Those We Meet Abroad
I couldn't sleep, yet again, so I thought it'd be a
good idea to check on my roommate, Matt, who was
supposed to be at Roxy 99, the bar where all the foreigners
go. I've been trying to school him on life lately, so I
thought I'd check on his progress. Anyways, right beside
there is a Taiwanese breakfast restaurant that has good
food in the late night hours.
I showed up on my bike to the breakfast joint and
saw police and an ambulance parked at the corner 711,
treating a foreigner who had a lot of blood on the right side
of his face, and a big bandage over the area. That sh&t
looked pretty interesting, so I got breakfast, but pegged a
couple of foreigners sitting at the sidewalk as people I'd
ask about it once my chow was down.
I approached the two middle-eastern looking guys
and found out they were Mexican. One was younger and
pretty cool looking. The other looked a bit older - mid-30's -
and was a bit off the handle. He was swearing a lot in
Spanish, maybe testing if I understood, or just for the fun
We started talking, sharing cigarettes, and they
knew nothing about what happened earlier. I seemed to
know more than them. They were good guys.
Then, another random white guy walked up, a bit
bigger than myself, smiling and grinning as he looked at
"Isa", the older Mexican. They knew each other from before!
What a blast! They were reminicing over stuff they shared
moons ago. Then they shared military brotherhood stuff
that us non-Military guys can't seem to relate to.
It seems as though Monte, the American, went to
West Point, and Isa, the Mexican, used to be some kind of
an executioner, as he called himself, in the Mexican
military. I know from years abroad not to drink everyone's
Kool-Aid, as some people take liberty with the experience
of being abroad to become people they ain't. But Monte had
a humongous middle knuckle on his right fist, about half
the size of an egg, with a pussie eye-ball staring out at you.
Emelio, the other Mexican, apparently had a lot of
experience back home with medical stuff, and said that fist
needed treatment right away, and with a scalpal and other
supplies, he could handle it. This West Point guy, Monte,
had a camouflage backpack full of medical supplies - he's a
surfer? - and they started looking. Apparently, Monte left
his scalpal at home because he wanted to get into a club, so
they were left with scissors, or whatever else would do to
open the wound. They ended up using that iodine stuff to
pour on the infected knuckle, while squeezing puss out of
it. This was all happening at 711, at 6am, while I smoked a
cigarette and drank beer!
Emelio and Isa worked on squeezing out the puss
for a while, while Monte avoided questions on how his
knuckle got so big. When they were all done treating it, and
telling Monte he needed a hospital or the fungus would take
his whole finger, we resumed drinking and smoking together.
Monte, a former US soldier, and Isa, a former Mexican
soldier started barking commands at each other, going nose to
nose, as if they had a score to settle. They convinced us that it
was just military sh&t, and we shouldn't mind. Somehow, this
was supposed to be therapeutic for all the crazy things they'd
One thing - Military tough guy stuff - led to another thing -
MMA tough guy stuff - and before you knew it, Monte and Isa
were sparring each other, slapping each other in the face, until
Isa threw Monte over some parked bicycles! Monte didn't like
that and got up ready to fight, as any sobre minded individual
would, and the stuff started to escalate.
Emelio and I did the best we could to let them have
their fun, and then distract them when it got too much. Emelto
even received MMA training from Monte, being ground and
pounded and choked out on the sidewalk, in front of 711.
I sat with Isa, and he told me about chopping off people's
heads, and eating hearts and brains in the Mexican military. He
said that it's just part of what goes into it. I figured, as a long-
time expat, that he was just taking liberties with his Mexican
heritage, as he may have been. At the same time, however, he
stuck to his story, mostly. I even told him that I didn't really
believe him, seeing as how foreigners are master-bullsh&tters,
but that if he said it happened, I would take his word for it.
This was all after he punched me in the face!
It was my turn to buy beers, so I bought 'em and came
outside to see Isa slapping open-palmed Emelio in the face. It
seemed like a cool drunk-guy game we were playing, so I told
Isa to hit me in the face. He begged not to, but I persisted, think-
ing I could take any slap! I told him 99%, but he pleaded down
to 10%, saying 100% would kill me. Fine, he really didn't want
to, but as a proud Canadian, I wasn't about to be bested by a
bunch of Mexicans and a drunk American soldier.
So, BOOM, he punched me closed-fist in the NOSE! I
had been clenching my jaw for a slap, and he punched me in the
nose. Yeah, I was bleeding, quite a bit. It's funny, because
moments before, I had searched out a bathroom, and one old
Taiwanese man had given me a bunch of tissues, but then told
me they had no bathroom in that building. DOH! Nevertheless,
I had found a bathroom, had a pocket full of tissue, and now a
nose to stuff it in.
Isa apologized profusely, but as a happy Canadian, having
proved my mettle, I told him: "Don't say sorry; say 'De na da.'" I
reasoned that he didn't want to do it, and I had begged him to do
it, so I told him "Gracias, amigo!" and he should say "your
This led into philosophy, as poor Emelio was being ground
and pounded by Monte, the badass white guy from Seattle. Isa saw,
by the end of it, that I really had been a missionary, even if now
without Christ, as the way I preached self-forgiveness and life to him
as a means to cope with the crazy things he claimed to have done.
But ol'Monte, true and blue, came back in the picture. The
weird West Point grad with an army backpack full of medical
supplies resumed his military tough guy talk with Isa. Emelio had
to leave, but I volunteered to stay and keep the peace, and/or see
the crazy sh&t go down when it would.
Needless to say.... THE sh&t WENT DOWN!
Monte was talking crazy sh&t in Spanish and English to poor
Isa, who sat beside me, taking the abuse, being called a "puta" and
a "bitch," until he stood up to fight. Only he didn't fight. He grabbed
a bottle, smashed it where I was sitting between the two - I had to
brush shards of glass from my nearly bald head - and started talking
about cutting out hearts!
At this point they were toe to toe and Isa tried to slice his
OWN chest with the broken glass, while Monte pushed him against
a building pillar OUTSIDE 711 at 7am. The crazy thing was that Isa
wasn't fighting back. He was putting his arms out like Christ on the
cross while Monte got in his face, choked his throat, and slapped him
in the face (wish mine was only a slap!).
It got to the point where Monte punched Isa twice, and I jumped
in, pushing him back against the wall while he kept grabbing at my
jugular, telling him to back off, and yada-yada-yada. I thought I had
some cool one-liners about life and philosophy, but he wasn't having it.
HE WAS STILL PISSED OFF ABOUT THE SUPERSONICS BEING
SOLD TO OKLAHOMA CITY AND ME BEING A FAN OF THEM!!!
At one point while I played peacemaker, Monte whispered in
my ear that I didn't know Mexican culture, and Isa taking the blows
without responding was just what Isa wanted! ?????? it.... Isa walked
away, and, demoralized, but damn proud of the Mexecutioner for walk-
ing away, I invited Monte to sit with me, thinking I could rap some
sh&t to him about life.
We didn't have but one minute before Isa returned, just as Monte
predicted, red-eyed, and full of rage, and they were back to yelling at each
other. Only this time, it was Monte on bended knee as Isa swore "puta" at
him while sitting beside me, telling him: "Isa, we gotta go! The cops are
coming. Come with me! It's the only place you'll be safe!" Isa didn't seem
to wanna buy the BS, but nevertheless, asked me for my shirt. He had a
white shirt with blood all over it from his chest, and needed my shirt to
pretend he wasn't THE ONLY MEXICAN IN TAIWAN!
?????? it! I gave him my shirt, being the gracious Canadian and all,
realizing that now I had a bleeding foot from the glass, and a bloody nose
from his punch, not to mention no shirt and a bald head that read "gang-
banger" all over it. I had to boogy.
They left with each other, those two disfunctional lovebirds, and I
sailed off on my bike.
But before I left the scene of a million cigarettes and beer cans, not
to mention broken bottles and some blood, I imparted some final wisdom
to spectating high school girls in that fabulous Taiwanese breakfast restaurant
I had originally sailed out for: "Girls, this is why war is bad. They were in war,
and now their heads ain't right. War is bad."
They giggled, and I rode shirtless into the sunny morning, home, to
write this story.
Mike "shotgun" Towle