The Blue Martini


The stolen dream and the border

The next morning, Alex woke up with an unbearable hangover and totally disoriented; locked up in one of the cells of the Municipality, he listened to his name; his elder sister had been looking for him since very early.

—How are you? Do you remember what happened last night? —she asked.

—Not really, why am I here? What happened?

—Well, you had a car accident and almost killed yourself; the officers still don’t know how you came out alive. By the way, your insurance company says they won’t pay for your car’s expenses, mainly because of the state in which you were driving; no insurance covers you when you’re drunk. I thought you knew it. So, say good-bye to your car, it ended up as a piece of junk. Oh! and that’s not all, in the crash you swept several street signs and damaged part of the median in which your vehicle landed. The insurance company covers those damages to the Municipality, but, good-bye new car. How will you get the money to pay for this? I hope you have enough, because I have no money to help you —his sister replied.

—Damn it! —said Alex, taking his hands to his head, still trying to comprehend what he was hearing— I don’t have a car anymore? How? But, I haven’t finished paying for it! Hell! Now what am I going to do? How am I going to pay for all of this?

He had no other choice but to get money from the bank and his credit cards, to which he already owed a lot.

Once recovered, he got back to work just to realize his earnings were scarcely enough. His excessive drinking was more frequent; almost every day he stopped at a bar after work. Time kept going by this way, and Alex kept sinking due to his drinking problem and his debt with the bank. He thought that, working in the same company and earning the same would never get him out of the mess he got in; he had to find another source of income, and very quickly. He couldn’t even pay for the interests of his cards, so he decided to cover just one of them. Splitting his money wasn’t enough to pay both. He thought that’d be the best way to get out of his financial setback; maybe with more time he’d find the way to pay the bank what he owed.

Very soon, the credit bureau called him; his name was on the black list; he was another debtor of the Mexican Banking System. The calls from the collectors were constant. Almost every day they asked him to fix his situation; at the beginning these were very gentle and polite notices, through which they invited him to sit down together and reach an agreement regarding his payments, so he could get out of the problem in a peaceful way. However, as the months went by without any payment on Alex’s part, the gentle calls became threats. The people from the bank set an ultimatum instead of offering a solution. Alex didn’t know what to do, he was aware of the desperate situation he had gotten into, and, if this wasn’t enough, his father’s health kept getting worse.

There can’t be a life more screwed up than mine! He thought in solitary, knowing that emigrating to the United States was his only option.

Things couldn’t go worse for him; his remorse was terrible. He still remembered that serious ankle injury he suffered years ago: the one that forced him to retirement when he was so young. Despite his efforts to recover and keep playing, he couldn’t make it, his attempts were futile; real life imposed itself and he had to decide to abandon his dream. Thanks to the people he met and the connections he made while playing soccer, he could get a job at a very important events and expositions company at Mexico City; however, among glamour and excess, he very soon fell into the depths of alcoholism.

Alex had already visited the United States when he was studying at college; he went with his school team to play a soccer tournament, even though he was still a minor. Years later, thinking of renewing his visa and legally going back to that country, he presented at an interview in the Embassy, but he failed; his tourist visa was denied due to a bad record with the banking institutions and his problems with the law. He was cornered up between his financial problems, his illness and the denial from the American government to grant him a visa to get into that country legally.

After much consideration, he finally took the decision to cross the border illegally, for which he looked for Benji: his inseparable friend, along with Felix, from youth; they also suffered the terrible disappointment of not being able to become prominent professionals, because of the well-known world of corruption and money mistreats in the Mexican soccer. That afternoon he went to his friend’s house.

—What are you saying? You want me to join you in crossing the border as an illegal? –asked Benji.

—Yes, do you have a better idea? I remember Felix asking me to go with him several years ago, when he went for the first time.

—I don’t know, it sounds too risky. But, why don’t you try to get a visa? You already went during that tournament, didn’t you?

—Because I’ve already tried, and they told me to go to hell; I don’t have properties on my name, I have problems with the bank, I don’t have a steady job; anyway, I couldn’t find a way to prove I was just going on vacation to visit a friend; do you think they’ll give it to you?

—No way, I’m worse than you; at least you worked for a few years; I couldn’t even find a job; I’ve been playing around to make a few pesos.

—I’ve already spoken with Felix, he says he and his brother can help us getting a job, there’s no problem about that; what do you say? Do we try?

—Damn it! When did we go from almost making a debut as professional players to thinking of crossing the border as illegals because we can’t succeed here in Mexico? All right, I’ll go with you; to be honest, I’m not doing so well either.

—Thanks, Benji, I hope everything goes as smooth a Felix says.

After their talk, the friends set out to find the coyote who’d guide them in their adventure. Benji was the one in charge of talking to him and arranging the last details of the trip; they had everything ready; the date, the place in which they’d cross and, of course, the price. There was no turning back, their next stop would be the border line.

Just a few years had gone by after the 9/11 attack, so the border security had been reinforced a lot; the places to cross were more difficult to be found and everything was more complicated. The new technology to detect illegal crossings of immigrants did the job easier for the border patrol. Meanwhile, on the Mexican side, the drug cartels controlled basically every road; there were just a few safe ones for the people to cross; the rest were destined to pass their freights. Anyone in need to use their territory would’ve to pay a fee, otherwise you couldn’t even get near the border line.

—Don’t worry, everything is going to be ok, most of the people I know here, from my hood, came this way; I don’t think you wouldn’t be able to endure the walk through the desert —Felix would tell them during his phone conversations from the U.S.

From that side, things seemed very easy, but the truth was that they wouldn’t let them cross just like that. A very unpleasant journey waited for the two friends, something they wouldn’t want to repeat ever again in their lives.

Finally, the agreed upon day came. They moved to the Hermosillo Sonora airport, where they’d try to cross the border for the first time. It’d be a three-day walk, at most, according to the coyote friend of Benji. Everything seemed to be alright, the guys thought they were aware of the danger, but the truth was this: they hadn’t the slightest idea of what was waiting for them in that place; things were about to get very difficult for them.

—Well, it was about time! Does it really take so long to get to Sonora? —said Benji, complaining about their flight.

—What did you expect from those cheap tickets? Besides, if we would’ve taken the bus, we’d just be leaving Mexico City right now —answered Alex.

Summer was in full swing and the heat was unbearable. They got into the waiting room and immediately noted the presence of a heavy security display; migration agents were walking all around the airport, asking for IDs to those with a foreign appearance. This was because many central American people enter Mexico with fake IDs and travel by plane to the border to avoid crossing the territory by bus.

Alex and his friend Benji set to look for a taxi, as they were told to do; they walked all over the airport until they got to the cabs offices to get one that’d take them to their hosting place.

—What’s up, friend. We’re going to Cananea. How much is it for the both of us?

—It’s 500 each, primo —answered the taxi driver.

—What? No way, 500 pesos per person? You’re out of your mind, we’re not paying you that.

—Well, if you don’t want to, the other option is to take the bus. Nearby there’s a bus station; if you go there it’ll be cheaper, but it’s more dangerous and it’ll take longer to get to your destination.

—What do we do? Do we take the bus? —asked Alex.

—Yes, anyway, how far can it be?

They walked to the bus station, boarded one that was extremely old and in lousy conditions, and immediately began noticing the presence of lots of central Americans. It was evident from their accent and way of speaking; most of the passengers were from that region and it looked like the only Mexicans were Alex and Benji. They didn’t think much of it and took their seats.

On the way, there were some conversations going on in the seats nearby, in which the central American friends were trying to agree on what to say if, at some point on the road, they were held up by a military checkpoint. Further down the road, as if they would’ve invoked them, there was a long line of cars and army tents, stopping private vehicles and buses for inspection. The central Americans couldn’t hide their nerves.

—The army is going to screw these ones up if they stop us, Alex —said Benji looking outside the window.

—Yes, I don’t think they’re going to give them a free pass just like that, but it’s better to be stopped by the army than by the cartel, those cabrones would get the whole of us.

The bus stopped and the central American passengers didn’t know where to hide, anyone could see the fear on their faces. When the military got on board, the first thing they asked the driver was:

—How many illegals are you moving?

—Just thirty my commander, but I’ve already paid the fee to the federals, down in Hermosillo, I’ve already given them their part —answered the driver immediately.

—I don’t care about the federals, that’s your problem, here you pay or I’ll take them all.

As soon as he said this, he ordered another soldier to get everybody off the bus. The other one obeyed and, with a commanding voice, said:

—Alright! Everybody off the bus, quickly!

The two friends looked at each other not knowing what to do.



Title: The Blue Martini

Author: Armando Acosta

Gender: Realistic novel

Topics: Migration/Addictions

Nº of pages: 433

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