Typewriter in hand, I went from bar to bar. Drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. After I lost my job, I decided I wanted to become a poet, a travelin’ poet nonetheless.
First things first, I sold most of my stuff and boarded the first plane towards the land of the free, America. I had a friend in Texas who would look after me for a while, until I knew what my next plans would be. I brought only a few sets of clothes, money and my typewriter, so I didn’t take up much of his space.
While he was at work, providing for his family, I was doing what I knew best. Hanging out in the nearest bar, drinking my first of what would be many American bourbons. I sat at the end of the bar, close to the bathroom stalls. The bartender kept glancing my way as I typed away. In this modern day and age, you don’t see many people carrying an old typewriter. Most of the writers these days, carried expensive laptops. Not me. I wanted to go old-school, have guidance of the great poets before me, like Charles Bukowski. Who might very well be the reason why I was drinking during the day. But then again, this was the one profession that allowed me to drink during business hours, another reason to be a poet.
The bourbon flowed in rivers, but the words didn’t come out that easy. All I was writing was garbage, might as well use them as toilet paper now.
Jason, the bartender, took the liberty to call me an Uber back home, given the amounts of alcohol I had in my body right now, that was the best decision.
This went on for a whole month. Alcohol and loads of wasted paper. After my last drunken bender, my friend had enough of me. With pain in his heart he kicked me out of the house.
“It’s for your best interest man, get yourself together.” He told me.
In some way I agreed with him, but on the other hand I didn’t have a place to stay anymore. I decided to do what I was planning to do anyway: travel. There’s no such thing as a travelin’ poet who doesn’t leave the comfort of his own town. I hopped on the first train out of Texas and headed west, to the city of angels. After all, Los Angeles is the place where the creative money is.
I took residence in a small flat, just outside of the city. Every day I would take a cab to the strip and look for a bar that served alcohol to fuel my creative juices. This is where I needed to be, in a city that’s filled with wanna be writers, screenwriters and actors. Even if I didn’t find the perfect poem, I could still try and make it with an actress. I walked down the strip, typewriter in a plastic bag, looking at the people who made it in this city. The stars on the ground proved it was possible.
After six months and a dozen actresses later, my visa was about to expire, now making me an illegal alien in this vast country of opportunities. I could either stay and hope they wouldn’t catch me, but given the amount I was drinking it wouldn’t take long before I was hauled back to jail to sleep it off. After they run my prints for the millionth time, they would see that I was here with an expired visa and they would send me straight back home. Yet I didn’t want to go home yet, so I took my chances and headed for the border south of California. Mexico, here I come.
Tijuana, the perfect place to start my poetic journey down in Mexico. This is the place where all the Americans went to, to party all night long. I was still young, so I could join most of them while I dragged my typewriter in tow. When I told them I was an aspiring poet, they thought I was the real deal. I wasn’t, but who was I to prove them wrong when they kept buying me shots of tequila. I was now in Mexico, so I traded my precious bourbon to tequila and mezcal. After a few hours of drinking and writing, I couldn’t tell the difference what was what anymore. Drunk of my mind I kept banging the letters on paper. Poem after poem, but none of them was the one I was looking for. So I gave them to the people who bought me a drink. I, now, was a word prostitute.
A week in Tijuana, at least I think it was a week, I kind of lost all perception of time, and I met a group of friends who were driving to Mexico City. When they asked me to tag along, I jumped on the opportunity. Driving down the coastline of Mexico on the back of a pickup truck, writing poems on an hammered typewriter sounded like a dream to me. The next day I threw my plastic bag with my most prized possession in the back of their truck and they drove off, almost forgetting me. I knew it was meant as a joke, but nobody likes running after a truck in the blistering heat when they’re suffering from the worst hangover in years. I had found a new love for tequila and now my typewriter was always in the company of a bottle of local tequila. The drive took us to Hermosillo and from there on we drove along the coastline, visiting local bars in almost every county we passed. We spent the night in Culiacan, but we had to drive away in a hurry in the middle of the night, after our driver got into a heated argument over some woman. Her boyfriend had gathered his friends and chased us down the highway for quite some time. It wasn’t until Mazatlan that we felt we were safe enough to let our guard down.
Thirteen hours later, I found myself in a bar down in Mexico City. After a small argument over money, they threw me out and here I was, sitting on the curb, typewriter in a plastic bag next to me. I lit a cheap cigar and that’s when she came along. She scared the living shit out of me. Not sure it was all the tequila, but the first time I saw her I didn’t notice she was wearing make-up. I genuinely thought a skeleton had come to take me away, that my time on earth had come to an end. What a poem that would make.
It took me a while to notice she wasn’t the only one wearing that make-up. The whole street was filled with people wearing masks. I had jumped straight from the truck into the nearest bar, so I hadn’t time to notice anything else.
“C’mon, let’s dance,” she said to me, “it’s Dia De Los Muertos, let’s celebrate!”
I’ve been on the road for so long I couldn’t tell what day it was, or what month even. All I knew is that I didn’t have any say in the matter as she took my hand and took the lead. I was drunk on tequila, dancing in the middle of the street. Who could’ve thought. She guided me through a night filled with drinking and partying. I had no idea if it was the tequila talking, but during the night I started seeing strange things. The night clouds started turning into something strange. Different animals like a donkey with butterfly wings, a lion with an eagle head and other weird creatures like that. Because of all the bright colours, I really did think it was the tequila that was talking right then. It wasn’t until the end of the night, it proved me otherwise. I thought I had found some female company for the night when she asked me along. It saved me a night of flirting. But when it was almost midnight, she told me she had to go. I didn’t know what was happening. Did I mess something up? Did she see right through my charade as a travelin’ poet? All I knew is that I didn’t want her to go. I took her hand and begged her to stay. Begging might not be the right word, but with enough tequila I couldn’t say for sure if I fell on my knees or not. But when the night started to roar, I let go of her hand. Afraid some kind of donkey with wings would take me away. My eyes scanned the skies so I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. When I looked back at the ground before me, she started to disappear into the night, like fog on a winter morning. I tried to grab her, but my hand went straight through her and I fell on the ground, face first in the dirt. It wasn’t until the next morning that someone woke me up. The whole street was already alive, but everyone walked around what seemed like another dead poet in the streets of Mexico.
“I could use another drink,” I thought to myself as I patted the dust of my clothes.
I sat back at the bar and ordered another shot of tequila, telling the bartender he could leave the bottle. I gulped down two shots and started typing and didn’t stop before the wordflow had enough.