You’re convinced your plane is going to shake itself apart as you begin your descent and you seriously consider you’ve made one visit too many.  You land and half an hour later you’re bored out of your mind because you’re surrounded by a bunch of worried looking school administrator types as you wait at banda 14.  You can’t quite believe it when a twenty kilogram suitcase actually comes with all the others.  You show the guy your luggage claim thing and he points you to your customs official.  You hand over your passport.  She stamps it and gives you back that piece of paper you’ll need to present to somebody when you leave the country.  You put it in one of your pockets but forget which one two seconds later.  You and your twenty kilogram suitcase are stopped by another set of officials.  They point to the button.  You press it.  Green means go.  Red means you’ll never leave the country alive.  It flashes green like you knew it would and you’re on your way.  You buy your taxi voucher from the authorized people and you remark it’s gone up since your last visit.  You’re not surprised when they don’t respond.  Your taxi stand is at the far end of the hallway but before you get even half way there some guy rushes out.  He grabs your suitcase and tells you in his broken English that he wants a one hundred peso tip to take it the rest of the way.  You tell him you’re going to saw his hands off and then you slam his head more than once against the nearest windshield in case he doesn’t understand your fractured Spanish.  It’s late Friday evening and it starts to rain.  Your driver doesn’t say much.  You don’t either.  You half listen to whatever plays on the radio and you recall when you were younger you’d tell people you were a forensic accountant or an auto wrangler for the movies until you realized your back story didn’t mean anything.  You remember how you began sending stuff down for a little bit of extra money and then you discovered ways to send more things for a lot more money until you had so much money nobody or nothing mattered anymore.  You’re at your hotel before you know it.  Your driver knows better than to help you with your twenty kilogram suitcase.  You give him a generous tip.  You recognize the lady behind the counter but you’re not disappointed when your face doesn’t register.  You offer to pay for your room in cash.  She asks you if you’d like to see it first.  You explain you’ve stayed here four times before and everything has always been great.  She smiles as she takes your money.  You roll your twenty kilogram suitcase into the tiny elevator.  You open the door to room 614 and realize there’s something on the bed.  You’ve been up a long time and you have a lot on your mind and the room is dark but it looks like a dead body.  You roll your twenty kilogram suitcase into the elevator and go back to reception and explain as best you can that 614 appears to be occupied.  She phones someone and asks you to have a seat while she sorts it out.  Five minutes later you’re back at 614 and you laugh at the tricks your imagination can play on you.  You have a shower and lie down but you never sleep.


The next day you make your pilgrimage like you always do and find yourself staring at her like you always do.  You pray she’ll tell you to stop.  You know you have to but she just looks the same way she always does so you leave and wonder if any of it is true and if it isn’t then it probably doesn’t matter.  You leave and climb the steps to the top of the hill.  You’d be able to see the whole city if it wasn’t for so many black clouds.  You walk through stalls that sell every kind of junk imaginable before you reach your station.  You’re back in your hotel room soon enough.  You leave your twenty kilogram suitcase in your closet but then decide the safest thing is to take it with you.  You head to the bus station in the south of the city.  You know it’s quicker to fly but whatever.  You buy a drink and your bottle spews all over the place the moment you open it.  You wish you could buy a beverage that is what it says it is and it doesn’t come laced with icing sugar and carbon dioxide.  Your bus breaks down forty minutes outside of the city.  You wait two hours at the side of the autopista for its replacement.  You can’t recline your seat like you could on the other bus.  You look out whenever you stop at a check point and you see a lot of flashing lights but nobody comes aboard and you never stop for very long.


It’s mid morning by the time you finally arrive.  The humidity is enough to knock you flat on your back.  You take your twenty kilogram suitcase and grab a cab.  Your driver leaves your twenty kilogram suitcase alone.  It’s only a five minute ride but you’re drenched by the time you get to your hotel.  You ask where everybody is and wonder if they’re even open.  They tell you there’s nobody else at the hotel and even their restaurant is closed.  You pay cash for three nights and carry your twenty kilogram suitcase up the smooth steps to room 16.  You have a shower and try to rest but you can’t because your ceiling fan is basically a useless noisemaker.  You close your eyes and the next thing you know it’s pitch black.  You squint at the cheap watch you’ve brought with you and wonder if it’s evening or early morning.  You’re covered in sweat so you have another shower.  You almost slip on your bathroom floor.  The night guy recognizes you but can’t remember your name.  You ask him about his family.  They’re great.  You say you’re going out to get some dinner and offer to bring him something back.  You’re surprised when he says yes.  You ask if pizza is okay.  It sure is.  You walk the beach instead of going through town.  You and a ten year old girl are the only people in the whole restaurant.  She’s buying a pizza with the money her mother has given her.  You see her family waiting in their car.  The pizza maker is surprised that you remember his name and he apologizes that he can’t remember yours.  Your pizza is done first because the little girl asks for double pineapples and extra onions.  You pay for both pizzas and hope it comes as a nice surprise for the little girl and her family.  It begins to rain.  You almost slip on the stairs and your nearly drop your pizza in the middle of the adoquin.  You take a cab the rest of the way.  You and the night guy split the pizza and you converse with him as best you can.  The TV is on and you see something about some Teacher’s Federation.  You ask him what it’s all about.  He rolls his eyes and tells you about their strike.  He grumbles that they’re always causing problems while the teachers in other states never do.  You nod as you pick the strings of cheese from your chin.  He asks you if you want him to change the channel.  You shrug.  The rain comes down like you’ve never before.  He smiles when he sees the expression on your face.  He talks about his job at the hotel.  You’re too ashamed to admit that you’ve worked four days since the last time you visited and you’ve earned more money than he’ll see in a lifetime.  You offer the him the rest of your pizza and say goodnight.  You’re soaked and you’ve almost tripped going up the stairs.  You have another shower for all the difference it makes.  You can’t sleep so you might as well get it over with.  The overnight guy opens the gate for you and offers to call you a taxi.  You accept.  The place is always a little farther than you think it is.  It’s hard to see anything for all of the rain but you think you’re probably in the older part of town.  His place is easy enough to find.  You ask your driver to wait around the corner because you won’t even be five minutes.  You scale his fence and walk through his little courtyard as quickly as you can because this rain will just not let up.  Entering the place is easy.  It always is.  The old fellow looks surprised to see you but you both know he really shouldn’t be.  Dealing with him isn’t a problem because those stone floors are awfully slippery during a such a heavy rain storm.  You give your cab driver a hefty tip when he drops you back at your hotel.


You see the cleaning ladies the next morning.  They can’t remember your name but they do know you from before.  You smile and make chit chat as best you can.  That was some rain last night.  It sure was.  They giggle.  You continue on your way.  You check your email.  You go to the bank.  It’s all there.  You take it all out.  You return to your hotel and try to sleep but you can’t because this heat and heavy air is too much and that noisy fan does nothing.  You don’t do much over the next couple of days.  Your neck and forearms take the brunt of the sun.  You let the waves do whatever they want with you.  You’re kind of surprised when they take you back to shore.  You decide to check out early and head back to the city.  You leave your entire four hundred thousand peso fee on your dresser and pray the cleaning lady who finds it will share the money or at least put it to good use.  You grab your twenty kilogram suitcase and tell your taxi driver to the head to the airport.  You can’t handle another bus ride and you really don’t have time either.  The youngsters at security don’t bother checking anyone or anything.  There’s a kid outside with a uniform and a machine gun that looks bigger than he is.  You remember it wasn’t so long ago when he was you.  You nod at the child soldier but he looks right through you.  You and five others get on your plane.  Your flight isn’t nearly as long or eventful as your last one.  You land at the smaller terminal and haul your twenty kilogram suitcase all the way to the metro station.  You ask some studious looking young man for directions.  You’re surprised when he rides with you and guides you through the other metro stations.  You’re kind of glad when he gets off a couple of stops before you do.  You step out of the train when you reach your destination but you leave your twenty kilogram suitcase behind.  You can’t help but wonder whose idea it was to build a metro station so close to a Presidential palace as you hurriedly climb the stairs and go out onto the square.  You glance at your watch and against your better judgement you find yourself back at that cathedral.  You sit at the back pew like you always do.  Your legs and arms begin to shake.  You tell yourself it’s because of the heat and lack of liquid and sleep and nothing more.  You notice the poor young man and woman who have sat down next to you hold what looks like a baby.  The infant’s face looks as if it has been slashed with razor blades and then wrapped with barbed wire instead of bandages.  His eyes look off to infinity.  The rest of his face is otherwise frozen.  You pray for that baby and its parents while you try to convince yourself it’s just a doll that they use to make money from sympathetic fools like yourself.  You check your watch as your leave.  You see cops everywhere and notice they all carry guns.


You read Established 1911 on the empty chair in front of you.  Your waitress brings you your glass of water.  You watch as they take out their cell phones.  You can’t believe they’re actually at the table in front of you.  They’re the only guys in the whole place wearing turbans and the only ones to acknowledge their waitress so you know they aren’t from around here.  You order a beer and a club sandwich.  You ask her for another glass of water.  You can’t get it in you fast enough.  You ask her for another.  The place is packed.  You see a mariachi band at the back of the room.  You hear them tune up while the turbans chatter away on their cell phones.  You wonder how they can listen to whoever is at the other end with so many sirens blaring and if they know this is the last conversation they’ll ever have.  You overhear one of them ask for the bill.  You race out the door and take care not to get run over by the fleet of speeding ambulances as you cross the street.  You remove the machine gun from the young officer who stands guard at an ATM machine.  You rush back into the place.  You yell for the waitresses and patrons and even the mariachi band hit the ground.  You stand right in front the turbans and take aim.  They don’t move.  They’re more bewildered than panicked.  You worry your machine gun might jam or blow up in your hands but you pull the trigger.  Your bullets find your target easy enough because you’ve fired them from pointblank range.  You count to seven.  It’s over.   You quietly applaud your plan and figure the turbans will be blamed for everything because they almost always are.  You drop your machine gun and stroll out onto the street only to hear the biggest bang you’ve ever heard.  You’re knocked onto your stomach and you hope it’s just a shock wave from a blast or even a small tremor but you’re dizzy and have a hell of a time getting up.  You can’t really say for sure if it was as hot when you came into the cafe five minutes earlier.  You sweat and you’re all of a sudden thirsty like you’ve never been.  You think about going back for your glass of water but you’d better get to your hotel.  Your legs have pretty much betrayed you by the time you’re at 614.  You lie down on your bed.  You notice the fan above spin and spin and spin and you use all of your strength just to turn your head.  You wonder why somebody has left such a hideous mannequin on your bed.  Your door opens for half a second.  You were almost certain you recognized yourself standing there.