Jack Wesley Hardin’s
(a smuggler’s memoir) #7

The brief rain that early morning released the desert perfume that flushed my soul, or what was left of it. I rolled the windows down on my Chevy work truck as my rearview mirror glowed a deep red as the Sun’s hairline broke the horizon. About 20 minutes later, out I-10 West I Exited, scanning the rear mirrors to make sure nobody was following me. The Kid’s Father, A.W. – aka “stash house” – would be waiting for me with hot coffee. The Kid was his youngest of four and right now he figured he was dead. A.W. was immune to death as he had been a young Marine on Iwo Jima in World War 2. His security was hard to beat. He still had an Iwo Jima Flamethrower he had brought back in his best friend’s coffin in 1944. We barbecued pigs with it on the fourth of July.

The requirements for a good stash house began with the question, Does it have a stash? In the 120 degree desert, with scant air cover and lots of bandits, causes one to pause and get creative. A backhoe tractor (rented) will dig a large hole maybe 20 feet deep by 200 feet square. Digging with shovels is a waste since the desert floor has been tightened up for a few million years. Concrete is like bubble gum compared to this shit! Once dug, brace with railroad ties and one inch plywood 8-by-10 sheets to prevent cave-ins. A lot of would be prospectors today are secretly looking for the buried remains of treasure and bones of those who tried to cut their cost with cheap wood and poorly dug holes. Grave robbers, defilers of the martyrs of Marihuana, may the curse of Paraquat be on you. Look that one up my young students, unless your memory has been defiled by technological overload.

Now it obviously works better if this hole happens to be in your horse stable area with lots of hay around on the ground. Then we need to call Central Casting and get a couple of horses standing around whose specialty is looking innocent. Of course you recess the entry hole. Complete with a built-in wooden ladder. Cover the hole with a sturdy wooden top, bury with several feet of dirt, scatter hay, let horses piss on all, voila! – Stash House! Even at 120 degrees to 180 on the surface, in the hole it will be a cool 60 – 70 degrees. Cool pot, happy pot. This is why a hundred years ago, the hot sweaty US Calvary seldom saw an Indian. Indians wore feathers to stay warm in their air cooled holes, laughing their chilly asses off at white men in the noon day sun. Didn’t know that, did ya?

Location is also a major consideration in picking your “stash” or “safe house”. A.W.’s casa was two miles off an exit on Interstate 10. The Interstate was safe at night back in the day. We weren’t quite living in a police state, yet. The off-roads, like dirt, gravel, cow path became very dangerous after dark. Especially south of Interstate 10. See, the Interstate was like an invisible fence at night. South was bad, the North was not as bad. Also privacy, be it in a barn or a clump of trees, was available at A.W.’s. Privacy also included no traffic or other criminal enterprises happening on the premises. A.W. was a good psychotic family man and that was certainly a plus in this business. Thick with mesquite trees, and a mixture of ancient salt cedar trees sprinkled with leafy Tanque Verdes, gave the whole spread an oasis appearance. Prickly needle infested cactus filled the voids. All this beauty was kept to eliminate prying eyes. Old ”Red Ass”, that’s what A.W. had nicknamed his flamethrower, would have laid waste to this shrubbery long ago, except cover was worth its weight in gold in the desert.

I wove down the narrow shady dirt drive. Pulling up to a small single wide trailer with a palm covered patio, several drooling pit bulls leaped into the open bed of my pickup truck and began to sharpen their teeth on my back window. A sharp whistle from A.W. ended their play time. The old man greeted me with the ever present mug of black coffee sculpted to his fist. Worn blue jeans, blue work shirt, cowboy boots and shoulder holster complete with an old six-shooter Smith and Wesson 45 were his trademarks.

Shaking my hand A.W. said, “Be straight with me Jack, is the Kid – well is the Kid – “

“Oh hell A.W.,” I cut though the drama, ”he’s got your blood or so you claim. Of course he’s fine. Just a dent and a ding here and there, but he can still get a hard-up.”

A.W. slumped back into his cushioned chair. I told him of the General’s infamous demise. His only regret was his chance to “flame” him was gone.

Several cups of coffee and several snorts later we created our conspiracy. The next evening at 6:00 pm A.W. would turn on his CB radio base station and listen for me to say, on channel 26, “Breaker, Breaker anyone know a good egg and bacon place?” his reply, if all was well, would be “Yo Mama’s” Crude, but that was what the world was like before cell phones. Anything else including silence would mean no delivery tonight. And Plan B would go into effect.

What I’d do is bring three loads over, around 1000 pounds in each, and drop them. A.W. would drag them into one of his “holes” and cover it up. We’d weigh them later the next afternoon. We always used a cumbersome metal Accuweigh platform scale. The scale cost a thousand dollars. On a thousand pounds the accuracy was within an ounce. As you probably already know a bad scale can cost you. I always kept ours in a regular size suitcase though it was a tight fit.

If all went well, the morning sun would bring the ever-searching DEA “push-pull” white Cessna airplanes like buzzards looking for the crashed remains of some poor carrier pigeon. But this pigeon was like Dracula – No sunshine on the skin – sleep during the day. The light of the morning sun was usually fatal to poor souls hiding under their broke-down trucks. It was good to let the desert dust settle before we weighed and shipped. Lone wolves could be on your trail.

The money was in shipping it across country to the hungry masses, and were they ever hungry for a reality other than the one they were stuck in. The business was such in those days that most outlaws either imported their goods into America, selling them to local wholesalers, or they were wholesalers selling it to shippers who delivered it to their “home cities”. Then these shippers sold it to their local wholesale distributors. So you might say there were four parts to this product. We did it all! Most only did one part. Why take one bite when you can be a pig? Get rich, get busted, or die. That simple.

A.W. gave me fresh clothes and a toothbrush to give to his son along with a fatherly note of love full of white powder. The welcome back party was put on hold in favor of after the Full Moon. I found the Kid, Sangrita, and our new physican, Tonga the Peyote priest at Mi Nidito’s slurping up the medicinal Menudo Soup. This is the Mexican version of Jewish chicken soup. Full of animal parts banned in cheap hot dogs, it’s fiery broth actually gives rebirth to decayed brain cells and has long been used as an early form of Viagra. Menudo breath is the number one complaint among professional Mexican whores.

Once rejuvenated, we traveled to ****** , where the other two trucks were. Arriving at the garage, and I checked each truck to make sure everything was one hundred percent. ****** wished us well and soon we were traveling south out of Tucson over Gates Pass into and through the beautiful cactus filled Sahauro National Monument. The narrow winding part dirt, part black top, was rarely traveled. Most of those old and new Westerns are all filmed here at the Old Tucson Western Movie Set. This gave me a steady supply of young money driven men to assist me, like the Kid. Soon we were in a big valley valet full of cotton and lettuce. Then home at the ranch.

Everyone needed rest, I carried sleeping Sangrita into the house, pulled her boots off and tucked her in. Remember keep work and party separate. The last person moving was Tonga, who had gone out to round up rattlesnakes. I told him they were not allowed in the house but he could keep them in the yard. As he chanted off into the afternoon heat, I passed out.

Sometime at early dawn my comatose state was disturbed by the unmistakable ching of the opening of a zippo lighter. The flash of flame ignited the end of a huge thick Mexican siesta joint. Worse than that was Gordo’s absolutely terrifying greasy round mustachioed face, with the glint of the flame bursting off his gold teeth. My first move was to close my throat to make sure it was bloodless. Then the light went out. Realizing who it was, I reached for the red glow of the siesta cigar, puffing, I thought, “good shit!” I spoke first, “Gordo, does this mean I can’t kill you, you weasel?”

“Ahh! Senor Jack, I accidentally fell into a hole I could not get out in time.”

“You’re lying to me you pendejo, I know you weren’t with your wife.”

Gordo relit his zippo, letting it burn, he blew a cloud of smoke out and grinned, then said, “I, chihuahna, so you’ve been in her hole tambien.”

“Only when I don’t have to wait in line with the coyotes.” I continued, “You’re fucking impossible, maybe I can get you killed tonight. It would be a glorious event. Then we would be even for a change.”

“I’m ahead of you peachy gringo – I talked with the captain in Corborca an hour ago.” He held up his Crown Royal cloth bag of quarters. “All is go for seven-thirty tonight.”

I asked, “Is the Duck ready?”

“Si, the Captain told me they had to sneak up on him while he was doing an anal exam on a poor little chicquita. They managed to put a plastic bag over his head and stopped his breathing. The captain broke the heel of his boot getting Duck’s heart beating again. He has been out for over a day.”

I thought out loud, “Oh God, it takes a lot to down the Duck. Does he still quack?”

Gordo shrugged his broad shoulders and replied, “If he has brain damage it could be a good brain damage since we are talking about what maybe left of Senor Duck’s brain. Maybe broke can fix broke.”

I must admit I was speechless and thought deeply about Gordo’s statement the rest of the day. We still had “Ace”, the old man pilot down there as “backup”. I only hoped he hadn’t gone into the medical profession too!

Well the stage was set, I thought as I kept one eye on Gordo and made coffee in the kitchen and retired to the screened front porch shaded by the large salt cedar trees. The sun was climbing over the Catalina Mountains, and only the massive trees kept us from wearing sunglasses.
To Be Continued
#6 @ http://smokesignalsmag.com/7/?p=2776
#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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