Chapter 18

What’s up with hotels and air-conditioning? The chill in here wraps me up like a cold blanket. Mariachi are playing in the bar as usual. Must be some kind of law or something; if you sell alcohol, you must have mariachi music playing.

The host in this hotel is a man for a change. He is tall, blonde, wearing black pants, black vest and white shirt. Another guy walks up to him and he is dressed the same, except he also has a black jacket and tie on too. They both look American. What are they doing working down here? What is this, reverse immigration—outigration? I’m going to have to shout above the music in here to be heard, “Excuse me but I am looking for my uncle. Here’s an old photo of him, he’s the groom and his name is Armando Villa. Does he work here?” The waiter glances at the picture, then quickly walks away.

“Let me see that. . . when was this picture taken? Hey, is that—“

“—No, he’s not. He’s an uncle.”

“Well, it sure looks like him . . .”

Apparently John Travolta was big in Mexico in the seventies. “Yeah, it’s all I have with me. Do you know anyone who would be able to help me find him? My mother is really worried. We haven’t heard from him in over two years.”

“No, I’ve been here for twelve years. I don’t think your uncle has ever worked here. Of course, he could look a lot different today. John Travolta doesn’t even look like that any more.”

“Yeah, I’m finding that out.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me.” The host grabs some menu’s and walks over to a small family who just came in the front door.

The memory of my first beer makes me giddy inside. I wonder if the bar here will serve me.  Couldn’t hurt to try. The beer didn’t really taste all that bad did it? I’m starting to feel a little. . . different—calm, perhaps. How many beers does it take to get drunk?

I follow the music to the bar and notice it’s darker in here than the lobby, which may be why I was served before; they couldn’t see me very good. “Hi, can I have a Corona?” The bartender smiles and walks down the bar and brings back a beer, opens it in front of me and sets it down on a square white paper napkin. Five dollars worked last time. Maybe if it’s a good tip they won’t say anything. “Here, keep the change.”


I sit down at the bar where he put the napkin and beer. I look around for someone to object and see it doesn’t look like anybody even sees me. I’m actually sitting at the bar. This is so cool. Peanuts sit in a shallow black bowl in front of me. Maybe these will help with the taste. I should probably hurry, an American manager will probably know I’m not old enough to drink yet. Or am I?

This place is getting busy; there aren’t many empty seats in here. The cocktail waitresses don’t wear skirts as short as across the street, but then again this is a hotel. Gotta keep a family image, I guess.

These peanuts are addicting. They seem to be working; this beer doesn’t seem so bad. . . Ugh! But not that great either. I would much rather have a Coke. They burn when you chug them too, and make you burp, but at least they taste better.

I notice all the single men sit here at the bar, while couples and small groups sit at booths along the walls or tables set up in neat rows in the middle of the room. A small napkin sized dance floor, that probably holds two couples—three max, sits empty in front of the band. This same song has been playing in all the places I’ve been to today—except McDonalds. Must be the national anthem.

I gulp down my beer to finish it off.  That wasn’t so bad. The peanuts are all gone too. I guess that’s my cue to leave.

Whoa! Almost fell off this bar stool. They should make them a little more stable. This could be a lawsuit waiting to happy. Okay, where next?

It’s getting dark. I should searching stop soon. I don’t wanna get mugged. Maybe I’ll get a room at the next place I go. Hey! I feel great.

The temperature outside is getting bearable now that the sun is almost down. Man, look at that family run across the street. All four of them—made  it too. Boy, If they can cross here, they can cross anywhere. . . “it’s up to you. . .  something-something Mexi-cooo.”

Hey, what is this guy looking at? Never seen a white guy before?  Well, that’s okay. This is the first time I ever seen a Mexican Mexico. Where the hell am I? Where’s my bag, oh, I don’t have one. Whew! I think I’m getting drunk.

Oh, a Volkswagen. I’ll flag it down. “Yeah, sure I want a ride. Take me to. . . thank you I can get in. . .  ahhh, take me to. . . what was I gonna say? Casa, no . . . hotel. Take me to a hotel. . . Yes I know I just came out of a hotel. I want a fresh one, I’ve been to that one. The driver says something in Spanish, then barges into traffic. I don’t think I told this guy where to go. “Take me to a hotel. Just don’t kill me that’s all I ask. . . or maim me. Just don’t kill me or maim me, that’s all I ask. Or rob me. Okay, here’s the list: don’t kill me or rob me or. . . that other thing.” Wow. I feel like I’m riding in a video game. Grand Theft Slug Bug. Look at this guy go!

We stop in front of a large hotel whose lights are just turning on, welcoming the coming night. This’ll do. “Here is a fiver.“ That seems to be what everything costs around here.

. . . What? not enough? . . . really? Okay, how about another three? Four? Well you’re not getting a twenty for that ride.  . . . What are you saying?  Look, here, take two fives; that should be plenty. . . . What does the meter say then? . . . Oh, the meter was off. Bummer for you then. . . Not me bummer, you bummer. . . No bummer for you. . . No bummer for you. . . No bummer for you. Do you even know what a bummer is? Okay, here’s two more. I’m going. I gotta get a room and find my daddy—I mean uncle.”

This place is fancy. Everything is white and gold. White walls, gold trim, white marble floors with black flecks and gold veins. Every now and then they throw in a black square of marble with white and gold veins just for fun. The couches have gold painted woodwork, and are covered in white, glittery material with gold buttons pushed in deep, forming white diamonds. There are black throw pillows with gold tassels strewn about. A huge gold chandelier with hundreds of sparkling crystal tear drops hanging from the center of the twenty-foot ceiling. White candle-looking lights shine brightly for the crystals to toss shiny dots around the room.

This place smells like roses, but the only flowers to be seen are big white Calla Lilies, in four-foot tall, white vases.

It’s very cold in here. Each hotel I go to has their air conditioning set colder than the last. I bet they have contests to see who has the coldest lobby in town, just like some bars advertise the coldest beer in town.

Our lobby is so cold three people died of hypothermia last week.

Oh yeah? Our lobby is so cold you have to ice skate to the front desk.

So what? Our lobby is so cold we store all our frozen foods there.

Okay, enough of that, where’s the bar? I don’t hear any music. Maybe here you drink in a library.

I walk down a hallway, turn right and voila—here it is.  I’m getting good at finding bars in hotels. I walk up to a dark haired bartender standing behind a tall white lacquer bar.

“Hi, I’d like a Corona please. Thanks.” I make myself comfortable in a white leather bar chair. “Hey do you have any peanuts?” I didn’t know you get the munchies when you drink beer.  “Oh, yeah, you want money, Can you twake a benty? I mean bweak a twenty. . . here.”

So what, is the band on break or what? The bartender brings me back two fives and some ones. “Thanks.” I’ll leave a buck for a tip. If he got a buck for every beer he poured he’d be rich.  You know, the beer tastes better in this bar. I think I’ll come back here and drink from now on. Where am I? I’ll ask the bartender—wait. This will be the first time I’ll have had to ask directions to find where I’m already at.  That doesn’t sound very smart. I should just stay quiet. This beer is going much faster than the others. So what am I going to do now? I should ask around about my dad since there’s no music.

“Excuse me! Has anyone seen my daddy?” The people around me reply with blank stares. “Anyone? Can you talk? Hey. I’m looking for my dad. He’s a bum, and I haven’t seen him my whole life, here’s a picture.“ Now that wasn’t so hard.  A couple of guys in black suits come over and they seem very helpful. “He’s over here? Really? You didn’t even look at the picture. Here, look. . . I don’t need help walking—hey, lego my arm.

What am I going to say to him?  “He’s outside? I said let go of my arm. . . hey, I gotta find my dad. . . I have no idea what your are saying. . . That’s not English. Do you know you are not speaking English? Okay-okay, I’ll go. Thanks for not looking for my dad. What the hell?”

So now where do I go?  I’ve only eaten peanuts lately and still I’m a little hungry. I don’t think I finished my beer back there. I need a restaurant—hey, there’s some kind of place across the street. Looks shiny. I’ll cross here.

Oh, I should run—the cars are stopped. Why can’t I run fast any more? I feel like I’m moving under water. My legs are heavy and feel strange. I seem to be sinking a little with each rubbery step, like I’m walking down some stairs. Just before my knees start digging trenches in the street, I grab ahold of a street sign.

Good, I made it. After I catch my breath I pull myself up to a normal standing position. I wonder what I’m gonna to have for dinner. Tacos? Enchiladas? Burrito? Chimichanga? I could sure go for a hamburger right about now. I wonder where that McDonalds is from here. Okay, speaking of here, where we are. Hmmm.


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