11:00 p.m.

Jorge Hernandez fetches us for drive out to a distant restaurant. Conversation about Mexican politics as we wheel through the streets. Jorge's a historian. Patiently he lays out for us the major events since Zapata and Pancho Villa. A careful driver, tall, distinguished black rim glasses and smooth clothes, up north I'd spot him for a cop. Better English vocabulary than most of my countrymen. He hates to get dressed he tells me, or go out of the house. Days on end bent over historical documents in his pajamas. Then dresses to set forth and harangue some newspaper editor. Jorge writes fiction, and is translating three of Rikki's stories.

A year ago Colosio's people asked Jorge to become a speechwriter for the Presidential campaign. He delayed a week–had to attend an academic conference in San Diego. That's why he missed Tijuana where a "lone gunman" pushed through the crowd & shot Colosio three times in the head. "I've been to cockfights. Someone pulls out a pistol & shoots in the air–too much tequila, or too much excitement. Yes! six or seven guns going off in a moment! Bang bang bang bang. This is Mexico. Everyone's a pistolero."

A long cool look. "There were forty-three guns in the crowd that day. And nobody else pulled a pistol? Come on. This is Mexico."

On the way back from dinner we see a 24 hour flower market. Jorge begins a ballad, low, scarcely audible. "I haven't bought flowers for my sweetheart in over a week. Nor a guitarist." And gives us the lowdown on choosing a mariachi to woo your beloved. There they are, smoking cigarettes along the edge of the park in sequin'd suits.

Andrew Schelling | Hotel Maria Cristina
Contents | Mudlark No. 9