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Deep in Mexico / Mark Rogers




photo by Mark Rogers


We arrive in Ciudad Obregon an hour before midnight. Sophy’s twin sisters Eva and Evie are traveling so we pick up the keys from a cousin and drive across town to the twin’s house, where we’ll be staying.


We switch on the light and see deep disarray. There’s a layer of grime over every object, on every cluttered surface. At the end of a narrow hallway is a frightened Chihuahua on a short leash, whining as it delicately steps around its turds.


We hump our suitcases and bags into the house. We take care of the Chihuahua and a stray cat that magically appears, and then Sophy and I carve out a space to sleep on a sordid mattress.


Near dawn, a man’s strangled cries mix with the crowing of a rooster.


Sophy wakes me and says, “My sister told me he didn’t do this anymore.”


Sophy had told me about this guy. The cries are those of a retarded man in anguish. He sounds as though he’s being tortured. It’s terrible. He lives in a backyard shed.

Sophy says, “I think he cries because he’s cold.”


I tell her how strange I feel being in this house.


Sophy spent much of her childhood sleeping on a cement floor. She tells me, “This neighborhood used to be houses of cardboard and sheet metal. As bad as this house is, this would be considered good for many people.”


The cries of the rooster and man mingle, making a heart-rending sound. As I listen I respect Sophy even more for pulling herself out of this kind of poverty. I begin to understand her quirks, her childlike joy in ordering black clams, her pride in looking good; her concern that our new leather sofa remains unscratched.


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During this visit to Ciudad Obregon, there’s a chill between Sophy and her son, Cedro.

The morning sun is slanting in the windows and Cedro is tricked out in an Ed Hardy cap and embroidered jacket. Jailhouse tattoos climb his arms. Sophy cuts Cedro’s hair as his pregnant girlfriend looks on.


Sophy’s reunion with Cedro is like a series of trick shots on a pool table—all angles. They can’t connect.


Evie—the sister with the dyed blonde hair—comes over and sits down next to Sophy—as close as she can get—and then lights up a cigarette.


Sophy says, “I have an allergy.”


No response.


“I’m allergic to cigarette smoke.


Nothing from Evie.


“Don’t you hear me?” asks Sophy.


Evie, without making eye contact, says, “Oh, you’re too delicate.”


Evie continues smoking.


Sophy shakes her head and keeps cutting hair.


She doesn’t get much of a reaction from Cedro when the job is done. He looks in the mirror and says, “It’s okay.”


/

 

We drop in on Soledad, a Mexican friend of Sophy’s. Soledad has traveled down from Salt Lake City, where she lives surrounded by Mormons.


Sitting in the living room as her 16-month-old granddaughter dances in front of us, Soledad says, “I don’t want to be racist, but I think white people are cold.”


She’s coming off a four-year live-in relationship with a white Mormon. All those years, the guy waited for a disability payment to come in, refusing to work, playing Nintendo as Soledad worked 90 hours a week as a nurse, paying all the bills.


She’d call from work and ask him what he was doing.


He’d answer “Nothing.”


She’d hear the fruitless booping and beeping of Nintendo in the background.


When his settlement finally came in, the Mormon bailed without telling Soledad why. She’d call him at his mother’s house and he’d refuse to even talk to her.


Soledad tells me she still loves the guy—that she didn’t lose him—he lost her.


“I’m a good woman,” says Soledad. “Mexican women love deeply."



/



MARK ROGERS is a writer and artist whose literary heroes include Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, and Charles Portis. Rogers lives in Baja California, Mexico with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sofia. His award-winning travel journalism has brought him to 56 countries. His crime novels have been published in the U.S. and UK. Uppercut, his memoir of moving to Mexico, is published by Cowboy Jamboree Press. NeoText publishes his Tijuana Novels series and Gray Hunter series. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Mystery Tribune, BULL, and Chiron Review (upcoming). You can reach him at markrogers627@gmail.com.

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