Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lost in Tijuana

by Larry Duncan

She’s draped over a stool,
her back against the bar,
elbows resting on the edge.
One leg crossed over the other,
kicking in my direction.

Jeans and red tube top
fit like a second skin
and a pretty face—
almond eyes and sticky,
candy apples lips.

She reminds me of S,
who reminds me of M.
They were roommates.
I wanted S.  M wanted me.
We spun around in that circle
for years until I broke
off and crashed into N,
burying myself in the couch
of her Georgia trailer,
where I huddled every night,
thin and twitching,
in the cold light of the television,
waiting for her to come back home,
and she’d slide in from the front door
to the bathroom with a backhand
wave, waiting for me to ask
where’d she’d been until
she stopped coming home at all
and I enlisted in the Navy
so I could stop coming home, too
and took to walking at night
when I couldn’t sleep,
farther and farther
from the shipyard
to bars and strip clubs
and ran into A,
who danced every night
in that shitty club outside of PB,
who stripped and splayed herself on stage
and no one ever saw her,
who hated men
and their slack jaw faces
and said sailors were the worst
but I was different,
who buried her cat in the backyard
after it was hit by a car
and she cried in the dirt,
clawing out a grave
with her bare hands,
who was a girl
like any other girl
and who’s her heart I broke
like any other heart
because she was wrong
because I wasn’t different,
I was worse,
which leads to J
who honestly believed I was someone else,
so much so, I couldn’t help but believe it too
and I spent a year cramming
myself into the confines of that vision
and another pinched into that frame,
waging a cowardly, guerilla war
to break free and finally arriving at
R—R—R and her house a hundred
miles north in the hills over Fullerton,
who after months of correspondence
over the internet and the phone
finally agreed to meet me,
who loves my rustic body
and has book shelves,
a mortgage and everything,
who played Trivial Pursuit with me
while her friends argued about politics,
kneeling in front of couch
while I sat on the cushin
with my hands hugging a beer
between my legs
as we passed the box of questions back and forth
not bothering to move the pieces,
who I hugged on brick steps of her porch
when I left and we almost kissed,
who I barely know,
whose last name means thief,
whose house I can’t quite remember
how to get back to,
but is where I want to go,
to drive, drive north, drive all the way to Fullerton,
drunk and crazy in the middle of the night,
to arrive at her front door, knock, and say,
“I should have kissed you.
I wanted to kiss you.
I want to kiss you,”
R who was born in Mexico City,
who called me on my way down to San Diego
and when I told her I might go to Mexico said,
“Tijuana is not Mexico.
It’s something else.
It’s a border town.”

They are there in her almond eyes.
They are letters in a word
tattooed just beneath my skin.

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