Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I did not know his last name and I didn't even get a picture. He was living at the departamentos de Chata in La Paz On Madero near Juarez. I did not recognize the apartments as the place one goes to die but more than once I felt myself melting into the mattress and wondered if I had the strength to get back up. It was a daily struggle even with a fan and air conditioning.

Max was British. He liked cats. He had driven from Santa Rosa in an old Festiva kind of car that was falling apart. He also liked to bicycle to the beer store. My buddy Mike and I estimated he was between 75 and 80. Maybe 83. But he was frail and would say things like, "These scabs just keep getting worse. What do you think that might be." As he picked the large scabs off his skinny legs.
My first thought was ill health combined with zero hygiene. Oh, Max. He was falling apart and Mike did everything for him and Max would forget to pay him. I didn't want to get involved because I am a selfish coward. So while I was steadily pondering my way into oblivion Max would drink several big beers and then start drinking wine and then more beer and then the most evil tasting gasoline/liquor called canya. Horrible stuff. Cane alcohol. the cheapest drunk you can buy. If you can drink that without coughing then you have already burned all the nerves in your tongue and throat. MAx could drink it without coughing.
HE liked shakespeare and we wanted him to get an ipod so he could download the plays and listen to them.
Mike would bicycle to the store to get him a roasted chicken. THat's all Max ate was raosted chicken.
We were not sure if he had escaped from an old age home or what but we both agreed he was out of his element. His brain would work most of the time. He talked about a woman in Mazatlan that he wanted to see. A nurse. We weren't sure if it was a fantasy or a delusion from WWII. HE was in the infantry I think. Talked about liberating France.

You died in a puddle of blood
you died
felled by the Mexican canya god Ixthalapa
you fought in France
in Britain
read poetry
loved women
your family loved you but did not know where you were
we loved you but did not know your family
you were old and old people should die where they want
and we were also getting drunk under the fan
in the hammock
at the bars
you are us in the future
and we want to go to mexico
to die
in peace
with a maid walking in and finding our bodies
say a hail mary for us
say a prayer
then steal our radio
that is the law of the desert
it is not fair but it is done.
God bless you, Max

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.