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San Antonio Banderas

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The movie ‘Desperado’ plays low on the hotel TV. Low enough that the man propped up on the headboard can’t hear what the actors are saying. He starts making up the dialogue in his head:

“Do you like my hair?”

“Yes. It’s very nice.”

“The River Walk, not river talk.”

“Dios mio! Who are you?”


Travel weary, and 4 beers into the night, the man hits the power on the remote and nods off. His sleep goes deep and dark, beyond subconscious, into the sub basement of the Alamo.

He wakes. It’s silent.

He wonders where he is, if he’s dead, alone in a coffin. His heart beats hard against his ribs, and he has to urinate. He wonders how to pee in a coffin.

Do you Just go?

A sliver of charcoal grey daylight sneaks through a slit in the drapes.

“Remember? The Alamo. San Antonio,” he croaks.

His room number is 1406 and he tries to find significance in the number, but can only think of the mnemonic for 1492, sailed the ocean blue. 1406, pick up sticks?

The River Walk, not river talk.


Fourth Floor— fitness galore.

The man looks awkwardly tall above the treadmill, hair almost brushing the drop ceiling with each running stride.

He’s going nowhere at age 32, speed of 7.3, on a 1% incline, with an average of 8:30 minutes/mile.

He looks out the fitness center windows upon a pool with a stream of water jetting out the backstop façade splashing into the pool like arcing piss. The runner’s high seeps into his eyeballs, plugging up his ears. He pretends he’s swimming, but after a lap, stops. From the pool, he watches the runner version inside, and slowly sinks in the water so just his eyeballs are above the surface. He feels reptilian, and the runner version turns into a gazelle wearing Nikes.

Back inside, the man increases the speed to 8.6, keeping the incline at 1%, average of 6:58 minute miles. He has run for 15 minutes and has burned 450 calories. He wonders where they burn off to?

1406, treats and tricks.

Each footfall upon the machine shorts out the reception on the dashboard TV. He changes the channel with a sweaty thumb, losing rhythm a bit.

A smiling Mary is on the screen clutching baby Jesus. The man’s pounding gait pixellates her face, and she has double teeth, teeth frozen over her eyes. She is a demon. The man wonders if she breast-feeds in public.

Sweaty thumb channel change, rhythm lost, regained, and there’s an actress. She has third degree burns. She is acting, crying, but is still horribly attractive. The man wonders if she smells like burnt toast.

The Alamo, remember?

He doesn’t.  He knows nothing about it.

The River Walk, not run.


He can’t hear ambient noise but has an endorphine-induced daydream about the San Antonio River talking to him. Its name is Banderas, and lights up a fluorescent hot pink every time it speaks.

“Tell me about Davy Crockett,” the man says to Banderas.

“He wore a coon skin hat,” Banderas replies.

“Tell me about James Bowie,” the man says to Banderas.

“He fashioned a knife, and David Bowie,” Banderas replies.


So the man goes to the Alamo, but forgets why. He reads a bronze placard that tells him Mexicans killed James Bowie in 1836, in the low barracks.

“How do you say low barracks in Spanish?” the man asks Banderas

“Barrackos bajas,” Banderas responds.

The man thinks this sounds funny. He’s nowhere near the river.

Later that night, back in the hotel room, soaking sore muscles in the bathtub, the man sinks into the hot water so just his face is above the surface. He stares at the bright single bulb straight above until everything turns hot pink.

“Barrackos bajas. Barrackos bajas,” he repeats, vibrating his plugged ears. From the under water, it sounds like river talk.

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. That was brilliant!!! I loved the whole stream of conscious writing flow of the river baja Bandaras.

    October 18, 2013
    • Thanks very much, Susie. Haven’t written in a while. Felt good to do something different. Hope you’re well!

      October 19, 2013
      • I look forward to reading more of your stuff! This was awesome!

        If you haven’t seen Desperado with the volume up, I can tell you that you weren’t very far off on the dialogue.

        October 28, 2013
        • Thanks, Brantley!
          I haven’t seen the whole movie, but I’m sure the dialogue is riveting…

          October 30, 2013
  2. Mike,
    I’m always so impressed with your work. Really great visuals here.

    October 18, 2013
    • Always humbling coming from you, Red.
      Hope all is well in your world!

      October 19, 2013
    • Red stole my line. Great writing, Mike!

      October 20, 2013
      • Thanks very much, Jen!
        How have you been?

        October 21, 2013
        • Good, good. Just planning Blogger Interactive and working like a mad woman. Of course, that’s to be expected from someone who is mad.

          How have YOU been?

          October 21, 2013
          • Is Blogger Interactive the meet-up thing I keep hearing whispers about? When and where is that bad boy?
            Mad is the new black.

            Gooooood. Work has taken up most of my time. It’s a good thing, but I do miss blogging. Ah well. Life…

            October 21, 2013
            • There have been whispers about the event?! Are people also talking about my supposed “herpes outbreak” and potential “jail time” I’m facing for tax evasion? Don’t believe it, Mike!!!!

              I was wondering where you went. Glad to see you back. (And I relate to the work thing all too well.)

              October 21, 2013
              • I read something on the inter-bloggerwebs about it. That, and how you contracted herpes in prison. Better than Staph i guess…

                So, where is this blogger meet-up? Portland? When?

                How do you deal with the work/creativity thing? (Aside from jail sex)

                October 21, 2013
                • It’s in Austin, TX this weekend actually. Becca (25toFly) and I have been planning for months so it’s nice to finally have it launch.

                  Aside from jungle/jail/Republican sex, I try to write something every day. Even if it’s just notes, or a few sentences, I try to flex my writing muscle every day. I’ve also found that living my life has helped tremendously with inspiration. Whether that be hiking or an art class or talking to a stranger on the bus, life is all around us waiting to be written.

                  October 21, 2013
                  • Dammit! I was just there.
                    Well, have a shit ton of fun. Will this be annual?

                    I need to start doing that – writing everyday. I do for work, but it’s not always creative.

                    “life is all around us waiting to be written.”

                    I like that. A lot, actually. I might get this as a tattoo (tramp stamp?). I’ve always been the adaptive explorer that can go to a dive bar, or black tie gala and get along with folks, but also, hear their stories.

                    Running helps me write better, which is odd to me. Why running?

                    October 23, 2013
                    • Yep, we plan on making it annual although the location will change. You definitely need to make it next year!

                      I do a lot of copywriting for work, and writing in a non-creative manor actually zaps my creativity too. That’s why it’s important for me to write down ideas or a few sentences or SOMETHING every day.

                      A chameleon! I figured you that type. It’s a good trait to have. I’m mostly awkward.

                      I am the same way with hiking. I think our minds are so inundated with “stuff” that running/hiking clears it, and makes way for the creativity. I hike a lot by myself, and the silence and solitude lends itself to new ideas.

                      October 23, 2013
                    • I’m in next year.
                      Can we make it somewhere with good hiking?
                      Ohio got glaciered.

                      October 30, 2013
                    • I’m pushing for Blogger Interactive Zion National Park, but I don’t think Becca is having it.

                      October 31, 2013
  3. Wow, it’s great but slightly confusing. Still amazing though!

    October 18, 2013
    • Haha – thanks, natureo!
      I like being confusing. Weird, i know. 🙂

      October 19, 2013
  4. Reblogged this on niamhonleave.

    October 18, 2013
    • Thanks for the reblog, niamhonleave!

      October 19, 2013
  5. Hmm, Mike. You swept me in with this — I wanted to finish reading. It’s realism and surrealism combined it seems, to me at least. Kind of like a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas kind of thing. Seems as if your character is wasted in more than one way. I liked it though. Very descriptive.

    October 18, 2013
    • Thanks very much, Brigitte. Not sure what the piece is exactly, but the Fear and Loathing complement is pretty much the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. 🙂 Made my day.
      How have you been?

      October 19, 2013
      • Been good, Mike. You and your lovely — how’s new home owning going? Take care, you.

        October 21, 2013
        • Good to hear, Brigitte.
          Home owning has been fun.Overwhelming at times, but fun.
          You too!

          October 21, 2013
  6. Nice work. Love the reflections in the water, looks like the demon. Excellent work. Are you back in the states now?

    October 19, 2013
    • Hey Laura, thanks very much. Spooky river in time for my favorite season.
      Yep, staying in the US until early November, than off to Iceland!

      October 19, 2013
  7. You forgot to mention all of the ‘crap’ across the street from the Alamo. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Wax Museum – all of the typical touristy trash that makes the Alamo truly what it is 🙂

    Loved reading your stream of consciousness…..

    October 20, 2013
    • Yeah – why is there a freaking wax museum across the street?
      Weird. Touristy, I get it, but fricking weird.
      I had a piece on a giant dinosaur and wax johnny depp included, but omitted at the last second.

      THanks, battlewagon!

      October 23, 2013
  8. River Roam. I wish I’d gone to the Alamo when I was there last year, at least to hear Antonio Banderas or someone saying “barrackos.” Barrackos? The president. No overpriced Margaritas riverside? Thanks as always for sharing. How’s the new place?? Blogworthy yet?

    October 22, 2013
    • Barrackos Obamamos…
      If I have a child, I’m naming him/her Barrackos Bukach.

      No margaritas riverside. I did get a touch of food…we’ll call it “dis-agreeance”, at a lunch spot there. Apparently they pull the shrimp from the “river”?

      New place is coming along slowly. Landscaping before winter. Bathroom downstairs is gutted, and awaiting somebody to redo it (me).

      How you been? How’s New Mehico?

      October 23, 2013
      • hm, I wasn’t notified of this response in the traditional WordPress fashion…. weird. I did not know they pull shrimp from the Riverwalk River. Really? I was pictures of it before it was remodeled and it looked like something that might contain edible seafood, but now it’s more like the It’s A Small World ride at Disney.
        Lots of work on your new place! How’s the landscaping?? Fall’s a good time to plant. Remember contrasts! Shapes, colors, textures, deciduous vs. evergreen…. keeps things interesting. Good luck with it.
        Things are good here, just busy. Everyone crams everything into Oct because it’s the last month of beautiful, perfect weather. Going to old Mehico next week for work. San Miguel de Allende. Will write about it if I have the time! Take care xxL

        October 28, 2013
        • They do pull shrimp from R Walk! 🙂

          Landscaping is okay. I had a lady come in to do some consulting, but I mostly wanted to trim back the massive silver maple in the back. At least I think it’s a silver maple, but it’s huge – and they trimmed it up.

          I will indeed keep it interesting. Have fun in old Mehico – can’t wait to read about it. You’ll be there for los dias de muertos!!! Buenos!

          October 30, 2013
  9. Glad I saved the email on this. Really good and better than anything Antonio comes up with on his own.

    October 23, 2013
    • Ha!
      Wasn’t he in ‘Spy Kids’?

      Thanks, Maggie
      Hope all is well with you!

      October 25, 2013
  10. Desperado has never been better.
    Cool shots, too!

    October 31, 2013
  11. Mike — New fan here, really like your work! keep it up!

    May 10, 2014

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