Tuesday, January 09, 2007

War story

I'm listening to Calexico's "Alone again or" as I write; their music is more fun than a night in a Tijuana tavern, which, if you've never experienced it, I do not under any circumstances recommend.

I grew up in Phoenix, so at the tender age of I can't remember but I clearly recall my last stoned trip there at about the age of 20, we would at the slightest provocation pile into someone's car and head for the border town of Nogales, which was then about two-and-a half hours away. Stories to tell, which I shall refrain from sharing today and believe me, you should thank me. That someone didn't have to bail me out of a Mexican jail was a credit to the grace that God has continued to show me throughout my slightly unworthy life.

Okay, I'll just share this one. My friend and I, Roy, and I only mention his name because I'm sure he'd dead because he used drugs like I did, decided to go down to Nogales to score since, hey, it was Tuesday, as good a reason as any. So off we went in his station wagon, which he drove at phenomenally high rates of speed, scaring the literal heck out of me.

I had no money as I recall, so I went along as the mule. He looked like any other kid I hung around with, long hair, beard, ripped and faded levis, in short, he just didn't look like he'd get back over the border without a cavity search if any Border Patrol agent in his right mind spotted him, which was inevitable since he was hell-bent on driving over the border when we could have easily parked the car on the Arizona side of Nogales and walked. Even then, men just wouldn't listen to us much smarter females.

The plan was for us to score, with us splitting up before the border and me walking back over with the dope, and him driving where we'd meet back up on the Arizona side of Nogales. Not a bad plan, if we weren't two idiots to begin with, but hey, that's another story.

So off we go with a few hundred dollars and good intentions. Well, I guess bad intentions, but you know what I mean. We were on a mission. We get to Mexico, I hang around in front of the bars while Roy goes into a few bars to drink and talk with the various low-lifes from Mexico in his broken Spanish (you can believe me when I say that most Arizona dope fiends know a lot of 'copping Espanol'), and he finally scored. I blame most of the following events on Roy, but I probably am not as innocent as I remember so bear this in mind.

Roy just can't wait until we get over the border to get high, no, so he stops at the first gas station he comes to, which believe me, isn't like any gas station you'd see today in America. The station had one gas pump, three hundred half-bald tires in front, and two vatos sitting on a broken-down, stuffing-coming-out sofa eyeing us with a not-so- friendly look, although Roy was smart enough to tell me to buy two gallons of gas from my pocket change so they wouldn't turn us in to the Federales, every American dope fiend's worst fear in Mexico.

Roy, of course, because he's "the man" (and admittedly it was his money), decides he's going to get high first (like there's any real "decision" involved in that no-brainer) and into the bathroom he goes while I pay for the gas. After I pay, I back the car around and angle it right outside the bathroom door, because, gee, I'm next. I wait patiently (Ha!) and wait and wait for him to appear. He doesn't. Finally, I get out of the driver's seat, go around to the door and start whispering "Roy!" No answer. "Roy!" I said, a little louder, scratching on the door. No answer. Now I'm starting to get that sick feeling in my gut thinking, "Es no bien; we may have muchas problemas."

"Roy," I practically shout, and about then one of the vatos heaves himself off the couch to peer around the corner at me. "Es no problemo!" I say to him with a forced smile. "Mi amigo esta muy malo!" I say, pointing at the john. This seems to satisfy him, because most Americans leave Mexico muy malo. He disappears around the corner.

I try the door handle and it's locked. "Roy," I practically yell, kicking the door. Still, no answer. So I'm thinking, "What should I do?" I know I'm about two minutes from a Mexican jail and I'm pretty freaked out. I could leave him there to die, I think, but I had no money to score and I was sicker than a dog myself. Besides, I did have some conscience instilled in me by my parents, which made it extremely hard to be an efficient dope fiend. So being the altruistic dope fiend that I was, I decided I'd better try to get him out of there and back to Arizona.

I give the door handle a twist, push the door open (it's blocked by Roy's body on the floor), and there he is, overdosed on the floor of that filthy little hole in Nogales, Mexico.

"Roy," I say slapping his face after I manage to push him away from the door and get in. He was breathing and he wasn't blue, so I knew if I could just get him in the car, I stood a chance to get him over the border and into Arizona to a hospital. But first, I take the dope out of his pocket and put it down my pants. I can't wake him; he's just making groaning noises and I'm not waiting any longer for the cops to appear.

I open the back seat of the car, drag him by his feet (Frye boots, I remember because they kept slipping off so I finally took them off and threw them in the car, dragging him in his stocking feet) into the car and off I drive toward the border. I stop every few blocks to slap his face and yell, "Roy, wake up, you idiot!" Roy is still breathing, so I continue on.

When we hit the border, and believe me, I'm so scared I'm barely breathing, the agent stopped me and looked into the back seat. Thankfully, this was before the advent of the drug-sniffing dog with almost every agent. "He's really, really drunk," I tell the agent. The agent just looked at him, looked at me, shook his head a bit and waved us through.

We get to the Arizona side of the border and I try to decide if I should take Roy to the hospital. But first, I had business to attend to, as you can well imagine. It was my turn to get high. Priorities, you know, because it was clear Roy was going to live. I finally got him awake enough to ask him if he wanted to go the hospital, and he mumbles "No," of course. What addict wants to ruin a perfectly good high with a shot of Narcan? So I drove toward Tucson. Just as we hit the halfway mark between Nogales and Tucson, Roy sits up in the back seat like a jack-in-the-box and orders me to the first rest stop so he can fix again. "Fine," I snap, "but if you o.d. again, you are on your own!"

Well, we got back to Phoenix with him nodding out most of the way none the worse for wear, although this event strained our friendship greatly, much more from his stinginess with the drugs after he woke up than his overdose.

As I started to say before we all took that roadtrip to Mexico, music transports me. My parents loved music so we grew up in a household noted for its high-fi. The happiest times of my childhood were when my brothers and I gathered around the stereo with my parents listening to Marty Robbins' "Gunfighter Ballads" or the Sons of the Pioneers or the First Family Album. I thank my parents daily that they instilled that love of music in all of us kids. Music is a vehicle that frequently takes me closer to God.

The Sound of Music was a ritual with my mother and I and as she progressed in her Alzheimer's, if she became upset or disoriented, we'd put the movie in the VCR and she would immediately calm down. I watched it a few weeks ago with my s/o and it was bittersweet, watching the movie with him as memories of my mother flooded me. I am so grateful, unlike so many people in the rooms, that I had parents who were there for me emotionally, who never stopped believing in me, who literally, I believe, prayed me into the rooms.

"Alone again or" has come back on and the dogs are waiting for a dance. So if I don't show here tomorrow, twodogs say "hey."

Until then, mis amigos, stay in gratitude.


Meg Moran said...

enjoyed the road trip, but I'm such a wussy I'd a been peeing in the the back seat, you are very brave.......... I've been dancing with my dogs all morning. They love it when I talk to them thru the cardboard wrapping roll tubes. They think its the voice of God sounding strangly like Mommmy. Try it you'll like it!! Ok, I've got 5 here from Michigan and 5 more comin in Christmas day, so I'm sending love too.......... te amo.

twodogsblogging said...

Not brave, dear girl, but very, very stupid and blessed!