We have begun a conspiracy. We are plotting strategies for neutralizing the muggers in the alleys of my small colonial Mexican city. I will not mention the name of the city. Enterprising young Mexicans respond to challenges, and I think I have already issued one at the beginning of this screed.
I prefer to call this a manifesto. Unite, citizens of the city! You have nothing to lose but your wallets!
My friend Jorge lost his laptop two nights ago. He is only now entering the post-traumatic stress zone. He cannot stop talking about the attack. Jorge is the barista and beer-ista at my favorite coffee house, the Café Acropolis. He heads home every night at about 12:30 am. That is when the twenty-year old highwaymen come out—alley boys, here. These two ruffians had a knife and a screwdriver–the latter, possibly sharpened on a grinder. They took his laptop and five hundred pesos in tips. He cannot replace that kind of loss. He asked me to consult with a local intellectual friend and café-ratón like me. That’s a cafe mouse, a regular client, who hangs out drinking strong cappuccinos, reading La Jornada, and writing fiction—or some other questionable material.
Perhaps I am the perfect consultant–being someone who pursues fiction, i.e. things made up. For that is exactly what we need here, where the police are not respected, are underpaid, untrained, and ineffective in combatting street crime.
Here are my suggestions. We find an attractive 30-year old woman who is fearless and very strong to walk up Jorge’s alley, carrying a laptop under her arm, at 00:30 in the morning. Military time seems appropriate here. Before hand, we position people along her path, couples that are locked in public embraces which they believe make them invisible to the public. These embraces have always provided an outlet for the hot temper of the young man or young woman, or both. But when it comes to recruiting smoochers, for the operation I have in mind, it is not always easy to find authentic couples that are already thick into the politics and clutching of new love. And so some of the smoochers have to be actors who do not necessarily know each other.
At their feet, there will be two plastic bags of cheap commercial Mexican eggs with their thin shells and pale yokes. The kissing, or pretending-to-kiss couples—the latter may experience some embarrassment—will have to smooch with one eye on the bait’s progress up the alley.
In order not to spook the young assailants, the clutchers and smoochers–real and pretend, both groups in the moment less than spontaneous–will have to fill the doorways and corners and not appear to show any concern for the public they are shutting out.
This will relieve the young highway robbers, who are circulating on motor scooters and underpowered motorcycles, looking for marks to hit. These víctimas would include students with laptops returning from study groups in friends’ apartments, theater and concert goers who have had a post-theater drink and aren’t paying attention, and anyone returning home after a very late dinner.
One lone thirty-year old is the perfect target, and when the lads park their scooter ahead of her and approach with the knife and screwdriver, she blows on her silver whistle in continuous short blasts. The smoochers pick up their bags of fragile eggs–a bag for each smoocher–and run toward the whistle blasts. As the teams–say, four of them–approach, they take out their eggs and begin throwing them at the assailants. Tomatoes are good, too. They throw hard and continuously. The bait woman keeps on blowing her whistle, flushing the neighbors out of their homes and confusing the robbers. A fifth pair–smoochers or non-smoochers–rush to the scooter and lock a chain through the front wheel so that it cannot turn.
The muggers find the scooter won’t save them, as planned. They run from the continuous barrage of eggs. The throwers stop throwing. The lovely bait-woman is also covered with egg. She has wrapped her laptop in plastic before hand. She goes home to shower, escorted by one of the four smoocher teams, having done her citizen’s duty. The fifth team leaves on the motor scooter. The muggers have left the key in place for a quick getaway. Some of the real smoochers discontinue their relationship from the stress of the operation.Some of the acting smoochers and clutchers form lasting relationships, from the stress of the operation.
The muggers never find their scooter again. Team number five has delivered it to the Municipio Público, the city police headquarters. The assailants give up attacks in the city’s alleys, even though they still have the knife and possibly sharpened screwdriver—because everywhere they look there are young, embracing Mexican couples, every night at 00:30.
I asked Jorge what he thought. He said he liked the plan and wondered when we could begin.