Gorski and The Goat
On a urine-stained olive green cot in the back room of Rosalda’s Cantina in Ciudad Juarez, I came to. Blacked out. Again. A smell I couldn’t quite put a finger on. Rank breath, a muffled gurgle and what felt like whiskers. I hope not our hostess, or worse, one of her chicas.
I pried open one crusted eye. A single ray of sunlight barely pierced the gloom, its stark glare excruciating. Looking up, he stood over me. Dark pockmarked face. Thick drooping mustache. Once red bandana sagging from an impossibly thick neck. Ammo belt and pearl-handled pistols draped over his shoulder. And a sombrero. Yellow teeth mouthing an unlit cigar.
“You fucked my goat.” He snarled in a mangled brogue. Where the hell did that come from?
I opened the other eye, like that would help make sense.
He pulled me up, breath worse than the goat’s. “You hear me Gringo?” What was it? Aussie? Irish? I’m not a linguist.
I didn’t want to hear him.
“You ruined her,” spittle sprayed my face. “She no good now.”
The creature I laid next to snorted, shook like it was wet, and jumped off the cot, hoof clipping my testicle. I only have one. In response to the searing pain I curled on the cot like a baby holding my halved genitalia. The goat too wore a hat, horns piercing the crown.
Pancho could give a shit. He bit and spit the end of the cigar onto the dirt floor.
I sat up looking for my friend.
“Pay me.” The brim of his hat scraped the tip of my nose.
“Fifteen hundred pesos.”
“Where’s Gorski?” My head was spinning. The fucking room was spinning. Pancho and the goat were spinning. But no Gorski.
The goat limped to the corner of the dusty room.
“I hobble them. So they can’t run away.”
The goat bleated forlornly, lifted its tail, then shit what appeared to be a thousand Milk Duds onto the filthy floor.
The door opened. A blast of bright sunlight blinded me. Gorski. Ugly look on his face. Empty bottle in his hand. Moving cautiously. Appraising the situation, like a priest in a whorehouse.
“What?” I needed clarity. Help, putting the pieces together.
Gorski shook his head, disgusted.
Bad shit. I knew it. But a goat? No fucking way. “A goat?” I whined. Like he could provide absolution.
“Not sure.” Surveying the room for possibilities, a diversion, a chance, a getaway.
“Butch and Sundance?” I was trying.
“Fuck that. He’d shoot us.”
“How long I been out?” I needed a point of reference.
“Ten, twelve hours.”
“Mezcal, and the worm.”
“What’d I do?”
How could he? Betrayed by my amigo.
“When you started.”
”With the goat?
“What’d I do?”
“With the goat.” Disapproving.
A speck of memory fluttered, jumping back and forth, like a short circuit.
“You liked the beat.”
“It’s in my blood.”
“The guy with the guitar played. He sang. You danced.”
“Why the goat?”
“You didn’t like the Chicas.”
“You owe me.” The Mexican looked antsy. The goat stood behind him staring like it wanted something I didn’t want to give. “Fifteen hundred.”
“What’s that American?” Gorski knew everything.
“About fifty bucks. For a fucking goat.”
“I just got forty.”
“Pancho is gonna kill us.”
“Can a goat be a girl?”
“They all got horns. The male has a beard.”
“Billy has a beard.” I nodded toward my bedfellow.
“You still coulda done it.”
“Did you see its eyes?” I cringed.” Evil.”
“It’s not about guilt or innocence.”
“I got ten. Pay him the money.”
With a yellow toothed smile Pancho extended his fingerless hand. I peeled away two twenties and Gorski handed him a ten.
“My name is Hector.” As he handed me the goat’s leash. “His,” he nodded at the beast, “is whatever you want.”
“Did you catch that?” Gorski knew everything.
“The accent. It ain’t Mexican.”
“Flemish. From the northern part of Belgium. Flanders I think.”
“He’s a Flem?”
“Let’s get the fuck outa here.”
The three us walked out of Rosalda’s into the blinding sun.
“You now own a goat.” Gorski liked to announce the obvious.
“Hector hurt the goat.”
“You may have also.”
“I’m not that kinda guy.”
“He has a beard.”
“Gives him character.”
“Where’s the fucking car?”