From Dallas Doctor’s collection of short stories “How to Organize and Orgy & Other Stories” (Pages 41-45):
Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle
By Dallas Doctor
“Hey! American! You’re American, aren’t you?” A tall, muscular kid shouted in my direction. He started toward me from across the bar.
I couldn’t tell whether his approach was dangerously aggressive or merely enthusiastic.
“Where you from, American?”
“Idaho, by way of New York City,” I hoped to be able to either charm or disarm this oncoming kid, should either become necessary. When he reached my table, I almost stood up to greet him, but I didn’t know if he’d take that as a sign of fear or aggression, so I remained seated and telegraphed an overtly-casual swig of beer.
When I looked up, I realized the kid was unusually tall.
“Idaho?” The kid towered over me. “I love the American West. Cowboys! Horses! Jingle Jangle Baby! I love everything about America! Donald Trump! Trump is Making Russia Great Again!”
“So you’re Russian? What are you doing in Montenegro?”
“There are many Russians here,” he pointed to a group of young men, “my friends and I are building another new hotel just up the road in Budva. We call Budva ‘Little Russia on the Adriatic.’”
“Your English is excellent,” I hoped we were about to become friends. I didn’t want this kid as an enemy, “have you been to America?”
“Oh yes, I went to school there,” he beamed, “I wanted to stay, but my Visa expired and the bastards wouldn’t renew it, so I had to return to Mother Russia.”
“But you would’ve stayed if you could?” I relaxed a little.
“Oh Yes, I love America!” He pulled up a stool without being invited. “America has everything. America is beautiful.”
“Where did you go to school?” I exhaled.
“San Diego State, Baby! Home of the mighty Aztec Warriors. Go Aztecs!”
“No wonder you think America is beautiful,” I laughed, “San Diego was a pretty sweet spot to land.”
“Someday, I want to go back,” the kid leaned his head in close to mine. “Here! Check out my earring!”
“What is that? A pair of cowboy spurs?” I couldn’t tell for sure.
“Jingle jangle Baby,” he confirmed, “I have a pair on my chest, too,” he opened his shirt, “right here over my heart.”
“You have a tattoo of cowboy spurs on your chest,” I observed, “America made an unusual impression on you!”
“My student Visa allowed me to work during the summers. I got a job as a guide leading horse-back rides along the beach south of San Ysidro.”
“Seriously?” I was amazed. “I know exactly where that is. That’s right on the border with Mexico.”
“Damn straight it is,” the kid laughed, “I could tell you some stories Man, believe me.”
“You were a Russian wrangler at a California Dude ranch?”
“We took tourists to the beach on horseback,” the kid confirmed.
“I’ve actually been to that beach,” I surprised him, “very few Americans’ve ever been there. It smacks right up against the Mexican border. It’s just a stretch of sand that’s technically part of the United States, but it’s south of the Tijuana River. It’s the beach part of that estuarine research sanctuary, right?”
“So you have been there,” the kid was impressed, “but if you’ve only been to the beach, you don’t know this part: The Tijuana River runs into the U.S. and meanders inland through a densely-thicketed patch of the sanctuary for a couple kilometers before the mouth empties into the Pacific Ocean. The vegetation’s so thick in there that, to get the horses to the beach, we always had to ride right down the middle of the Tijuana River. It’s a perfect spot for illegals to hide. I saw some shit go down there Man.”
“You mean sewage?” I grimaced.
“That too, sometimes,” the kid laughed, “but I’m talking about immigrants crossing the border, Man. I crossed that River a hundred times and never once did I not see somebody crossing.”
“Really? It’s that common?” I was surprised, “well, .. you said you wanted to go back and you obviously know how to get in,” I suggested half-heartedly.
“It’s not getting in that’s the problem,” he explained in all seriousness, “it’s what you can-and-can’t-do once you’re in. I need to work, so I have to be legal. I was always very careful to keep in strict compliance with the terms of my Visa. I was hoping they’d let me stay, but in the end, they didn’t.”
“That sucks, man! I’m sorry,” I tried to empathize, “it must be extra hard since you’ve seen first-hand how many people are doing it illegally. Is it really that common?”
“Every day, man” the kid lit a cigarette and leaned back, “entirely families sometimes. I remember this one day, we were taking the horse down the river and the water was running higher than usual. There was a family–a man and his wife with a small baby–an infant–crossing at just as we approached. The father made it across the river with a big wet bundle of their possessions, but the mother was still on the Mexican side with the baby. I could tell she was afraid to try to cross. I rode up to her and motioned for her to hand the baby up to me. She was afraid at first and almost ran away, but I motioned that I meant no harm and pointed to her man on the other side. Eventually, she offered up the baby to me. My horse and I carried the baby over to the other side and delivered it to Daddy. Then I crossed again, pulled mom up on the back of my horse, and carried her across too. They were so grateful, they begged me to wait while the woman dug through a small pocketbook she pulled out of that big, wet bag. She eventually found what she was looking for and handed me this earring. It must have meant something special to them because they were carrying it to America. I tried to refuse it, but they begged me to keep it. That’s why I still wear it today.”
“Wait a minute,” I was amazed, “let me get this straight: you were trying to stay in the US legally and you were being careful not to violate the terms of your Visa? And yet, you helped these people cross the border illegally. You could have been in big trouble for that if you were caught.”
“Yeah, I suppose, but imagine what they were sacrificing? And besides, Man,” the kid placed his hand on my shoulder, “We’re all just people!”
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