ANOTHER LATINO WALL STORY

(Ed note: In the following segment the reader may notice different sounds accompanying different flat tires. This could have to do with the blazing hot asphalt or maybe it’s what I remember the sounds to be.)

My Chevy pickup died in Galveston. It sounds like a country song but it was real. I had driven down here to go to the wedding of a good friend and the truck, which had been so reliable in the past, suddenly had turned on me.

There was nothing left to do but stick out my thumb in the muggy Texas heat on lovely Interstate 10. I quickly got a ride in a semi to the town of Gonzalez where Willie Nelson just happened to be having a party. It looked like a pleasant detour especially when I saw the line-up of Ernest Tubb. Kris Kristofferson. Rita Coolidge, Jerry Jeff Walker, Leon Russell, Ray Wiley Hubbard, George Jones plus Willie and Waylon Jennings and more.

After two days of beer, blood and music I left Gonzalez and headed back on the road. In moments a rough 1970 ford Galaxy pulled over. He had a sizzled flat tire and we started talking while he fixed it. His name was Carlos. His family came from somewhere in Sonora and he lived in San Antonio where I had hoped to stay for the night.

With the tire repaired we headed west. I had noised that all the other tires (Carlos had no spare of course) looked like prophylactics. Soon, from my shotgun seat, everything appeared in order but that was not to be.

“Pop!” There went the rear tire on the driver’s side and the car crawled to the side of the road again. “Damn” cursed Carlos who looked at me half laughing and half crying. “I should have brought a spare.

We removed the tire and Carlos went into Sequin, Texas to have it repaired.

“You don’t have to stay here and wait for me,” he smiled.

“Someone has to watch the car while you are in town,” I said.

“Why?” he asked. It’s not going anywhere.”

In about an hour he returned and found me still there. We installed the newly patched tire and went on our way. Before long we were approaching Santa Clara and a distinct wobble began to emerge from under the car.

“It’s just the drive train or maybe the transmission,” said Carlos. “I’m not too worried. We are almost there.”

As the skyline of San Antonio came into view another loud Whop was detected over the blasting radio. Now Carlos was pissed. three flats in 120 miles! We went through the same charade as before with Carlos taking the flat to a gas station on Yucca Street near Artesia.

I waited, keeping an eye out for the many thieves that would love to steal his beat-up wreck with bad tires. He returned in the company of a mechanic he knew from high school who frowned and lent him a spare. We were in San Antonio.

“Do you like enchiladas? he asked.

“Yes, very much I replied.

“Good. We we’ll go to my parents’ house for dinner. He pulled over to a phone booth and called his family to announce he was bringing a guest to dinner.

Arriving at his home I met his mother and father and feasted on chili rellenos, refried beans, fresh tortillas and cheese enchiladas. He told them of our adventures and they stared at him like he was nuts. His mother insisted I eat more and, not wanting to create a negative cultural incident I downed another enchilada. It was now dark.

“I will give you a ride to the river where you can find a hotel,” he said. “This neighborhood is no place for you after dark.”

To my great relief he borrowed his father’s car and drove me downtown to the San Antonio River. In just moments I heard “Where y’all going?” sweetly sang out. That’s when I met two exotic dancers who invited me home, but that is another story.

It was all like a distorted James Joyce novel set in the heat of summer in south Texas. Just like Ulysses it had all happened in just one day.

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