Tag Archives: Juarez

The Chronicles of Anton Chico (American Soil)

Anton Chico in swirl of dark hallway.
Photo by Aidan Roof on Pexels.com.

The Other Side of the Door

By mid-afternoon, the sun was flaring its nostrils and spitting fire and when I walked out of the rough cantina in Juarez, I had to shade my eyes because the light stung them like a burning wasp.

I stumbled into the tide of people and turned this way and that in a state of confusion trying to determine which way it was to the border. I saw the policeman, walking slowly against the flow of people, and I saw his eyes fix on me and Anton Chico panicked for a second, moved to the edge of the flustered queue and stood against the hot stucco of a building until the officer passed.

I knew it was time to get out of the country; the paranoia was creeping in again and I felt an attack coming on. I swiftly moved back into the flow of people and headed straight for the crossover. When I reached it, I deposited a quarter and pushed my way through the turnstile and sighed with relief when I saw the buildings of El Paso, cloaked in heavy and hot smog, just beyond the crest of the bridge.

I walked fast. The sweat was pouring out of me like someone had gently squeezed a sponge. I smelled like the remnants of a wild fiesta. That familiar ache in my head and the churning in my belly began to rise and I was dying for a drink of water. Agua.

I stopped outside the checkpoint building, where the Mexicans show their green cards, and smoked a cigarette watching the herd of people moving along like desperate and bewildered cattle. I crushed the smoke on the ground and joined them. I had no green card but showed the officer my American driver’s license.

“American citizen?” he asked with a stern look.


He moved me through, and on the other side of the doorway was America.

Swallowed by the Night

No soul to touch, no voice to caress, no hand to crush to dust. The little car hummed along the highway at dusk headed toward home. El Paso faded like a dream behind me. I was feeling a bit sad having to leave that place. As big and dirty and electrified as it was, I began to miss it; or in all actuality, miss the being away from the doldrums, getting more doldrum by the day, and the ache in my belly began to roar again as I thought about having to return to my shaved-face reality; my 4 p.m. check-in and well-behaved, well-dressed mannerisms.

It was all soaking fake and dull and leaving me shaking with a shame about my own false reality and pious lies and imperfections seething through the cracks in my well-oiled skin as I desperately tried so hard not to break down and scream and rant and rave and cry up a mad tempest all down my sweaty, shaking face as I smiled, feigned smiling, for the camera, the camera called the eyes and lies of every beating heart human that surrounded my very bland every day activities.

The blood in my veins boiled, the acid in my stomach fizzed, the marrow in my bones bubbled, the curvatures across my brain pulsed, rhythmic creation in an underskirt, my diary of madness scratched on the inside of my eyes in a calligrapher’s black ink.

It was dark as death as I pulled into my space at the complex and killed the engine. The moon was full and beaming down through the tall treetops like something out of a famous love story. I opened the car door and reluctantly trudged my pack with me up the short steps to the door. I fumbled with my key in the lock and pushed the door in. Black silence came over me. My fingers fumbled for the light switch and when thus the place became illuminated it was no brighter than when it was completely dark.

The place smelled as if it had been vacant for months; stale, dry rot, cumbersome, old, gray, nicotine smeared and cold. I set my things down and went to my favorite living room window, the tall and narrow one, pulled aside the curtains and opened it. The vacant lot outside was just as I had left it. A car rumbled down the road. I looked at the scattered remains of porch lights at this late hour. A dog barked. A bug of some sort slammed himself against the screen and then fluttered off dismayed. I sighed and went into the bathroom to shower.

The blaring sun woke me up. The curtains were thin and an ungodly melon color – bed sheets really – and I threw the blanket off me because I was already beginning to sweat. So some words about that unholy oppressive heat I had come to so despise during my desert life:

The heat was like an arrow of fire, like a spike dipped in burning coals thrust through the flesh at high speed, like hell, like an oven, like crisp and dead leaves beneath a Boy Scout’s microscope… The relentless ball of fire hung in the sky like the devil’s eye, unleashing its burn down upon the land, the desolate harrowing land of death and solidness, of pain and captivity, a burrowing fever that boiled the brain and cooked the buildings and the asphalt, a harrowing, searing blaze boiling all in its path, an unending glare, the fireball coated white hot and spitting its hot lust down upon the earth in every spot I stood; there was no relief, no shelter from the sun that never hid its face from view, always there, always hanging there like a hot jewel ripe to burn the skin right off your bones.

It made the town more depressing than it already was; at least the rain would of washed some of the sin away, but no, not here in this place, no rain, just wind and dust and hot, everything dry as dead bone, every drop of moisture sucked from the living; the river ran so slow and shallow and brown, the sun sipping every morsel of wet from the land’s soul and the skins of humans dry and cracking, wiped over with lotions and moisturizers every morning and then one would step outside and simply burn, burn, burn… The beads of sweat came forth suddenly and poured down one’s face; a sick, laborious heat that pushed the boundaries of human endurance far over the edge, where one would kill for a place in front of a breeze, one would kill for an ice cube or a fan or an Alaskan vacation.

I and others like me would sleep draped in our own sweat because even once the sun did fall for the night the temperature would remain high; the heat, absorbed by the buildings and the streets and the earth, would be belched back out to recycle its pain throughout the darkness, a warm velvet glove cupped over the city swatting away any attempt of coolness trying to come down and breathe upon us all; the heat, there was just no escape – the swamp coolers hummed and rumbled but not a dent would they manage to carve into the grip of suffocation.

See more of the Chronicles of Anton Chico at cerealaftersex.com. Thank you for reading and supporting independent writers and publishers. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email below for updates on new posts. It’s free to follow! Thank you.

The Chronicles of Anton Chico (A Mexican moon)

Border wall erected at Mexican border with United States.

The Inhuman Wall

I sat in the back of the hotel van as the Mexican man drove me to the border. He was playing Mexican music on the radio and speaking into a CB handset of some sort once in a while. He was telling his comrades on the other side: “Here I come with another gringo! Get your baseball bats ready you fuckers!” That’s what I thought.

It was at times like these that Anton Chico wished he had known how to speak Spanish, or at least understood some of it, especially with those bruisers on the other end waiting for me. I shifted uncomfortably in the seat and looked out the windows at all the chaos I had just come through myself earlier.

So, I should have turned there, but I didn’t, and the van pulled into a lot, and I thought to myself, “Well, this is it. They’re going to club me, and I’ll be done for. My keys, my camera, my wallet and I’ll wake up handcuffed to a bed with a dirty mattress in some dingy room with thin curtains and a half empty bottle of tequila sitting on a wobbly table and there sitting in the chair by the table will be this Mexican girl, big brown breasts exposed smoking a cigarette and staring at me like I was some sort of villain and then in would walk her John Boy in a stained wife beater t-shirt and having a big, black, bushy moustache and holding a switchblade and he’d come at me, cursing at me in Spanish, flailing the sharp blade all around in front of me, slicing the air, then he catches my cheek and I can feel the warm trickle start rolling down my damp face like a maroon tear and flow into my mouth.”

“We’re here,” the driver said as he always does, and he got out of the van, came around the other side and slid the door open. I stepped out and handed him $3.

“Gracias, senor,” he said, and got back into the van and drove away, leaving me there right on the razor’s edge between two very different nations. I was immediately approached by another man who had been waiting in the lot.

“You need senorita?” he asked. “Twenty dollars and I take you to senorita. Pretty senorita. My taxi right there, $20.”

“No, that’s all right,” I said. “I’m going to walk over the bridge. I want to go across on the bridge. Walk.” And I pointed toward the bridge. He looked at me like I was crazy. He seemed so disappointed.

I fell into the queue crossing over. I deposited 35 cents and stepped across. Now above me the Mexican flag painted the sky in the wind. I looked over the edge of the bridge and saw the muddy trickle of the Rio Grande piddle through. I saw the great barriers designed to keep the undesirables out rise up at its American shore. The sign deciphered: This is America. No illegal aliens, only illegal activity by our own is accepted.

Those barriers, those watch towers, those rows of razor wire are grim reminders of human selfishness, the God negative and gluttony, hypocritical pride and the suffering in its wake. On one side of the barriers, perfumed buttoned-up crooked sophistos drive to lunch in a polished Mercedes; on the other side, a starving man drinks himself senseless on a dirt road while the stars and the sadness spin. If only for an opportunity, but they don’t pass out opportunity like political payoffs.

Anton Chico suffers from a debilitating mental illness. When happiness should be sweet, it is sour for him. When love should be beautiful, it becomes a desperate crawl along the cold kitchen floor crying out in emotional pain for him. When human contact should be soft, it is like petting a dragon kitten of thorns for him. Everything hurts, everything aches, a narrow tunnel lined with dark light and harrowing thoughts of soiled innocence. It is physically exhausting and now I cannot get over the wall that they never did build. Such heartless, godless stupidity.

I was there. Stepping across the imaginary line that separates one way of life from another. The street was packed with people shuffling in and out, up and down. Ratty store fronts lined the way. Spanish language signs everywhere. Green and orange and sky-blue facades with painted black lettering. In every doorway stood someone desperate to sell me something. Desperate for the American money they could use on the American side to buy things made in Pakistan or Bangladesh or Honduras. To buy clothes sewn together by the sore fingers of their not-so-distant relatives in another, oppressed land just like their own. There were more offers to meet a “sweet senorita” upstairs for $20. “She’ll make you feel so good senor. Do you not want to feel good?”

There I was, sticking out like a flashing American beacon. They could smell me. They could see me in my red ball cap, my faded striped shirt and faded shorts exposing my whiteness, my 17 days unshaved and a Pentax film camera slung around my neck. And then I wondered as I walked, where were all the other Americans? Where were all the others just like me flowing across? But then I remembered, as I was crossing over, there were no others. I was immersed in the clan. It was a weekday, and these were all simple workers and shoppers streaming back into their homeland and I suddenly felt all alone, a poster on the white wall. I no longer felt so at ease.

I stepped inside a relatively safe looking shop; bare and dusty and two men hunched over the counter. One sprung on me as soon as I entered.

“What are you looking for? Some jewelry? Something nice for your girlfriend?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend. Not anymore. Just some postcards. Do you have postcards?”

“Postcards! We have postcards. Here, I will show you.”

He took me to a wobbly spinner rack of muddy brass that held a few faded, dry looking postcards. I grabbed two.

“Fifty cents. Nothing else? No senorita?” He motioned with his head toward a staircase. “My daughter. You will like her.”

I set the postcards down on the counter along with one dollar. I stood for a minute thinking, looking out the grimy glass window to the hot, bustling street. The whole place smelled like greasepaint, and I could feel the greasepaint on my face. The grease clogging my fat pores. The sweat stinging my pale skin. I lifted the red ball cap from my head and wiped the wetness from my brow.

“I’m so sweaty,” I said to the man.

“Everybody sweaty. Don’t worry, she’ll take good care of you.”

I set twenty dollars on the counter and the man smiled. He motioned me to stand there while he went to the bottom of the stairs and shouted something up in Spanish. An agitated female voice shouted something back down. He came back over to me.

“Upstairs. You can go now.”

He tapped his worn wristwatch with the tips of his fingers.

“30 minutes,” he said, and I went to the stairs and climbed them slowly.

I heard crackling Mexican radio songs flowing down the stairwell. It grew hotter as I climbed, and I wondered how they tolerated it. At the top of the stairs was a doorway to the left. I looked in. It was a bathroom. Hot, not too clean. There was a short hallway and at the end of the hallway was a flowery curtain covering a doorway. I touched the soft fabric and pulled it aside. Inside the room was a single bed covered in crumpled white sheets. Next to the bed stood a small table and on the table a few glasses, a half-empty bottle of brown alcohol, and an ashtray littered with lipstick-stained butts.

The room had two windows spaced closely together. They were open, ratty, flowered sheets for curtains languidly flopping in the light breeze. It was very hot in the room and the sweat was pouring out of me. I saw a cloud of smoke spurt forth from another corner of the room. A girl was sitting in a chair, a yellow towel wrapped around her body, her hair was dark, flowing and wet. Her large brown eyes stared up at me in a kind of hopeless, loving and lost way. Her brown skin was dimpled with sweat or maybe water from a shower she just took. I watched her take a drag on the cigarette tightly clamped in her full, bare lips. She smiled after she exhaled and motioned for me to sit on the bed.

“Cigarette?” I asked her. I had my own, but for some reason I wanted one of hers.

She tossed me her pack and I pulled one out. She tossed me a book of matches and I lit it. I waved out the match and dropped it in the ashtray and then sat halfway in the windowsill next to her chair so that I could see inside and outside. I didn’t want to sit on the bed. I could feel the heat on my shoulder and the greasepaint smell was rising again. I could taste the smog on my tongue. Off in the distance I could hear traffic – honking horns, gunning motors, people yelling in Spanish. The girl sat emotionless, staring off into space as she held the cigarette between her fingers, the smoke flowing from the tip of it like a bluish whisper. We sat there in silence for half an hour looking at a Mexican moon that wasn’t even there. She didn’t seem to mind, and neither did I. I looked out the window one last time, and then I got up and walked out. She never said goodbye.

See more of the Chronicles of Anton Chico at cerealaftersex.com. Thank you for reading and supporting independent writers and publishers. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email below for updates on new posts. It’s free to follow! Thank you.

The Chronicles of Anton Chico (The First Instinct)

White brick wall near white chair in white room for Anton Chico experiment.
Photo by Henry & Co. on Pexels.com

Rough Ride to Juarez

I dreamt of having a collapsed lung and the doctors put me in a windowless white room and closed the door.

There was a table in the middle of the room, a white table and beside it a white chair. I did not sit down. It was cold in the room, like an air conditioner was on somewhere though I heard no sound.

One of the doctors came in with a clipboard and I told him I wanted to go to Juarez. He asked why. I told him I wanted to submerge myself in the various arts of indecency. He asked why. I thought about it, and I couldn’t tell him why. He asked why I had such demeaning goals. I told him I didn’t mean to; it was just what I thought about.

He wondered why I didn’t want to go to Mexico just to soak up the culture, go to a museum perhaps or take a bus tour. I told him I didn’t think about that. I told him I had a depraved mind sometimes. He scribbled something down on a pad, looked at me from over the top of his glasses and started walking toward the door. I asked him about my collapsed lung. He said I had worse problems than that and he’d be back in a few minutes.

When he returned, he was carrying a silver tray with a white towel draped over it. I glanced at what was in the tray and it was a needle, an injection of some sort. I asked him what that was for. He said he was going to give me a shot of morality and when I’d wake up, I wouldn’t be so damn depraved.

He had me sit in the white chair and roll up my sleeve. He rubbed a cotton ball across my upper arm and jabbed the needle right in there and pushed on the plunger without even warning me. I felt very warm at first and then very tired. I don’t remember much of anything else.

When I awoke from the dream it was very cold in the room. I fell asleep with the air conditioner on. Someone was knocking and there was a voice coming from the other side.


“Come back later please.”

Too damn polite Anton Chico. Why not just say: “Leave me the hell alone!”

I showered, got dressed and went down to the lobby restaurant for some breakfast. Besides an older couple on holiday and some business sophistos in suits chattering on about the meaningless, I was the only one there.

I chose a table in the corner by the window looking out on the downtown street. I ordered eggs, toast, and coffee. I sipped and ate in solitude, staring out the window. Another hot day I assumed from the way the sunlight was pouring down all around and I could see the heat shimmering off the cement. So hot. Too hot. Inhumane heat and I wondered why was it that so many people lived here? Why so many lives were compacted into such a tight, hot, and ugly space?

I decided to drive the few blocks to Mexico in my own car, park somewhere on the American side and walk over the great bridge that spanned the two nations and the Rio Grande River between them. Great river? Dirty, brown trickle. The Great Divide. The muddy vein separating grotesque wealth and desperate poverty. It made one want to puke.

It was such a hot day, and I had my windows rolled down as I meandered my way through the maze of streets winding up and around and through downtown El Paso trying very hard to follow the signs that were pointing me in the direction of Juarez.

As I got closer to the border there was construction and roadblocks and feverish masses of people walking all over the place and I could not find my way in all the confusion and the noise and the heat and decided it would be better to just go back to the hotel, park my car and take the shuttle as I had originally planned.

One should always go with first instinct. The first thought that permeates the gut and simply says: “Yes! Do it this way!” or “No. Do it another way, this is bad.”

Anton Chico in his confused mind cannot always differentiate the first instinct from the second or even the third. He often makes mistakes, takes falls, runs from his miscues, and ends up panting and raging and slamming his fists into a wall because shit just did not work out again!

Again Anton Chico. You fucked up! But Anton Chico also had a way about him that caused him to grossly exaggerate the little misfortunes in his existence into giant, earth-shattering sins with the ability to destroy his entire life to the point he is ready to jump off a balcony and call it quits for good, to trade it all in for eternal rest and prosperity. To sleep peacefully forever in the boughs of the soft trees of universal Heaven spread out in space like a sheet of stars and to never again have to speak above a whisper or for that matter even hear anyone speak above a whisper. He was not fond of chaotic noise.

And I was immersed in chaotic noise right now.

Lost and hot and horns honking and Mexican people chattering outside the storefronts as they do, the men in white sweaty t-shirts and big dirty straw hats perched upon their dark heads; the women, large and brown wearing colorful and flowery sun dresses of thin cotton waving chunky tanned arms and making deals with the shopkeepers in the big clunk of stores huddled in a dirty mass of glass and brick and stucco right on the edge of the border on the American side.

I wondered as I drove, what had I gotten myself into now, what have you done Anton Chico? You fool! You can’t drive your little car around in Mexico! They’ll shoot at it, steal it, rob you blind and maybe even rape you for the camera around your neck or the few American dollars in your wallet. Get out Anton Chico! Get out while you still have a chance! 

I drove my way slowly out of the chaos and back closer to the big buildings downtown. I finally saw the El Paso Times building. I was not too far from the hotel. I would go there and find out how to get across without having to be so paranoid and stupid.

See more of the Chronicles of Anton Chico at cerealaftersex.com. Thank you for reading and supporting independent writers and publishers. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email below for updates on new posts. It’s free to follow! Thank you.

The Chronicles of Anton Chico (Love and Loss)

Anton Chico. Juarez.

The Battles

All the battles of Anton Chico’s life have brought me to this place – alone. For the battles break you at times. There. Over those hills I look out at the far gone on the horizon, now bathing in the holy amber light of another fading day.

So many miles between myself and life. Anton Chico looks out over the edge of the balcony at the long way down. So far to fall. But look how far I have fallen already. The hum of the city winding down mixes with the din of my own loneliness as I watch a happy family trot along the sidewalk gazing at the sun and moon both etching out their individual spaces along the horizon.

Together, husband and wife and little kids too, all on their way to get gunned down in Juarez because they are the entitled Americans who know no better and think Mexico is just another shopping mall, another place to push a shopping cart, another place to bitch at inept clerks who don’t cater to their every spoiled whim.

Get gunned down you fools. Have your white American blood all over the filthy streets of Juarez in your endless endeavor for more stuff. Get gunned down as you piss and whine because no one speaks English, and the Burger King hamburgers don’t taste the same across the border. Shooosh the little begging boy away. Cringe at the sight of him why don’t you, at the site of his dirty face and dirty hair and big, wet weepy eyes and turn in disgust as the filthy rags he calls clothes make your eyes sting just from the smell of them. Get gunned down. It’s all for you but there’s no one there to save you now.

Anton Chico, me, that is I, turned off the television set and headed down to the car to round up some magic at a local magic shop. The car had cooled down considerably and when I got in it reeked of bar life. I headed for the main drag that runs up and down by UTEP (University of Texas El Paso). The street was surprisingly hilly and lined with appealing architecture unfamiliar to me. Mexican-American brick and stucco facades, adobe churches, wire and mesh fencing, stone yards, cacti, stunted little palm trees and yuccas.

This part of the town had a sad tone to it, it breathed poverty and desperation, yet it had a furious taste of survival to it – cultures clashed, the old and the new, the white and the brown, the intelligent and the inaudible. As I moved farther from the areas closer to downtown and nearer to suburbia, the familiar sickness of strip malls and neon rose and that is where I found the spirit shop, pulled into the parking lot and sat there for a while smoking a cigarette in the last rays of day.

When I went inside the Asian clerk behind the counter greeted me and watched me as I headed straight for the beer coolers at the back of the store. I looked up and down at all the varieties he had stocked there. I wanted something good, not the American piss swill I usually bought because it was cheap, I wanted something with some heart to it, something with some kick, something that would really slur my speech when I began talking to the television set back at the hotel… Something that might give me the crazed sense of false courage to throw myself off that balcony and crash face-first into someone’s nice, clean windshield. I wanted something that might kill me.

I left my cell phone on just in case someone called. Was something starting up? Not really. It was there, but not. There was a party and I was invited but of course I didn’t go because I was here, there, in El Paso getting lit on magic firewater and tossing burning cigarettes over the edge of the balcony. It was dark. The lights in the room were dimly lit and I began to tilt. It was sad there, yet jubilant.

No one in the entire world knew where I was and for insanity purposes, I truly believed that no one cared. I was Anton Chico the unloved, the ungraceful, the unbeauty of all males in the Southwest. But someone was hurt that I did not come to the party. I don’t know why. Said she was hoping I would, but most likely in the throes of the festivities I rarely came to anyone’s mind.

I went out on the balcony for some air. It tasted brown and smelled dirty, but I felt free as I cracked open that new bottle and added to my demon inebriation.

Once sufficiently aired out I commenced the ritualistic clicking of the remote control. There was nothing worth watching. There is never anything worth watching but I left it on just so I could hear some voices other than the ones in my own head. I was watching something about crocodiles and a man who drove around in a little boat at night with a flashlight and then he dove into the water and grabbed onto one of those crocodiles and wrestled with it. He had an Australian accent. Them fucking crazy Aussies. Anton Chico thinks there great, just great.

Another bite of magic please and I suddenly felt very, very lonely. No one had called. No love letters slipped in under the door. No angels from heaven dangling outside my doorstep. Nothing. Solid me. Lonely me. Empty me pouring out the emptiness into a world of emptiness and I wondered if everyone else was as bored stiff as I was.

How could they be? I hear them laughing, I see them smiling, I see them hanging all over each other doing great things and going great places and there was me, Anton Chico, lit up and down on the seventh floor of some dirty old downtown El Paso motel boo-hooing about another and another and another crushing loss while the entire freaking world is out there partying their asses off.


The TV is off. Muffled voices on the other side of the walls. The clinking of glasses. Laughing. The sound of faint music, a tap of a piano key, a lover’s whorish growl, a train whistle, my own rapid heartbeat banging to get out of my chest. A freight train leaving town, its call and grind a heartless calliope.

Check out the previous posts in the Anton Chico series: Low and High and The Monarch of Devils.