Insignificant Illegal Immigrant Living in a Third World Country by Matthew Dexter
I sit in a stupor on a Guadalajara bench. Inflamed stomach, fatty liver, bladder empty as butterflies—an impoverished metropolis spins upon cathartic spindle. My child was born this morning. I should be in the hospital. Strangers ask if I’m drunk.
Not pissing myself—breathing—vulnerable. A cartel goon could sever my head with one swift hack of freshly honed machete. A decapitated dozen blinks then back to dreaming. Dirt shallow coffin carved for a Gringo. Heaven swoops, winking shadows unfurling into ethereal eddies of curtsies and bows.
The plaza looms, ballooning, splintered moonshine bounces between cobblestones and starry yesterdays, cigarette ashes dancing into dampened darkness.
I never black out. Always listen to convivial gibberish. After we close the bar, I sit at a table with aspiring telenovela actresses, mural painters, and bartenders. I beg for more beer. Why the hell can’t these pinche babosos keep serving? We share swigs from two humongous cups—elation waning without guzzling—swagger outside.
Two or three vehicles shut down the street—doors open, music blaring, mota wafting, men chugging cervezas. A policía car rounds the corner and approaches—no siren—after a few seconds it flips a bitch because this is Mexico—what can one policía do to a caravan of cabrones?
After my son is born, my wife calls me. I wonder whether he has thirteen fingers or only three toes, maybe an arm poking from his forehead—but the 3-D ultrasound confirmed all was perfect for months. I am too poor to welcome my child in paradise. The private hospitals in Cabo San Lucas are exorbitant and IMSS, the public hospital, makes M.A.S.H. look like a luxury. Doctors will sever your two-year-old’s penis if it gets inflamed. Patients wait for eternity on plastic chairs staring at angry nurses who ignore them.
I fly into abject poverty. That Guadalajara cesspool. Jalisco—birthplace of sombreros, tequila, mariachi, Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, and my namesake son. Barrios blossom as we descend, grey and dismal, streets folding into a million wrinkles. Hundreds of thousands are laughing in squalor, families hurdling heaven, old men dreaming, snoring, dogs chasing children, taco trucks on every beautiful corner.
Two weeks in squalor. Learning to fly, the hourglass sifts through soulless cathedrals, sands gleaming. Unabashedly, unaccustomed to anything different, oblivious to darkness of engulfing poverty, horns honking, dogs barking. Crushing struggles festering from every imperfection and rusting effigy, families full of light fill the night with fireflies. Fairytales flourish on warped kitchen floors. Love illuminates, rising through polluted midnights, sinking into debauched dawns, one giggle closer to death, skeletons sing melodies, neighbors steal electricity, trembling flightless angels ignore.
Mariachi swarms, another cockroach orgy, graffiti crescendos through crumbling murals, curious dogs spy from barbed wired bliss, sketchy rooftops with three million clotheslines blowing in the breeze. Heating a humongous pan of water on the stove to pour into a plastic garbage can for a shower, scooping with a yogurt container, the aluminum door to the shitter a collage of holes of variable proportions and nameless shapes—illimitable and fragile, bulbous and jagged, sunlight scatters—shrapnel from heaven.
I try to hold my shit together. The wizardry of debauchery, but the bathroom connects to my sister-in-law’s bedroom and amplifies every acoustic and atom—winking holes—an aluminum door with empty panes counting each ineffable whisper. Two hours before dawn. Guadalajara is silent—at least in my decrepit crevice. The house swallows me whole. There are no boundaries between impoverished families torn apart by tortillas and frijoles. There’s a secret bathroom with a cold shower. That’s all a Gringo needs.
I hold my infant the entire flight. His ears stuffed with cotton. Sober now, longer than I’ve been in more than a decade. Ethanol is God. The ocean comes into view. Azure, cobalt—inertial ripples mimicking illimitable folds of my brain. The flight attendant hovers. I order a Pacifico. The airplane doesn’t explode or plummet from bulbous cumulonimbus.
Shimmering fuselage, wings breathing, I’m still alive. We’re still alive.
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