The New York Times,
The Police Gazette
and Fox TV
Part IIRecently one of my faithful workers, José, had a chance to participate in one of these Imparcial police-blotter scandals. It happened last summer, thank god, while I was still north of the border, during my summer hiatus, but it was reported to me as soon as I got back here in November.
Each day, faithful José comes to clean and rake the huerta --- the place in the foothills of Oaxaca where, in the winter, I park my trailer, hang my hat --- and say my prayers that I have been delivered, again, from the madness to the north. Every day José walks over the saddle-back between his village and this property with its palm trees, its mango trees, its bougainvillea, its clear, cold, flowing creek and my heart.
One Saturday he was crossing the boundary between our land and the neighbor's and he noticed that some dirt had been recently tossed about. He also noticed an unusual number of sopolotes. Sopolotes are turkey vultures --- Cathartes aura --- who turn up everywhere, especially around dinner time, circling lazily on the upcurrents, with their vulgar little wrinkled red heads darting back and forth, looking about for the table d'hôte.
In this poor country, there is no provision for animal cemeteries to match those to the north (with names like "Harthaven," "Pet's Rest," "Garden of Love," and, I swear, "Final Paws.") A dog, mule or horse which has outlived its usefulness is dumped in the fields outside of town. A few days later, if you were to return, you would find the carcass cleaned to a fare-
thee- well by these bone pickers --- putting one in mind of what Faulkner once said about his plans for the next life. He said that he was going to return as a buzzard. Why? "Because they eat everything they want, and no one eats them."
José noticed a profusion of buzzards in the sandy arroyo at the edge of the huerta. He stopped to converse with neighbor Raul, who is rebuilding the fence dividing the two properties, a simple fence that befits those who aren't given to fights over property lines: posts hacked from the local trash wood, hung with a couple of strands of barbed wire.
When José left, Raul continued working his way up the arroyo and as he was digging a post hole he ran across a rather nice Adidas shoe sticking out of the dirt. He thought it strange because in this part of the world, people just don't throw away good shoes. He dug a bit further, and found the shoe filled with foot, which, he then found, attached to the ankle bone, which was, in turn, attached to the knee bone and so on.
The deceased, come to find out, was a worker for the local Comisión de Luz --- Mexican Light and Power. He had been laid in the grave several weeks before Raul started fixing the fence, and was, to say the least, a bit rank. After Raul had come across as much of Sr. Luz as he cared to, he hastened off to seek out the "federales" and tell them of his discovery.
There was the usual investigation. Seems that our electrical worker had an unseemly affection for the juice, and not necessarily of the power plant variety. He also had an insatiable affection for a certain lady of the night.
Our locals who have these double affections head over to our local passion-pit. It's called the Chamisal, and it's a collection of five houses or shops or whatever you want to call them located just outside of town, right across the street from the gas works.
Chamisal is a place --- similar to those in any respectable Mexican town --- where you can wet your whistle while ogling the merchandise. Our electrical worker, it turns out, was a man who not only liked to ogle the merchandise, but, once fully juiced, developed a bellicose lust and strange fantasies.
The light of his life was the lady known as Lucinda. Not long ago, through the ægis of an overdose of his favorite poison, our light man became somewhat demanding of Lucinda, also known as Lu. He told her that he was going to help her to fly away: he was going to steal her forever from her den of sin, sail with her to the crystalline shores of Lake Paradiso, to be his light and love eternally in some far land.
Lugubrious Lu was not averse to selling her wares to the electrical man for an hour or so --- after all, that was her chosen trade --- but she wasn't quite ready to take off for the golden isles with him. She, a lady of no little experience, suspected that when he awoke the next day, his plan of eternal fealty might be dimmed by the slings and arrows of reality in the form of a "crudo," a royal, head-busting hangover.
The more noisy and demanding Señor Luz became, the more hesitant she was. When he finally rose up from their bed of joy, both of them as naked as jaybirds (except for his Adidas; all good Mexican machos "hace pito" with their boots on) and started hustling her out the door and down the stairs, fate intervened in the form of Pistol Packing Pedro, Luisa's plump pimp.
In the altercation that ensued, a .45 went off, and Luisa's would-be gallant rescuer fell back to the floor, a slug in his love-filled heart. It was during the week, and very late, and somehow, no-one heard when Sr. Luz was wasted by the pop of Pedro's heater. Luisa reluctantly joined him in stuffing our now listless customer into the trunk of their Camaro, and they hauled him to a deserted area --- not far, it happens, from my winter home. With the help of a couple of shovels, they left the now defunct light man, as we used to say, "taking a dirt nap."
That would have been all she wrote if Raul hadn't been doing his annual repair work on the property line. The Federales were quick to seek out Sullen Luisa and Sneering Pedro. They got twenty years each, and the rare chance to appear side-by-side on the police pages of the Imparcial, along with a blurry shot of the remains --- all that was left of the overweening lust of poor love-filled Señor Luz.
--- Carlos Amantea
This article also appeared in salon.com Go Home Go back to Part I Go Up