6a.m. Rain pinging off the torn-up road, deflecting this way and that; every droplet shining with the morning sunlight squeezing through. The rain was fresh and therapeutic, patting on my head and slowly dripping off the end of my nose, like a cat that has very inelegantly dunked their head in a bowl of milk.
This road had seen a lot, sporadic holes in the glistening tarmac, stains from past bloodshed splattered like modern art, merged with the dark tracks of passing tanks. I stood up off the beaten curb and dived into the little shop on the corner. I purchased twenty-four packs of cigarettes, foreseeing the steep inflation over the border, and crossed back into the mist of the soothing downpour.
Rivulets of fast water were racing down the cracks in the old multi-coloured buildings. A pale green, a light yellow, colours lost in the thick fog of battle. The street was empty, just me and the rain. I was getting cold now, waiting for the hot-dog store across the road to open. As I looked up I caught a glimpse of a black vehicle in the distance, a wave of heads bobbing up and down on top of the approaching shadow.
The beating rain made it hard to see but as the image became more defined I began to worry. The steal truck rolled slowly towards me as I was now braced in a kind of unconventional ball of terror. The truck was brand new, gleaming with pride and boasting a large sticker on the side stating 'Nuevo Laredo Policia'. Not your average police car. The eyes on board were less proud, glazed over with a fixed fear, almost expecting imminent death.
An outburst of harsh tones and distinctive Mexican vernacular was overshadowed by the haze that had come over me. My vision swept panoramically in slow motion as I surveyed cold eyes beaming down at me with every fine drop of water dripping from their lashes as they blinked. I swept from eye to eye, intermittently stopping at machine guns that were catching the remnants of droplets being ricocheted off their worn helmets. Beefy bullet-proof vests were hiding the necks of the diminutive men, all of whom seemed to be talking at the same time in a frenzied morning panic.
I regained composure and the ability to hear and talk. Through the crowd of noise I pointed at my backpack and then at the border crossing. They seemed to understand and signalled for me to hurry. As the truck started to move forward, the forlorn eyes combed the desolate street, impaired by the relentless rain and the bumpy road.
I entered the little shop on the corner once more and was happy to see the familiar face behind the counter. Seeing that I didn't want to wait any longer for the hot-dog store to open I purchased a wrap and a drink and made my way to the border crossing.
As I strolled over the bridge and into the States the sun shone brighter and the rain began to fade.