Prelude: The Blessing
Motels across the line, la Lina, can hide a hombre in a healthy measure of anonymity. This is a curse for the man who was given as a child to the land.
Inside the filthy tiny room, the air was soupy and smelled of sweet urine. The ceiling fan, absent one of four blades, clattered and shook in violent fits in a thumping staccato. The tempo was in euphony with his pulse.
Sweat beaded on his gritty forehead and gathered around the wrinkles under his eyes. A ring of moisture wicked from his neck onto his collar. It provided him the only small touch of coolness against his neck.
The temperature was locked in at 110 degrees at 4:00 in the afternoon. The air baked. And the sun continued its brutal lashing against the peeling stucco, belt-whipping the dirt and concrete. The venomous heat was the stinging tip of the slaves’ whip that would not temper down. The coil of the slash holds onto the common sense of any man who walks to the corner bar before 9 or 10 p.m.
He gripped the neck of the Jimador Blanco tequila bottle. His enlarged pupils were midnight black. With the conviction of a stoic judge, he blurted out, “It’s time.” He stared down the length of his pressed white shirt at the mouth of the bottle. His arm was stretched out as if he was handing the tequila to someone. But no one was there. He folded his arm back into his chest, lifted the bottle to his lips, and, with a careful kiss to the rim, he chugged the remaining contents. He tried to focus on the empty bottle and pitched it overhand into the corner of the room. The shattering glass was a ghostly reminiscence of wild parties hosted in the room.
He picked up his holster from the filthy grey Formica kitchen table. He unclipped the retention strap, slid the pistol from its black leather pouch, and pointed the barrel towards his carefully opened mouth. The smooth-bore muzzle tapped against his top front teeth. He exhaled and salty gunpowder bit into his pallet. He firmed his grip around the weighted handle. He slid his index finger slowly around the curvature of the trigger.
The Mexican police would find him sprawled on the hard-packed dirt floor in this grimy three-peso motel room — a través de la línea. He murmured a mantra that found him during the past three days, “It is all lost. It is gone.” He gazed down the barrel and caught a glimpse of a cockroach scurrying over a large clump in the plaster. He dropped his gaze as if drawing focus through his third eye. With a hard exhale, he tightened his stomach. Against his upper lip, he felt the beveled cite. He declared, “This is all for you, my dear.” Like a good Catholic altar boy, he prayerfully lowered his gaze and tutted a final breath.
He squeezed the trigger while tenderly holding the authority that he had when he pulled his sweet cariñó close for a kiss when they first met. The pistol cylinder rotated, ever — so — slowly. The hammer clapped against the firing pin. His head jetted backward. But there was no burst. Just the echo of a lonely clap slapped against the walls. Metal on metal. The pistol failed to eject. Deadened silence folded into the center of the room.
He gasped. He lowered to the floor onto his knees as the pistol fell to his side. A tear slid from the corner of his eye and traced an avenue down his cheek. A lump swelled in his throat. She was gone. There was nothing he could do about it. And he finally arrived at the end of his path. He lifted his eyes and welled with rage. Shaking his fists, he cursed at the top of his lungs “Chinga! Chinga La Madre Maria!”
But God did not hear him that day. He did not respond. So he crumpled on the floor and sobbed.
(c) 2019-2022, Ron McFarland – All Rights Reserved