Sunday, June 25, 2017


"El Compadre" or "Just The Way I Like Them”
By Juan Montoya
Ricardo and Justin were compadres.

Justin had known Ricardo for almost two decades since Ricardo had moved from Mercedes to make his home in Brownsville, or Browntown as locals called the border city.

Neither had really baptized each other’s children, but after some 20 or more years of friendship, both considered each other to be as close as a friend could be.

They had discussed baptizing Ricardo’s daughter Cristina when she was just one year old, but that was blind-sided by a series of mishaps that eventually led to Justin to cool his heels in the county jail for a week.

Justin and Ricardo agreed to be compadres while they sat in Ricardo’s back yard sipping on some beers one Sunday afternoon. Since Justin was not living with a woman at the time, they agreed to ask Julia, Ricardo’s sister-in-law to stand in with Justin  as his daughter's madrina, or godmother..

Julia was married to Adam Beto, an old lawyer who sometimes sat in as a judge in the local county courts. When Beto found out that the friends were going to be compadres and that his wife was going to stand in as a comadre with Justin, he took matters into his hands.

Justin had been convicted of a drinking while driving under the influence violation about a year before and was on probation. When a probation revocation hearing was held on Justin’s case for missing an appointment, Beto got his chance.

When Justin appeared to what he thought would be a routine hearing where he would get a chance to argue that he had made up the missed appointment the next day, the affair turned instead into a disaster. Since his lawyer hadn't arrived, he told Beto about the made-up appointment.

“I didn’t ask you to make excuses,” Beto fumed at Justin. “If you don’t comply with the terms of the probation, you go to jail. We'll give your lawyer a chance to speak for you when he gets here, if he gets here."

Justin should have seen it coming. In the case right before his hearing, a clean-cut young man in a suit was ending his two years of probation for writing bad checks. His pretty wife and new baby sat in the benches behind the defendant’s table.

“I have made full restitution to each one of the persons who got the checks in cash,” said the young man. “I don’t even have a checking account any more. I am married now and we just got a new baby. I have learned from my mistake, judge. The district attorney has also agreed that probation should be ended by this court.”

“I didn’t agree with anybody about any probation,” shot back Beto from the bench. “Bailiff, put him in a cell.”

The audience sat looking on in stunned silence.

And I’m next,”thought Justin, looking around to the rear of the courtroom to see if his attorney Luis Chueco had arrived . He was late as usual, and told the court he had a previous hearing in a neighboring town. He looked as if he were nursing a horrible hangover.

“I only care what happens in this court,” Beto retorted. “I’m going to revoke your client’s probation. Put him in jail, bailiff.”

That effectively cast a wet blanket on the baptism for the would-be compadres. Pleas to Beto that he release Justin fell on deaf ears, The more Justin’s friends and political acquaintances called Beto, the more recalcitrant he became.
“If anyone else comes and talks to me about that case, I’ll increase the sentence,” he told a local county commissioner who interceded in Justin’s behalf.

And so, Justin cooled his heels for a full week before Beto relented and released him.
From there on, Ricardo and Justin acted as if they were really compadres, even though Cristina was never formally baptized.

One of their favorite pastimes was girl watching as they drove along Elizabeth, the city’s main street Saturday afternoon. Ricardo would slow down as they passed pretty girls on the sidewalk and would tell Justin, “Look compadre, just the way I like them.”

Justin knew his compadre’s likes because he had heard them so often. “Lithe, brown-skinned, with long black hair and brown eyes. That’s the way I like my women, compadre,”Ricardo would tell him.

On one Saturday afternoon, they drove along the city’s main street and doubled back along the neighboring street ogling at the scores of young women dotting the sidewalks. There was no shortage of pretty girls in town most weekends. On Saturdays, the border town was crawling with people, many of them residents of neighboring Matamoros, Mexico. The friends then walked into a lounge to get out from under the scorching heat.

It was so hot that the pitch of light posts melted in pools at their base. Justin ached for the summer he had spent working in a salmon cannery in Petersburg, Alaska.

“There sure are a lot of good-looking women out today,” Ricardo told Justin as they sat down at a bar stool. “And...”
“I know. I know. Just the way you like them,” Justin completed his sentence.

The afternoon turned into evening before the friends walked out of the lounge and headed for a club in the city’s seedier side. Not a few of the women at these bars were on the more daring side, and if you played your cards right, something else might happen after closing time.

However, despite his talk, Justin had never seen his friend connect with any of them. Usually, they would often end up driving home after closing time to sleep in their respective homes.

Nonetheless, Ricardo never lacked optimism that he could snag a babe. What he lacked in looks, he made up in bravado.
“Look compadre, just the way I like them,” he would tell Justin as he elbowed Justin to get his attention.
As the night dragged on, the smoke in the bar soon drove them away from the taverns and they started for home.

Justin was driving that night and he took Ricardo home. As he turned in his friend’s driveway, the front porch door came on. Behind the screen door, he saw Ricardo’s wife standing resolutely in the doorway. She was not a happy camper, and she held something long, round, and menacing in her hands. It was a sight to make grown men cringe. Ricardo reluctantly alighted from his friend’s car.

Justin couldn’t help himself, even if it was his compadre.
“Look compadre, just the way you like them,” he said as he drove away laughing.         


Anonymous said...

And your point is?

Anonymous said...

Juan, I know it's been a long time and probably people don't remember but, some do. Please use your journalistic skills to uncover what really happen to the 21 million that disappeared from the Port of Brownsville. Who got what? Why? For what? Where did the money go? In whose hands did it land? Be the journalist that you are and dig, you'd be surprised at what you would find and at whose hands the money landed on. Be a Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, don't be afraid, be courageous, be a journalist. Follow the "Money". This would be a breakout story. Good Luck Juan and we hope you follow thru, will be watching and reading.