South of the Border, Down Mexico Way
Fast forward a decade and Wiley, the Dharma Bum, sat with his guitar in a Tepic bus station, waiting for transportation to San Blas, beach heaven, on Mexico's Pacific coast. Like all good stories, this one begins with the blues. Waiting for his connection, Wiley strummed and picked through his songbook – Sugar Babe, Winding Boy, Frankie and Johnny, Got the Blues and I Can't Be Satisfied. That's when a Mexican couple drifted by.
"You must be an American."
"How can you tell?"
"Well, I like the sound of your music," the stranger chimed in. "Let me show you this one," and he sang a few verses of Unchain My Heart, a Ray Charles classic.
So unchain my heart, let me go my way.
Unchain my heart; you worry me night and day.
Why lead me through a life of misery,
When you don't care a bag of beans for me?
So unchain my heart oh! Please, please set me free.
Wiley dug the sound of his new friend's rhythmic playing, his palm beat on the soundboard of the guitar adding nice syncopation to the melody. He offered a comeback to this improvised show.
"Stop me if you heard this one. God is Love. Love is blind. Ray Charles is blind. Ray Charles is God."
His new friend laughed and properly introduced himself.
"Mucho gusto para conocer. I am Gregorio (Grego) Santillo and this is my girlfriend Angelina. We are travelling on a holiday break and headed back to Mexico City. If you find your way to the capital, here is my address on Cerrada de Torreon. Look me up if you have the time and we can play more music together."
Wiley stashed the address note into his travelling gear, thanked his new friend for the invite and sauntered off to make his bus trip to the beach.
As might be expected, a few weeks later, Wiley's aimless, vagabond wanderings landed him on a bus to Mexico City. Debarking the bus in the middle of the night, he hailed a taxi to Cerrada de Torreon, in the neighborhood of Nueva Los Angeles. Fearless and foolish, he walked up to the apartment house address that Grego had left in his note. Wiley knocked on the numbered door and a petite, fair-skinned woman greeted him coldly in the night.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"I am Wiley Timmons, an American, traveling in Mexico. Grego invited me to visit when we met up in Tepic."
"Oh. Come in, come in. Bring your things (backpack and guitar). Sit down while I make you some coffee and tell me about your trip." "Well," said Wiley, "like all good stories, this one begins with the blues… "
He rambled on about his Mexico travels, beach camping in Guymas, sleeping with tarantulas, feasting on coconuts and lobster for $5/day, dodging drug deals, living in palm-frond palapa huts and running around with the beach-bum crowd. A brief stay with some ex-pat medical students in Guadalajara was a complete bust so why not head to Mexico City, for more music madness with his new amigo, Grego? It was late, he was tired and he ended his stories with his chance encounter with Grego and Angelina in Tepic and this new junket into Mexico City.
And then it dawned on him to ask – "What is your name and how do you know Grego?"
With an icy stare, his host replied, "My name is Belinda. He is my husband."
Right on cue, Gregorio walked into the room and glanced fiercely at Wiley as Belinda slammed the bathroom door behind her and began sobbing loudly.
I'm a dead man now, Wiley mused. Mexican home wrecker, a stranger in the night, here in the capital city, with no alibi to wriggle out of my predicament. Like all good stories, this may end with the blues.
"Ain't gonna tell you no story, Frankie, I ain't gonna tell you no lie"
Says, "Albert passed 'bout an hour ago with a girl they call Alice Prye.
He's your man, and he's doing you wrong."
Frankie called Albert, Albert says, "I don't hear.
If you don't come to the woman you love, gonna haul you out of here.
You's my man and you done me wrong."