Jack Wesley Hardin’s
(a smuggler’s memoir) #5

A bright explosion of white light burst all around and through me, then beginning with my birth itself, rapidly began to chronologically run my life through the old mind projector. But before I could grab hold of the tit and suck it and ride it into some sort of nourishing understanding of man’s rites of passage, my life abruptly ended at potty training. Then faded to complete darkness as I strained to drop my first bomb on the target.

That brief peace was shattered by what my addled brain thought was the babble of Chinamen gone mad. My next thought was God must be a Chinese waiter. Why, I’ll never know, but while contemplating if I had ever pissed off any Chinese waiters, my eyes opened, and just like that the screaming chorus of Chinese waiters turned out to be a nervous group of high falsetto Mexican Federales, punctuated by the quacking of Dirty Duck.

The khaki clad troops were pointing their American made M-16 rifles at my balls. That realization leapfrogged me back to a most unpleasant take on reality. I was laying flat on the ground, with the Duck down there in the dirt next to me, drooling on my shoulder like a baby. He was clutching the plane’s broken yoke in his left hand, with a crumpled a cigarette butt in the right. Now, I thought, if I can just recall how we got to Oz I might be able to get us out of here. But before that dangling solution could materialize inside my projection room, an explosion twisted me off my butt into some kind of fetal ball, as it threw dirt and flaming airplane parts up in the sky like metal spitballs exploding out of a homemade Zip Gattling Gun.

Wiping dirt and sand out of my eyes as I uncurled my spine, I looked up at one of the wings completely engulfed in flames, about a hundred feet overhead! A beautiful and captivating sight if I ever saw one, but then it began dropping down out of the sky on the Duck and me. Instinctively, without even thinking We’re going to die NOW, I was diving-tumbling-rolling the bones for all I was worth, and amazingly managed to grab the Duck by the corner of his still foaming mouth like the fluke bounce of a loose fumble, and yanked him with me out of bounds of harm’s way.

The Federales had vanished by this time; only their fiery rifles and a full bottle of Jose Cuervo still suspended in air were evidence of their existence, before gravity took over, exploding cartridges from the burning rifles, scattering dozens of lead slugs in all directions. It sounded like a hundred Viagra driven bees on a one-day pollen gathering gangbang.
Suddenly a sharp pain in my head canceled all further social events from my busy calendar and brought on my old friend Darkness again, without even a hint of a Simon & Garfunkle soundtrack to romanticize the abyss lurking in the background.

I was still deciphering the symbolism of the lives I was dreaming when I was brought back to consciousness by either the sound of paper rubbing against paper, as in paper money being counted, or the smell of sweaty old boots, which to me was the same smell as American treasury paper. Bulk gringo paper money always has the scent of the old boot to it in my nostrils. Which is why you can stash around seventy-five thousand in hundreds in a pair of soft leather cowboy boots before airport security ever gets nosey.

As you’ve seen, opening my eyes too fast can be a dangerous proposition. This time, a middle aged Mexican Captain and several soldiers were sitting at a wooden table in front of a rusty groaning ancient RCA air conditioner, pumping out ancient cigarette fumes, counting my money!

There was no evidence of whether it was night or day as the single window in the room was covered in aluminum foil. A bare bulb in a wooden lamp reflected off it. The Captain saw me moving and sprung to my side forcing a tequila bottle into my mouth and making it bubble like a drowning Salmon trying to give head to its own tail.

“There-there, Senor Hardin, ease the pain with our blessed Nopal Nectar,” the somewhat familiar voice of el Capatain scraped against the funky blackboard of what was left of my even funkier mind.

Blinking in and out of consciousness, I tried to reach for my money before I was even in waking reality, but was assured by the Captain as I squeezed myself back to the present through a hatch of alternate reality that my hundred thousand was still there.

I sat straight up and asked, “You mean my hundred and twenty, don’t you, Captain?”

“Si, Senor Hardin, but some of it unfortunately burned up in the fire, though I assure you, we did our best to save it.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you did.” There would be a time and a place to thank the Captain properly and get a recount, I thought, but this was definitely not it.

The big shit-eating-grin on his ugly scar infested face went on and on like a roadmap to nowhere you wanted to get to, apologizing over and over for trying to kill us yesterday. So I assumed I had missed only one day of consciousness. While the obsequious turd kept trying to explain that what happened happened because my stubborn mule Gordo had not been on the receiving end of the non-stop train from Nogales to Hermissilo that he was expected on, I reached up and felt a gauze blood soaked bandage around my forehead, and since I couldn’t believe the story I was hearing out of his lips, checked to see if both my ears were still attached to my head.

It seems like the General in-charge had felt betrayed by Gordo not showing up with his payoff. Betrayed enough to order the Captain to open fire on us because the promised first deposit to insure the Kid’s safe return had never arrived with my missing mule, and thus, could not be donated to el Generalissimo’s fresh air fund to feed the homeless children who would slit your fucking throat on the road to Hell, just for the Hell of it, if you crossed him. Thus, we were considered persona non gratis, or dead fucks flying, by the General, who for all practical and impractical purposes was considered a God in these parts. A God, who was, in short, very goddamn upset, not to dwell on normally being a very drunk and vengeful scumbag God to begin with, who was certain in the wisdom of his genius paranoia, somewhere-between-here-and-there, we had switched religions on him. Without a second thought — matter of fact, without a first thought — he then ordered that our double-crossing asses be excommunicated from his church of Pay Now Pay Later Pay Up Or Else before we had a chance to offend his eyes and ears with our presence and explanations. Now sober, he was a changed hombre and I was still somewhat alive, though no more clued-in on the particulars of how the deal had gone south than I was before I was told the details of Gordo’s latest fuckup.

Though the General, like all Gods, was never wrong, in the magnificent wisdom of his sobriety, he offered to give us another plane and a ten dollar a pound discount. That came out to be $15,000. Not a bad figure for the pre-W south of the border era.

I grabbed the bottle, and, in toast to his beneficence, rinsed my teeth, minus the one knocked out in the crash. In those days, $15,000 could fix a lot of things, even if they really weren’t broken, much less if they were.

While I checked myself to see if there were other body parts missing, the Captain filled in details on exactly why we had been shot down: It seems that while making their routine graft filled rounds, his soldiers had found my trusted slob Gordo at a whorehouse a mile from where he had paid the train engineer to slow down so he could jump off. Obviously Gordo hadn’t bothered to work out the second half of his plan before he executed the first, forgetting that his lard ass had to jump back on the train after getting his dose of punocho. Naturally, he was no match for catching a seventy-mile-an-hour train, even if it was only breaking 20 coming around the bend, much less swinging that lard ass back inside on a car ladder as if he were some kind of latter-day-Zorro, instead of the X-rated version of the Cisco Kid’s jubilant fatassed-fuckup Poncho. The Captain’s troops were holding him, or more likely Gordo was holding them, at the whorehouse of record.

By this time, Dirty Duck was recovering with several senoritas at the Corborca Hilton, buried snout first in a replacement bottle full of white snow to resurrect his wounded spirits. Give him a toot or two and he was indestructible.

Just then a young baby faced soldier approached the Captain and handed him a piece of paper. Reading it slowly, the Captain stared at me with amazement, then reached out and embraced me. “Why did you not tell me Colonel Manzanares was your half brother? “

This was news to me, but not something I couldn’t account for. “Because our Father was a dog,” I laughed, “we have so many half brothers running around we don’t like to count them except at family reunions”

The Captain belly-laughed. “I know what you mean, senor.”

“I’m sure you do, amigo. I’m sure you do.”

When you get right down to it, we’d all been fucked around so many times we were all brothers with different mothers in the same bastard family, whether we liked it or not. For the next couple of hours, my new brother and I could hardly stop laughing as we formulated our plans for the next several days. The Captain and I would travel to the government warehouse in Corborca, where I would select 3,000 pounds of choice green bud, then wrap it in large burlap bags and weigh it for transport, after subtracting the paper and burlap weight. Each burlap bag held between 25 to 40 bricks, each brick weighing around 2 pounds. If stacked neatly into the bags, one man could handle 50 to 80 pounds. Unloading had to be fast and smooth. One of the major advantages of burlap bags was if-push-came-to-shove they could survive being thrown out the door of a 180 mile-per-hour plane without ripping open.

Fuel, of course, would be waiting for us. In 55 gallon drums, connected to a hand pump. We always carried a cheese cloth to strain the gas through before we put it into our wing tanks. Any impurity, and I’m including good ole H-2-O, could stop an airplane engine in flight dead-in-its-tracks in about one second flat. Carrying a thousand pounds at 180 mph at under 500 feet with an instant stoppage of your power plant meant you had just about enough time for one last snort before your ass hit the ground and drove your head down and out through your expanded blow hole, or you were smashed by a ton of Mexican green that instantly caught up with your shit covered face, before flattening the rest of your body like a stack of flapjacks, driving them out through the newly sliced slot in your forehead, or the dashboard, whichever came first.

It was at this point, the good Captain and I decided to get our finances straight. He even kicked-in two soldiers and a Jeep to get me back to the border. As soon as I got back, there was unfinished business I had to take care of in the name of Billy the Kid, if he was still alive.

To Be Continued…

#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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