The old, West Texas barn was cold on Christmas morning as the two men huddled around the little hibachi grill glowing red with coals. It was a white
man and a Mexican who found comfort
in each other’s company this day. The Mexican put a ragged cigar box on the table before them and spoke, “This is the smoke I told you about. It has special power. I wanted to smoke it only with you, for I trust you.”
The white man opened the cigar box and saw within it was a bag of herb, bulging at the seams. Tucked neatly within its confines were various rolling papers. Gingerly he took a pack of papers out and withdrew the bag. Then he took two papers from the packet and sealed them together, even though they were “double-wide” according to the packets.
“Looks like good stuff,” the white man said.
“It comes from deep within Mexico. Very few Anglos get to see this, or smoke it. It releases the spirit, and the spirit goes where it wants.”
The white man began to roll the herb, and then put it into his mouth and sealed it so none of the particles
could fall from the cigarette. Then, reaching into the glowing fire in the pot on the floor he withdrew a twig, still glowing and placed it onto the end of the cigarette, drawing the smoke that was produced deep within him, and passed the cigarette over to the Mexican.
The Mexican man was old, but carried it well. His hair was already showing streaks of white, lacing the once black strands. His face was as timeless as the Virgin of Guadalupe itself, yet older in many ways. He took the cigarette from the Anglo and drew the smoke within his lungs, holding it there for what seemed to be an eternity, and then slowly released it back into the air.
“How long you been around here?” the white man asked.
“Forever! I have been here since way back. The spirit has been good to me. I buried two wives, and have a fine daughter now.
“How old? C’mon, how old are you?”
The old Mexican peered at his friend, “I can’t tell you ‘cause I don’t know. There ain’t no paper on me. All I know is I been around a while, and I know I remember Poncho Villa.”
The barn began to fill with the smell of marijuana as the two men passed the joint back and forth between them. The white man began to feel the drug and settled back, but the Mexican man sat upright and began to stiffen, and grow glassy-eyed. He then grew silent and didn’t move for the longest time; all the while the Anglo slowly finished the joint by himself and watched his friend go into a meditation. He had seen this in his friend before and it didn’t alarm him. He just waited until the Mexican came back to his senses.
The Butcher Shop