'Till Death Do Us Part
By Fred Hoctor < email@example.com
The following is an excerpt from the book Baja Haha
which, although a popular book among many veteran Baja travelers, seems
not to have yet been discovered by the latest aficionados of the
peninsula. The author, a noted Baja editor of the Western
Outdoor News for many years, resides in Baja along the Punta Banda
peninsula. For more information on the book, and a newly-released
one-of-a-kind music/humor/recipe album entitled Fishin' With Fred, visit
The American retirement communities in Baja fairly burst with
dingbats who march to different drummers.
Mr. Dimmick is one. He's a guy who always seems to be in some
kind of difficulty.
Dimmick -- "The first name's Theophilus, but (self-conscious
chuckle) you can call me Ted" -- is a tall, skinny, disaster-prone
nebbish who always has a story about his latest Baja
"troubles," usually told in a monotone with sad resigned eyes
and along reflective pauses. He has taken to plastering his sparse
strands of dyed-black hair down on his dome with some kind of goo,
though I remember his when his follicles were more bountiful.
This, combines with his excessive Adam's apple, his paucity of flesh and
a certain rolling gait, gives him the appearance of a semi-bald Ichabod
The way Dimmick explained one of his mishaps to me was this:
His wife had invited her mother, a lady of some 80 summers, to visit the
Dimmicks' Baja home for a week. After a rough trip down from Los
Angeles, the old woman was feeling puny for the first few days, and even
worse after that.
In fact, she had a massive heart attack and died.
Now, if you're a gringo (or, in this case, a gringa) you don't
want to die in Baja.
The paperwork is all in triplicate.
It is altogether a very sticky business.
Mr. Dimmick, being a Baja resident for some years, knew all about
that, which is probably why he did what he did. He simply
neglected to tell anyone in Mexican officialdom about the demise of the
old girl. Instead, he very carefully placed the body in a large
green sleeping bag, zipped it up, and strapped the whole shebang to the
top of his station wagon.
The problem, now, was to get the body through U.S. Customs.
Dimmick's wife stayed home, too upset to argue about his unconventional
Dimmick pulled up to the Customs gate with a smile. Over the
years he had learned that a smile was the best weapon to use in the
A young officer with curly blond hair and fuzzy cheeks peered briefly
under a front fender, kicked a tire, and merely grunted at the lumpy
green bag on the roof. On the OK-to-pass signal, Dimmick took off
so fast he nearly whiplashed himself.
He buzzed up the freeway till he came to the big shopping center in
San Ysidro, where he planned to call a mortician friend and tell him
about the silent passenger above decks. Dimmick was upset,
naturally. The worry of the border crossing was past, but he was
still somewhat shaken by the whole experience, and he cursed under his
breath as he cruised around the Safeway parking lot without finding an
empty parking space.
Finally, after he had made three turns through the lot, a little blue
Volkswagen eased out of a slot just eight spaces from the public pay
phone. Dimmick pulled into the space slowly, so as not to further
jar the body, took a small book of addresses and phone numbers from his
breast pocket and jingled the coins he had carefully loaded in the
little zipper-pocket on his jacket. Always a stickler for detail,
his planning so far had been perfect. He had even brought along an
extra can of gasoline so he would not have to stop at a station where
some nosy attendant might start asking about the supercargo.
Then, just as he was about to head toward the empty phone booth, a
large Mexican woman, dragging a cranky child, jammed herself and her kid
into the booth, puffing to get the door shut.
Dimmick sat silently in the front seat, drumming his fingers against
the face of his Bulova. He had come this far, he could wait
another few minutes. He watched with irritation as the fat woman
gesticulated while talking, nearly punching her fist through the glass
panel behind the phone.
She talked for 25 minutes, and as she emerged, pushing the squealing
child ahead of her, Dimmick sprinted toward the booth.
He rummaged for the change, set the nickels, dimes and quarters in
neat stacks on the little steel shelf, and prepared to call the
As Dimmick's bony finger pushed the buttons, a young man wearing a
fringed buckskin coat, leaning against an electric rocking horse in
front of the market, stared intently at him.
The boy had a sallow complexion and a drooping left eye.
Dimmick would remember that later when making out the police report.
Slowly the boy sauntered over to the station wagon. Then he
jumped in and drove away.
Just drove away.
That was three years ago.
The police have never found the station wagon or Mr. Dimmick's
The whole incident, Dimmick says, shaking his head sorrowfully, has
placed considerable strain on his marital relationship.