Captain Hook, the Drunk of Puerto Perdido

Carlos Amantea
There was a very drunken, very noisy American here in Puerto Perdido. Fred, I think they called him. He had two hooks for arms. He'd go around all day bare-chested, showing off his hooks, which started at his shoulders, with "flesh" --- that peculiar Motel 50s seat cover orange/tan so favored by orthopaedic manufacturers --- and ending up withsome complicated wires and belts and metal doo-dads from elbow to hand level. Fred had been picking up trophies in Viet Nam.

By late in the afternoon, Fred would be drunk, cat-calling the women, offering to fight any man. Sooner or later he would pass out, pissing himself, in front of the market, or on the beach. The Friends of Puerto Perdido, a local do-good bunch of gringoes, would take up a collection every few years to ship him off to the veterans hospital in San Antonio to dry him out, but sooner or later, Fred would be back, pissing himself in the town square, offrering to fight any man in the world, howling at the ladies.

Not long ago, his liver waved the white flag, after being bathed in such quantities of whiskey, tequila, mescal, and other local poisons. They found him, hooks and all, on the beach at Cipolete. At first they thought he was passed out again, so they didn't bother, but after the second day, when he began to swell up unconscionably , they decided that Fred had achieved the state of final drunken grace. They boxed him up and shipped him up to the border. (Getting bodies across the border is usually a mess. Some people, or what's left of them, spend weeks and months in the refrigerators in Ciudad Juaréz, but the Veterans Affairs office in San Antonio decided he was one of them by now, and agreed to pick him up on the border).

Unfortunately, the flight they booked him on was a Taesa flight via Matzalan, that went down in the Sierras. Since everyone on the flight died, and since Fred was already dead, my friend Richard wants to know if that meant that Fred came back to life, and will be back here to lie in the public square and howl at us. And Rich swears, and he swears he never lies, that Fred's last name was "Hook." So now when we talk about him, our hometown hero, who died in combat, we call him Captain Hook.

As with all Mexican airlines that blow it, Taesa was put out of business --- but will soon rise again, with another nom d'estime. Hook? I'm sure he will reappear in some form or another, around town, and on the beach, back to bother us again on the beaches and in the marketplace.

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