Probably about a month before I wrecked my car I was up on the roof of my apartment hanging some laundry up to dry. I kept hearing this faint squeaking sound. At first I thought it must have been a bird or something. The sound persisted pretty much the whole time I was up there.
I didn't think too much about it for a while but a few hours later when I went up to collect my clothes it was still there. Upon closer inspection it seemed to be coming from behind or underneath a large pile of junk that was on one side of the roof.
It sounded less like a bird and more like a muffled dog's chew toy from up close so I decided to take a closer look. I had moved an old bicycle frame and some drywall scrap when I caught a glimpse of a tiny, furry, white tail scurrying to hide its self. Maybe this was the infamous and elusive "Chupacabra" that I had heard so much about.
Whatever it was it was too slippery for me by myself. I went back downstairs and recruited the help of a broom and my middle daughter Isabel. About ten minutes later we had successfully bushwhacked ourselves an adorable but somewhat scummy ball of fuzzy feline love-fest.
After some baby shampoo, a hair dryer, and twenty minutes of abject terror for the kitten we had revealed the cutest little claw sporting puff of cashmere clad mischief you've ever seen. It was like a super soft patchwork micro-Don King on meth. I dubbed it "Wolverine" because of its razor sharp retractable kitty claws.
I bought all the requisite sanitary, gastronomic, and recreational goodies necessary to properly maintain a hyperactive one month old X-cat. It was potty trained in, literally, a matter of hours. My daughters really loved it. I really loved it... Teresa really didn't.
If I had to guess I would say that, at some point in her early childhood, Tere may have tried to love a cute little kitten and been denied the opportunity. She was really quite horrible to it right off the bat. She would try to scare it a lot and kept putting it outside. It was way to young to fend for its self.
In retrospect I suppose she may have maltreated my mascot as a way to express her anger towards me and my, by now, obvious drug abuse. It's hard to hide when your nodding off at the dinner table. Falling up the stairs. Ten second pause between question and answer.
After three days and four rooftop rescues I came home one night and my little bundle of joy was gone. When I asked the girls where the cat was they would look at the ground and, in an obvious lie, say that they didn't know... in whisper like voices.
The night before I had told Teresa not to put the cat outside. I had said it was too young to survive on its own and that it would be better for her to drown it in the toilet than to let it slowly starve to death under a pile of trash. The Devil herself harbors no tempest like a Mexican woman scorned.
By this time I had been sleeping on the couch for a couple of months. As the frequency of my drug use increased there was a simultaneous and proportionally inverse decline in the quality of the relationships that I had with my wife and daughters. I had free-fallen from having lots of great sex to celibate couch surfing in a very short time.
Around a week later I was on my way to El Paso to run my little scam. Someone had parked a fifty gallon steel drum, which served as our trash can, right behind my car. When I went to move it I got blasted in the face by the unmistakable aroma of decay. There was only one bag of trash visible in the bottom of the can. To satisfy whatever morbid curiosity was lurking inside me I removed the bag of trash.
There in the bottom of that partially rusted out, dented, blue steel drum was a single white plastic grocery bag with something really bad smelling inside of it. I picked up a stick off the ground and used it to work open the bag. I put my hand over my nose and mouth and started to tear up immediately upon seeing the soaking wet, lifeless, and decomposing little ball of previously frisky angora affection that I had given a name to only a week before.
My tears froze on my cheeks as my heart grew cold with sadness and then vaporized instantly to steam as the tenant melancholy was evicted by rage. I was kidding damn it. I was trying to make a point that she should be nice to the kitty... and she knew it.
The poor pathetic orphan that wanted nought but a little food, water, catnip, and petting, had been mercilessly slain. Probably drowned in the same toilet where we all shat... The toilet that I paid for.
Great... my wife had turned into Vlad the freaking impaler. Damn her... damn her to hell. How could my beautiful, gentle, kind, and simple soul mate do this? How could she hold that minute struggling life under water till it lived no more. It had fit in the palm of my hand...
I was, by this point, already so completely overwhelmed with sadness and despair, due to the crumbled ruins of everything I had tried to accomplish, that I kind of snapped. I turned around and purposefully marched back upstairs. "Her Evilness" was in the bathroom.
I turned on my heels and headed back down again. I picked up the same stick that I had used earlier and pulled the wreaking little body bag from its resting place and returned to the apartment. It smelled unbelievably nasty.
I walked past the girls, who were sitting on the couch watching T.V., and opened the bathroom door. Teresa was on the toilet... I stared at her for a second with the most disgusted and angry face I could muster. I then choked out a sob, tossed the tiny cadaver at her feet, and said "nice work baby... real nice work". I shut the door and walked away... crushed.
Over the next few days she would tell me several different variations of the same excuse. All attempting to absolve her of any wrong doing... all bull crap. I could tell that she felt really bad about it though.
Well... now that I have played out my Kabuki theatre of fury, fluffy, and flotsam... let me say this. My wife is a wonderful person. She is kind and gentle to the point of absurdity by nature but has had a very difficult childhood. Allow me to explain.
Teresa was born and raised by uneducated parents. She was brought up in a tropical jungle amongst monkeys, parrots, and horse mounted paramilitary rebels. Running amok amidst mayan pyramids.
She was part of a very large and very poor family. She herself had only one year of schooling. She can read but she can't write. She signs her name non-cursively on par with a first grader. She is wicked smart. She left Yucatan alone at age fifteen for Tijuana.
One night shortly after we were married we were making love. I was sucking on her toes when I noticed that she had a series of small round scars both on the tops and bottoms of both feet. Obviously curious I inquired as to the nature of the scars. I don't know how I had missed them before. The story that followed sent an icy chill up my spine.
Apparently when she was young. Around five or six years of age. She had gone out to play... Maybe a little to far away. I guess in an attempt to teach her the importance of... No... No No No... You know what, I'm sorry, but there is just no good reason on God's green earth to nail a small child's feet to the floor... or an adult's... or an animal's... ever... NEVER... She has four or five through and through nail scars on each foot. I don't know if they are the result of multiple incidences or just one... I couldn't ask. I don't think I want to know.
I guess that my point here is that I don't hold what she did to the cat against her. I was angry, as was she, and I reacted poorly, as did she. I love both her, and her daughters, ad infinitum. So much so that I can barely stand it. They are an extension of who I am... without whom I am little more than the inanimate shadow of a fine sculpture.
After wrecking my car I was left with something of a conundrum. My previous, devious, money making methodology would no longer be feasible. I had to come up with a new and improved junkie friendly fashion of garnering government greenery... and fast. Brigandage?
I sat. I thought. I came up with a brilliant idea. I mean hell... lots of other people were doing it right? Why couldn't I? The next day I put on my "most poorest" looking clothes and rode my bike to the border line.
I wasn't missing any limbs nor did I have any extra... but my mom once kissed the Blarney Stone. Basically I told a temporally condensed version of the truth. I had come to fix my wife's papers, blah blah blah, I had crashed my car, blah blah blah, could you please help me out.
I made money so fast that it created an air of resentment among the locals. I was the only "guero" there and I wasn't disabled. I didn't have anything to sell. I was just asking people for money.
After a couple of hours I was approached by a young man. He introduced himself as "Pich", pronounced peach, and asked me what I was doing. I gave him the same story that I was giving everyone else minus the can you help me out part.
He proceeded to explain to me that new people weren't allowed to work on the bridge because then everyone in Juarez would be there. He said that normally they would just kick my ass and take my money but that, seeing as how he had just recently had a daughter himself, he understood and he, and his friends, would back me up if anyone gave me any trouble.
He had spent most of his young life in Denver and spoke near perfect english. He asked me if I wanted to go and smoke a joint with him and his friends. Yah, I said, sure why not. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about it but they turned out to be really nice. Best of all, being as they were gang-bangers and they had my back, no one would mess with me.
"The Bridge of the Americas", as it is called, is the second of three bridges that connect El Paso and Juarez. On the Juarez side there are initially four lanes of traffic that split into eight lanes on the U.S. Side just after the apex. The actual boundary line is in the middle of the bridge.
It is illegal to stand in traffic and beg or sell things on both sides but it is only regularly enforced on the U.S. Side. Lots of people in Mexico squeak out a living in this manner. On a good day the line can be a mile long and take three or more hours to get through. A good beggar, who doesn't have to leave for an appointment at a "picadero", can do all right working like this.
On the Mexican side you just have to watch out for the cops and you will be all right. If you do get caught a small bribe of around ten dollars is usually enough to get you out of the "paddy wagon". Unless your a "gringo".
Sometimes they would take everything and sometimes they wouldn't take a bribe. I went to jail overnight a couple of times and spent quite a few hours in the backs of pick up trucks with metal camper shells. At least they don't handcuff you or take your cigarettes. In Mexico they call handcuffs "esposas" which means wives.
And so I it was. I would go down every morning and swim around like some kind of freakish jellyfish through a slowly creeping current of un-smogged metallic brine. My dual, nematocystic, prestidigitational, tentacle like clapperclaws, craftily ensnaring mini magic carpets to whisk me off to my personal chocolaty hell.
For about three months I paid the bills and bought food, cable, school supplies, and medicine in this way. Medicine "meta-sin" why fore art thou meta-sin. What pitch through yonder barred windows doth wreak. Consuming all and thus sewing havoc in your turbulent wake of sleep.
Sorry I get really easily sidetracked... Anyways the problem with the bridge was that on week days probably about 85% of the people going through it were commuters. The same frustrated impatient faces every day. I burned them out pretty quick.
This is when I first became friendly with the Mexican public transportation system. The bus system in J-town was great. There were almost no bus stops. You just stuck your arm out and waved at the driver and they would usually stop. When you wanted to get off you said stop please. All this for around forty cents.
They are a sight to see. All those 1980's school busses. Color coded exteriors to define routes. Decorated "cowboy kitsch" on the inside. The drivers area surrounded by vinyl "rodeo-esque" fringed and sparkly sun screens. Tassels. Quadrophonic music machines blasting "Tejano" and you can drink a beer on board without a hassle. Goats, chickens, and dogs.
I would take the bus to "El Refuego" to cop my dope. That's when I met Jerry. Jerry was the other guy with one eye.
Jerry didn't have an empty eye socket. He was fortunate enough to have been in the U.S. When he got his head bashed in by a crowbar. Surgeons had replaced his eye with muscle tissue from his ass. The other guy had gotten shot in the head and lived.
Jerry was born in Juarez but had spent most of his life in Oakland, CA. He spoke english without a mexican accent. He lived only about a block and a half from "El Refuego" so we used to hang out together.
Having used up all of the charity from the "Free Bridge" I started going into El Paso again.
I would run the same con but I would do it in strip mall parking lots. Ten and twenty dollar bills were not uncommon.
Then I met this homeless dude named "Diamond". Diamond was probably in his mid fifties. He was about five foot five, of slim build, with longish grey hair. Diamond taught me how to fly a sign. It payed even better.
From then on I would alternate between standing on the corner with a sign and working strip mall parking lots. By april 2008 I was making about forty to fifty dollars a day, sometimes much more, and most of it was going towards drugs.
By this time my relationships with my family was almost nonexistent. We still loved each other very much but I couldn't quit the heroin. That plus the fact that Teresa still had five years to go before she could legally re-enter the U.S. By that time all three of the girls would be too old to bring in.
I decided to try the only heroin detox center in El Paso. It was called Trinity. It was a one week program but I only lasted three days. I thought I could do it on my own but as soon as the medication wore off I was at it again.
In may of 2008 Dona Carolina came over one night and told us that we had to move out at the end of the month. Apparently her nephew's family needed a place to stay and had the money to pay for rent. Blood is thicker than water.
I couldn't come up with enough money to cover rent and deposit in a new apartment. I gave Teresa all the money that I had so that she could go and at least rent a room for herself and the girls. We were all very sad but it was inevitable.
That was that. On the third day of June 2008 Teresa, Berenice, Isabel, and Lily walked out the door. Of course I told them to take everything that they could. That was the worst day, the saddest day, I've ever had in my life. It's been almost two years now since they left and not a single day has past when I haven't cried. I miss them so much... please excuse me for just a moment.
I would see them all together only once more after that day. They came back to the apartment six days later on the ninth of june with a birthday cake. Berenice's birthday is june eighth and mine is the ninth. On that day the deed to my soul was foreclosed upon.
We had some cake, some hugs, some tears, and said goodbye. I watched them walk away until I couldn't see them anymore. I haven't seen the girls again to this day. One week later I moved in with Jerry and his dad "Chito"
yah... I had my own little world for a while. It was perfect but it was fragile. Like a soap bubble that went "POP" and turned into a drop. Then it dripped and I stepped in it and slipped and fell and I landed in Hell. They say that's forever... oh well... whatever.