I suppose I had it coming. People just aren’t good for each other. Maybe I should start by introducing myself and give you a general idea of how I got here. My name is Javier and I’m a petty car thief. I’m not proud of it, but I have this uncontrollable urge to boost cars. Not just any car, only the ones that speak to me. I can’t explain it, but it feels like it wants me to steal it. It’s the only thing I know how to do, and I’m good at it. I lost track of how many cars I’ve stolen over the years, but this wasn’t the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.
A hot wind blew in from the Gulf as I drove on the open road ahead. I had my radio and I had my beer. I was living the life and I was on my way to freedom. Driving a black car in this kind of weather probably wasn’t my best idea. It attracted the sun like beer attracted me. This far south, there wasn’t anything around to cool off into. No ocean, no roadside bars, not even shade. It was the sun versus me, and as long as I had my beer, I was winning. The Firebird roared over the tarmac as I threw an empty beer can out the window. I heard the clunk of the tin can hitting the asphalt before it was overwhelmed by the engine as I accelerated down the road. Up ahead was a sign with an arrow pointing down a dusty side road.
El Enano Loco 10 Miles
I wasn’t expecting to find much there, but I was down to my last beer. All the cans in the backseat were empty. Those were the ones I was too lazy to throw out the window, so I just hurled them over my shoulder onto the backseat. Somehow, I never expected anyone to live out here, let alone open up a bar. I haven’t seen another soul all day. At some times it felt like I was the only one out here. The only one dumb enough to drive through this heat. But I had no other choice. I couldn’t stay behind driving a stolen car. As an American, my first choice would be to drive down to Mexico. But I was already there. For some reason, it got into my dumb mind to steal a car from an American girl somewhere down in Mexico. Where the hell was I supposed to go now? I’m sure she told the cops everything by now. In these parts, seeing an American license plate was rare, so it wouldn’t be hard for them to find them. That’s why I chose to head down the desert. Nobody in their right mind would think about looking for me there. Unless they think that only an American can be so stupid to drive down there in these temperatures. Anyway, I couldn’t take the risk and I decided to try my luck. Maybe El Enano Loco was the perfect place to lay low for a while. It sounded like a gather-place for the wicked. So it was right up my alley.
I turned the car around and drove down that dusty road. Ten miles down the road, I still didn’t see the bar, only dust and sand. Never in my life have I seen so much dust and sand. I was all out of beer and I wondered where the hell that crazy dwarf was. This was the only road, so it had to be there. I wondered whether or not I should turn around and drive back to the main road. But then it occurred to me that they would never look for me on a road like this, so I kept driving. I kept driving and driving until I saw smoke coming out of the hood.
“Goddamnit!” I yelled and smashed my fists on the steering wheel.
The car came to a full stop. I couldn’t risk driving any further. I was stranded out here.
You know, I stole this car because it was a piece of crap, a pile of junk that no one would miss. But I didn’t expect it to break down in the middle of the desert. Well, in a way I did, I just didn’t expect it to be now. I know the Federales were still looking for me. They couldn’t be too far behind. And here I was, stranded on a dusty road in this lone land. I was weighing my options:
- I could leave the car behind and start walking, hoping I would run into El Enano Loco or some other kind of civilisation. Somewhere I could beg for a glass of water and a quarter to use their phone. But I was sure I would die of dehydration before I would even make it there.
- I could pop the hood, find out what was wrong, and try to fix it myself. Which was something we all know I couldn’t do. The only thing I knew about cars, was how to hot-wire one. And how to drive one of course. I knew the car was overheated, but I didn’t have any coolant or water. Even if did have any water, I would use it to not die out here before I poured it down the radiator.
- I could stay here with the car, hoping that someone would pass along that would give me a ride, or that could fix this piece of junk. I didn’t even care who it was, as long as it weren’t the Federales.
Maybe it was the sun that was getting to me, but I probably made the wrong choice by staying with the car. But I figured it was my best option for now. I couldn’t risk walking around in this heat, I would die for sure. At least now I still had some kind of hope that someone would see the car. I wondered if the Federales could tie all the missing cars to me. After all, I never sold them. I wasn’t in it for the money, I just loved the thrill of it. What I would do was, I’d drive to a bar, drink a few beers, and then I’d drive home in a stolen car. The next day I could dump the car somewhere and set it on fire. I was sure to never leave any evidence behind in the car. I shouldn’t have stolen this one, but I couldn’t resist its call. It was almost as if it knew I had a thing for muscle cars.
I was dying of thirst and the sun was so high that it didn’t give any more shade from the car. I had to find something to drink soon. And that’s when I came to the conclusion I was in Mexico. I was literally surrounded by cactuses. I popped the trunk and took out the tire iron. It wasn’t hard to decide which cactus I would destroy first. I gripped the tire iron firmly in my hands and took one big swing against the cactus closest to me. With one loud crack, a large piece fell off, revealing a liquid goldmine. I cupped my hands and let it flow into them. After only a few sips, I spat it back out. I really thought there would be water inside the cactus, but it wasn’t. Instead, there was some acrid liquid that made me vomit.
“I’m gonna die out here,” I whispered to myself as I fell to my knees.
Then I heard the sound of a V8 coming my way. I wondered who was in their right mind to drive down this dusty old road. It had to be someone looking for the crazy dwarf, someone was dumb as me. There wasn’t really any other option. Either way, this meant I was saved. I got to my feet and stood in the middle of the road. That way, they had to stop if they didn’t want to run me over.
“Please, let them stop,” I prayed.
A cloud of dust appeared before my eyes, getting closer. A few moments later, the body of a black Mustang convertible came into sight. I waved my arms, ordering it to stop. Which eventually it did, before almost running me over. I didn’t expect the cloud of dust to move ahead of the car. Luckily the driver spotted my Firebird just in time. It stopped right in front of me, inches away. I could feel the heat coming off from its hood. I was surprised to see a woman behind the wheel. She was wearing sunglasses and she had a scarf wrapped around her hair. Almost as if she came straight out of the sixties. I wondered what a woman like her was doing in the middle of nowhere. For a moment I thought she was my guardian angel, telling me my time has come. But then I felt the heat of the engine again, and I knew she was real. She never got out of her car. Instead, she yelled what the hell I was doing in the middle of the road. I tried my best to explain my situation to her, how I stranded here without any water, trying to look for a bar called El Enano Loco. Of course, I left out the part that I was driving a stolen car. If I wanted to be rescued, she had to trust me first. She reached her hand for her glove compartment, took out a bottle of water, and threw it in my direction.
“Get in,” she shouted, “I’ll drive you to El Enano Loco.”
“Do you know where it is?” I asked her after a while.
“Of course I do, it’s the only thing down this road.”
“Then where is it? The sign said ten miles, but we’re way further than that already.”
“The sign is wrong. If people knew how far it really was, they would never turn down this road. But don’t worry, we’re almost there.”
I was glad I didn’t decide to walk. I’m sure I would have never made it before dying somewhere in the middle. After a few more miles, a tiny shack finally came into view. El Enano Loco definitely wasn’t big, hence the name probably, but I didn’t expect it to be that small. The roof was made out of corrugated iron. The walls were made out of something I don’t even know how to describe. The only modern thing was the neon sign with a drinking dwarf. His hand was holding a full glass of beer and when the hand reached his mouth, half the glass was empty. Loud mariachi music came from inside.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I offered the woman.
It was the least I could do for saving my life. Since she was on her way to this place anyway, she gladly accepted a free drink. We got out of the car and went inside. The bartender put a glass of water in front of me and I emptied it with one gulp and I told them to keep them coming. I also ordered two corona’s. I didn’t know whether or not she liked to drink beer, but I doubt they had anything else in here. It was beer or tequila. And I guess if she had to choose between doing shots of tequila or a beer, she would choose a beer. We started talking and I learned her name was Isabel. After our first beer, we had another one, and another one. And after that, I heard it again, that little voice in the back of my head. First, I thought I was hallucinating again, but I wasn’t dehydrated anymore. But it was there, and it wasn’t going anywhere. Not until I did was it told me to do. I paid for the beers, ordered another one for my saviour, and went to the restrooms.
Isabel sat at the counter, sipping tiny bits of her beer. She was waiting for Javier to come back from the restroom. She planned to invite him back to her house. She never expected to meet someone out here, but when she did, he had her interest. Normally she wouldn’t act on her urges, but this time was different. There was something about Javier that attracted her bad side, but she couldn’t explain what it was.
“He’s sure taking his time in there,” she told the bartender, who in turn wasn’t really listening to her.
He kept washing off his glasses, one after the other. It was the only thing he did all day, trying to act busy around customers. Even though Javier and Isabel were the only ones there. It was surprising this place even stayed open. Isabel finished her beer and looked at her watch. Javier was gone for almost ten minutes now.
“What the hell is he even doing in there?” she asked herself.
After five more minutes, she couldn’t wait any longer. She didn’t want to order another beer, she just wanted to go home. With or without Javier. But it didn’t seem like he was coming back anytime soon, so she was going to leave without him. She got up from her stool, thanked the bartender who nodded in return, and walked outside. Isabel had her keys in hand, ready to drive off in the sunset when it dawned upon her that her car was gone. She ran to the place where she parked her car and looked around, but she couldn’t find it. When she looked behind her, the mariachi music stopped playing and the dwarf stopped drinking. She stood alone in the hot, Mexican desert, without her ’64 black Mustang.
The only thing Javier left behind, was a set of tire tracks heading out in the sunset.