The State of Our Union From a Cholo Netherworld

“Trying to make some sense of it all

But I can see it makes no sense at all”

– Stealers Wheel, Stuck in the Middle With You

I can’t tell if I’m a magnet for sociopaths or if they’re a magnet to me; regardless, the end result is I always end up with one by my side. My earliest connection was a hometown menace named Norman that coerced me into a bi-state car stealing spree, against my better judgement and it just seems to have jumped from one psycho to another. My latest flavor of insanity is this thumb head Latino named Eduardo that I met while waiting tables at a pizza parlor in Parker, Colorado. Had I known at the moment how volatile this dude could get I may have thought twice about associating myself with him, yet something inside me continues to be fascinated by the slightly toxic individuals out there that are ready to jump outside the box at any given moment.

Eduardo called me and as luck would have it, this was the night the State of the Union came on. I try to make a point to watch every one of them whether I like the President or not; again my fascination with toxicity. I figured I could catch the recap at Ed’s house, some seedy little flat on the west side of Denver near to where the old Broncos stadium stood. I always make Eduardo come pick me up downtown and drive me to his place because I will not be caught walking the streets of that Mile High barrio alone. I usually have him pick me up by the encampment of the Occupy Denver ‘pussies’ (as he likes to call them) so as to get a quick glimpse of the situation down there. The protest movement has been wiped out for all intentional purposes and replaced with a cesspool of vagrants and drug addicts. underage girls screwing barely over aged boys in sodden sleeping bags, very few true politicos left at all. There was one man, 60 he told me, who was going around cleaning the park of litter because as he put it “Obama is comin’ to town and he doesn’t want to see this kind of mess.”  Various street rats are milling around asking me for a cigarette or asking where I’m from and what I’m doing down there and Eduardo eventually pulls up in some rattling wine colored Tercel, a new vehicle since he was arrested, sent back to Mexico and resurfaced here. He leans over and opens the passenger door letting this huge plume of pot smoke out of the car. “Get in man, I gotta go get Nestor.”

Nestor is Eduardo’s younger brother, slimmer and taller and much more sane. Poor Nestor is always getting the shit kicked out of him by Ed who claims he is just trying to ‘keep the boy right’. Eduardo drives and lights the car bong for me while getting me up to speed on the situation. Apparently his brother was mad at him because Eduardo doesn’t want Nestor to join the Marines and Nestor is all about joining the Marines. Somehow this spat between the two hermanos caused the younger sibling to tail out and stay with some friend that Ed thinks is a bad influence on his bro. A bad influence for Nestor? Is it possible? Eduardo is serious about it and tells me this guy Nestor is staying with convinced him to take Ed’s car a week or so ago (again, I was called in on this one but put very little effort in to helping that saga) and this was the last straw as far as Ed was concerned. All I knew was that he was getting more upset by the moment retelling this story and I was getting one of those ultra, weep for Jesus highs, the one toke over the line kind so I wasn’t clear on how I was supposed to be helping. I was having enough to deal with trying to remember how to swallow. Oh Mama, could this really be the end?

Ed promises we’ll watch the State of the Union and he’ll make me something to eat after we get Nestor. I was in no condition to rebut so I sat there while he weaved around the streets and I worked at shaking off the baking. We pull up to some calamine colored slab home and he shuts the motor off.  “Just sit there and look out the window-pull your hood up so he can’t see your face.”

And Eduardo pulls out a gun. I just want to watch the State of the Union but he has to pull out a piece. Nice.


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