67. Amigos & Coo Coo Rachas

‘What do you think about getting married?’  Diana was really happy about this prospect and had no hesitation in starting a life of permanency with me.  I knew it would make my mother happy to hear that I wasn’t alone anymore.

I asked how we would accomplish this marriage.  I had told her father about my previous marriage in Fiji and that I hadn’t received official documentation of our divorce being finalized.  Whether or not it was Ralph who advised us or another, I cannot remember and really it doesn’t matter; it was suggested we take a trip south of the border and get married there.  

With her father’s blessing the two of us went to Mexicali.  It was a hot July, the weekend of the 4th to be exact.  We took the Greyhound Bus all the way. The further southeast the bus travelled the more arid we became.  

It was very late in the day as we arrived in town so the first thing we did was get ourselves a motel room.  We cleaned up, cooling off as best we could and then set out to find our evening’s meal and the justice of the peace.

We asked any and everyone who we thought might be of assistance, where the courthouse was located.  It actually wasn’t that easy getting someone to respond with a little English (besides taking our order for food in the restaurant).  

Finally someone did respond and we were thankful.  The next morning we made our way to the courthouse -it was already blazing saddles hot- and inquired with the clerk.  

He told us the judge couldn’t be located this morning and he very well may have taken the day off.  Wait, what?!  Then he told us that he’d go have another look around, maybe he’d find him.

He returned to tell us he found him … a few dollars later.  Yes it was a good thing we each changed up a $20 bill to single ones, it was just a hunch but nonetheless glad we acted on it.  The clerk told us the judge will be in the courtroom shortly. We just look at each other.

We did meet him in the courtroom.  The judge told us that we needed to have 3-5 witnesses; did we have them?  No. He told us there were always people just outside who may be convinced to come in. “You will have to pay them,” he told us dryly.   We just look at each other again.

Now I was thinking about the amigos Diana and I saw hanging around outside the building, would they really want to join us?  The judge sent a different clerk outside to gather some of them. He returned with 3 sun-stroked looking men.

Or was it simply siesta time already.  Either way they approached the magistrate and he looked at us with a simple finger rubbing thumb gesture.  We knew right away to dig up some dollar notes.

I set $6 into the clerk’s hand for the men.  He took it up to the judge. Each of the men signed a piece of paper, were handed their money and left the courtroom, one of them slightly smiling and acknowledging Diana and myself as they walked out.

The judge then called us forward to his bench and continued the process in pretty good English, the standard marriage vows (in Baja-California anyway).  After the ‘I do’s’ and his declaration of our marriage, we kissed, hugged and then had to sign the certificate.

He reached into his desk pulling out a stamp to which he then applied the ink from a pad on his bench quite deliberately, stamped the certificate firmly and applied his signature within the stamp.  Before handing it to us he did the ‘gesture’ once again.

I placed some bills onto his bench.  He handed us the one piece of paper and Diana immediately suggested we have a copy as well.  She asked him if we could get a copy and for a moment he didn’t answer.  Then he rubbed his index finger to his thumb and Diana handed him two dollars.

He went into the back and returned with a copy.  We stepped outside as Mr and Mrs Blue Masala. It was even hotter than a devil’s armpit now that the sun had pretty much reached its zenith.  

I remember being extremely thirsty, we both were to be sure.  Diana noticed a little market across the street and we made our way over.  Oh my goodness!  see the coo coo rachas scatter across the street everywhere.

I bought 2 bottles of ice cold 7-Up and stepping back outside with open bottles, we cheersed our green glass together and tipped up till we emptied them.  Gotta say, that felt really good!

We had planned to spend that night there as well and to call it a honeymoon?  I guess for now this would have to do.  We caught the bus the next morning back to Los Angeles and to a celebration with her dad and his ‘friend’ Doris.

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62. My Future is Smiling Bright as the Los Angeles Sun

That evening as the night became late with all the joy of the meeting, they drove me home to the motel.  Before leaving me, mom reassured me that they’d be resourceful and get me out of my current place.  

She wanted to help me get my own apartment and employment too and I know if she had her way she’d send me to school.  I should’ve listened to her more.  “Don’t you worry honey, everything is gonna work out just fine!”   

The days went forward and as I was not yet employed I stayed busy hanging around with Dave.  Doing fun things young guys would probably do, going here and there, hanging out at his home and getting fed real well by mom too!

Meanwhile Mrs. Elson was working her magic, connecting with people she knew wouldn’t mind helping her out with this new campaign of hers.  It seemed like all her efforts were about to pay off; just in her general bubbly attitude I guess I felt comforted enough to trust all is well.

In just over a week mom had a fantastic plan of action lined up for me.  She called me to say, today is the day!  Mom and Dave came to pick me up from the motel for the last time and took me to my new residence and place of employment.  

Mom was with me like a shadow when I went to the office to close my bill.  I lifted my wallet from my pocket to pay and she put her hand on top of mine and said, “No Parma, don’t worry, I’m taking care of this.”  And with that she paid my entire bill with a delighted smile.

They drove me to an apartment complex in Westwood Village and parked the car.  Mom had explained to me a little about what she came up with.  I would both live and work in the same place.  I would get my own furnished studio apartment and a small salary.  Well how convenient is that?

Mrs Elson introduced me to her associate, one of the owners of the premises.  We sat down and the basic interview began.  Mom sat quietly.  The lady told me this position was somewhat of a guardian/maintenance person.  I’d be responsible for keeping an eye on the residence.  The main concern was for the safety of the tenants and to keep the premises quiet.   

Mind you the majority of them were college students attending UCLA.  If there was light maintenance to do like replacing light bulbs, I could take care of it.  There was no worries of collecting rent, tending to rubbish or gardening.  There were regular people for all of those things including building maintenance.

I was to be primarily the owner’s eyes and there as a middle man, a young middle man to blend in between the residence and the owners.  But no I was not the official manager of the premises as I really had none of those duties.  A pretty great set up all in all I thought.

Before leaving me there, mom told me to call her everyday.  “Let me know how you are doing and if you should need anything.”  Dave and I would continue to visit one another mainly during the weekend as he knew I had to pay some attention to my new duties and I’m sure he had other things to do.  It was September and the fall term had commenced.

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