“You know, Boner, maybe we should fix this place up. Did you hear what Deputy Dip-Shit said about me never doing anything around here? Got any ideas of what we could fix up?”
“How about we get the ranch surveyed? I must have been loaded when we bought this place. I … uh … can’t remember where our property lines are. Maybe we could build some fences once we figure out where to put ‘em?”
“Kwa nini tunataka?”
“I don’t know. I am just thinking of things to fix up.”
“Vipi kuhusu sisi kazi ya nyumbani?”
“Yeah, let’s paint something. Okay, what should we paint?”
“Kata ya shit.”
“You’re just a spoil sport. If you’re not going to help me brainstorm I think I’ll have a couple of beers and think about all of this ‘fixin’-up’ later.”
“Psst, Señor Bob, Boner. Psst, over here.”
Boner and I jump a foot off the ground when someone calls our names here in the front yard. “Yard” is probably the wrong word for the desert in front of our ranch house but what else would you call it … the un-landscaped area surrounding the front entry of our home might be more correct. Let’s stick with “yard” until …
“Psst, over here.”
As we look to the bushes, our favorite drug trafficker, Chui, stands up and waves. He says something in unintelligible Spanish to another bush and this tough-looking guy stands, weakly waves, and struggles to smile.
“Hola Chui. Welcome.”
“Hola Señor Bob.”
“Takatifu shit,” says Boner.
“Get out of those bushes and come on over here. It’s good to see you, Chui. How have you been?”
“Busy, Señor Bob.” Chui dusts off his jeans, picks up a huge backpack and slings it over his shoulder before he starts the few steps towards us. He looks back and yells at the other guy. “Consiga su asno en aquí.”
“Come on in and we’ll have some dinner. Josefina will be happy to see you. Tell your friend everything’s cool and come on.”
“You see, Señor Bob, we aren’t very hungry. We had a big dinner last night and … ah … and we’re … ah … still kinda full.”
“Nonsense, Chui, Josefina will whip up something.”
Chui can’t hide his painful grimace as he caves in, “Okay Bob, but just a bite.”
We find Josefina in the kitchen. They stand their heavy packs against the far wall and take chairs around our kitchen table.
Boner says, “Vipi kuhusu pombe.”
“Yeah, we’ll all have one,” I answer. Chui and his friend just stare at Bonner. You could see their mental gears grinding as they both think “what the fuck” or some Mexican equivalent.
Boner serves the beer while Josefina starts one of her complicated pasta recipes. I’ve learned that when she uses more than two ingredients you’re in for a long but interesting night. The fun will be seeing Chui’s friend take his first bite.
“So Chui, introduce your friend.”
“This is my colleague, Gustavo. We are traveling together on this trip. He is from Chiapas, way down in the south of Mexico. We just met yesterday before we began our journey.”
I’ve got a funny feeling about Gustavo. You know how some people just seem to look like bad or evil people? I can’t put my finger on what precisely gives me these feelings, maybe it’s his eyes. He has seedy-looking eyes but I can’t tell you what makes them so. Here’s a topic to research: How do behavior characteristics correlate with the unique aspects of one’s eyes? I’ve got to get Josefina hopping on this. There must be something …
Chui breaks my chain of thought with, “How are you guys doing? This drug smuggling business is getting a lot harder now that the migra have rounded up most of the illegal border crossers. Those migra sons-a-bitches don’t have anybody to chase anymore but us poor mules and we’re just trying to make an honest living.”
We enjoy a couple of beers before Boner breaks out the tequila. We tell stories about the good old days. Gustavo is silent, but Boner chimes in with, “Kubisha mbali bullshit ...”
Chui interrupts, looks at me and says, “What the fuck.” This is his response to everything Boner says.
I just shrug, too drunk to translate. Finally Josefina serves dinner.
“Remember the time I came to you in the middle of the night with la migra’s dogs on my heels?” Chui asks as he takes his first bite of Josefina’s pasta. The expression on his face quickly fades to agony. He gasps and gasps again then as tears begin running down his cheeks, he reaches for his beer. After he gulps most of the bottle, he takes a deep breath, pushes his plate away and goes on with his story. “You told me to quickly go and try to take some food away from Josefina’s mofetas — I think you say skunks in English — and get sprayed. I ran out to las mofetas and acted like I was going to steal their food. This one little mofeta turned, put her ass in the air and let me have it. Mi Dios, it was awful.”
Gustavo raises his fork halfway to his open mouth. The room becomes very still as if time has stopped. We all want to see Gustavo’s expression after he takes his first bite of the Josefina’s pasta. There is this strong sense of suspense as he closes his lips around his fork. He pulls back the fork and takes his first bite. There’s a pregnant pause. Even Boner stops eating, we wait … what suspense … then POW … this pasta ball comes flying out of Gustavo’s mouth, crosses the table and hits Boner in the forehead. Gustavo violently retches, then hangs his head in his lap like he’s going to pass out, then retches again.
We all go back to our dinner, Josefina and Boner slurping up their pasta. I’m moving mine around on my plate like I’m actually going to take a forkful. Chui continues with his story while Gustavo seems to be in some sort of a trance.
“The smell was awful. That mofeta had got me good. You yelled at me to get going. I couldn’t breathe but I took off as best I could down the trail in this cloud of skunk piss. Señor Bob, you tell em’ what happened next.”
“Just as you thought, Chui, three Border Patrol agents came running into the yard being pulled by their drug-sniffing dog. The dog led them up to near where Josefina’s skunks were eating and stopped. He just sat down there and started whimpering. The agents looked at one another before they grabbed their noses and retreated back to where I was standing. They asked me if I had seen anyone. I said I had heard a noise out in the barnyard, came out, smelled the skunks but didn’t see anyone until they showed up. They tried to push their dog back into the chase. He wouldn’t budge. His quest was over.”
“The mofetas were good thinking, Señor Bob. That was the only way to make the migras stop chasing me. Anyway, I went on my way and eventually I got used to how I smelled. My contacts, however, wanted no part of me or my pack. I had to lay my pack down on the highway and retreat about forty meters while they gagged and inspected the pack with their handkerchiefs over their noses. They put my fee on the ground and took off.”
“I remember when you came back — what was it — two days later. We could smell you long before we could see you. Josefina made you strip in the barnyard. Boner picked up your clothes with a pitchfork and buried them while Josefina went looking for some tomato juice.”
“Si, there I was standing naked in the yard and you squirted me with a hose. It was really cold water. I remember my little pito shrank and disappeared. I was so embarrassed, Boner with his huge pinga and me with my little, little pito hiding from the cold.”
“I remember that your little tally-whacker stood at attention when Josefina scrubbed you with her tomato juice. She might have spent a tad too much time scrubbing your Willie but what the hell. She got you clean didn’t she? You’ve smelled like a rose — no, I take that back — more like a saddle blanket ever since.”
“You know those mofetas worked so well that I’ve been thinking about getting some of their spray for emergencies. I’ll bet it would work with the cars crossing the border too. Those drug-sniffing dogs at the border would run and hide the minute you pulled up.”
We talk and talk while Josefina and Boner eat. Finally we call it a night. Chui and Gustavo head to the barn, Josefina goes to check on Boner’s boner, and I’m off to bed.
Early the next morning I am shaken awake by a wild-eyed Chui. He is screaming.
“Señor Bob, wake up! Señor Bob! Señor Bob!”
I sit up to Chui and Boner’s yelling.
“Yeye's gone, yeye's gone, yeye's gone, screams Boner.
“Gustavo is gone and he took our packs … and … and he took Josefina.”
“Kaisari alichukua pia!”
“And he took César too!”