It was early evening and the Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time Boys were busy doing just that at their usual table along the Mahahual malecon, sipping cold cervezas and enjoying huge plates of the Buster’s special of the day, chipotle/mole arroz con pollo. Not much could really shut this group up, but a plate of food at Buster’s on the Beach would usually do the trick. For a few minutes anyway.
“Muy rico,” said Ernie, as Juan Flaco removed his empty plate and set another cold beer in front of him. “Tell Chef Pedro, I, like Johnny Depp in that movie, might have to kill him now. That was sooooo good, it just disrupted the entire universe as I know it.”
Juan Flaco, or “skinny Juan”, so named because Buster also had a Juan Gordo, or “fat Juan”, just looked at Ernie with that far away look in his eye that said, “huh???”
“Never mind Flaco, just tell Pedro his food was perfecto,” said Ernie, realizing Juan Flaco had not seen the movie.
Suddenly Ronnie came walking up, not his usual self, his shirt torn, his little bit of hair all messed up, and he was not wearing his usual jock-logo hat. He flopped down in the empty chair, ordered a beer and said, “That does it. Never, and I mean never, am helping one of these damn sun bird gringos ever again. Those people are nothing but a pain in the you know where, and cause me nothing but problems. I’m done with ’em.”
“Uh oh, sounds like trouble in paradise,” laughed Rick. “Que paso amigo!”
“I just got assaulted by Danny, and for no reason, that’s what is happening.”
“You just got an ass-kickin’ from an old, one leged, drunken hooker?” laughed Rick.
Danny was “the most experienced lady of the night in Mahahual” as Buster often called her, and one the boys all agreed that, in her younger days, and before she lost her leg, she might have even been a looker. These days, she was way past her prime, but in a country with limited opportunities, and even fewer for middle-aged ladies, she continued her line of work and still managed to make a living with what Buster also called, “less discriminating customers”.
“Let me guess, you didn’t pay her and she beat you with her wooden leg,” said Giles, now laughing uncontrollably.
“Yea, laugh it up little Tinkerbell, and if your not careful, I’ll go pay her to drop by your place in the middle of the night, and you can explain that to your little boy-toy, Tito. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll tell you what happened, and no, I did not hire Danny for anything. Your forgetting, I’m Ronnie, the Burt Reynolds of Mahahual,” he said laughing only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. “Chicks dig sexy old dudes like me.”
“Oh paaaaaaleeeeze,” laughed Rick, “can you get on with the Danny kicking your ass part.”
“Well, you guys know how every time she walks by, she says something like ‘go to hell’ or ‘up yours’ or something like that, to me? I think that’s how she learns English, because that’s all she ever says to me in English are the insults.”
“We hear her,” said Rick, “and just always assumed there was history there between you guys and you didn’t care to share it with us.”
“There was, but it ain’t what you think,” replied Ronnie. “You guys know that old gringo dude from Kansas that has a casita over on Calle Chacchoben. The one with the cute wife that is like 100 years younger than him?”
“You mean Chuck and Cheryl, from Wichita,” said Ernie, who prided himself on knowing and remembering the names of every gringo in town.
“Yea, those guys. Well a couple years ago he asked me if I could help him find someone to clean his place before his wife got there. He said he wanted it cleaned real special, and kinda winked at me when he said it, and said to keep it quiet, cause he didn’t want everyone in town to know about it. I assumed he wanted to get the place cleaned, and his pipes cleaned at the same time. You know what I mean?”
“So you sent him Danny?” laughed Giles.
“Well yea. He sounded like he really wanted his house cleaned, and no self respecting prostitute I know is gonna clean some dudes house before she services him. I think that’s why most ladies do that sort of work, cause they don’t want to clean houses for $20,” explained Ronnie. “I figured old Danny would take any work, and as old as Chuck is, I figured she’d be fine for the other cleaning as well.”
“Must not have worked out?” asked Giles. “What possibly could have gone wrong with that Ronnie. You send an old drunken, one legged Mexican hooker, who speaks almost no English, to a married gringo’s house, who speaks no Spanish, when his wife isn’t there. What could possibly go wrong with that?”
“Exactly,” said Ronny, “that’s exactly what I thought. Never got a commission or even a thanks from either one of them, so I just forgot about it. Well, it was about a year later, Danny started with always telling me to go to hell or whatever, every time she sees me. I never connected the two actually. I get told that a lot anyway, so really, I just ignored her.”
“Until today it looks like,” laughed Giles, who loved to give his amigo hard time every chance he could, and this appeared to be one such time. “Let me guess, you tried to use a discount coupon.”
That even made Ronnie laugh, “Yea, I had no idea hookers didn’t take coupons. Now do you want to hear my story or not? So anyway, I’m over at Paco’s Tacos a while ago, minding my own business, enjoying my tacos pastor, when Danny walks in. And as usual, she walks by and says ‘buenos noches culero’, which even I know means, ‘good evening asshole’. Right?”
“Your Spanish is getting better,” laughed Giles. “It comes from repetition. You hear things enough, and they stick after a while.”
“Si. So anyway, she sits down at the table next to me and begins to ignore me. So finally, I decide I’ve had all the childish BS I care to put up with, and I ask her, ‘okay lady, what’s your beef with me. I’ve never done anything to you. Why do you talk like that to me?’ Then she looks at me and yells, so all could hear, that I would not have sex with her. She said I had her clean my house, then refused to have sex with her. I had no idea what she was talking about.”
“I believe him guys,” said Rick. “He sure doesn’t have enough money to pay anyone to clean his house, hooker or otherwise. And if you’ve ever seen it, it is clear, it hasn’t been cleaned in a while.”
“Organized chaos,” grinned Ronnie. “Anyway, I figured out finally that she has me confused with that guy from Kansas. I tried to explain that but she just kept yelling how I would not have sex with her. Must have screamed it 20 times. So finally, I’d had enough and just started yelling back at her. I said ‘fine, let’s go have sex then. Right now, right here. Bathroom, out back, on the beach, where ever, let’s go. How about right here on the table, in front of everyone! Let’s get it on lady!'”
This had the entire table roaring now. They all knew Ronnie, and knew quiet well, he was telling the story just as it happened.
“That explains the torn shirt,” laughed Giles.
“Oh, that. No, I tore that on the door of the taxi on the way over. Anyway, she stands up and now I’m gettin’ nervous, thinkin’ ‘what if she says okay’. But she reaches over grabs my hat and wacked me over the head with it and walks out. With my new Braves hat. Can you believe that. All that, because I tried to help out a gringo.”
The laughter from Ronnie’s story had barely finished when Danny herself, wearing Ronnie’s hat no less, walked up to the restaurant. She walked past the Boys as if they were not there and walked right over to the bar where Buster was watching the Ranger game on his tablet. The guys were unsure if they should run while it was still calm, and they could’ve, or stick around and watch the storm. They chose the latter.
However, the storm never came. Buster was a friend of Danny, so she was no stranger to his place. Chef Pedro brought her a plate of food, and they too chatted and laughed a bit before he returned to the kitchen. Buster and Danny talked as she ate her meal and they both kept looking at the Boys, laughing most of time.
The Boys did not know it, but Danny was the first friend Buster had made many years prior, his first day in Mahahual. She tried to sell her wares to Buster before his first lunch, and he instead, bought her lunch in exchange for a fascinating story that took many beers and all afternoon to tell. They talked about the town, life, the past, and the future, and in the process, became friends. When she was short on money and needed some food, she always knew she could stop in, and Buster would make sure she left full. And when Buster needed some help with a local, or the street, Danny would always be there to give her friend a good word to the local fisherman, or guy at the bar. That’s what friends do for friends.
When she finished eating, she got up and offered her cheek to Buster, who gave her the obligatory kiss, and she turned to leave the restaurant. As she walked past the Boys table, she stopped and took off the hat, causing Ronnie to immediately duck and put his hands on his head for protection.
She laughed and handed him the hat. “Lo siento, culero. Okay, I have sex with you. You pay double. Tu casa en una hora. You understand?” And with that she tapped him on the top of the head and walked away laughing.
Once safely around the corner, the table burst out in laughter. Ronnie was even laughing, but not quite as hard as the others. Buster came over to the table and sat down with the guys. He too was laughing. A little too hard too, for Ronnie’s liking.
“Buster, what the hell did you say to that crazy ass lady,” asked Ronnie. “I think she’s gonna be at my casita in an hour. More I think about this, it ain’t funny.”
“Oh, its funny alright,” laughed Buster. “She told me the story from Paco’s place a while ago, and that, was really funny. No worry, I knew what happened, Chuck comes in all the time and he told me that story right after it happened. He said he asked Ronnie to get him a cleaning lady and he got him a hooker instead. That’s not a story I’d forget, even two years later. So I explained the whole thing to her, slowly and clearly, and she finally remembered it correctly. Then she asked what she should do about hitting Ronnie.”
“You didn’t,” cringed Ronnie.
“I just told her she should not have hit you and that she should say she was sorry … and that if ol’ Ronnie really wanted to have sex with her that bad, like he told her at Paco’s, she should go ahead, and do him a favor. I had nothing to do with the charging double though. That was her idea.”
“Ouch! Live by the sword, die by the sword,” laughed Giles. “What’s the ‘Burt Reynolds of Mahahual’ gonna do now.”
“Well it ain’t that “thing”, if that’s what you think,” grumbled Ronnie.
“Careful, Ronnie, Danny is my friend, not a “thing,” said Buster with a smile. “And no, I’m not a client. She always says she wouldn’t have me, even for double. Which makes me even lower than you Ronnie.”
“So why are you so nice to that lady,” asked Rick. “She seems nuts to me.”
“You know me, I like characters. Hell, that’s why I like you guys. And Danny is certainly a character. Her story is fascinating actually. Most of it I think is even true. All of its entertaining though.”
“But she is a scanky old hooker Buster,” said Ernie. “What would the neighbors think.”
“You mean because she sells her body for the enjoyment of others. Hell, if I had a problem with that, I’d have to never have boxing, or any of that cage fighting crap on the TV here, which is something we do for no other reason, than the enjoyment of guys like you, that want to watch one guy beat the snot out of another, for pay. Gotta be something morally wrong with that too, but its perfectly legal. But that is definitely, prostituting their body for money, and in a very brutal way I might add. Grown adults, hurting nobody, so what the hell, is the way I see it. I’m fine with both, hookers and prize fighters.”
“I guess if you put it like that,” piped in Ronnie, “if you ask me which way I would want to prostitute my body, I know which one I’m choosing. I’d much rather hold my nose and have sex with a one legged, wore out old hag like Danny while there ain’t nobody lookin’, than get my nose broken in an ass kickin’ in front of a bunch of blood thirsty drunks.”
“You’d be the poorest hooker in Mexico,” laughed Giles, “so be glad it hasn’t come down to you having to prostitute your body.”
“Seriously guys, you know very well the average salary here for ladies is maybe $20 a day,” continued Buster. “And for that, you also know there is a good chance she’ll have to endure all sort of harassment by everyone from the boss, to the other male workers. It is a very macho place and women don’t always get treated with respect here in the workplace. I’m fine with hookers and figure what the hell, if your gonna have to put up with that, might as well get paid good for it. It is not for me to judge a working lady or a prize fighter really.”
“Well, that don’t make it legal though,” piped in the Ernie, the pot smoking, retired cop.
“Actually, it isn’t really addressed much in the law here from what I can tell,” said Buster. “The law doesn’t like to say what a man, like a boxer, or lady, like a hooker, does with their body for money. Its your body, not the state’s. It is illegal to profit from someone else’s body sexually, so escort services and whore house operations are not legal. But an independent worker like Danny, is just using her body for work. Seems okay with most here, so its okay to me. Otherwise, she is just a lady who has made a lot of bad choices, paid a lot for having made those choices, and now finds herself where she is today. Too old to work much, and dependent on her vodka and a few meals from friends like me every now and then, to make ends meet. And she does.”
“Well, she ain’t makin’ a peso off of me,” said Ronnie. “Giles, do you still have the hammock on the back porch? I ain’t going home tonight. No way, Jose.”
“Aw, not again,” whined Giles, “every time you stay back there, the dogs won’t have anything to do with me for a week. I think its the smell.”
“Ha, very funny,” said Ronnie, standing to make his fast exit. “Come on with me. I don’t want your little boy-toy Tito to get the wrong idea.”
“I’m real sure you don’t need to worry about that, Jethro,” said Giles. “You go, and I’ll call Tito and tell him to toss a pillow in the hammock for you … and bring in the dogs.”
With that, Ronnie headed toward Giles’ casita, listening to The Stones on his headphones, and again, just happy to have his Braves hat back. Buster walked over with a bucket of beers for the Boys, sat down, and took one for himself. They sat quietly, sipping their beers, still all with smiles on their faces from the Ronnie and Danny show they just laughed through. Finally Giles asked, “What time did you tell Danny to go my backyard?”
“In an hour,” said Buster with a grin. “She said for dinner, she’d drop in for a minute and give old Ronnie a scare. She’s gonna film it from her phone and said she’d be by after, to show us the look on his face. We gotta buy her a beer for that.” The Boys all laughed, touched bottles and toasted their old buddy Ronnie, the Burt Reynolds of Mahahual.
And so it goes when you are Livin’ and Dyin’ in 3/4 Time.