Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fifty And Eight

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

The concussion sounded consistent with gunfire, but the very quick rhythmic sequence had me thinking that some old Ford was so completely mistimed that immediate back-firing resulted upon ignition. I convinced myself that the sound that I had just heard came from one of many older vehicles here that ran on bad fuel, incorrect mechanical repair, and the unwavering will of the owner. This is Tijuana, Mexico, after all.

After a few moments, it came again.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

And with the last one, the house seemed to crack. I would have thought it to be mere coincidence except that I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in peaceful Saturday mornings and getting out of bed on my own terms. I looked around the bedroom and everything seemed to be in perfect order. I must have been imagining that the house had taken issue with the last back-fire.

The radio lulled me back into slumber. The voice on the radio station was going on about some plan that senior citizens should desire in order to keep the government from seizing their assets should they fall ill. The man said that if I died, then the government of the United States of America would take whatever money or possessions I owned in order to reimburse whatever expenses that Medicare had incurred. This plan started with attending a seminar, and the very thought of attending a seminar triggered my subconscious into some crazy dream that involved a zebra, a volcano, and a short Inca girl with a name I couldn’t pronounce because there were sixteen consonants and no vowels.

That dream ended when one of my daughters woke up, came out of her bedroom, and then went to the bathroom.

* * * *

The local police, stripped of their guns, have taken to carrying slingshots. Slingshots, imagine that! And now, if only to level the playing field, perhaps the criminals can construct and carry their own peashooters and stash the hardcore weapons. I have made more than one rubber-band rifle in my youth, clothespins and finishing nails and whatever piece of long pine I could get my hands on made for fine examples of harmless weapons. Better that than bullets, I say.

Regardless, we are all happy here. Crime is down about twenty percent since the coppers had their guns taken away. Crime is down, but not out. People are still shooting at one another, I don’t imagine that this is any different here than in the United States of America or Canada or Brazil or anywhere else.

But at least, temporarily, the cops don’t have as much of a chance to run with the bad guys.

At least there is that.

And it isn’t perfect, it will never be perfect, regardless of politics and so on.

* * * *

"Dad, are you alright?" Sharon’s voice came unsteadily from outside of my bedroom door.


I was half-awake and looked at the clock, a few minutes after six. Rocio had left for work over a half-hour ago. At least I slept a good fifteen minutes since some car had back-fired.

"Um," I said.

"Dad, you should come out here and look at this," Sharon insisted.

I threw on my robe and opened the door. Sharon was standing at the door of the bathroom, looking at the wall. I wondered where the plunger was, I was thinking far too rationally for the moment. And then I looked at the same wall that Sharon was looking at; there was a nice small hole in it. And there was a nice small hole in the wall that formed the alcove that framed the shower enclosure. And then I went backwards and saw that the first hole had yet another link to another hole in my bedroom, horizontally even from the floor with my pillow but some fifty-eight inches to the right.

Light shone through from outside, a pale and dark blue early-morning supported my claim that the owner of this house – in spite of his argument to the contrary as we signed a rental agreement – had never installed a single piece of insulation in the walls. Through the wall in my bedroom (fifty and eight inches from where my head was at the time it entered) and through the other wall into the bathroom and then into to wall that defines the alcove that houses the shower.

The aluminum extrusion that frames the sliding shower doors stopped the bullet, a perfect piece of ballistic evidence, I fished it out with a pair of cutters.

And, of course, the bullet wasn’t meant for me. But my life, then, is worth exactly fifty and eight inches. Fifty and eight.

A note to the shooter: Suck it up and go to the range. Practice. And better luck next time.


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