I was sitting along the curb outside my little apartment on Calle Limones, sipping on a semi-chilled bottle of lime-flavored Ciel+ and listening to the banda music blaring in the background when the two men showed up at my door.
They were wearing black and red suits with walkie talkies and utility belts and sunglasses, and they were not smiling.
There I was, wearing a pair of blue shorts with a floral pattern and no shirt and drinking this 80-cent beverage outside an apartment in the projects area of this city and they must have thought I was some kind of raving lunatic.
All the gringos live uptown, they probably thought. What is this weird fuck doing out here? Should we beat him on principle?
So I’m sitting and sipping and thinking and they are walking up to me and the first one asks me how I am doing. I smile a great big one and keep sipping my drink.
He turns to the other man and now they are both staring at me and I am gazing at the girl in the white shorts across the street playing with the hose.
“We need to come in,” the second man says. “There is an inspection due here. Open the door.”
I take another sip of my drink and grab the keys off the floor next to me. There is an ant hole beneath me and giant fucking bugs are crawling around on my legs and I don’t even swat them off. I open the door and they step inside and Juan is inside smoking reefer and he jumps from his seat and spills his Negra Modelo all over the floor. Juan starts cursing in Spanish loudly, and I see the men walking to him as he douses the joint in the spilled alcohol, and I am still here staring at the gal across the street and wondering if she wants to come over and play.
There is an argument in the house and Juan pushes the two men outside before lighting up a cigarette and throwing on his chanklas. His eyes are smiling beneath the fake Prada shades as he steps out into the sun. The girl with the hose is looking at us now.
I smile and wave.
The two men in suits are yelling something at me but I am far away. I am across the street. I am in a hotel several blocks away with this 19-year-old girl and we are trying to figure out how to pass the time.
“Vale verga,” says Juan, snapping me out of my fantasy. I am still not entirely sure what that phrase means. I look around, the two suits are still here, but the girl has gone inside. The hose is still running.
We argue with the men. There is no violation here. We are good, honest citizens. They are not cops. They are inspectors for the city, and they are visiting homes in the projects.
Earlier, two kids had come by, but I was not sure what they were doing.
The dogs are barking on the lawn at the house behind ours, and I am still sipping this delicious, unhealthy drink.
The men are telling Juan they need to check the electrical wirings.
He goes back inside and cracks open another beer, winking at me as he takes a big sip – a slap in the face to the inspectors.
A big fat woman comes over to the house selling bread. She is wearing some kind of mu-mu and pushing a cart.
We all, including the suits, buy some of the sweet bread she is selling.
We are eating and talking and arguing.
Suddenly, several minutes later, I realize the bread was sour. There is a rumbling in my stomach. As with Juan. As with the two men.
They begin asking nicely to use our restroom. There’s no need for an inspection. Just kindly let them use the restroom and they will be on their way. Juan laughs like a cow in the wind.
“Sure,” he says. “Use the restroom, then get the fuck out of here.”
And I am back on the grass, drinking and smiling and playing with the ants.