“You want a toe? I can get you a toe. Believe me. There are ways, Dude. Hell, I can get you a toe by by three o’clock with nail polish.”

The addition of the oversized, purling, energy sucking flatscreen hypnotizing both  the staff and the houseguests in the bar area immediately changed the entire balance of the house. We started to get a different kind of clientele. Soraya seemed relieved to finally have a way to watch the cooking show with the English guy curse at shitmunchers for making scrambled eggs the wrong way. She was happy for a few hours. I had no idea there was an entire channel devoted to showing nothing but Friends re-runs. Once Lalito had screwed the brackets into the wall, I don’t think the fucking thing was turned off once.

Suddenly, instead of hikers who meditated before going to Monte Alban, we started getting guests who sat in front of the TV drinking mezcal all day and looking for excuses not to have to leave the couch.

I was reminded of this change with the recent death of David Huddleston, the guy who played the wheelchair-bound Big Lebowski in the Cohen brothers movie.

A couple arrived from somewhere outside of Dallas who did nothing but quote that movie.

“Her co-star in the beaver picture?”

“Knox Harrington, the video artist?”

“He’s a good man and through.”

“Is this your homework Larry? ”

We should’ve shut the place down then. Or cut back on guests. At that point we were making about $1500 a week. $500 went just to pay off various thugs, including the neighbors, cartel guys and the municipal police. We never started renting the rooms to make money. We were just trying to pay for the place after I had lost  $2000 a month in freelance when the company I worked for suddenly went under, owing me a year’s worth of paychecks I’d never see.

Months later, we’d transformed the house into a hotel through Air Bnb. We had a staff of four people working for us. We had installed a bar. The bartender did tattoo work while he was on shift. Various family members needed jobs so we tried to help. His primito was an artist with a kid on the way. He drew the bathroom signs. They were supposed to be simple, just stick figures, one for men and one for women. Damas y Caballeros. He drew pornographic pictures and then demanded that we install a bathroom for disabled people. There was no room for another bathroom. I came back from Puerto Escondido and Lalo was talking to construction workers about building a second story onto the house. “The terrace,” he said. “They can have it built in two to three weeks if we grease the right palms.”

There was nothing on the napkin on which our two year lease was formally hammered out  forbidding  adding a second story to the house.

“Nothing about turning it into a hotel, either,” smiled Lalo.

At that point, we should’ve run. Gotten out of the country. Soraya did exactly that the next month. In the middle of the night.

“This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!”

That’s the clean version of that line. The Dallas people had both on DVD.

 

 

 

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