Empty beer cans bouncing on the backseat, a collage of cigarette burns and an orange ash on the floor mat, thick plumes of sticky marijuana drifting out tinted windows, an asshole decided to run me off the road. It all began as a simple misunderstanding--flashing high-beams in order to ascertain an approaching curve on a Mexican highway decorated with crosses and fresh flowers and little wooden chapels draped with tears. Candle-flickering houses with wax-coagulated moats and the image of Jesus Christ amid an obstinate ocean breeze.
Cuervo Peligroso warnings guided my White Pigeon. Bloodshot sclerae squinting into paradisiacal carretera, as cold confusion rising from headlights and moonlit dust freckled the cracked windshield. Kilometer speed limit signs mean nothing to a Gringo. Pendejo refused to let me pass, slowing then swerving between lanes as if he were some redneck behind the steering wheel of a NASCAR clunker, holding up the pack behind me.
Unfamiliar with the exits of the carretera, the crazies of a foreign country, the nothingness that befalls a road rage victim during the darkest ides of an innocuous drunk drive. I hit the gas to pass, but the asshole only let others through. High-beams in a midnight fog were responsible for my DUI, but that was in the United States, not Mexico; where drunk driving is a heartless art, and a full-contact sport. Eighteen kilometers of road rage and moronic anti-American sentiments made the music of beer cans less mellifluous. I did not finish my open container. No need to make things worse.
Stamped out the orange melting into the carpet fibers--but that was the least of my problems. Brake dancing with a fool: what a way to die. It was a perfect day and now would end with a machete decapitation, but I was way too drunk to worry about that. Driving inebriated is something that young people often do better than seasoned alcoholics. Something about the senses being brighter, the instincts and reflexes and stubborn confidence: that one can and often does drive better while under the influence.
Diffusing the situation was my priority. Which meant getting rid of this asshole and avoiding any altercations--any involvement with the Policía or Federales. In my rearview mirror I see time moving backwards; faster than the rhythm of the Pacifico cans colliding with each slam of the brakes, people behind me are honking, and I drift into the opaque mirror of time floating in reverse…
I see the tangerine fuzz of an orange setting sun, the afternoon with my amigo Arturo; teeth rotting out of his mouth, yellower than the Mexican moon so close you could eat it. We spend the day at the beach, drinking, swimming, walking the dogs. Arturo making them chase behind his Volvo. We were approaching utopia. All was wonderful.
But never enough time for reflection. Need to keep looking forward. Cabo San Lucas is approaching and the city lights all glowing and drunk and daring for an escape. The asshole is not letting anybody pass, and we trail him, but there is only one person he is after, and this becomes obvious when we stop for the first time at the four-way intersection leading into town. There is no way to go because I am boxed in, and drunk besides. Not going to run a red light or perform some other peculiar maneuver and get hauled to jail with the drunks who cause accidents.
The asshole releases verbal excrements in rapid-fire Spanish, and my only instinct is to offer some money, some financial amends for the high-beams which meant no harm. Pinche pendejo güey. Puto madre. We are side by side and I am shaking the twenty-dollar-bills in my fist with the inertia of a degenerate and desperate Gringo beneath a stripper pole. I am sweating beer through freshly-sunburned skin. The centrifugal force of our engines and two bodies in motion is something magic that makes us unable to separate. My gesture of American money only makes him angrier, and looking back, this might not have been the wisest decision.
The asshole backs up and aims his vehicle at mine. The light is still red. Time has stopped moving and life is passing in slow-motion. I wonder whether death will be fast. The beer cans are begging to bounce. This is my moment to escape, to do something courageous and necessary. I do not flinch as he smashes the car into me. Broken glass echoes in sticky ears. The dashboard spits out a crimson kaleidoscope warning. My engine stalls and dies. A pungent acidic collage of hot fluids rises from my hood. Strange and sharp, the smell gets stronger as the light turns green and the asshole cuts me off. I can see the craters in his face beneath the moon, the stoicism of a patient undergoing a hemorrhoid excision sans anesthesia. He exits the carretera and disappears. A cloud of dust camouflages his weapon. Pinche Cabrón.
Vehicles pass me with wondering eyes. Mexican drivers with beer bottles to cracked lips, laughing, as stoic passengers powder freckled noses. The cartilage is cathartic. There is a split-second of strategizing amid the confusion: what to do with the dead soldiers, what to say to the bastards once they close in on me. But then the White Pigeon moans to life and fuck the honking chorus that fades to the rising percussion of beer cans and a maniac driving into town.
About the author:
Like nomadic Pericú natives before him, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.