Editor Note: May 08, 2017
This short story was originally published August 2009, almost 18 years ago. It still is relevant today, but things have changed, and the world of Horlinda, a small time coyotera, has changed as well. Criminality of a much larger scale has taken over most of the independent operators, and things have become more intense and much more criminal. But our leading lady “Horlinda”, and her sisters still roam the borderlands and will most likely exist in some form for many years to come.
Up the road from just past the Frijolera County line lurked the Checkpoint. At one time it was open only part time, although that was most of the time. Back in the Sixties, I think, they had two regular eight hour shifts and everyone went home at 11:00 pm. I take it the contrabandidos were too unsophisticated to notice. Things were much more laissez-faire, more like “You get some, and you don’t get some. We get paid the same.”
Failure is integral to the system function, after all. If there was no crime, who would need police? No war and for what purpose a huge military industrial complex? No killer disease or chronic conditions whither goeth the medical bonanza for conditions that are never cured?
You educate strong, self reliant people who can think for themselves, they become hard to fool and eventually impossible to control. The answer is never to get even close to an answer. Fog, smoke and misdirection–that’s the ticket. The great secret is to nip the secret in the bud. You’re guaranteed no solution to the problem when you never allow the problem to even be defined or stated in any kind of coherency! Your little agency gets fatter and sassier. Things change for you too, the enforcers and authorities and security types. Not for the better, of course, for the rest of us. Collective insanity, just as much as individual, cycles in predictable and supra-predictable wild card fashion. The laid back ambiance of border commerce changes over the decades. Now the checkpoint is manned 24 hours a day. Qué será, será.
Blonde Indias, Mexicana, Asianas and Africanas can look kind of fake with cornsilk colored hair. Horlinda pulled it off. She looked quite decent, I must say, but still kind of cheap. That can be good; there’s a certain available quality that’s integral to that level of sex appeal. And, when you’re divorced at thirty-five with a couple of kids and no marketable skills other than a big bust and a bubbly manner and peroxide hair, what can a girl do? Well, maybe enlist in the Mex Express. The delivery service. Come as you are. All you need is a car.
Anyway, Horlinda was prima to almost all the Nopaleros, and por cierto was prima to all the vatos locos and supposed badasses. She would look after her tribe as best she could, try to make peace, keep the onda cool and so on, except when she copped an attitude herself. Then it was best just to get out of her way.
So one afternoon she cruised out to the west side of town and pulled into the biggest house in the barrio. It was the usual one-hundred-eighty degree rotation shotgun frame like the rest of the block, but with customizing. It looked like a really sharp chort on cement blocks. It had three stories; the last two looked like they were just piled on top of the first one. There were no carpenters in Nopales that had ever built two stories before so maybe it was okay for a first time effort.
There were quite a few statues out front, mostly religious. They share the yard with a really tricked out ‘57 Chevy, a ‘66 Corvette and a ‘59 Cadillac. Replica spare parts cars were up on blocks in the back. Off to the side opening to the front was the obligatory party room. Posters, black lights, plastic boobs, Beatles and Little Joe album covers and, of course, the cookout pit. The roosters weren’t around anymore. Some of the neighbors had complained. Some of the neighbors weren’t around either.
El Puerco, or just Porky for short, was just starting his second beer of the twenty-two he had planned for that day. His Old Lady yelled a greeting to Horlinda as she pulled up into the yard. She was cousin to Inda as well, second twice removed third from the left, something like that. Also they were half sisters. You’ll have to do your own research.
After all the “hola primo,” “hola prima,” “whass-up” formalities, it was down to business.
There was a mojado drought. La Migra had dropped the tortilla curtain, launched Operation No Brown Coming to Town in Frijolera and Lavado Counties or something. There were another 1700 miles of border that the mojos could slip through even easier than before, but Operation No Brown Around for you sounded good to the anti-immigrant gang. What it meant was no cash for the Nopalero west-enders. But family was family.
El Puerco said, “Prima, for you we do have a mojada. She got as far as the county line. She’s at the Pollitero Palms Motel. There’s an easy five hundred dollars and a trip to Houston in it for you. That’s all I got, perdon, madrina.”
Horlinda was his godmother, too.
“¡Gracias, Primo. ¡Ahora le! ¡Vamonos!” Lorinda squealed as she did her jerky little booty boogy dance. She was ready to rocket. Nighttime can be the right time. Everyone was leaving the border regions after the big holiday. There was lots of traffic heading North. The mojadita se cabe muy bien in the trunk of the Ford Fairlane. Car and woman were both economy-sized. The woman fit just perfect curled in a fetal position in the spare tire well under blankets and a suitcase teddy bears and junk. She didn’t even raise a lump. Should be an easy five c note, uy.
Ever since Horlinda was a little girl, the family had told to calla la boca. But she never could. She was a cotorra and a perica. She hadn’t seen him in five years now, but she still remembers how the one true love of her life would say in way of greeting, “What’s the blather with you, Chica?” She did love to talk. She made lots of friends and lost lots of friends that way. Even Steven, sube y baje, it’s all the same, and does it even matter in the end? In case it does she had her special saint with her, San Resbalozo. She had forgotten his real name, it had slipped her mind.
The road rolls on forever when you’re running hot. The darkness closes in like the threat that it always has been. Horlinda worries, but not for long. She hopes her exhaust isn’t leaking. Every so often she turns her head and yells past the back seat. Esta’s bien? A muffled reply wavers back, “‘S allright”. Que buena, the mojadita was practicing her English. It was a start. Good enough.
Her little car rocked on through the night to its fate. No one lives forever, and Horlinda has much still to do. Her babies need her, and there’s still time to get a good man, hard and sexy, uy, if not for forever, well, for a while. But bizness is bizness. “Con dinero baile el perro. Y si no hay llana, no hay gana, and if you want to get into my slot, vato, I got to hear the money drop.” She laughed so hard she woke the Mexicanita up in the trunk. “I kill me,” she said to herself. Then just as quick, she crossed herself and did three oraciones to San Resbalozo. Es mala suerte to even talk like that. Bad things could happen to a girl in jail, she’d heard tell. Besides, there wasn’t no panocho in the pen and for sure she wasn’t no freaking dyke.
No moon, few stars, many miles from any town, it was darker than El Cucui’s backside. Then the traffic would close in, whole groups of Coastal, Central, North and East Texanos eager to resume their new lives they had made amongst the gabachos. Back in their over-sanitized suburbs, they would reminisce about Nopalero and the Frijolero Countians, and their youth. They came to visit when they could, but they no longer really fit in.
The women were the most likely affected and a-ffected, as in putting on airs, muy altas. Many of them would explode before they would use an outhouse, and according to legend a few of them did.
This very large, uppity woman, when she finally cut loose after eight days at her aging aunt’s old frame house, literally exploded in a mushroom cloud of dirty black, brown and yellows. Took every thing down with her. Good thing everyone had left for midnight mass. It only left only the concrete foundation blocks. Good thing it was in the country. The whole block could have gone done in town. But then if it had been in town, there might have been a disaster declaration, and a whole new welfare bonanza would have arisen. As it was, there were a few minor injuries, and, among the entire perreada of a dozen dogs, of course, only the valuable pure bred pit bull was killed. Curiously, “El Tronito” as it was called, was the only building left standing.
Or so goes the corrido, “La Pedora Estalosa que muere por orgullosa.” The story expands (no pun) with the telling, as they tend to do. As the little priest from Coahuila said at the funeral the consoling words. “Gooooood Marning Bendito gente, remember no matter who you are, or how far you go from Frijolera, the Lord comes for everyone in time. When you got to go, you got to go!”
Horlinda popped another Mexican diet pill special. These little pastillas with the eight sides sure kept a girl skinny. Of course sometimes she couldn’t sleep for days, and at other times she would have sudden attacks of unstoppable hilarity. The giggling went on and before it could stop, it would start up again. Then someone would say something or look at her and there you go. Well, her last pill set her off. Only time and metabolism could stop her sniggering and snorting, simpering, bubbling over giggles.
Caramba, what a time to come down with this now! There was quite the line at the checkpoint. Operation No Brown Getting into Town was in full swing. The agent was about to wave her through. Obviously no real Mexicana had this accent or attitude. Then the mad chuckle rose up past the suppression point, and the more she tried to fight it, the worse it got.
“What’s so funny, Lady?” The BP queried.
“Nottttthhhhing” as she exploded into an orgasm of carcajada. Well, needless to say, it was all over but the crying then. Of course there didn’t appear to be anything in the trunk. But they didn’t even need Rin Tin Tin. After few jabs with the suspect locator reponse elictor rod A1000 (price $1,998.00; essentially a sharp stick), a muffled, “¡Uy!” was heard. After the third poke, an outraged “¡No pica me más, cabron!”
When la chiquita mojadita confronted her tormentor, she said, “Susususus, ya no me pica. I ‘Merican City!” She didn’t give up easy, got to give her that.
Horlinda of course was laughing her ass off, almost rolling on the ground. Mr. BP was comitting the most mortal sin for a Fed, i.e., acting human, even grinning and (gasp!) chuckling!
Everything kind of turned out okay. Sometimes the little fish get thrown back. Too much work for too little meat, scaling and gutting some sucker that don’t amount to more than a sardine.
La mojadita went back to the nunnery in Mexico, the Mother Superior liked her cooking, She would be back. Eventually she learned some English. opened up a very succesful restaurant chain called “La India Picosa” in Houston. Horlinda, went back to resume her life in Nopales no worse for the wear.
Mr. BP was stopped by Victoria’s Secret in the Border Mall one afternoon when he heard a strangely familiar giggle behind him. You guessed it. It was Horlinda. They both kind of owed the other. She had gotten off the hook, he had had a good laugh for the first time in years. They made it up to each other over the next six months. She taught him the booty hooty dance. He taught her how horny a pent-up, humor challenged Fed could really be. Lessons learned.
There’s more tales to tell once you cross the Frijolera County Line.
To be continued.
Born in Houston, Texas and moved to Raymondvile, Texas in 1969. Family bought a radio station and helped with the family business until it was sold in 1997. Since then started an agency and mostly writes about experiences in Deep South Texas. Writers of the Rio Grande founder, editor and contributing author.