THE WALL in TEXAS
“I’m out here to support Trump, our next President,” Buffalo Bill says smiling at me through his nicotine dusted moustache. “You got to start somewhere and somewhere is building the wall of security.”
He’s all the way in. Got those Leddy boots polished high, white cap, white shirt, cigarette burnt to the filter in his hand. Man worked for the Disney Company over in France as Buffalo Bill. “If nothing else, it was pretty exciting,” he says and grins.
“So what’s your name?”
He stares at me. “Buffalo Bill,” he says flat out.
I guess he never gave it up.
It was a few days before Super Tuesday on March 1st and I was sweating out the well liquor next to a Trump rally. It was one of those pale white, jittery sweats that make you look like your coming down off some serious junk and every star-spangled shit-kicker shuffling in line to get into the Ft. Worth Arena was eye-balling me. Even Buffalo Bill had enough, he was as close to signaling the mounted cops as the ash was to his knuckles.
I’d stumbled out from inside where the newly appointed Commander and Chief was throwing a water bottle around making fun of Little Marco. His adoring followers loved it. Loved his rhetoric from the previous night up on the debate stage even more, “Many killings, murder, crime across the border, our money pouring out and the drugs pouring in. We need to build a wall and I don’t mind building a big beautiful door so people can come into this country legally.”
Big whoops and hollers from the Texas faithful, an adoring mass of followers. They held their cellphones out, taking pictures of the befuddled Governor Chris Christie, looking twice as bad as me at Donald’s side as his master spouted commands and pulled the leash tight. But, they didn’t get it. They didn’t hear it. Fear does that. They should’ve listened to the Hispanic Americans protesting as they shuffled through that big beautiful gate.
“He’s saying he’s going to make America great again. He’s absolutely making America hate again,” Representative Ramon Romero Jr. said. He stood with a dozen others at the exterior entrance cutting a dashing figure in his tailored blue suit and trimmed salt and pepper hair, a Latino George Clooney if there ever was one representing District 90 in Ft. Worth.
It wasn’t legality to Ramon. Didn’t matter about a door to him. It was perspective. “What happens is that the people passing by are telling us to go home. We are home. We’re American citizens. We live here.”
And so it goes, Ramon and the rest of the Hispanic protestors yell and the fear builds. The supporters, chins up, pride high, pushed forward past them in their Trumpian garb with a question growing behind their eyes: which one them is illegal?
Too much bad voodoo, a seething wave of violence filtered through the heat on that day, and I headed out to the Stockyards for another cool dip into the well and there in the dark cellar of a bar, I saddled up with Shiner Bock and tried to wash away the hate clinging to me like sweat. And as I took the last sip, there he was, a man with long blonde hair and cracked chaps with two six-shooter colts in his gun belt. I’d seen him years back on Exchange Avenue hocking pictures for five bucks a pop: Wild Bill Hickok of the Stockyards, yet another erstwhile re-enactor plying his trade.
He sat at the corner, on break, as Waylon Jennings moaned about cowboys and mothers from the juke. He’d just come from the rally, he said. He was there to earn a little coin and to support our next President as he built the wall.
I put the Shiner down and walked out, the echo too deafening to stay.
Nope. The issue isn’t the wall. It isn’t the door. It isn’t the 1,254 miles of Texas border to cross or the Federal money it’ll cost. It’s the bias. Ramon Romero Jr. knew it. He was out there for a feeling. The feeling every Hispanic in Texas will now get when they pass a man in a red hat chanting for a concrete barrier that they, as citizens, should be on the other side of it.
And that’s the chamber. That’s the wall that boxes us in now.