Officer Alex finds that venturing into foreign parts is a bit…scary
I was sitting in a shitbox Days Inn ten miles outside of Mobile, Alabama watching HGTV and sipping wine from a plastic cup when I heard a noise outside the door that took my mind off of just what could been so damp for so long to cause the smell I was currently living with.
I pulled back a curtain slightly to see that my neighbors to the left had moved their rolling desk chair and accompanying breakfast nook seats onto the walkway in front of their rooms, and propped their door open to better facilitate the acoustics provided by the single-speaker television inside.
The oldest inhabitant (whom I decided was the father, the oldest brother, or both, in the family) had the heel of a pointed boot propped up over the rail with the rest of his slim form reclined back in the office chair, and he reached without looking into a bucket of ice next to him that held his Natural Light beer supply. (The bucket, by the way, was a garbage can.)
Forty-eight hours later I was in an entirely different shitbox known as “Calica, Mexico,” sipping on tequila while shopping for a cheap pair of sunglasses to replace ones I lost earlier in the morning while straddling an inverted bottlenose dolphin named “Sparta.” (There’s more to Mexico than donkey shows & diarrhea, you know; the urge to specify this is brought on only by the recent mention of the Alabama Populace at large.)
The market was the usual haven for tourist dollars; a place successfully tempting people to travel 700 miles over the Gulf of Mexico to purchase knock-off items shipped from the same country they just traveled from. These items are justified as being local by being sold alongside cheap sombreros for people known as “a-holes” to wear on the plane ride or cruise ship back to The Big Paycheck.
I walked along its storefronts, and just as anyone who has seen the outskirts of Washington D.C. and marveled at its majesty just prior to stepping over the line in a little place called Anacostia D.C. and suddenly considering crapping their pants, the view past the polished stones of the market square was more than disturbing to the average suburbanite on holiday.
There beyond the fortified walls of this economic fortress lay the graffiti-covered poured-concrete structures that dominated the sun-baked streets here, as they supported the half-assed structures built against and around them to protect from seasonal storms and arson. This was the real Mexico, the “Stab You” Mexico that doesn’t make the brochures any more than the Section 8 areas of our own nation’s capital do, despite the valiant efforts made therein to keep it the “Murder Capital” of the United States.
As I surveyed these surroundings, muscle memory kicked in. I subconsciously drew my right forearm in to my waist to simultaneously feel the comfort of a gun butt above my belt and make mental note of its distance to my palm should it need to slide up and draw it, when deep alarm bells rang in my head alerting me that it was not there.
I wasn’t on American soil, and it was a feeling worse than simply having left my gun locked in the car or in my safe. Should the shit hit the fan, I wasn’t just unarmed…as far as I was concerned, help simply wasn’t coming.
No matter how much you hated George Bush back in the day or photo enforcement in the current one, or even the Baby Jesus in the school system in any given year…everyone is patriotic when they’re scared and on foreign soil. In America, even the fiercest critic of police hates them until their back is against the wall and those same cops are the first ones they call for help—not Momma, not their best-est buddies. But when you slip towards the Third World? Hell. Honest cops in Mexico are the ones found headless in the desert—not a hypocritical cell phone call away.
That’s this week’s theme, you see. This week’s lesson. Like not appreciating a good woman (or man) until they’re gone…take a walk down South Kelley Street or Calica’s Federal Highway 307 and see how much you hate the police then. What an awful feeling, walking under a different flag.
I eventually found the glasses I sought and several rum-based drinks that aided in that quest, and returned to the safe haven of the ship I’d arrived on (which like the dolphin ride is a completely separate story). It was safe; a little floating America with its pleasant façade of safety, and I felt normal again. And for once? My “normal” was better.
Nos vemos, baby. In America.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.