Chapter 17: Dunce Upon a Time in Mexico

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Barnard left Audie at the hospital and headed out to get a pair of boots. Using his phone as his GPS, he was able to put the thinking part of his brain onto other tasks than directions. He reflected on his week up to this point and how crazy it had been. He thought about Lydia again and remembered that he had been in the middle of a rather naughty dream about her when Audie had unceremoniously wakened him with a scream. He wished that had been able to play out. He thought about Donnie and Sid and hoped they were securely locked away for whatever charges the police could have thrown at them. He also remembered that the night before he and Audie had made a rather manic video about their week and what they had left to do, saying they were going to make their own fiesta over in Juarez this very afternoon. He thought that he should at least go across the border and get something for Audie and maybe make a video or two since he would have to backtrack across the state as soon as Audie got out of the hospital.

He was pulling up in front of the boot factory with these last thoughts running through his mind. Being at a manufacturing facility with a visitor's area and outlet store at the front reminded him of the brewery in Shiner as he was getting out of his car. That realization made him jerk his head around in a full circle, feeling like a truck might barrel into him any second. He wondered how long he might have post-traumatic stress caused by Donnie and Sid when at that exact moment a black pickup cruised around the corner to his left so fast it was almost on two wheels. The two guys inside were hooping and yelling, apparently on a liquid lunch break from a construction site, and sped down the road. Barnard realized as they disappeared around another corner that he was pressed against the side of his car with his hand clutching his chest. He breathed several deep breaths to force himself to relax, dug his phone out of his pocket, and started shooting himself.

"I'm here at the J.B. Hill boot factory to buy a set of primo boots. Audie will be in the hospital until at least tomorrow because of his rattlesnake bite, so I'm flying solo for the next twenty four hours. After leaving here I will make a ceremonious journey across the border in honor of mi compadre, eat a taco for us both ... yes, I know, sacrifices must be made ... and then come back over to sleep in the park again tonight. This time I will NOT be relying on a rope to keep snakes away. I'm pretty sure I will set up my tent." He kept the video running while he stepped through the doors, asked permission to record his buying some new boots, and asked for Eduardo. Only a few moments later, Eduardo stepped out of a hallway that led into the showroom area.

The man was a little more than Barnard's six foot height and outweighed him by at least a hundred pounds, much of which was in his chest. He had a dark complexion with rugged features, a full, salt-and-pepper beard, and a full head of hair that was swept backward with possibly an entire tube of Brylcreem. Barnard thought he greatly resembled The Most Interesting Man in the World. The overwhelming scent of cologne made Barnard fight to not sneeze while he greeted the man and said he was a friend of Aunt Jeanie. As soon as that was out of his mouth, he realized he didn't know her last name.

"I know a lot of women named Jeanie, my friend. I am sorry, I do not know exactly who you are talking about." His smile was warm and friendly, though, as if they were old friends. "It is clear, though, that you know someone who says she knows me and that is good enough for me to show you around a little bit."

"Is it okay with you if I record all this? I'm doing some videos to put on the Internet as kind of a travel show sort of thing. I've heard a lot about your boots and this would make a great piece." Barnard was trying to be respectful, but without Audie he felt suddenly very vulnerable.

"Oh, sure, sure, senor, it is my pleasure to be on your movie. We do not do tours, but I will be glad to show you how we make your boots and then get you fitted for your new pair. Comprende?"

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