Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Cuenca

We're now well into the 13th hour of this miserable, sunny day in Cuenca. I'm still drunk, and I'm trying to piece together last night while slowly rubbing my left fingers over the scrapes and cuts on my right wrist and hand. I watched a lot of material with Hunter S. Thompson last night, so excuse me if this piece comes along as Gonzo. That's just the way it is.

The night started off innocently enough. Sitting in the apartment of my friend Charlie, we sipped on rum and cokes while watching "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," not sure of where our nights would go. But suddenly the lap top overheated and we had to stop watching halfway in. Now it was clear, we would have to leave the apartment. Charlie was already on edge because he heard that his neighbors below had complained about noise the last two nights, despite the fact that I was with him, out of the apartment. So we left, into the cold, misty night.

We met up with Lauren and another girl, Michelle, who's studying Spanish here for a month. We met her about 2 months ago in Vilcabamba, and she'd like Cuenca enough to return. Soon enough they'd decided to leave for home, so Charlie and I continued into a cheap shot bar, where I ran into an acquaintance, Gaby, who'd been missing for some time. We talked and caught up, in between dollar shots that we never paid for. Somewhere in the mix a friend of Gaby's, a guy, continued to buy us shots and attempt to swoon her. All we were talking about was a mutual friend, but he obviously didn't know this.

Leaving the bar, we were going to someone's car to head somewhere, but we stopped along the way for some reason. I don't know why, my memory is fuzzy and a lot of this new information was relayed to me by Charlie this morning. Something happened, the other guy was obviously jealous that I was talking to Gaby and she wasn't interested in him, so he grabbed my head and made dick sucking noises. Well, I'm not going to put up with that, I must have thought. Charlie says I went for the throat and was choking him and then tackled him, and once on the street, I proceeded to give him some good punches in the face.

The ironic thing is that I really don't like to fight. See, the thing is I'm a writer, and having messed up fingers does me no good. At the beginning of my senior year I got into a fight and broke two knuckles, right after getting an internship. This made it very difficult to type, and besides the shame and embarrassment of getting into a fight in front of so many people, whether or not it was just, which it was, I realized that I could ill afford to get into these situations again. Perhaps more ironic is that I was wearing the same shirt last night that I wore on the night of that other fight. The last time, the buttons were ripped out. This time, the shirt was ruined beyond repair, with blood and later on puke all over it.

So we faught for a moment until Charlie pulled me off and I sat myself on the curb while the other guy stood away getting scorned by the girls. And then, though I don't quite understand it, I started to cry. I never cry. Not to sound like a macho man, but I don't. What I was thinking of, though I don't know why, was my friend Ty that died this week. I had been pushing it down, but suddenly this fight brough it up. I wasn't crying hysterically, but tears were coming down, and I kept saying that he was only 20 years old. Charlie told me to forget it, and though I did try, it was tough. I was bleeding badly from the nose and my nice, white shirt that I'd bought in Spain years ago was covered.

We stood there until everyone else left, and then headed over to my safe spot, the bar/grill Chiplote, where no one would mess with me. They're all good people, and when I walked in they showed general concern, wanting to know who'd done this. Without any thought of payment, the owner, my friend Paul passed me two shots of Tequila, most definitely unnecessary. I cleaned up a bit, and from then on my memory is mostly gone.

Charlie tells me that him and his roommate Lucho had to carry me down the steps to their apartment, with the help of some German kid who saw the mess. I was also sitting on the ground outside Chiplote for a while. My legs just would not work, and Charlie think I might have been drugged by one of the shots that kid gave me. Because after all, as a seasoned drinker, why would I collapse like so, even though I don't really take shots anymore. But somewhere in this whole mess of a night, the evil got out, and rock bottom was very nearly hit, if not scraped.

And the rest is just a flash of being in their apartment, puking and dry heaving, hearing voices, waking up on the floor in a sunny, cold living room. My shirt in the bucket which sat next to my head. These things happen every weekend, maybe every night, all over the world. A street fight in Cuenca is no different than one in Boston, but maybe the fact that it happened now, so close to my departure, is intriguing. I wasn't being robbed, and I wasn't being a jerk, but this fight came to me. Who knows why fights ever happen at all? I guess sometimes we just get down to primal instincts and behavior.

And now I need to ride out this day, avoiding even the thought of alcohol and hoping for some kind of redeeming action. Something to make up for last nights' schoolyard scrap. If we could only be able to make up for everything like that. So easy, so calm, so good.

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