Ningún Santuario Pt. 13
Maria Guadalupe was home. Before arriving last week in the wake of Arturo’s death, she hadn’t been back to Oaxaca in over 30 years. Now she had, for all intents and purposes, lost both of her sons and she could no longer see the point in staying in the United States when the prospect of opportunities for her children ceased to be the reason for living in a country that was growing increasingly hostile to immigrants.
Arturo, for all his problems, had been her only hope for many years. She had not seen Alfonse since he made his “mistake”. That was how she thought of the act of incestuous rape he had committed against her in a drunken rage. A mistake. But it had given her Arturo and she had dedicated her life to his well-being until that, too, became impossible. She still thought about Alfonse and wondered if he would ever soften his heart enough to pay her a visit or even just call her on the telephone. Here in the village of her childhood, surrounded by family both close and distant, she knew that at least she’d be cared for, loved and respected. A woman of her age needed nothing else. Her life had been hard, marked by tragic events that would have broken a weaker resolve, but now she was ready to get right with the Lord and enjoy her final days in anticipation of her soul’s glorious release.
The heavy double wooden doors of the Mine Shaft Tavern swung open and Alfonse Capella stumbled into the dank interior waving a .22 pistol over his head. As several patrons at the bar turned toward him with apparent disinterest, he shouted “Uno de ustedes hijos de puta me compre una bebida!”
It was a weeknight, so the clientele of Madrid’s sole watering hole were well-acquainted with the bombastic Mexican blowhard and were therefore unfazed by his unsuccessfully intimidating entrance. Alfonse teetered in place for a moment or two, then upon realizing that nobody was lining up to buy him a drink, he trudged to the bar and sat down on the stool farthest from the entrance. A long-haired man in his mid-sixties occupied the stool beside him.
“So what kind of debauchery have you been up to tonight, Alfonse?”
“The fuck is dobosh’ry?” Alfonse slurred.
“Ah, none at all, mi amigo. I just rid the world of an abomination. An abomination who happened to live very close to where we sit, which is why you should be thanking me – everyone should be thanking me. But no…every one of you filthy maricóns is too cheap to even spring for a cerveza.”
Alfonse had laid his pistol on the bar. He occasionally placed his hand on it while continuing his tale of murderous heroism.
“This piece of shit would have come here and killed you all, sooner or later. He hated everyone and he was an angry, unpredictable retard. Buy me a fucking drink.”
“I think you’ve had more than your fill, Alfonse.”
“Ah, fuck you, you cheap-ass gringo. I should kill you, too.”
At that, Alfonse stood up, picked his gun off the bar and brandished it as he spoke, presumably to everyone within earshot.
“Listen to me, you assholes. If someone doesn’t buy me a drink in the next five minutes, I’m gonna start shooting. I shouldn’t even have to ask, after what I just did for you out of the goodness of my heart. I’m not fucking play—”
Alfonse lost his balance and fell backward, smacking his head against the thick metal runner spanning the length of the bar. The pistol still in his hand with his finger hooked onto the trigger, he crumpled to the floor at the same time that a deafening bang startled the patrons and caused them to direct their attention to the spectacle taking place at the far end of the tavern. A widening pool of blood oozed from his motionless body onto the hardwood floor.
After a few moments of collective shock, the bartender rang up the police and the customers resumed their private conversations. The man with whom Alfonse had been speaking overheard the bartender’s leisurely call to 911.
“Yeah, it’s that stupid asshole Alfonse Capella. Dumbass shot himself before anyone even had a chance to buy him a drink.”
Jim had been trying to reach me for weeks, but with all that had been going on, I hadn’t had a chance to return his calls. Even though I had already written off the whole 12 step thing as a bunch of ill-conceived bullshit, he was a very nice guy with the best of intentions, so now that I finally had a moment, I took out my phone and dialed his number.
It rang six times then went to voice mail – which was full. I knew that Jim had a pretty sizeable corral of mostly disinterested sponsees, but a full mailbox seemed odd.
I tried texting him. Jim, it’s Andy. Sorry I didn’t contact you sooner, but things are very strange. Call me.
I leaned back on the sofa and waited for his reply. It never came.
Grabbing my keys from the coffee table, I walked out the door, got into my car and headed towards Jim’s place, scared shitless of what I might find there.