Used by permission of Saluté

The Good, the Bad, and the Gringo — Part 2

A mini-memoir story [4/52*]

After the band played their first set, Bradley started doing tequila shots with me. I had a tab going and the tequila was flowing. I was handing him shot after shot. I should mention here that Bradley was 63 years old. He’s an old road-dog musician, full of stories, and still prone to acting like he’s 30 years younger than he is.

Bradley is an awesome dude.

During their second set I noticed he had a bit of the wild-eyes going on and was sweating profusely. At the same time, he was absolutely playing the living shit out of his bass. He was loose as hell and totally in the zone, alternating between making rock-star faces and and deep eyes-closed poses.

The bar was full and starting to get rowdy. I quickly got used to being bumped and jostled, though nothing hostile was going on, just a crowded space with live energetic bar band music, alcohol, and hard working people shaking off the Monday through Friday (and then some).

A few gringos popped in as the band started playing, spouses/girlfriends of the band, and a couple of random whities sticking close to the door.

The band finished their set and I started feeding Bradly tequila again. Of course I was valiantly going one for one with him. At this point we were toasted, squiffy, pissed, shitfaced, huffle-puffed, broasted, curly-fried, monkey-bottomed, tic-tack-toe-down, rat-arsed, pajama’d, and well nigh rama-lama-ding-donged.

We were quite drunk.

Traditionally, if you play a show billed with another band or two, you stick around for them since there’s overlap in the audience who came to see this or that band play, i.e. don’t screw the less-well-known band by hot-footing it out as soon as you’re done.

The fact that Bradley had regressed about 2 years per shot also contributed to us hanging around for the next band, The Sons of Sancho.

They’re a great mix of punk rock, Latin style, and some trumpets. The Mexican Bear from earlier was, to my drunken glee, their lead singer.

I remember it being kind of mind-blowingly good, so I was on my feet and really getting into it while the place was starting to get a little bit mayhem-ish.

People were crowding the stage and as they started pressing closer, the Bear had less and less room, so he had to keep yanking on his mic cable to have enough slack to move around at all.

At one point in the yanking and getting stepped on, his microphone cable got wrapped around a guy. It wasn’t an Indiana Jones whip-type of wrap-around, but more of an oops, on your shoulder, oops you keep moving around, oops need my cable, oops , looped around your neck, hey, quit freaking out kind of scenario. So Mr. Bear was pulling at his microphone and this guy was pulling back and suddenly there wasn’t so much a stage anymore as just another area with people being rowdy.

Bradley suddenly popped up in his sweat-soaked Hawaiian shirt, eyes wild, white-hair-fringe-starting-to-bald head like a yogurt covered raisin bobbing it’s way through the crowd, and made this loud blood-curdling noise I could hear above the music.

I tried to make my way through the increasingly violent crowd to make sure he was okay, but stumbled over the Bear/Lead singer of the Sons of Sancho and the guy he had inadvertently lassoed, who now had him lassoed around his neck with that cable.

I was pretty well floating on the tequila and the only complete thought I could get through my head, seeing this, was aww, shit, followed by the only thing I could think to do. I grabbed the guy and tried to wrestle him off the Bear, but he was like a rock. I grabbed him again and tried to pry him off but I was accomplishing absolutely nothing.

I grabbed a chair, one of those folding metal types, and let him have it, pro-wrestling style, right across the back of his head and shoulders. It worked, in so far as he let the Bear go, but now he was about to beat the shit out of me.

To this day I don’t know exactly what provoked Bradley, other than being way gone on that tequila, but he made another blood-curdling howl and charged like a bull, completely missing me, the Bear, and the Strangler as he careened past.

I was spared from having my face pummeled. The bartender, El Ojomuerto, came out from behind that bar with a vengeance, hitting any damn head he could reach with his baseball bat. I don’t know how close he came to me, but I swear I heard the swish.

He calmed the situation down, old-school. Maybe that happened regularly, I have no idea, but by the end of that night it seemed I was down with the good folks at Salute.

We had stood our ground in that little Mexican town and faced down the raiding murderous banditos, led by Guadeloupe the Strangler. As the dust settled and the townspeople peeked out of their hiding places, they saw us, still upright, still breathing, a bit battle-worn, but victorious. With music and dancing, the people cheered us for saving them — me, still carrying trail dust and a pitifully frayed cigar clenched in my teeth, the Bear, hair still perfect, his coat missing it’s buttons, El Ojomuerto, brought, unwillingly, out of his retirement, a fire still burning in his eyes, and El Toro Bradley…

Now where the hell was Bradley?

I snapped out of the victorious movie scene to find the bartender actually giving me a smile and a nod. My tab was somewhere around $215 USD, which I’m sure accounted for at least part of that smile. El Ojomuerto, you enigmatic bastard, you.

The Bear, who I had been engaged in tequila-powered conversation with (whose name turned out to be Matt), caught me in a bear-hug, squishing me further back to reality. He put a flyer in my hand with a You’re gonna come to my art show, yeah? We’re brothers now, homes. Make sure you come out, we’ll cook some food and shit, aight? You had barbacoa yet?

I looked everywhere for Bradley before finally heading outside.

The fool had gotten in his car, put it in reverse, and backed into the building. Lucky for him he’d passed out before pressing the gas, so it was more of a wandering slowly into the wall than smashing into it. There’s still a little squarish hole in his bumper that I like to point out to him whenever I get the chance.

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