Life In A Small Mexican Town

You start out thinking everybody needs to be saved, and then you end up fighting to save yourself.

En memoria de Pedro.


Late Sunday afternoon and the dogs are barking.  Winter is over, just like that, and Summer is suddenly a fireball.  Spring is the sort of thing children will one day ask about and it will fall into the same category as the crying lady who walks in the desert calling for her drowned children.  Stories will revolve around those pleasant Spring days, now gone for good. 

Roberto is sitting on the curb with Guero and Canella.  The little one, Canella, should be dead, but Roberto is slowly bringing her to life.  She had a very bad case of mange that left her with only raw skin, but it also got into her eyes. 

A man opens the gate and looks out and says in Spanish, hey, Roberto, what’s up?

Nothing, but I got to tell you something.

Okay, fire away.

You remember those guys I was telling you about?  The bad ones trying to steal all the stuff from the house I’m guarding.  The ones who probably took Manchas because she wouldn’t let them on the place.

Manchas is a cross between a Great Dane and a Tiger and she somehow is a survivor of distemper, but it left her with a terrible case of the shakes and a good dose of pain at the end of the day.  She can barely walk, but is still game for life and protecting Roberto.  She needs to be rubbed at night when they all go to sleep and Roberto looks upon her as his dog woman. 

Manchas is still missing.  Maybe dead.  It’s been over three weeks.

Yeah, I remember, says the man.

Well, the fucking rats tried to kill Guero last night.  Look they stabbed him in the neck.  It was Negro, the fucking bastard. 

Roberto pulls Guero down and shows the wound.  It isn’t too bad, yet there it is, a small red puncture wound near the throat.

They fall silent for a few seconds as the man scratches Guero’s ears and then Roberto says, I told them if they didn’t stop bothering me and my dogs, I’d kill the big one, the Negro.  And once I killed him, I’d kill the other four.

Are you sure you want to do that?

Yeah, I’m sure.

Well, good luck.

They sit there for a bit longer talking about why people are so bad and Roberto says, it’s all about trauma, man.

I can’t argue that, says the man. 

Yeah, it bleeds you out over time and then you get desperate and you spread your shit around to others and before long everybody is fucked up.  The whole town.  It’s like one of those zombie shows on television. 

The man nods and there are horses in the sunset and the patina on the walls speak of women helping men during all those lousy wars.  The terrible color of Mexico drips here and there and the ground is vain with pride. 

Monday afternoon and the day is hot and silent.  The sunlight reflects off the white desert hills rising closer still to the sun. 

The gate bell rings and the man opens up and Roberto is on the ground, sitting against the gate.  His clothes are bloody and there is a bandage on the side of this face.  No dogs around … no Guero, no Canella. 

Fuck, what happened viejo?

Well, when I was at the recycle place selling my cans and stuff.  I bent down to separate the piles and some guy came up from behind and hit me in the head with a rock. 

Fuck.  Why?

I don’t know.  He ran away and I was bleeding pretty good and the owner of the recycle called the ambulance and the Red Cross stitched me up.  Twenty-two stitches.  It hurts like hell.

When did all this happen? 

About three hours ago.

The man turns and goes back inside.  He returns with a little bag of pain meds, rubbing alcohol, a wet rag, and a bottle of water. 

He finds Roberto going through garbage on the nearby corner. 

Hey, man, what the hell are you doing?

The blood is trickling down Roberto’s cheek, neck, and across his chest.  His face looks like a Halloween mask, something good for Day of the Dead.  Big red and black splotches everywhere. 

Roberto’s right eye is swollen shut. 

I can’t see out of the eye man.  I’m dizzy too.

Well, I’m not surprised.  Quit picking through my garbage and sit down.  Look, you got a nice knock on your head.  Sit down, let me look at the stitches.

How does it look?

It’ okay.  I mean it seems tight, but whoever did this didn’t close the full length of the cut.

Yeah?  Is that right?

Yes, that’s right.  Look, I’m going to clean it with alcohol and then you need to hold this rag down firmly on the cut.  Let’s try to stop the bleeding.

I don’t think you can man.  It’s too hot and the sweat is mixing in the stitches and taking the blood down my face.

Okay, but you got to stop moving around so much.  You can’t bend over and stuff like that.  They didn’t finish stitching the whole cut and I can tell it’s bleeding on one end.  You trust me, right? 


Okay, then let’s do this.

They work for about ten minutes on cleaning the wound and the man asks, where are the dogs?

Roberto answers, I got a friend watching them.

Good.  I guess you might think that the guy who hit you was a friend of those other guys.  You know, the ones you threatened to kill?  You understand that, right?

Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.  I guess I made a mistake.

I guess so, the man says.  Killing five guys all at once seems a bit problematic.  But maybe they don’t want the hassle of having you around.  You know? 

Right.  I’ve been thinking about all of that. I’m making a new plan. Yeah, a new one.

The man looks at Roberto for a moment and asks, do you have a place to stay?

Yeah.  On the Ancha, there’s a little alley between two restaurants and I got the key to the alley gate.  I know this rich guy, Pico, and he likes me, and he said I can stay there until I get better.

Are you going back up the hill to that house?  You know, where those fuckers are.

No, I think I’ll try to stay on the Ancha.  There’s a house there and a renter or two and I can sleep on the roof with Guero. 

Sounds good.

Yeah, more people around.  Pico’ll let me guard the place.  Maybe I can get a job in one of the restaurants.    

Up the road a rose seller and his wife, who is pushing a beat-up stroller with a kid inside, are making their way down to Roberto and the man.  The wife has Guero on a rope. 

Filipe and Valeria are friends of Roberto and they all are barely surviving on the street.  Valeria introduces the thin, sleeping baby as Christian.  Filipe carries a bucket filled with water and wilting red roses.  After a bit of talk about how hot things are and how messed up Roberto is, the man buys a dozen red roses from Filipe and then they all proceed down the street toward the Ancha. 

The man stops after half a block or so and takes Roberto’s arm and says, hey, here’s two hundred pesos.  Get some food in you and Guero and then go to sleep.  Those pain pills will help you sleep.  You know the little blue ones.  Take four and you’ll rest better.  Okay?

Sure, says Roberto.  Thanks.

The man speaks to Filipe.  Hey, where’s Canella?  The little sick dog.

Filipe says, I left him with a friend.  She’s okay.

They all walk away from the man, heading toward the Ancha.  Moving slowly.  Roberto, Guero, Filipe, Valeria, and Christian in the stroller.  The vision is one of Mexico in motion and the man looks them out of sight and then goes back into his house to  drink a cold glass of Sotol.   

Dogs and Mexicans.  Not much is changing in his life and there is little to do about any of it.  But then he considers Pete and what Pete said long ago, back in the bad old days:  You start out thinking everybody needs to be saved and then you end up fighting to save yourself.

Pete’s dead now, sleeping in an African hole. Pete wanted it that way and life is absurd, no doubt, but the man thinks Pete would approve of Roberto and how all of this is playing out.  He can hear Pete now, this is fucking real bullshit, but you got to stand up to the motherfuckers.  You just got to make them deal with you.  You can’t back down. I mean what else is there?

For the first time that day, the man smiles.          

10 thoughts on “Life In A Small Mexican Town

    1. Unfortunately, this is only over, when it’s over. I am on my way to the Ancha and my nextdoor neighbor, who is about Roberto’s size, has given me a couple of short sleeved shirts. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled. If I could touch all of these people and transport them to a different, better life, I would, but that’s not going to happen. Too bad. Too fucking bad. Love. Duke.


  1. Lordy Duke, it is not often that I am out of words or kinda speechless, but you and Teresa’s world down there is sounding pretty fucking rough . You two hang in there and may good things find a way to your door . We are thinking of you and if there is something I can do to help you out let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Willow,

      It’s funny that you have asked if it is part of a book or real? I’ve never thought about my writing like that, but you are right, there are tons of books that are complete fabrications. Occasionally, the author says they are “true” and “based on real events”, when, in fact, they are lies. I write “informed fiction”. My words, I think, are honest. About Roberto, he exists, the gang attacked, the dogs killed, the trauma everywhere. Like so many places in the world, Mexico is just hanging on. The main things that keeps Mexicans going are their collective history, family, religion, and a very dark sense of humor. Ideas about death are essential. An acute awareness of living and dying is vital to their minds.
      This is a country caught in the grips of a bloody history going full throttle through the present. The last few days saw a relatively large number of people murdered near where I live, soldiers, police, civilians, women, gang members, children. But, if you look at Mexican history, you will find the same thing. It starts with the Aztecs and on and on it goes. Should we expect anything else from the narcos? I don’t think so. Peace here is woven into a rather bloody fabric, and with the passing of centuries the people have come to live with the killing and the disappearances. Of course, it is terrible and not right, yet it is Mexico and I have always been attracted to it and knew that someday I’d embrace this place. I will die here, just like Roberto and his dogs. We are all living on borrowed time. Thanks. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well thanks Duke… Of course I know that life is hard in Mexico and all of South America. As you say, the history, the culture ,the poverty, the drugs and gangs it’s all still there. I believe it’s everywhere in this bad old world but you have opened my eyes.
        You have a compelling way with your writing even your reply here has made me sit up and listen. That’s a wonderful gift . Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew the dogs weren’t far. They needed their own space.
    In my first novel I imagined that Mexico had become an economic hive of activity, and that up north, in the dystopian/utopian land of the Blues, they used the word “Mexish” to ID the language — not Spanish, not Mexican.
    I figure if the greedy politicians and drug lords would get out of the way, Mexican prosperity would quickly follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that is the dream. Despite the past foreign rape of the land, Mexico is still filled with natural resources. Of course, there is always climate change and the negatives of that for this place. But, I guess anything is possible. Thanks. Duke

      Liked by 1 person

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