hijo de puta in the stomach, let him die on the gutter, melting and amalgamating to the trash, blood to the red dust like the rest of the thing laying on the sidewalks and streets.

I paid for my beer with coins and washed it down. It was so cold so cold, so delicious, it was liquid heaven, as it went down my throat slowly, washing the delicious-yet-cruel pepper sauces and spices. I quickly finished it, and asked for another, asked for a pack of mexican cigarillos and there, gulped down the liquid in one breath, engulfed in the heavy cloud of smoke. Mario didn’t look very amused to be among the sweaty masons – indeed, the poverty that emanated from their drunken pores was disconcerting… Still, I was not bothered.

I was in Mexico, I had no home, I had no one. Nothing could bother me.

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