So, I took Sunday and Monday off from my 90 Days to a Novel adventure. Therefore, today I resumed and wrote a scene consistent with the assignment to think about the setting of the novel. I created a place called “Enterrada, NM.” It’s a small town in New Mexico that’s riddled with opiate activity. It’s not completely fictional: There’s several town and cities in NM that have become infested with all kinds of substance abuse and trafficking (just like many other towns in the US). I estimate the population of Enterrada to be somewhere around 20,000 and perhpas six percent (6%) of the poplution is addicted to some form of opiate.
In thinking about the town, i thought about Mikey and Pato and I created a scene involving them and Mikey’s debt:
* * *
It was a Sunday afternoon in September. The air was still warm; there was no hint of cool in the breeze. It was Mikey Morales’ tenth day of sobriety. The first three days were rough, but now, Mikey had the urge to paint. He used to paint all the time; the heroin took away any passion Mikey held for anything other then the drug’s powerful abyss. But, after just fourteen days of kicking, the under current of passion for the one thing Mikey was good at rose to his hands and he let a brush hit a canvas for the first time in months.
He started as he always did: through sketching the image in his brain onto a piece of regular notebook paper. He’d plan out every line, curve, and color long before he ever touched brush to canvas. Each painting already had a life before it even began to take shape in oils. His attention to every detail is what made and defined his career. He lost it all for the sake of his jealous and needy mistress in the form of white powder. Yet, here he was, after ten days of not using, itching and ready to focus on painting again.
The light breeze did very little to calm the typical heat of the days in Enterrada. Nor did the easy wind carry any sign of the two gun-packing employees of Mikey’s connect, Pato, who were heading for Mikey’s room: a studio apartment that held all of Mikey’s possessions: his bed, a few change of clothes, paints, brushes, an easel, and his heroin rig. There was a meager bathroom, but little else. Mikey’s love for his mistress absorbed every single penny Mikey had every earned through his art. There was a time when Mikey would pack up a bag and head to New York, New York for yet another sold out opening at some fancy gallery or another. Now, even the muscle and fat on top of his bones seemed to disappear. Mikey had nothing left to show for the enormous talent he developed and then squandered.
Even his daughter and wife had gone away. Rosita, his seven-year-old, had now lived with her auntie Ali for three years. His wife, Norma stuck a needle in her arm, nodded off, and never woke up. It seemed her lungs decided to stop pumping because they felt too good. Mikey’s mistress took everything.
Mikey could never get enough, either. He’d beg, borrow, steal, whatever it took to get fixed. He needed his mistress more than anyting else. Then, one day, Mikey thought it would be a good idea to work for Pato by getting new shipments across the border. After only three runs, Mikey earned enough to buy a truck and pay the rent on his room for an entire year. Mikey even gave a thousand dollars to his sister to help with Rosita. That was a month ago. Now, two gun-toting employees were heading to MIkey’s to collect that which was Pato’s.
One day, two weeks before this Sunday on which Mikey regained the urge to paint, Mikey made his run to and from Mexico with the usual ten kilos of heroin. Problem was, when Mikey got to his room, there were only nine kilos strapped to his body. He walked outside and scrambled around, but he found no hint of the lost kilo. Mikey panicked and opened another kilo to take a hit to calm his nerves. After Mikey was done, he owed Pato more than one kilo of heroin.
Pato, being a businessman, at first said, “Well, Mikey, I guess I could let it slide, if you pay me for your fuck-up. All together, you owe me around thirty grand. When can have it, Mikey?”
“Damn, Pato, I don’t have that kind of money, holmes.”
“Mikey, I ain’t your holmes.” And with that, Pato bitch-slapped Mikey three times across the face, Mikey’s lip was cut open and Mikey couldn’t keep himself from crying. “Look stupid, you have two weeks to get my money or I’ll take your heart out of your chest. Intiendes?”
Mikey looked at Pato and just nodded. Pato liked Mikey, thought he was a good artist. Otherwise, Pato would’ve just killed Mikey, right on the spot. Mikey turned around and headed towards the door when Pato called out to him.
“Oh, and one more thing.” Pato said, “You’re fired pendejo.”
Mikey knew that the only way he’d be able to get anywhere near to that kind of money would be to paint a masterpiece and sell it to one of his consistent customers. First, though, he had to kick. He had just used, so tomorrow morning would be hell. Mikey had no idea how long it would be before he could paint again. He’d use the first few days to clear his body of the poison and then, maybe, he could get some work done.
So, now two of Pato’s best were on their way to Mikey’s room. Either luck or God had Mikey look out his window. He was able to see the two walking his way. Mikey stopped what he was doing and ran to his little bathroom. He crouched in the tub, but then looked up at the window. He lept out of the tub, opened the window, and crawled up the drainpipe to the roof of the building that housed his room. The two men crushed the door down and ransacked Mikey’s room. They tore the place apart, but found no trace of Mikey anywhere.
Mikey listened to the noise as they ripped his room to shreds. Maybe ten minutes passed before he saw them walk away from his home. It wouldn’t be long before they came back. Mikey had to leave and never look back. He thought about Rosita and about what would happen to her without him. But, he reasoned, she’d probably be better off if she never sees him again. Once he was certain that the immediate threat had passed, Mikey found his way back to his room, threw some clothes in a bag, and walked out his door. He never even bothered to call to let anyone know where he was.
* * *
I really think everyone should write. It’s such a joy to play iin imaginary worlds, even for a wannabe like me…