Dirty Pesos

We got into the van

eight, maybe ten of us

as the driver sped away

from the harbor

and into the dusk

through downtown Cartagena

and over one bridge

after another

until the city faded

faster than the daylight

and after an hour

we pulled down a long driveway

and parked in front

of a dimly lighted building

covered in Christmas lights

and the eight, maybe ten of us

were led like sheep

into a large room

where we were seated

at a large table

and served drink

after drink

after drink

and by the time that eighteen,

maybe twenty beautiful women

were led like sheep

into the large room

we had become wolves

life was monetized

a price tag placed on the soul

and mine was sold

for the first time,

for Canadian whiskey

local beer

and the acceptance

of other men

who had already sold theirs

but the problem was

the dehumanization process

was never quite complete…

I already felt guilty

as it was happening

and hers is one

of the faces

forever seared into my mind

ten years gone now

and I still see her

and that thousand mile stare,

I knew then

that the world wasn’t fair

and she could see

the fear in my eyes

as I cried

after I came

“I’m the one to blame

for the human condition”

I thought.

No, I knew.

and I know.

I bought her body

but the price

was my soul

I felt so cold

as I held her

and cried

standing naked

with my arms

wrapped around her,

she sighed

and said

“it’s okay”

in broken English,

but It wasn’t…

and it’s not,

and there we were

two teenagers

from two very different worlds

standing there

holding one another

crying.

Naked,

vulnerable.

I saw her soul

and was given mine back

in the process

though I didn’t deserve it

and standing there

crying

feeling guilt

and shame

and sadness

I stopped feeling American

and started to feel human

really human

for the first time…

and all the stories

I grew up hearing about Jesus

sort of made sense,

and I stopped feeling catholic

and started feeling spiritual

and I lost my religion

and gained my humanity…

and then we put our clothes on

and I handed her

a stack of dirty pesos

and hugged her

and whispered to her

and to the universe

“I’m sorry”

then held both her hands and said

“I love you”

and she knew what I meant…

and on the van ride back

as the rest of the guys

were drunkenly telling tales of conquest

I hung my head

in shame

and cried,

wondering

‘who the hell am I…”

 

Advertisements