I called my guy and he said a lot very fast and I didn’t understand all of it but when he arrived a half hour later he demanded the money. I don’t have it. Any of it. Maybe later tonight? Maybe tomorrow? I think you’ll have it tomorrow, he said. He had gold in his pocket from his other hobbies (I believe he is what they used to call a “second story worker”) but he always has random gold on him. He will use that to pay the cartel guy above him for what he brought me today but I won’t have even a scent of money until maybe next Friday or Saturday. I don’t want to be killed and my body stuffed into a barrel of acid. I’m pretty sure they won’t try to kill me while there is still a chance I might have their money next week. Afterwards, they might try to punish me but as long as I stay the hell away from the bus stations and stay out of cars I should be alive this time next week. This is no joke. This is really my life. I owe $12,000 pesos to what you would call a narco-cartel that wouldn’t flinch over killing me if I for some reason couldn’t pay them or if they caught me trying to flee the country. I wouldn’t dare try to flee at this point. One: the debt, though a bit inflated at this point, is an honest debt and I don’t steal from people. Two: they would pursue me. You can pay a monetary amount but you can’t pay for a guy’s toil and sweat. Money isn’t worth that much to people who have lots of it. The cartels are good at purging their own and those of their rivals.
This is one reason why writers like “Garth Risk Hallberg” piss me off so much. As a rule, I am deeply suspicious of any person who chooses to identify themselves with three or more proper names, especially when one of those names is “Risk.” I don’t need to know any more about that clown than I already do: they gave him $2 million for a novel set in the punk noise and litter of 1970s New York. It’s just Madlibs. His highbeams are in Johnny Franzen’s rearview, not mine. I was always taught to write what you know. Obviously, Risk Hallberg doesn’t know anything about 1970s New York because he was two years old living in the south, sucking on Mommy’s swollen teet when this book took place. No amount of research will ever trump experience. I feel as though you have to EARN the right to write about the things you do. This may be why I am currently on a lengthy poverty-induced water fast while also facing the possibility of being killed by angry Mexicans in the street. My friend R. Kern, one of the progenitors of the “cinema of transgression” or whatever they call it now told me more interesting stories about living in NYC in the 1970s than Risk Mellencamp could ever come up with. Back when Kern was shooting dope and selling it to finance his movies. He’s sober and has been for at least two decades, as far as I know.
I can hear the whistle from the peanut vendor as he roves up and down the street. I’m not sure exactly how it works but I’m sure it has to do with heat. I’ve no desire to write a book about Mexican peanut vendors in the 1950s in a city I’ve only visited twice.