Drumming Up Business

The Hidalgo stretch used to be good for buskers, but now it’s a victim of its own excess. You’ve got your fake Mayans in blackface and peacock feathers blowing conch shells, your fake Peruvians with bells and whistles and “Que pasa, Condorito?”, your phony mariachis doing “Tears In Heaven” on trumpet and violin…it ain’t over ’til the fat man with the guitarrón sings. If you’re not wearing a costume or setting shit on fire, nobody even notices you.
Seagull: The Blasé Sojourner

Seagull rattled his battered blue enamelled “ranchito” cup like a crapshooter and spun his tips out on the counter of the takeout pizza joint next door. Hmm, not too shabby for summer. What that USD bill from the Beyonce babe in the straw hat was actually a fiver! Hot damn! He could have afforded a nice barbacoa sandwich at the Cueva.

But he pocketed the bill and counted out enough for a slice of pizza. He slapped the coins down on the counter and said, “There it is, hotstuff, change you can believe in.”

The beautiful Weejun (with the unfortunately big Weejun SCUBA boyfriend) scooped it up and gave him a heartstopping smile from the midnight sun and said, “Be the change you want to sponge in the world,” before popping his pepperoni and chorizo slice into the oven for a quick remelt.

That was it right there. If he wanted a change of gears, he was going to have to do it. Every stick has to shift for itself in this brut-assed world.

He was alone on stage for his second set, Congón having presumably split to Poc Na with that sanpaku Argentine hippy chick. Always hostel-friendly, our Congón. Leaving him with only what rhythm he could beat with his feet. And the crowd, if that’s what you want to call three tables, had that “heard it before, twice” look about them. The Grace Jones negress had split (and thanks for your support) but the table of hotties was still there to be schemed on. Especially the redhead. He had some ideas in that direction. Meanwhile, when your feet are in the stirrups and your ass is on the ground, best bet for a crowdpleaser is sing about about drugs.

Well I have run a few guns across somebody’s enemy lines
I’ve flown in a few tons of sinsemilla in a B-29
I’ve done Swiss-made watches and leather huaraches
Sometimes I’ve even moved a little Coke…..a Cola
I’m just supply demand without the duty or the excise man

Not bad, not bad, hit em with a hooky chorus and it’s chicken in the pot.

I’ll be makin’ a break from takin’ over contraband
I might trade you this hash for some cash and a Volkswagen van
I’ll be heading for the border with my papers in order
Taking my departure south of Puerto Vallarta
Gonna get myself nice down in Smugglers’ paradise

And now the bridge to Tipville.

There are rusty old freighters sitting down at the dock
Full of Panama red, full of Peruvian rock
Seaplanes loaded with their quota of imported booze
There are shadowy bars with flamenco guitars
Señoritas with their eyes like stars…
I just think I could use some kind of tropical kind of a cruise

It’s just the right site for living high while you’re lying low
If you’re feeling flush or had a brush with the Border Patrol
So mellow out on that beach and reach for that Mescalito
Drink something cold and wet and watch the sun set on Smugglers Cove

And one more for the baby’s new shoes

Just gimme one more shot of that Jose Cuervo
And I’ll be headin’ on down, to the boundry of Mexico
One more bottle of Tequila to go
I’ll find the salt and the lemon and the women
Down in Smugglers Cove

He hit the retirees up front first, and glommed a couple of bucks out of sheer confusion. The Aerofloters chipped in a few kopeks or bukniks or whatever the change house wouldn’t accept, then he was moving on the Babetable. The big guy wasn’t around, which embolded Seagull considerably. That guy looked like he could strike highway flares on the tip of his dick and crunch your ass up like a stale dinner mint.

But present company seemed nice enough. The Andie McDowell-looking brunette gave him a five and TKO smile, the Indita stared but didn’t scalp his ass or anything, and the redhead–what the hell was her name? Cher? Chastity? Cash N. Carrie?–dropped him a few few pesos and that look you get from other people who work for gratuitous gratuities. So he laid it on her. “I remember you.”

She fluffed her pile of coppery coils, pushed her chest forward almost imperceptibly and drawled, “Most people do.”

“Great fire dancer. You were working the tourbus crowds at the ruins with a guy playing a samba rig.”

“He was hot, too. Shame he was a total asshole.”

“Who’s drumming you now?”

Another lingering look. Looking mostly down. “I don’t really take applications. As such.”

“Look I can do the beat. I’m not in the league with Cagón there, but not many are. And I’m only a partial asshole. Forty percent, tops.”

The brunette chuckled at that, a soft song like a creek turning pebbles. Copper–that was it! Copper!–gave a half smile and said, “Gonna beat on your box?”

“I drum too, you know. I’ve got a dumbek and I’m not afraid to use it.”

He could see the blowoff coming, so he blurted out. “Look, I know where we can make some good money before high season. I’m starving here and I’m guessing you’re not doing much better. There’s gonna be a film festival down in Playa…”

“I heard about it.”

“Couple of weeks off. Meanwhile, we could work sunset at the beach, do a wedding or two, after hours at the CasaBlanca. Make some coin, shake down the act, go down and wow the Mexi-moguls.”

Copper gave him a long evaluation this time. He stood still for it. You work with somebody like this, truck the road together, it’s not like a blind date or something. He saw a slight softening in her face, a semblance of a yawn.

The brunette must have seen it, too, because she said, “Would you like some coffee or something?”

Then he felt the bruiser behind him, a sort of dark heaviness he associated with a rough hand on his shoulder and footwear up his butt. But Copper looked past him and smiled at the guy. Said, “Hey Bannock, this is Seagull. We’re going to be working together.”

Hey, she remembered him, too!

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