Kisses, Kisses – by Javier Valdez (Ríodoce)

~ This column was originally published by Ríodoce on April 26, 2015 ~


Son, don’t hang out with those crooks. Help me instead with the hotdog stand, and at least that way you’ll learn something useful and help keep up the house and even earn a few pesos. Oh mom, always with your things. I’ll be back in a bit, I’m heading out with my friends. And he disappeared down the stairs, skipping, hurrying, loud and happy.

They lived in a hamlet heaped on itself: the neighborhood was apartments with windows and doors and patios on top of each other. Footsteps in the bathroom could be heard in the living room two houses away, and even the whispers, the shouts of the domestic arguments, and the most distant snores were collective matters.

One day, he met with his usual band of friends, and one proposed that they begin stealing cars. You’re an idiot, if they catch us, they’ll kill us, said one. He kept quiet, listening to the conversation and when he was able, he signed up to do the first job. The guy who had made the proposal announced that for each car, there would be at least five thousand pesos. Well, that depends also on the job and the model of the car.

They went for the first one and they liked it: the adrenaline filled their chests and made their eyes jitter, trembling and anxious. They became addicted to fingers on the trigger, the supremacy of ordering a stranger get the fuck out, give me the keys, you’ll be sorry if you say anything, if you don’t move I’ll put five bullets in your dick. He liked that Browning .45, it was dark and heavy. Others went for a pair of chrome .38s.

Without knowing it, he also felt the tremoring of the others, that doctor, the architect, the businessman, the lady who was leaving the supermarket and even farted when they pulled the pistol on her. Cursing at them, having their lives balanced on an index finger, hanging from an almost invisible spider’s thread. I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch. I’ll kill you if you go to the police.

This time they asked for a truck. He was cruising in his Nissan, when he saw an attractive woman, young, with Amazon jungle hair and white as cotton. He imagined her submissive, mouth down, in his hands, kisses and more kisses, and she reciprocating, falling for him, and two I love yous, a you’re so beautiful, and a you’re so handsome, babe. But no. The job is the job. Fuck you, sweetheart. Give me the keys.

But the girl belonged to a bigshot. A man with power, and a lot of it. He made a call, and they responded right away sir. A convoy of patrol cars arrived at the neighborhood. The men in uniform pulled out all the neighborhood guys, rounded them up and beat them. Who was it, they asked. Slaps and kicks. The boy, hidden, explained to his mother that he had gotten away, but it’s a shame about that guy: the one they took away and was never seen again.

Journalist Javier Váldez Cárdenas edits Ríodoce, an investigative news website based in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He is a prolific author, with a new book, Con una granada en la boca (Aguilar, 2014) (With a Grenade in the Mouth — as yet unavailable in English). This Malayerba column for Ríodoce first appeared in Spanish under the title, “Besos, besos,” available at:

Translation by Michael Lettieri, Trans-Border Institute

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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