by Jim Foreman
Tom Davis wasn't sure whether it was the sound of Joe Bob's pickup driving away or if it was the sun shining into his face through the window of his camper, but something woke him up. Judging from the angle of the sun and the gnawing in his stomach, he figured that it must be somewhere around half-past breakfast. He had a watch, but it hadn't run in about three years. He had long since given up any thought of trying to regulating his life according to the hands on a clock. Now, he got up when it was daylight, ate, if he had it, when he was hungry and went to bed when it was dark. He kept the lifeless watch hanging on a nail driven into one of the poles that supported the roof of his palapa, but had no idea why. If he had ever considered it from the viewpoint of a psychologist, he would probably have come to the conclusion that keeping the watch was his way of retaining one small link with a lifestyle which he had come to Baja to escape.
He struggled for a few seconds before he realized why he was unable to rise; there was a big black dog lying across his midsection. "Get your mangy ass off me, you drunken mutt," he said as he shoved the dog off the bed and onto the floor. "How in hell did you get up here in bed with me anyway?"
He managed to rise to a half-sitting position, which was as much that the low ceiling of the cab-over part of the camper would allow. Rolling his tongue around in his mouth, he said, "Damn, my mouth tastes like the whole Mexican army marched through with their socks off. That must have been some party last night."
He fumbled in the small cubby hole at the end of the bed for one of the joints which he kept rolled to help him wake up and face a new day each morning. He lit it, took a couple deep drags and blew the smoke toward an ugly and obviously very pregnant cat curled up at the foot of the bed. The cat coughed, sneezed and hopped from the bed to the table, where she began to lick her paws and wipe them on her face.
"Go catch yourself a nice fresh mouse for breakfast, Matilda," he told her as he shoved her off the table with a club foot.
The poor, ugly creature had wandered into his camp three or four months earlier and had been immediately set upon by Blackie, who had every intention of turning her into a cloud of multi-colored hairballs. Instead of running for cover, she had fuzzed herself up to about twice normal size and stood her ground. Blackie charged in for the kill but came out with blood dripping from the claw marks on his nose. It took several trips into the fray before Blackie was convinced that discretion was the better part of valor, especially when it came to an determined cat with sharp claws. As soon as Blackie decided that the camp was big enough for the both of them, Tom gave her the name of Matilda, the Goddess of Combat.
Every regressive ugly-cat gene in all of Baja must have gathered to suddenly become dominate in Matilda. Every known color which had ever been found on any cat, could be found in the crazy quilt patchwork of fur on her. She had no two matching parts or appendages which were the same color. Even her eyes were even of different colors, one being yellow and the other a sort of green.
As soon as Matilda had eradicated a family of mice which had established a homestead in Tom's camper, she took a few days off to find a willing tom cat with predictable results. Not too many weeks would pass before she would increase the cat population around Tom's camp by at least half a dozen.
Tom looked down at his feet and said, "Well, I see that you are still there, you poor crippled bastards. Every time that I look at you, I hope that some damn Viet Cong dies a thousand deaths."
He struggled down to the floor where he was able to stand erect. First he scratched his chest, then his stomach and finally both hands went inside his shorts to give his crotch a good scratching. He yawned and said, "According to size, if women get as much pleasure out of scratching their tits when they get up as I do scratching my balls, I don't see how they stand it."
He hobbled out the door, around the corner of the camper to his favorite spot for taking a leak. When he finished, he came back to the table under the shade. He poured some water into a basin and washed his face and hands, after which he combed his hair and beard with his fingers.
He pulled on his ragged jeans, which long ago had been torn off at the knees, and selected a wrinkled T-Shirt from a pile of clothes on the floor. The faded remains of a silk-screened message proclaimed, "SAVE US FROM DIABLO CANYON". After a quick sniff, he decided that it would be good for a few more days wear before it would have to be either washed or thrown away. He pulled on his old combat boots and laced them up. He still wore the boots because they gave his ankles some support.
He opened the door of the small propane refrigerator in the camper. The only thing that he could find that looked even slightly edible was a pan of beans, two slices of bacon and two tortillas. There was two or three other things lurking in there but they were covered in a green fuzz and looked like science projects of some sort. "Good thing that my government check comes in a few days or I'd have to start catching fish to eat."
He sniffed the bacon, shrugged his shoulders and dropped both slices into a black iron skillet which sat on one of the two burners on the tiny range. He turned on the gas and struck a match to light both burners. As the bacon began to sizzle, he picked up a dirty coffee pot, threw the contents around the corner of the camper and poured in some fresh water from the jug on the table. It went on the other burner. When the water began to boil in the pot, he dropped in a handful of coffee. The pot boiled over immediately, creating a cloud of steam and putting out the burner.
When the bacon was done, he removed the slices and laid them on a plate. Then, he chopped half a onion he found in a jelly jar into the skillet and as it began to simmer, he spooned in two large globs of beans from the pot. As they sputtered and started to boil, he began to mash them with a fork and stir them around to mix in the bacon grease. When they were hot and well mashed, he spread half of the beans on each of the two tortillas, rolled them up and put them on the plate with the bacon. Then he poured a cup of steaming, black coffee, picked up his breakfast and went to the table under the palapa to eat.
Blackie was sitting nearby, licking his chops and eyeing the plate. "Don't you even think about it," said Tom. "Grab my breakfast and I'll pound the hell out of you."
The dog looked at him with his sad, brown eyes and Tom finally gave in, "Oh, what the hell. You have to eat too and the sea gulls have already gotten anything which might have been on the beach."
Tom poured about half of remaining beans into the aluminum pan which served as Blackie's beer dish the night before. "There you go, Blackie. It ain't meat but if they are good enough for me to eat, they are good enough for you. I'll bet that you'll have the stinking dog farts for a week."
Laying on the seat of his dilapidated old green chair was the folded blanket which Ginger and Travis had taken with them to the beach the night before. On it rested a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold and one of El Presidente Brandy. Tom opened the bottle of brandy and poured a shooter of it into his coffee. He raised his cup in a salute to Blackie, who was lapping up the beans. "Here's to the breakfast of champions and that loudmouth Texan, Joe Bob Puckett. I suppose that he wasn't such a bad sort after all. At least he has a good taste in booze and women. That LuAnn had the best looking tits and ass that I've seen in many a day."
As Tom ate his breakfast, he surveyed the wreckage of last night's party. A tiny curl of smoke rose from the smoldering remains of the campfire. Five empty bottles lay scattered about on the ground. Besides the one which had contained his Cien Fuegos, there were three empty Jose Cuervos and one which once held a very good brand of Mexican rum. The girls` favorite drink at the party was rum and Coke, except that Coke isn't sold around there and they had to use Pepsi. There was also a pile of Tecate cans and at least a case of empty Superior bottles thrown here and there. Lime peels which had been squeezed dry of all juice, were strewn everywhere. "I suppose that I'll have to clean this place up in a day or two. On second thought, perhaps the flies and ants will take care of most of it. At least the return deposit of a fifty pesos each on those Superior bottles will make it all worthwhile."
Just as he finished his breakfast, he looked up and saw someone coming toward him along the beach. As the figure came closer, he could see that it was Lupita Morales. She was carrying a stack of tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil in one hand and a live chicken in the other. He looked down at his crotch and said, "OK Shorty, Lupita is coming to see us this morning, so it's time for you to get up and do your duty."
"Hola Tomacino," shouted Lupita, waving the chicken. "Que tal?"
"When I got up this morning, I figured that this would be just another dull day in Baja, but it looks as if it is going to turn out a lot better than I expected," he thought to himself.
"Muy Bueno!" he shouted back.
Index | Back to Book Menu