I must admit that I was a little frosted when I first heard Sunday afternoon that one of the Protestant congregations in town had joined in a group prayer that Sunday morning for Rick's safe return from Mexico. That quickly passed, however, when I put it into the perspective of my lifelong acquaintance with him. I first met him in Kindergarten in 1952. We have now both recently qualified for Medicare. Even when we were off on our separate ways in our peak earning, high consumption years, we maintained contact.
He knows everyone in this little farming community, and everyone loves him. I am sure that somebody somewhere out there dislikes him, but I do not know who that is. You would love him, too. On the other hand everyone who knows me around here has already written me off as a lost cause. My physical appearance now after a long absence in Mexico does not help in that regard. An old friend who delights in trafficking in this sort of thing recently informed me that a lady--a mutual acquaintance--had whispered to him that I look like a washed up hippie. I suppose that I do.
The whole thing came to a head in early February when the U.S. State Department published its latest travel advisory for American citizens considering travel to Mexico. That was publicized in the newspaper and on television here in the usual sensational fashion. Word had already spread that Rick was considering riding back with me in the pickup for a cheap vacation. Members of the citizenry have since then taken every opportunity to tell Rick how crazy he is even to consider it.
The fact of the matter is that there are no travel advisories for the Mexican state in which I live, Guanajuato. I must concede that there are travel advisories in effect for the three states through which we will have to drive to get there, however—Tamaulipas, Nuevo Laredo, and San Luis Potosí. The Department of State has made its cautionary tales about those states as sobering as possible.
Still, I have made that drive three times, twice by myself, without untoward incident. Neither Rick nor I are involved in the cocaine trade. We have no intention of visiting any adult entertainment establishments in those states. We shall not intentionally take a tour of any of the border town slums. Our forbearance in all these things, according to the Department of State, increases our chances of making it through cartel country safely. Moreover, neither of us uses alcohol anymore, Rick having quit it long before I did five years ago. And at 65 years of age, neither of us now feels compelled to try to copulate with as many female members of the species as possible. The mere passage of time has contributed to the higher quality of judgment that we exhibit today.
Young Rick above and the young pair of ears below.
The last piece of the puzzle is this. Many of these same people here knew us when we were young men, co-captains of the high school football team, you will recall. Many knew us in that day when we ran together—along with Billy Joe, now gone, lo, these many years—in other words when we simultaneously discovered beer and pussy. He and I simultaneously. Beer and pussy simultaneously. But their view of Rick differed from their view of me. Men have always simply, easily, and quickly liked Rick. He is a man's man with manly tastes in so far as how that sort of thing is judged here. Women in those days, particularly older women, suffered a kind of mental paralysis when they encountered Rick. They locked up in indecision over whether to mother him or fuck him. I, on the other hand . . . well, it was different with me, but I have no complaints.
The upshot then was that whenever we did anything that indicated poor judgment, to put it politely, people always assumed that I had put Rick up to it; that it would never have occurred to him to do whatever we had done without my instigation. In many cases the truth of the matter was quite the opposite. (Here I am going to violate the requirement of writers that they provide illustrative detail. The detail best remains forgotten.)
In this case, yes, I certainly did put the idea into Rick's head to drive back to Mexico with me and look around. I did make some comment to the effect that we come to a point in our lives when we are hitting the ball out of the same divot over and over again and need to break out of that. I did point out that both of us will soon be in some lockdown for the aged, our brains wiped clean by Alzheimer's Disease, tended by obese women dressed in scrubs who wipe our asses for us when they are not busy abusing us—if we do not die a cancerous death of unspeakable pain first. Time is wasting away toward one or the other of those conclusions, I said. I did suggest that even if we are shot in front of some adobe wall in Mexico, at least we would be spared those fates. In the end Rick saw the wisdom in this.
Now, as we approach our departure, I am starting to feel the pressure. I need to get him safely into the country, and when the time comes, get him safely on a plane back out of the country. Because, you see, if my extraordinary luck were to fail me in this one venture, then I will not be remembered for any of the decent things that I have done in my life. And there are some. Really, there are. Rather, I will be remembered as that bastard who talked Rick into going to Mexico and got him killed there. Even if I get killed with him.
We head south in the pickup early this coming Thursday morning.