The road into town during the evening had been mostly quiet even by Mexicali standards. The heat of the day had been exceptional enough that it had cleared most of the city’s occupants from the sidewalks early in the evening. Desert had slowly been replaced by an endless succession of one story fenced in residences interposed in intervals by small grocery stores and the occasional rival influences of mostly empty ‘Gasolina Pemex and Gasolina Jalisco’. Small groups of ‘indigendes’ wandered about in the general direction of towards ‘El Norte’ but did not seem interested in any others that might potentially be ‘mosca muerto’ which in William’s case was more than ironic. He just continued his stagger sometimes on sidewalk and occasionally on streets knowing only that Brawley was no longer that far away, just across the US / Mexican border. Amazingly enough the scare that William’s ghostly driver had experienced miles outside of town had diminished into a tenuous sense of monotonous boredom. Even the face of his mortal assailant seemed to dissipate into the thick blanket hush of insect sounds in counterpoint to the regular scape of his own pavement bound shoe leather interrupted by the rise and fall of occasional passing autos. At one point, outside a ‘barro’ a young man obviously ‘muy el rabo’ stumbled blindly out then drunkenly bouncing into him spat out, “Chingate mugiro!” but the ‘borracho’ had past out before the encounter could progress any further.
The humble architecture of the roadside began to build in stature with the more regular appearance of signage in an indifferent mix of Spanish and English. He walked for a long time past large low industrial parks stretching out one after another. All manner of businesses suddenly appeared from smaller industrial concerns to appliance stores and farmacia’s crowded close next to each other. The threat of an awaking throng of urban citizenry spilling out along the sidewalks or jam packed upon the roadways brought a dire sense of apprehension to the vacant spirit guiding the very much certifiably dead body that was doing its best to stay innocuous on these ever lightening ‘calles’. It was obvious that morning was not far off and his rate of travel would not insure that he could clear what appeared to be a larger than expected desert metropolis. The corpse happened to look over to the side of the road at a small concern with all manner of freshly carved stone tombs and markers sitting unadorned upon the sidewalk across the highway. The small store’s sign just behind them proclaiming ‘Marmoleria en General’. A half loaded flatbed truck stood beside it with its tarp loosely hung over some smaller stones. The driver inside the open door of the dimly lit establishment in conversation with another.
“Es un mal día para tratar de entregar las piedras al cementerio”, whined the driver.
“Nuestros clientes siguen manteniendo muriendo sin importar el día de fiesta de Muerte“, replied another voice.
“Esto va a ser lleno de gente como el infierno!”, responded the driver
“Acaba de obtener las piedras de allá ahora”, demanded the other voice.
William now lay still underneath the cover of the tarp tight against the back monument as the door to the truck slammed shut and the vehicle’s engine gargled and grinded forth into to life. The truck had seen its day and then some. The vibration of its frame combined with a failing suspension sent William’s corpse banging into the stones as the driver angrily vented his frustrations on the road through violent accelerations and panic stops. One or two of the wider turns had almost set one of the tall monuments sliding into William’s torso threatening to pin it against one of the side fences of the truck’s bed. The effort of death wasted sinews had been difficult enough and now the same ragged form would have to endure further damage not to mention possible discovery. What is they found him still animate but not alive? What would he do? Play dead and let them bury him and be caught underground steaming for eternity unable to seek out his revenge? Or give them the movie version of a raging undead corpse in an attempt to scare them off. But what would happen in such a large fully gated community if the policia were called to hunt him down? His musings came to an end with a start when the truck turned unexpectedly down a small cemetery lane and it’s driver fully jammed on the brakes. He managed to roll in such a way as to avoid further encroachment by the weighty cargo, one of the taller monuments now diagonally leveraged against the other. Without any hesitation the corpse slipped out from underneath the tarp to unexpectedly find itself in a thick grove of deciduous trees.
A single steel spike rose high above the treetops at the front of the park by the road in the middle of a ceremonial grassy oval. A silent audience of hundreds of grave markers were gathered around the display and reached back across the unaccustomed carpet of grass that had replaced the reddish desert soil. To William’s surprise the place was packed with Mexican families busily decorating the stones with all manner of colorful adornments and family pictures. Further on roadside stands had blossomed up from nowhere selling every kind of item necessary for a peaceful communing the night ahead with their dead relatives. William’s corpse froze at a complete standstill, it’s prime influence unable to decide to exit the vicinity or to venture forth. A small group of happily babbling ”nina’s’ scrambled past his nervous legs at top speed completely non-plussed by the gaunt skeletal scarecrow appearance William’s remains now cut. His ghastly continence peek downward from its marginally effective bulwark of hat and scarf to find a cheap plastic skull mask that one of the little girls had carelessly dropped. The corpse greedily snatched it up in its withered hands and temporarily sweeping off the hat from its bone exposed pate adjusted it over it face covering the obviousness of the great fissure the final ‘coup d’ grass’ gunshot had left. With the had back in place and the bagginess of his clothing he seemed to fit right in with the spirit of the event.
“Great costume man!”, drawled a voice approaching from behind. The corpse spinning around to face a young blonde haired photographer sprinting up to him from a nearby throng snapping his picture then running off again stealing occasional shots of the next most likely image and then again quickly bolting off to the next. The hyper reality of his corpse being fully surrounded by costumed characters whose superficial dress mimed the actuality of William’s partially embodied spirit seeming the height of an absurdly derisive form of irony.