Valdez published this Malayerba in RíoDoce on 25 January 2015.
Javier Valdez Cárdenas (RíoDoce)
He was crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy. He used to take off in a plane looking for a medicine man in Oaxaca or any other mountainous region. He went straight to the top, to the guru of the magic mushrooms, and they gave him a good amount for those flights without a motor, without wings, without emergency parachutes. Those same parachutes didn’t work for him when he reached the summit of the drug trade, descending with a bang to its deepest depths.
And he liked men. A good-looking young narco, full of energy, a wit, and when it came down to it a cross-dresser. He began with rum and whisky. Then he went for tequila and weed. Hypodermics followed, shooting up wherever: between fingers, in his belly, or in those veiny black paths, on fire. Napalm for the arteries. Jump, bitch he shouted. Jump. As he shouted, he gave strong loud slaps to a reddening limb.
He hung about in show business. He fooled around with guitar players from great international acts, just like he did with actors in successful soap operas. Money came and went like the food and drinks he gorged and guzzle. Voluntarily and involuntarily he let off gas.
He went up and down in business just like an airplane. He had scandalously rich moments and others so flat he could hardly put gas in his Cadillac. But when things were going well he partied for days and weeks. And his relatives, intimates and friends knew it because soon enough he would tell them: we are going to party. A never-ending party. For a month.
Many people came that night to his mansion, sometimes ramshackle, sometimes shimmering and luxurious. All types of men, catwalk women, and slackers. Night birds. Animals from dark sewers and of the moonlight. Insects with two legs, drugged and senseless from so many toxins, liquids, pills, smoke and sticky things. He dressed as a woman. Few knew. Two men trapped him in the bathroom: they slapped him around, asking after him. They didn’t realize he was there, hidden under make up, those clothes, false voluptuousness. They took out a pistol, pressing its barrel to his cheek. Where is that bastard: Speak, bitch.
They brought somebody else, one of his friends. If you don’t speak we are going to kill you. He didn’t speak and they slit his throat. He watched him die and when his captors let down their guard he ran out, stumbling over himself. From that moment on his decided to give up drugs but not cross-dressing. He checked himself into rehab. I’m not going to do it again, crazy. Not now. His color returned and his face didn’t need make up from Chanel.
Yesterday he left rehab. He started shooting up again. He went on a drunken, two-dozen Michelob bender. Tomorrow, he said, he would try giving up drugs again. Or maybe the day after tomorrow. Or next week.
Award winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered on 15 May 2017 just after leaving RíoDoce, a newspaper he helped establish in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He was 50 years old. He published this Malayerba column on 25 January 2015. His most recent book (previously published in Spanish as Levantones), appears in English translation and with an introduction by Everard Meade as The Taken: True Stories of the Sinaloa Drug War, published by University of Oklahoma Press.
Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and international lawyer, a historian, journalist and translator. He collaborates with the Freedom of Expression Project at the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. He lives in Mexico City.