You Pay A Prostitute To Leave


The day Reagan won his reelection, Juan Pedro Pérez Molina was born in a small brothel in Tijuana. The father – Hugo Molina, the son of a wealthy rancher from Calexico. The mother – Emilia Pérez, a white bird from San Ysidro, evading warrants by living in rundown bordellos, employing her most readily profitable skill – her femininity.

When faced with the news, Hugo Molina offered for a “calculated miscarriage,” the way he put it. Emilia didn’t follow at first. Then, she cried. She cried harder. She spat and broke dishes and broke glasses and ultimately, broke down. She begged.

Finally, a pawnshop ring was procured, the nuptial ceremony rushed through, a small house in Tecate supplemented. But Señor Molina was not a recurrent father. Throughout various intervals, the rancher’s son would step in, provide financial security, impart passive advice on the young boy and return to absence, emphasizing the importance of his affairs that brought them their meals.

Juan’s first word was “puta.” When he reached five, his mother smuggled herself and her son into Tucson, soon enrolling him in kindergarten. His half-white, half-Chicano background gave Juan the advantage of camouflage, the local government neglecting to realize his alien citizenship.

Again, his father would visit, now more often than not in a state of impaired consciousness, slurring worldly guidance to Juan before disappearing again. Before he was 16, Juan earned his GED and headed to community college, but dropped out before long.

Barely twenty, Juan stumbled across the border and into his hometown for the first time in 19 years, but remained unaware of his actual birthplace. His mother, finally caught up with the law, had spent the last seven years caged within the Pima County Penal System. When Juan did visit his mother, once a year with the aunt who raised him, on his mother’s birthday, the past was never discussed.

Now, in the bar closest to the border gate, Juan leisurely sipped at a lukewarm Dos Equis, tepidly glancing at a TV screen, a fútbol match flickering. The score tied. The setting sun pouring out like a syrup while Juan found himself a motel. Entering his room, he lay his suitcase on the bed and promptly left.

He drifted bar to bar, until he staggered into a seedy strip club near a dog-racing track, where he picked the least chubby girl to follow him into a booth.

$40, todo lo que quieras.

He slid the cash across to her and pushed her neck below the table. Minutes later, he bought a third round of drinks and later, they faltered into the streets, heading to her hotel room, not his. Some people were smoking in the courtyard, but they didn’t bat an eye at the senorita or her catch.

In bed, after the first condom shredded, she said, “Eres muy guapo.”

“No comprende.”

“Eh… hand … some. Handsome.”

“Thank you,” he murmured.

“De nada,” she replied. He reached for the nightstand, where his wallet lay and left a few bills. He pawed for the cigarettes, remembering they were empty. And he thought of his father.

His father, who reminded him whenever he saw Juan, that a woman only wants money.

“Any woman,” Señor Molina said, “just wants to be with you so you’ll buy her things and if you say no, she won’t put out, hijo. Sometimes, she’ll have a kid, just to make sure you pay.”

“Y mi madre?” Juan would ask.

“Yes, yes. She’s the prime example when I say, ‘you pay a prostitute to leave.’”

“¿Te gusto?” The girl twisted into Juan’s arms, his concentration broken. Juan nodded, reaching for his watch. She slapped his hand away.

“Tenemos todo el tiempo que necesitamos,” she squirmed on top of him, feeling for him, pulling him into her.

“Yeah, but how much is this gonna cost?”

“Nada, nada.” She nearly spun underneath him.

He flipped her, whirled her, fell into her, thrusting again and again. “Do you like this?” She shifted, smiling. He groaned, then thrust once more, then stopped.

“Are you gonna?” Juan asked.

“No pasa nada,” the senorita cooed.


“Eh…  it all you.”


“Everything … es about you.”

“I agree with that.”

“Te gusto esto?”

But he was already asleep.


Before dawn, Juan rolled in bed, onto the floor. For several minutes he lay motionless, drifting back to that exotic plane of sleep and delusion, elements of light colliding with sanctum macrocosms. And soon as they came, they dissolved.

Juan glanced at the nightstand. Money on the dresser, he recalled. Now it was gone and then some. Even his ID was missing, but he still had the wallet, the dead, limp leather, held in his hand like an extinguished condom. The bull, slaughtered to become nothing but a container for his wealth.

He dragged himself across the floor, into the bathroom and tried to lift himself up. He ended up taking down the shower curtain, in the process busting one of the bulging light bulbs above the mirror. His piss trickled out like orange juice.

Walking streets that seemed made of sand, stumbling by suspicious cops and clutching his side, puking in prickly pear bushes. He tried to read the streets and could not, but eventually found his road again anyway and stumbled on.

Soon, Juan found his hotel. He explained to the front desk manager why he didn’t have his ID or his key, but he was slurring, muttering things in Spanish so tattered it might be Italian, until the bell boy recognized him and they led him up to his room. The door was kicked off the hinges and inside, his entire room had been turned inside out.

Juan sat on the bed a long time, staring into his hands. Then, he picked up the phone and dialed his father. It rang. It rang. It rang. He almost hung it up, but there was a click and then, “Hello?”