The drains run along the streets like veins clogged with fat. You see someone is bathing when water floods into the trench and rinses the garbage; chip bags, used diapers, dismembered dolls. It collects past my hotel and down to the homeless river camp.
Her lips are as full as the overlooking volcano, red hot magma near eruption. She’s married, I think. She has a child with him at least. A baby boy that just smacked my knee for attention. He didn’t do it in a mean or angry way, he doesn’t truly comprehend those emotions yet, he just thinks he is the only kid in this world and wants me to look at his toy cars. His yellow bulldozer seems a favorite and I must have proven worthy of holding it.
Their family runs this hotel together, taking shifts at the register. Only the oldest son speaks English and he’s at his other job when the Germans arrive. I hear the struggle and approach the counter armed with what little Spanish and German I know. I’m sure they could have whipped their phones out to translate into whichever language necessary but the reason I’m here is to learn and connect.
We all leave our rooms and lie in the hammocks on the patio. I ask the Germans what they plan on doing tomorrow and they tell me that I should kill my president. “He likes violence. He would enjoy it.” The daughter-in-law runs the counter and the grandma joins us, bringing me an Imperial lager. A spotlight and creaking of a spiraling cement mixer fills the other side of the property. She says the family is working into the night to add more rooms. I ask about the shack next to property you have to pass to enter the hotel. She just shakes her head and frowns. “We are all one world.”
Each time I pass I sneak a peak. The children sleep outside in a plastic toy house that American kids would play in. The coils stick out of the mattresses as a back scratcher. Their dog has a six foot leash in the corner to avoid sleeping in its feces. The windows of the shack are shut in by rusted metal.
Many of the houses here are decorated with barbed wire and fence upon gate to get in through the front door. You can hear the families through the barricades and tarps like hidden army camps. A few would be welcoming though. I could knock on the front gate and they would invite me in and feed me and treat me like family and we would not understand each other.
All of the hotel guests lay around on a break from traveling and get drunk and we try to speak each other’s native tongue. “It’s difficult to learn English with all of your American slang. If you want to learn German you should go to northern Germany. They speak more proper there.”
About the Author: Corey Miller lives in a tiny house he built near Cleveland. He is an award-winning Brewmaster and loves a well-crafted lager. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cease, Cows and Hobart. When not working or writing, he enjoys taking the dogs for adventures. Twitter @IronBrewer