A Bisbee Vignette

There is only one gas station in Bisbee; the Circle K Station enjoys a virtual monopoly. It’s on the north side of town, and the only alternative is to drive past the garishly-colored copper mine wasteland on the south side of town, get on Rt. 92 at the roundabout, and drive a few miles to San José, a commercial strip at the edge of the Sulphur Spring Valley. The Safeway store and the laundromat as well as a hardware and lumber store are out there, so most Bisbee residents make that trip regularly.

The other day I was airing up a leaky rear tire on my truck at the Circle K. I noticed a typical Bisbee character standing a few feet away from me, a ragged-looking man with unkempt long white hair and a long beard. Bisbee seems to be a magnet for old eccentrics and hippies. He looked at me as I fed quarters into the air compressor and I could tell he was nerving himself to approach me.

The man walked up to me just before I got into my truck. He had something in his outstretched cupped palm.

“I got pesos,man! I need a buck — how about I give you these and you give me a dollar?”

I looked at the miscellaneous pile of Mexican change in his hand.

“Y’know, I don’t plan on going into Mexico anytime soon. Sorry, but I just can’t do it!”

The man looked away and scowled. As I drove away I saw him approaching another customer.

I wish I had gotten the back-story! Why did he have all of that Mexican change? How did he end up in Mexico, as he seemed not to have a vehicle? What did he want one dollar for?

I’ll probably see the man around town; perhaps I’ll hear his story one of these days!

Larry

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11 Comments

Filed under Arizona, Stories

11 responses to “A Bisbee Vignette

  1. Leslie

    Maybe he traded some cigarettes for the pesos and now he wants to buy his cigs back. Interesting – it does make you wonder how he got there..

  2. Joan

    Neat song, Darrell. Here are the Pancho & Lefty Lyrics.

    Living on the road my friend,
    Was gonna keep you free and clean.
    Now you wear your skin like iron,
    Your breath as hard as kerosene.
    You weren’t your mama’s only boy,
    But her favorite one it seems.
    She began to cry when you said goodbye,
    And sank into your dreams.

    Pancho was a bandit boy,
    His horse was fast as polished steel.
    He wore his gun outside his pants
    For all the honest world to feel.
    Pancho met his match you know
    On the deserts down in Mexico,
    Nobody heard his dying words,
    Ah but that’s the way it goes.

    All the Federales say
    They could have had him any day
    They only let him slip away
    Out of kindness, I suppose.

    Lefty, he can’t sing the blues
    All night long like he used to do.
    The dust that Pancho bit down south
    Ended up in Lefty’s mouth.
    The day they laid poor Pancho low,
    Lefty split for Ohio.
    Where he got the bread to go,
    There ain’t nobody knows.

    All the Federales say
    We could have had him any day.
    We only let him slip away
    Out of kindness, I suppose.

    The poets tell how Pancho fell,
    And Lefty’s living in cheap hotels
    The desert’s quiet, Cleveland’s cold,
    And so the story ends we’re told.
    Pancho needs your prayers it’s true,
    But save a few for Lefty too.
    He only did what he had to do,
    And now he’s growing old.

    All the Federales say
    We could have had him any day.
    We only let him go so long
    Out of kindness, I suppose.

    A few gray Federales say
    We could have had him any day
    We only let him go so long
    Out of kindness, I suppose.

    “Pancho and Lefty” as written by Townes Van Zandt
    Read more at http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/122184/#XJHHPFLOtT13ZAYB.99

  3. Darrell

    Glad you liked it Joan. But Larry’s vignette about a guy with pesos splitting from Mexico jogged my memory about Lefty, LOL
    It’s a modern take on some sort of traditional form, be it a saga, a homeric legend, or some hebraic account?? It seems it can be a bit autobiographical to some people . . so it seemed to me?

  4. Joan

    Hi, Darrell. Was beginning to feel you had taken off for Mexico yourself. (grin) Glad to hear from you again.
    Larry said awhile back that he will be in a wifi-bearing abode sometime hopefully this week, so maybe we will hear more from him soon.

  5. Darrell

    No. I’m strictly “north of the border” anymore.

    Did you hear about Ray Bradbury? I used to read his books at the HPL. I think his “Golden Apples of the Sun” was the first book I read when I realized the superiority of the written word to the visual media. May he rest in peace. A friend of mine (also RIP) knew Ray in the latter 40’s and thought highly of him.

  6. Joan

    I just saw a brief blip that Ray had died. So sad. The end of an era. I love the ‘old time’ sci fi stories as opposed to the current sci fantasy stuff that my adult sons seem to enjoy. I believe Edie Hornback’s former spouse Kirk was a friend of his..produced one of his stories as a play. Will have to check that one, however. Knowing my capacity for not remembering proper names I may have the wrong author. (blush)
    Concerning Larry…I’ve been updated. No Wifi in the new abode, but he may be able to tap in at the Bisbee Library. We can only wait an hope. (grin) But we have been through these long dry spells before, Darrell.

  7. Darrell

    The older sci-fi? Maybe it was better because thwere seemed to be a sense of wonder in it? Indeed there was a radio book review/interview on NPR (I think) a couple of years ago with a a currently famous author who stated that sci-fi per se was moribund . . . and in its place had risen the “alternative history” genre. Dunno . . . maybe one can only fantasize so much, and the alternative history forces us to be realistic and let out imaginations run amock? Years agi I read a critic who said sci-fi is a cop-out because it loads all it dice as it sees fit, loses it contact with reality and then collapses in fairy-tale absurdity? Bradbury touched on alternative history a bit in stories like “A Sound of Thunder”

  8. My favorite Bradbury books, which I devoured in my teens, were “The Martian Chronicles” and “Dandelion Wine”. The latter book I should read again — it’s a sensitive and marvelous account of a Midwest childhood in the early 20th century.

    In my early years I liked Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, but then I discovered Dickens, Hardy, Austen, and Collins, and these writers claimed my attention for a number of years.

    I’ve read a few “alternative history” novels, but really, isn’t any good novel an alternative history?

  9. Joan

    Well, Larry…someone in Brentwood must have heard you. Two people have requested “Dandelion Wine” from our library consortium before I could even get there on line and it’s a Sunday morning. At any rate, I’m in line for it, and if I’m lucky, the other libraries who have it will send a copy over. This book is still wildly popular and a paperback is available and B& Nobel for aboue 8 dollars.
    As for Martian Chronicles..that one I have read and loved. And I agree with you about alternative histories. Even a straight historical novel is filtered through the eyes of the witnesses to some extent.
    Are you blogging from you phone? Whichever method, it’s great to hear from you.

  10. Darrell

    Welcome back Larry.
    As for Bradbury, his “October Country” needs to be added to “Dandelion Wine” and “Golden Apples of the Sun”. Also, anyone recall the comic book versions of some Bradbury tales in “Tales of the Crypt”, Amazing Science Fiction/Incredable Science Fiction”, etc from ECF Comics ca 1950-55?

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