Chapter 16

This hotel looks good: tall and kind of old-ish looking, with lots of wood trim, the usual stucco exterior walls, and a red tile roof. A dark red canopy stretches out twenty feet to greet the guests and a gold seal or coat of arms hangs from the front of it. A deep red carpet covers the sidewalk that leads to two large glass doors. I bet a couple of hundred people work here. I can already hear the music coming from somewhere deep inside the building.

The moment I step inside I notice this hotel is colder than the last one. The decorations are older and darker. The floor is red tiles with dark grey grout in between them, the same as in Taco Bell, but much larger. There are tall green plants in large white vases, and the walls are covered in red wallpaper with some kind of pattern in red felt sticking out of it. All the wood chairs and sofas are made of dark wood and the cushions are covered in pearl white cloth. The front desk is made of dark wood to match the furniture, and is only a few steps from the front door. A female desk clerk in a white suit smiles at me, so I walk over and re-start my search for my deadbeat dad.

“Hi, um, my name is Frank Villa and I’m looking for my uncle. His name is Armando Villa, does he work here. . . by chance?” This girl isn’t as pretty as the last one. She’s obviously dyed her black hair blonde—which now looks orange, and she has a slight black mustache under a Toucan-like nose. Her eyebrows are thick and dark and I can see her plucking a break in-between them to keep from having a bug furry uni-brow. I bet all her friends say she has a “great personality.”

“Just a moment.”

She picks up the phone and talks quietly so I can’t hear what she is saying.

Thank God! The music stopped.

“Senior Villa? I checked and there is no Armando Villa working here. Your uncle, don’t you know where he works?”

“No, I just know he works in a hotel in Guadalajara. Maybe he’s worked here in the past?”

“You may check with the Manager. He has been here many years. He is in the bar right now.” She points to a set of dark wooden doors off to the right of the lobby. “He is wearing a white suit.”

“Okay, thanks” I walk over to the large wooden doors and open one. It takes a few seconds for my eyes to get used to the darkness. I begin to make out a little guy with black hair, chubby face, goatee, white suit, thin black tie. He looks like a mini Mexican Colonel Sanders. I’ll just wait here until he’s done talking to the musicians. I can’t believe how dark it is in here. This must be the place to come when you are having an affair and you don’t want to be recognized.

There he goes. “Excuse me sir? Are you the manager?”

“Si, yes, may I help you?”

“Hi, my name is Frank Villa and I am looking for my uncle. I haven’t seen him in quite a while and all I know is he lives in Guadalajara and works in a restaurant or hotel.”

“There are many hotels in Guadalajara, and many more restaurants. Good luck.”

He begins to turn away, “His name is Armando Villa.”

“No, Armando Villa is not working here.” He starts to leave again.

“You don’t recognize the name?”

“No, excuse me please. Maria? Maria, momentito. . .”

I think I’ll keep my photo in my pocket and just take his word that he doesn’t work here.

“Can I get you something?” The bartender scared the crap out of me, my eyes are still getting used to the dark.

“Me? Oh, no thank you, I just—I have to go.” The drinking age must be around eighteen. Maybe even sixteen. This trip could get interesting.

As I leave I see the orange-haired hostess isn’t busy. “Excuse me, where is the next big hotel from here?”

“That would be the  “Matador.” Are you walking or driving?”

“Walking.”

“Okay, Just go left and down the street about six blocks, and then go right and under the freeway. It will be on your left. Good luck finding your uncle.

“Thanks.” Whew, that was a little easier. I leave just as the band begins to play; perfect timing or what? I wonder if I should even try showing the photo any more. It is pretty old.

I step outside and once again face the intense heat and harsh sunlight. In front of me I see a green Volkswagen pull out right in front of a white pickup. The people driving those slug-bugs are maniacs. I’m amazed they aren’t all dented up, but if they constantly miss each other like that, then maybe they should be in good condition. It does kinda look like close calls are the norm around here. Turn signals are definitely optional equipment. I wonder if they are even installed on cars bound for Mexico. Or maybe the first thing they do with a new car is yank out the turn signal lever. Wont’ be needing this—yank!

I pass by a small colorful cantina that’s in the middle of a large building. Could be a Mexican dive.  It’s painted the same color as those green Volkswagens, and it has a bright blue door.  There are no windows. You can tell the music inside is coming from a jukebox or radio or something. Definitely not live. I bet only hardcore Mexican drinkers go there. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like that.

A little farther down the street I see the freeway the receptionist was talking about. I stand and wait for the light to turn green, but everyone else seems to just keep right on walking. Green light, red light, yellow light—doesn’t matter. Maybe Mexicans are color blind and they are just too proud to admit it. That would explain the gaudy color combinations for their restaurants, bars and taxis.

A lady and her little boy walk up behind me and wait for the light with me. Two teens just keep on going as if the light wasn’t even there and walk in between the crossing traffic. One of them turns around and looks at me, like I’m from Mars or something—that’s not emasculating. I bet that’s how it all started; one guy makes a dash for it and nobody else wants to look like a wimp.

Finally the light turns green.

Mike J Quinn About Mike J Quinn
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