February 23, 2015
Clyde definitely yawned, and perhaps growled, at several unfunny clowns mimicking idiots in front of the illuminated stone columns of Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato and resolved to escape and see the real show. He waded through hundreds of observers, amid thousands of tourists hiking by, and shoved aside one clown on the steps and climbed to the theater entrance where a gaudily uniformed guard said, “Sorry, Señor, only special guests for the grand opening.”
“Nonsense. This place debuted more than a century ago.”
“Don’t be foolish. This palace of the arts opens tonight and will be blessed by the great man who built it, President Porfirio Díaz.”
He wedged by the guard who grabbed his shoulders but released when Clyde fired a short left uppercut to the solar plexus, knocking him gagging on the floor. Two more guards rushed over and Clyde said, “I’m a doctor. This man’s suffering from acute appendicitis and must be hospitalized at once.”
As the guards knelt to comfort their comrade, Clyde casually walked to the stairs and began climbing and rose to the second and third and fourth and fifth levels and stepped out of the hall and into the theater to view a stage fronted by massive red curtains and crowned by a mosaic ceiling and ornate blue and white chandelier. What a magnificent place, he thought, but I’m too high here. He descended to the second floor Salón Fumador – the smoking lounge – and encountered a handsome and finely dressed group of men and women. When two guards entered the elegant space Clyde slipped around one end of the long bar and kneeled, brushing the floor with his hands, telling a bartender, “I’ve knocked a few of my diamonds off the bar and believe they’re right here.” When the conscientious bartender squatted to help, Clyde handed him four twenty-dollar bills.
“Señor, your generosity is astonishing.”
“What year is it, anyway?”
“It’s 1903, of course.”
A fiver would’ve sufficed, Clyde concluded, and continued searching and in a few minutes peeped around the corner of the bar, seeing no guards. “Gracias, Señor, my diamonds don’t seem to be here, but if they turn up, they’re yours.” He patted the shoulder of a smiling man.
Clyde decided to wait in a stall in the men’s room until theater lights dimmed and the music of Verdi’s Aída began when he moved to the first floor concourse. As he touched the door to enter the theater proper another guard enveloped him from behind, pining Clyde’s arms and giving him his first real chance to use a technique long practiced: with his right hand he grabbed the guard’s testicles, squeezed mightily, and turned to administer his redoubtable left, this time a hook to the jaw. A dozen guards charged and he dashed into the theater, shouting, “Where’s the presidential box?”
No one answered but many looked to the second-floor box near the stage.
Aiming his mouth at the gray walrus mustache of President Porfirio Díaz, Clyde shouted, “Swine. For thirty years you’ve strangled democracy while feeding the bank accounts of your reactionary supporters. Stand up when I talk to you.”
Diminutive Díaz in fact already stood, next to his taller wife, and raised his right hand before swinging down and ordering: “Fire.”