If anybody wondered why star journalist Mundo Carrasco would stop investigating Mazatlan's drug lords and politicos in order to run the shady new puppet mayor's press relations, then they had never been to bed with the scorching, amoral, monumental Mijares. Mazatlan's huge, blaring Carnival became the greatest time Mundo had lived since his days as a local baseball hero: access to the real power and closeted skeletons, a political future of his own, and...mostly...the perfect flesh of Mijares. Then the mayor beats up his wife, the city government starts to unravel into scandal and panic, and they start killing people--with Mundo right up there on their list. Tumbling through the tumult of Carnival, mob violence, narco suites and wretched bulldozed hovels, musical mayhem, his own corruption, and three women who want to reclaim his soul for his own good and their own purposes, Mundo is either sorting himself out or getting totally mixed up...if he comes out of it with his damaged scruples and bruised hide intact. Linton Robinson is a veteran award-winning journalist and author of several popular books on Mexican culture. His work is very much affected by the decades he has lived in various parts of Mexico and Central America. "Sweet Spot" is a valentine to the eight years he lived on a hill right above the throbbing heart of Mazatlan's carnival celebration, wrote for local newspapers, and hung out with the local musicians, athletes, and criminals.
Linton gives an overview of the book:
I had seen the whole bola before and hadn’t liked their looks. I liked them even less huddled up in the healing halls of Sagrada Familia in their muddy plastic sandals, grimy ‘Señor Frogs’ -shirts, and cheap polyester pants. Especially the two big, rough-looking bricklayers who wore imitation Stetson sombreros instead of filthy baseball hats. They didn’t seem to like my looks much, either.
I didn’t know them as individuals, but I’d known the herd since childhood. They were The Poor. Not the superpobres picking scraps out of garbage dumps, just the typical working poor of Mazatlán. And not the sort of crowd usually allowed in the marble arches of La Familia. I had seen this very bunch during the campaign, filling the crowds when my boss – El Candidato back then – dragged us out to speeches in the lower class barrios. They were his wife’s shock troops, Blanquita’s bodyodor politic. To me, they represented something I’d left behind a long time ago. To El Candidato himself, they were a huge voting block delivered to him by marriage like a scabby dowry. To her, they were a flock of birds to be fed, a mass of grubby children to be nurtured and loved, a doting family to be embraced and protected. They belonged to her – and therefore to Us and His Campaign – simply because they worshipped her.
Which I could understand completely, I would tell you straight off that I only took the damn job because of Mijares. It wasn’t reciprocal enough, to be called love, but worship will cover it.
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It had been like a religious experience to shrug myself awake and see her standing right there by my bed.
The moon was behind a thick bank of fog, but the beacon lights on the antennas up the hill were washing her body with a slow red pulse. I had to fight off the impulse to reach out for her, knowing it would look pathetic. Then I didn’t care if was pathetic or not, but she’d moved to look out at my dirt-cheap loft’s million dollar view. Of course, she looks just as devastating from the rear. She leaned over the railing, looking down at the Oldtown and bay. I got up and stripped off my shorts, started plowing around in the pre-morning dark, looking for pants, coat, notebook, light switch, anything. She turned again, and sized me up.
I was pleased that my dreams – and her provocative bendover at the rail, I suppose – had left me somewhat swollen and lengthened, but not stabbing out enough to look ridiculous.
She gave a glance and smiled, “Always nice to see old friends.”
I stepped to the rail and looked out over the city, sensibly slumbering at four in the morning – though Chema’s gamecocks would change that soon. I glanced down at the street and sure enough, Coyota, my neighbor’s German Shepherd bitch, was sitting in the middle of the street looking straight up into my face. She’s a peculiar dog. I said what I say every morning, “Coyota, go kill those damned roosters.”
I looked at Mija standing beside me, sniffed her scent. I said, “Hey, look ...”
“I did look. But I’m not going to touch. Get your ass in gear, hero. This is a major chingadera.”
I pulled on a shirt and said, “How bad?”
“About as bad as it gets.” Which showed she wasn’t as omniscient as she thought.
“Did he get caught screwing some councilman’s little girl?” I found some pants draped over my printer and pulled them on. “Or little boy?”
“No, he’s become more of a homebody since he was elected. Supposedly beat the hell out of his wife.”
Hardly news in machista Sinaloa. I looked up at her for the rest while tying my shoes.
“She’s reportedly in the hospital, badly injured. Police have responded.”
“Not just city cops, huh?” Or she wouldn’t be here.
“No such luck. They did the normal response to the kids’ call, ambulance and everything. But the PGR heard the kids report the bag of cocaine and pills on the table. That was what they were fighting about.”
“Federales. Great. Well, sounds like time to earn our pay.”
“Yours. I did my job coming over here to get your lazy ass out of bed. Why didn’t you answer the phone?
“I couldn’t hear it.”
She looked around my little penthouse. Corrugated cement roof covering half of the four-meter square slab, a cement railing, nothing else but night sky. Nowhere to hide. She whipped out her cellular like an Old West gunslinger and punched a button. She listened a second, then gave me a look.
“Well, okay, now I can hear it, I’m awake.”
She followed the muted beeps, which wasn’t very hard to do. She looked down into the toilet and shook her head. “Thinking of quitting, are we?”
“I have quit. But nobody else knows about it yet.”
“We’ll keep it our secret for now.” She started to stride out of the bath stall, but stopped and gave it a look. Not much to look at, just two brick walls, shoulder high, with a shower head and toilet seat.
“There’s no curtain. No door, nothing. What do you do when you use the bath?”
“Same as anybody else, I’d guess.”
“Can’t your neighbors see you over here showering and shitting?” She waved her hand at the open space that surrounds my aerie.
Sure enough, if anybody from the surrounding mansions wanted to watch me pee, nothing would stop them. I never really thought of if before.
“They’re all politicians and drug lords. They probably have funner things to watch than some indio take a dump.”
“Ay, Mundo. No te aguantes.” She was back up to speed by then, with a last shake of her head before getting back to the problem at hand. “Let’s get moving.”She was out the door as she said it, tripping smoothly down the steep dark stairs.
Three flights down, out the gate, she handed me another cellular. She had three in her bag. I headed down the steep sidewalk towards the steps leading down to the Military Hospital. She was in her car with the motor on before she stuck her head out and called me back. “Just got another call, mi chavo. You’d better take your so-called car because it’s a long walk to Sagrada Familia.”
I paused a minute on the way over to my battered Safari. “Where’s His Honor?”
“Down the toilet,” she said, smiling. “But don’t worry, we’ll get it back for him.”
Born an ex-patriate, Lin Robinson has lived much of his life in Asia and Latin America, as well as dozens of US cities.
Though working at times as a psychometrist, jailer, smuggler, carpenter, diver, jewelry maker and the usual writer's vocational grab bag, his main...