We're in a 1978 Ford Galaxy, looking back at the Acapulco crescent
as we rise into the puff clouds. Postcard view, the white towers of the 3 star
hotels facing west.
See? says the driver. Sly Stallone's house.
Large neo-modernist villa, glass, concrete and white stucco,
cantilevered patios and palms, like something out of Architectural
Digest. Cliff-top, great view.
That's Stallone's place? says Ajo.
Si, says the driver.
Stallone lives there.
I laugh, say, sure he does.
Believe it, says the
Look, I say, every place you go, Third World, guys show you the
biggest house in town, say that's Stallone's.
You ever cabby him? says
Me? says the driver. No... my amigo.
Ajo laughs, says, his
Brutus and I laugh. Driver laughs too.
He is helicopter pilot, says the driver.
Your friend flies a
chopper? says Ajo.
Anyplace you want, guys, says the driver.
Ajo rolls down the window, starts filming.
I stop so you can get your picture, says the driver.
says Ajo. This is cool.
Nice camera, says the driver.
Digital, says Ajo.
You work in the movies? says the driver.
Advertising, says Ajo. You
Propa..., says the driver. You mean, hoochie
We're really laughing now.
Hoochie coochie yeah, says Ajo.
You come right place, guys,
says the driver. We got hoochie coochie.
She's long, she's lean, she walks for our pleasure, shoes clacking
on the marble tiles. Short black skirt and black hair tied back. She goes
behind the bar, looks our way, smiles.
A moment of silence.
Propina, I say.
That her name? says Ajo.
That's what I'm
calling her, I say.
Not to her face, says Brutus.
"tip", isn't it? says Brutus.
Yeah, I say. Tip.
chuckles, raises his shot glass, says, Propina!
Propina! I say.
Yeah yeah, says Ajo. Cisco!
We down our tequilas, quickly soften the flame with Corona.
What's Cisco today? says Brutus. Up, down?
Hunret thirty, says
Great, says Brutus.
Gonna split any day, says Ajo. Etcetera
Nice lobby, I say. Fabulous view, bit of a breeze.
More like four, says Ajo.
Newest hotel in town, says Brutus.
Built in 93.
Looks older than that, says Ajo.
It's the moisture mixed
with the heat, I say. Rust never sleeps.
We missed the party by fifty years,
Cancun's the place now, I say.
Yeah, says Brutus.
Still, I say, this is pretty good....
The walls, the arches, pastel yellow, the furniture white. Even
the grand piano is white, plays softly with a phantom pianist, a black digital
Orson Welles partied in 'pulco, I say.
Before or after Elvis,
Well before Elvis, I say. Late forties, early fifties. Used to
sail in with Errol Flynn.
Now there's a guy I can't figure, says Ajo. I
mean, what Flynn movie is any good?
He died in Vancouver, I say. In the arms
of a fifteen year old girl... that's what I remember.
How old was he?
says Brutus. Like ninety?
Not that old, I say. Fifty something
Errol Flynn, says Ajo. "In like Flynn" -- thaz all I know about him.
He was big time, I say. He was the Sly Stallone of the forties.
think Stallone is a sex symbol? says Brutus.
Guys like him, I say. Guys
liked Flynn too.
Nobody I know likes Stallone, says Brutus.
You like him,
I say. Always watching Rambo.
For a laugh is all, says Brutus.
Admit it, I say. You'd like a piece of Stallone.
What happened to Welles? says Ajo. Like he just evaporated.
Drink no wine/ before its time, I say.
fat and crappy
Do you know anyone who actually reads anymore? I say.
says Ajo. Nope.
I read, says Brutus.
You read what, I say. Fat paperbacks
I'm reading Iain Banks right now, says Brutus.
Fat and crappy,
right? I say.
It's readable, says Brutus.
Face it, I say. Banks has only
written one -- repeat, one -- good book. His first.
I have a first
edition of The Wasp Factory, says Ajo. Signed. Bought it in
You know I dragged ass all over Glasgow looking for it, I say. They
kept saying, never seen it in hardcover. You'd think they'd have it there. I
mean, he's from the area.
The Wasp Factory is one of the best novels
of the eighties, says Brutus.
One of the best first novels, maybe, I
say. Some of the stuff he puts out is illiterate.
You mean his science
fiction, says Ajo. That's for money.
Not my money, I say.
You used to
rave bout him, says Brutus.
Figure my first is worth triple what I paid,
says Ajo. They want hundred and fifty for it on the Net.
You know anybody
that's read it? I say.
My scene, people only read tea leaves, says Ajo.
Newsletters... divorce papers... bar coasters.
Your broker read? I
No, says Ajo. Never read a book in his life
What about e-mail? I
Lolita handles his e-mail, says Ajo.
How'd he get through
university? I say.
He didn't, says Ajo.
You must be kidding, I say.
Doesn't he have a M.B.A.?
Lotta brokers don't have degrees, says Ajo.
Securities ticket, that's it.
Ajo and I are the only guys with degrees in
our office, says Brutus.
Amex has a degree, says Ajo. He doesn't read
Homo reads, says Brutus.
If you call reading the Bible every
Sunday reading, says Ajo.
Reading text has become passe, I say.
We've reverted to a pictographic society. Computers and billboards, TV and vids
-- it's a point-and-click world.
Get this man another drink, says
Yeah, says Brutus. He's starting to preach.
What? I say. Preach? You
think I like sitting around listening to you two jerks yapping about the stock
Hey, says Brutus. It's pictographic.
What's the last book
you read? says Ajo.
All the way? I say.
Yeah, says Ajo. Bet you
He's a name dropper, says Brutus. Alls he knows are the
Be Cool, I say. I'm working on that.
No you're not, says
Brutus. You left it behind in Cuernavaca.
I did? I say.
You threw it in
the waste bucket, says Brutus.
He threw Elmore Leonard away? says Ajo. Good
Fat and crappy, you said, says Brutus.
I never, never throw books
away, I say.
Have you forgotten you burned The Hand Maiden's Tale?
He burned Margaret Atwood? says Ajo. Here, have my Curvo...
haven't touched it yet.
And he burned Ondatjee's The English Patient,
I can't imagine him spending the money to get either of them,
I didn't, I say. They were free.
You review them? says
How could he? says Brutus. He burned them.
Here comes Propina, like a model advancing down the runway. You
can't beat sitting in an open lobby in Mexico drinking gold and beer. Served by
a woman who isn't afraid to smile when being ogled by three men and two digital
cameras. Ajo: Hawaiian shirt, tan shorts, leather sandals. Brutus: white
T-shirt, black shorts, Tiva sandals. Me: you just know I'm cool.
Senorita Acapulco, I say.
As she leans over, sets fresh drinks on the low table, her smile
is pure Aztec Gold.