When we got to the bus station in Mexico City Ricky patted my back and reminded me to look him up at Lola’s. I said I would even though I was half unsure what the next twenty-four hours would have in store for me. I was in a new town again, and I wasn’t anywhere near where I was meant to be. The street outside the bus station was vast and concrete and bare. There were citizens all around doing their day-to-day, but it didn’t bustle. It was hot and lonely there. I tried my best to flag a few passers-by and get directions, but my attempts were met with disdain and boiling impatience. I flagged a cab to ask the driver for directions. He spoke in frantic English and told me the way I had to go. Psychically I mapped the hypothetic streets I would need to follow. I thanked him in Spanish and he smiled and held the smile out a while, almost expectantly. I gave him a nod and bade him adios but it wasn’t until I was a couple steps on my way I heard him shout “pendejo”. And then I realised I’d forgot to tip him.
I checked into the Holiday Inn Mexico City with the only luggage to my name a pair of grocery bags with 7/11 produce. The girl at the desk was young and cute and dark skinned and owned an ivory smile that could tame the savage Chupacabra. A bellboy showed me to my room and I tipped him meagrely. I was running out of pesos. He seemed happy enough.
My room was as I expected: magnolia and square but comfortable. I dropped my bags and sunk my face hard into a memory foam pillow; left it there sinking until it accepted the terms of my face’s contours. I lay like this until I needed air again. When I did I turned on to my side I went into my jacket pocket for the business card Ricky had given me earlier. It was burgundy-red with single navy line cutting down its left flank. In cheap copperplate writing it read just his name and phone number, forgoing a title, job or otherwise: Ricardo Alverez, 55 5283 8472. I flicked it twice with my index and placed it on the bedside next to the room phone and got undressed. I wrapped myself in the duvet, once again burrowed, and slept for several hours.
At 11pm I awoke with the taste of bitter and cloves in my mouth. I decided now would be the best time to attend the long awaited mini-bar. I clasped between all my fingers bourbon and vodka miniatures, and took them to the edge of the room and knocked them back. I placed myself on the floor.
As I lay on my side on the carpet of the corner room on the top floor of the Holiday Inn Hotel, I watched out my window the wildest lighting storm I’d ever seen. Supernova clouds of pure energy firing blue electric hell onto the endless Mexican landscape below. Made me feel for the first time since I set out on my journey, truly alone, truly small. Like I was only man alive in the world witnessing God let us know what he really thought of this mess; indignant and unnoticed except by me. He vented his frustrated rage on dirt and rock and things already dead, while the rest of us went on venting ours on trees and animals and air and each other. I just lay there on that carpet in that hotel in Mexico City, and watched.
I started to think of Virgil from back home and what he was up to now. Thought about calling him. Decided not to. Instead I got up off the floor and knocked back another miniature and sat on the bed again by the phone. Instead, I gave Ricky a call.
The cab driver dropped me off at the corner of a road I didn’t quite catch the name of. He knew where Lola’s was, just refused to drive me the door. He said “yo no ir más lejos” and pointed down the street “es de esa manera.” I tipped him adequately and he smiled “gracias señor.”
The street on the way up to Lola’s was a maelstrom symphony of spectacular neon lit doorways and hookers with cigarettes and sexless faces that detailed the horror of the 21st century twilight; and scrawny men in work slacks walking and drinking and spilling 40 ounce malt liquor beers; and SUVs luminous electric and blue humming out frequencies god-like and reverent; and a man bloodied and beaten mercilessly in the street by bouncers all in black. The scene at once shocking and hellish piqued in my mind a raw excitement that rose slow in my head: an ecstasy feeling I couldn’t quite maintain. I had to be part of it. I walked over to the bouncers brutalising the civilian man and watched close with my hands in my pockets. They dragged him over to the curb and began to position him biting on it. “Say” I interjected “what’d he do?”
The men furious with bloodlust adrenaline quickly responded to my query. One black. One white. The black man spoke “who the fuck are you?”
“No one, really. I was just wondering what this guy did.”
“You know him?”
“No. I just wanted to know why you two blockheads were beating ten shades of crap outta this poor fellow.”
His eyes lit up red with crimson hellfire “The fuck did you just say!?”
And before he could follow his response I threw my fist hard square into his hulking jaw. Then everything went black.
I awoke I don’t know how long after, in the road, next to a red car. A man lay next to me, his face an indistinguishable red pulp with white teeth strewn all around him like some scatter of misplaced dominoes. It was the beaten man from before. I think he was dead. I wondered why I wasn’t. I got up and brushed myself down, my jacket damp through from my curb-neighbour’s blood. The two bouncers stood in front of me laughing, guarding the entrance to a doorway. They were a queer motley, the two of them. The black one donned long snaking dreadlocks and wore a black leather cowboy style hat. The other, hulking and white had a sandy blonde mullet haircut and horn rimmed pedophile glasses. He spoke with a Russian accent. The sign above them read ‘Lola’s’. I walked over to the sniggering doormen and the black one handed a card, “Ricky’s waiting for you upstairs” he said. I opened the entrance door. A hand grabbed my shoulder, it was the black bouncer, “I would’a killed you man. You lucky.”