Jack Wesley Hardin’s
(a smuggler’s memoir) #6

Grabbing $10,000, I dropped into the local whorehouse, which by now had been newly christened the hospital. The Duck was now Doctor Duck, as the sign on his door read. All the girls were now wearing white nurses uniforms and Doctor Duck had invented a new use for his stethoscope that baffled the imagination of mere pervs like myself, but if utilized correctly was guaranteed to strengthen the libido of even the walking dead. When the time came to make our run, Dr. Duck, with the lines waiting for treatment standing outside his door, would at least be easy to find.

I’m happy to report that the trip back to Nogales was uneventful, as my two soldier-amigos were passed out in the back of the Jeep. While they snoozed I borrowed one of their shirts and hat, complete with big, black sunglasses to hide my blond hair and blue eyes. Then blew past army check points waving my newly confiscated pearl handled Colt 45 Automatic with the General’s staff flag on the fenders, sending fear, dripping like Mexican Sweat, into the hearts of on and off lookers alike.

Arriving back in Nogales, I waved adios to my gay caballeros and headed over to La Roca, my favorite restaurant-bar in town. Soon I was drinking an ice cold Dos Equis. The ten-piece mariachi band had just finished playing May The Coke Break Be Unbroken. Part of the place was a wall of rock that has been sectioned into different types of seating areas. As daylight began to fade through their large glass windows, I slid into a table against the wall just as my main contact with the local army, Colonel Dantes Manzanares, arrived. Attached to his business-suited arm was the most beautiful blend of Spanish-Indian blood I had ever seen. A living-walking-talking fantasy in the flesh. Her dark muscular beauty and fierce eyes stopped all sound and movement in her path. Even the sniffling Mariachis stopped snorting and paused as she and The Colonel cruised over to my table, and plopped down across from me.

Rank in Mexico either comes through family or through power moves. The Colonel lit a cigarette from his silver case, waved his manicured hand toward her, and said, “Jack Wesley Hardin, may I introduce—“ most of his words were lost on my ears as I rose to my feet. But the word Sangrita did come through. Sangrita. . .I thought. That’s orange juice, tomato juice, hot chili powder, lime, salt, pepper, a local Mexican chaser for cactus juice.

“Tell me senor Hardin,” she smiled, “What did you look like before your parents were born?”

Wanting to grab her and hug, I got a grip on her hand instead. As it shook my hand back like it was ready to compete in a Tough Guy competition, I raised it to my lips and kissed her knuckles.

She looked like a panther in her little black one-piece dress, but my gesture did not go unnoticed. A trace of blush broke through her mask. As she grudgingly released my hand, I was thinking that the string of pearls around her neck could easily serve as a perfect choke collar, in case anyone was stupid enough to attack her.

She looked into my eyes and laughed then, as if she were reading my mind. The Colonel’s voice brought me back to some kind of reality. “The key to Billy the Kid’s freedom. . .” he said — but I must have missed the back end of what he was getting at.

Key to what? I thought. And asked, “What key would that be?”

In the heat of obsession, the brain plays funny tricks with space and time. My memory of the band’s version of Guadalajara reminded me of The Hotel California years before The Eagles even existed as a wet dream in the imagination of pop culture.

I poured the three of us Margaritas and smilingly asked, “Colonel, isn’t it about time to start calling you General?”

Smiling like the bait was only an appetizer, the Colonel replied, “It has been about time for a long time now, gringo!”

From that point of mutual agreement, our plot began unfolding among the hundreds of sparkles of light reflecting off the spinning multi-sided glass ball hanging from the center of the ceiling. But at the moment I was more interested in history. Sangrita’s to be specific. Who the hell was this girl? As the cover story goes, she had supposedly been confiscated by the General from a remote Mountain-Indian village when she was only twelve. Then adopted. The General was known to collect young girls like a con-bud dude collects roaches. Now in her twenties, you could see in her eyes that she wished to repay his kindness one day with Indian hospitality.

Up until this point, I collected other things myself. When I came back from a quick trip back across the border to pick up some of those goodies from the old homestead, it was sundown of the next evening, but in my mind I was still in La Rocca, sitting across the table from her. So there’s no denying I was infected, though when it came right down to it, even on automatic, I could still function like I wasn’t addicted.

As I crossed back into Nogales, I carried a tiny vial of the best liquid LSD that San Franvanah-with-a-flower-in-its-hair had to offer. Back in the day, this acid was so jet propelled the flower children were either jumping out of windows, believing they could fly on it, or learning to silently sit in a lotus position and Ommmmm their bummers away. Which was basically how the stoned-out-of-their-gourd hippies of yesteryear morphed themselves into a brand new American Buddhist community. Today I hear that most of the speed has been cut out, so the trip has a gentler, lighter, designer theme park effect, rather than the evil rush of feeling like Charlie Manson is going to rip you a new asshole with a Black & Decker lawn dildo, if you don’t shake hands with your Uncle Death and leap into the abyss first.

Back at La Rocas for real, soon-to-be-General, Manzanares and Sangrita were waiting for me, almost like I was returning from a quick trip to the MEN’S ROOM, instead of the Arizona border. Part of our deal was for me to take this young woman back with us to the land of freedom and plenty of sunshine I had just returned from. Almost like I had hypnotized him to do my bidding without saying a word, the Colonel explained to me Sangrita was now part of our team. She would, he explained, help us both, on both sides of the border.

Smuggling in those days was a man’s world; it could be a get-rich, get-busted, or get-dead man’s world. But it was definitely a man’s world, no matter how the game played out. I could already tell this girl had balls, the only question was how big they were, or how they would show up in the clutch, because a good pair of balls were needed in this game, no matter which side of the gender fence you were climbing over.

The next afternoon, I found myself sitting in the Americano Bar on the gringo side of Nogales. My guests were late. Time flies when you’re a walking Felony. Mexican sweat broke out on my forehead. You know the kind, adrenaline of sweat born out of fear, salt, and day old cheap tequila dancing with the unknown. Our plan had called for the smashing of Mexican morality. This can be a dangerous thing if you’re in Mexico.

Just then, coming down the very dirty sidewalk, I saw a limping, badly beaten Billy Kid, using Sangrita as a crutch. It was then I recalled the ole Mexican saying, “If your going to run from the Devil, make sure your donkey doesn’t have to stop to piss.” Yeah, I’m not sure what this has to do with the price of gas, but it came to mind.

Well, within minutes we were in a panel van headed up highway 89, straight to Tucson. We had added a doctor of sorts to work on the Kid. It was an Indian Shaman — you know a Shaman — that’s a well medicated unlicensed doctor of magic. Between his grunts and groans, I’m talking about the Shaman, he was wrapping the Kid in tequila soaked towels to reduce his swelling and pain, though a mere spark would have blown us all to Hell or Kingdom come on the flip of a Bic, or a dime, whichever came first.

Sangrita, between outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter, told me the sad fate of the General that morning. Sangrita made her own Sangrita that morning adding about a thousand hits of Berkley’s Best. The General toasted to his health, put on his finest, and left for military troop review. He was meeting with the President of Mexico and his wife, complete with his army at their side. Sangrita was waiting for him in the backseat of his limo as he left the estate. Within minutes he was squealing like a pig when he signed the Kid’s full pardon. By show time he went on full parade. It was the little Mexican flag tied to the end of his fleshy staff that really caught the attention of the gasping crowd. He emerged on the parade ground with only his boots, 45 auto, hat, and the flag waving proudly spewing white creamy frosting toward the President’s wife. Due to the media presence and ensuing riot, it was hours later before Colonel Manzanares did his duty. The Mexican news that night downplayed it to an attempted coup. Now you can understand the symbol of the Eagle with a snake in its mouth that adorns Mexico’s Flag.

The short drive melted away into a purple haze. The “Doctor” and Sangria had bonded their ancient Indian heritage into a special blend of peyote and bat tongues, a remedy for reality that had the Kid singing in Italian like the great Curuso. But the glow of the waxing moon told me it was time to get serious.

To Be Continued

#5 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2741

#4 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2286

#3 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2090

#2 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=1340

#1 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=10


Jack Wesley Hardin is the nom de plume for a legendary Private Investigator involved in some of the biggest and most controversial high profile criminal and civil cases in the United States. A television series is presently being developed based on his exploits and involvement in those cases. A one time college football star, gonzo NFL linebacker, Green Beret, soldier of fortune, and hippie John Wayne on the Mexican side of the law (in the good ole days of his spent youth), Mexican Sweat (the anatomy of a dope deal) is a memoir from those early years that will be serialized in Smoke Signals. Stay tuned.


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