She was a dark skinned princess without a kingdom – other than myself and countless suitors. We just stood there smiling, posing and trying to avoid being taken for urchins in need of salvation. Why she chose me out of the all the orphans from “St. Anne’s Home for Broken Hearts,” I’ll never understand.
Annie had warned me of the easy women on the streets – she told me to stay inside. She said, “each of them ladies walk with death in their eyes and dirt on their skin.” I stayed away from them all yet fell in love with her. But then again, she was a stranger from New Orleans and didn’t speak a word of Spanish.
There is a statue with a fountain in the center of town. It’s of a lady they call, “Sweet Melinda”, there are tears falling out of her eyes which fall down upon her breasts, down her legs and into the puddles of water at her feet. The Nuns call her “La diosa de la tristeza.”
The men there, they walk in circles or ride motorcycles masqueraded as horses. They are as white as the snow up on the mountains some say they are ghosts from another time and place.
She was called, Sara. She invited me to her room on Housing Project Hill where we could sit in the window and watch the festivities. On that afternoon, we made love all day and then at 4 o’clock, we heard a mariachi band begin to play as a ladies voice rang out as if in tears…
De la Sierra Morena,
cielito lindo, vienen bajando,
Un par de ojitos negros,
cielito lindo, de contrabando.
A second group of musicians began to play as other voices joined in. We raced to the window to watch as a crowd began to dance to the music. We stood there leaning against the balcony, she was draped in a white sheet with the top of her breasts exposed and I was on my knees just wishing I knew the words to the songs.
We threw on some clothes and found ourselves amongst the natives of Juarez just as the rain began to fall. It didn’t stop the party we just held each other closer and danced a little bit harder/
We started off drinking some burgundy from a bota bag and then we hit the harder stuff. There bottles of homemade tequila that were being passed around. There was a table beneath the overpass with local homemade food which the ladies brought out in trays. We kept on dancing as long as the band kept on playing. The tequila made me dizzy so I drank some more which brought some equilibrium – the rain subsided and the clouds parted to reveal a really hot sun.
The band began to play a familiar tune, to me at least, and we stood aside and watched as some locals performed a dance they must have danced a thousand times.
Don’t ask me how the night ended because I only remember the time when I brought Sara to the fork in the road with the names Fortune and Fame. The legend was that it was either one or the other and neither was what it claimed. It was at that crossroad where I lost consciousness. I woke up in the local jail as the cops boasted that they caught me with a prostitute and a bottle of illegal tequila. I thought I would be in jail forever but apparently someone, possibly Sara, blackmailed the sergeant in arms and he left his post. I was woken up by a child with her hand out – I gave her a couple of coins, she smiled and I slipped out of the unlocked cell. Sara was gone and so were all the friends I thought would be there for me when the going got rough. It was then I took a bus ride to the hotel manager’s second cousin in Mexico City.
These days I play guitar in a small bar in Cuernavaca and I have just about saved up enough for a one way ticket back home to New York City. I don’t know if there is anyone there for me anymore, maybe Florence or Rosemary will remember me for who I am rather than who I have been portrayed to be. I have no mask and I am simply revealed.
I never did see Sara again, although I hear she is a big shot in Juarez or Jalisco. Some nights I remember the way she held me as we danced, her dark eyes and skin and the way she looked with the white sheet wrapped around her. The temptation to go back and see her is strong some nights but then I remember that some memories are best kept sacred and undisturbed.
Tom Thumb was as small as his father’s thumb. He lived his life and live it well – always told the truth and never was a liar. He lived through the fish and the cow – yet was killed by the bite of a spider.
Sunday afternoon – based on Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues by Bob Dylan.