My Prize Trip to Hell

nuevo_laredo_guerrero_avenue_mexicoSource: vintage.es

My Real Memoir

My dad, the newspaper dealer in our newie suburb, regularly took his most enterprising paperboys to housing tracts where we’d solicit for new subscribers. I was an ace! In fact, by age eleven I’d won a prize for being one of the top sellers in the region.

My prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to a glamorous foreign city! Which turned out to be two days in Tijuana, a colorful, tourist-trappy town just two hours drive away. Still, I was pretty excited about visiting another country for the first time!

It became my prize trip to Hell. Not because of the destination, but because of the company. I’d assumed Dad would take us, but instead our “chaperon” turned out to be a shabby, chain-smoking newspaper dealer named Bub (short for Beelzebub).

Bub booked two rooms in a cheapo San Diego motel, nabbed one and gave us the other. “Us” being me and two thirteen-year-old demons I fondly remember as Dagon and Krampus. After check-in, Bub drove us to Tijuana, then instantly abandoned us and went off to drink with some lady who wanted to know if he was “looking for a good time.”

I’d never seen anything like Tijuana. Musica blaring, stands bulging with gaudy trinkets, mustachioed hucksters offering to beat each others’ prices on the same plaster statues (“He cheat you, muchacho! I give you lowest price in Tijuana!”). Dagon and Krampus were not amused. They were there for just one thing: to buy fireworks, the kind that were illegal in California; and, as it turned out, to torture me.

The moment Bub disappeared, Daggy and Krampy began pushing and tripping me, affectionately labelling me their “little pussy.” I finally managed to lose myself in a crowd. I happily spent the next several hours exploring el ciudad de color, buying one of those plaster statues for Mom at “below cost!” and nibbling exotic cactus sweets.

After the shadows grew long, I found Bub at the pick-up spot. Dagon, Krampus, and bagsful of illegal fireworks filled the backseat, so I gratefully sat up front with our well-lacquered chaperon.

That night was the worst of my life. Daggy and Krampy had the two beds, but still considered me offensive in my rollaway cot. So they re-assigned me to the bathroom, and proceeded to amuse themselves by pushing lit firecrackers and cherry bombs under the door for the next several hours; when I tried to come out they’d grab me and shove them down my pants. So, little pussy that I was, I spent the remainder of the night cowering in the bathtub.

The next morning, after Bub had slept-off his bender, I told him what Dagon and Krampus had done. They said that it was “just for fun.” Bub laughed.

When I got home, I told Dad what had happened, and he filed a formal complaint. I kept soliciting for the extra spending money and time with Dad, but begged…

Never to be rewarded again.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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56 Responses to My Prize Trip to Hell

  1. Neese says:

    How excited you must have been in reaping the rewards of your hard work only to have an awful experience. Luckily it seems you’ve suffered no long lasting effects from the deadbeats and bullies. (It is a great tale to share Mitch)…

    Liked by 5 people

  2. ejstoo says:

    One person’s haven is another’s he(double toothpicks).

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      I’m not sure I’d call terrifying a younger kid a haven, exactly, but they certainly got a kick out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ejstoo says:

        Was more referring to the desire to have illegal fireworks. Wonder how many fingers got blown off between those two. At least you survived them. Generally the bully sorts eventually meet their match and then some. Karma….one doesn’t even have to see it at work. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Abe Austin says:

    I’m really sorry that happened to you, Mitch 😦

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    How cruel kids can be to other kids. Your “chaperone” left a whole lot to be desired. Life lessons learned the hard way.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You tell the story well, but you weren’t kidding about the trip to Hell. All three of your traveling companions sound just horrid. Ugh.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Grant at Tame Your Book! says:

    Thanks for the memories, Mitch. Your story brought to the surface good and not so good times when I’d rise at 4:00 a.m. to deliver newspapers. As a tweener, most of it was fun. Sixty years later, and equipped with 20/20 hindsight, I wonder how I survived those adventures.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Tanya says:

    I’m sorry you had to go through it!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow. What an experience. Can you imagine that scenario today? You’d be lucky to come home alive. Of course, there’s no such thing as “luck.” You obviously had the angels assigned to you working overtime, with some reinforcements.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. CG says:

    Yeah some prizes are not worth collecting!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I am glad your Dad filed a complaint, but I am sorry that you had to suffer that abuse.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Great story, Mitch. I had a Detroit News paper route in Detroit. The guy from downtown was a cigar-chomping no-nonsense guy. If you lost a customer you still had to pay for the paper. That was the incentive to get a new one. The weekly bill on customers quitting could put one under if you didn’t hustle. He ran contests but never paid off any winnings. He always said some other station won. Grew up pretty fast working there. I was eleven.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Parents are supposed to protect their kids from such misery! Oh, if only your dad had been with you, what a different story you’d have to tell.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. K.L. Hale says:

    Oh boy, Mitch! I was 18 and headed to Chihuahua, Mexico to spend a month with a foreign exchange student that graduated with me. First stop after flight to Dallas and then DRIVING ~Tijuana! I kept a shirt that said “Tecate” down the sleeve. My Mom said, “Honey, just drink the beer instead of the water!” Ok, Mom! 🤷🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Lisa Beth says:

    Love the story but I still baffled, is this TRUE? Your dad would send you, so young, with ‘Bub’ to Tijuana? After watching so many Netflix drug cartel episodes I can hardly imagine that!
    Well, it added to the person you are today – and that’s a good thing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Yes, it’s true, Lisa. My dad didn’t know the man. Someone at the newspaper OK’d him to do it (I’m sure they didn’t know he would behave the way he did). It was certainly traumatic for me at the time, but I don’t think I’m the worse for it today.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. pkadams says:

    I’m horrified but glad you didn’t get kidnapped and sold into child slavery . 😬

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Arggg, I am so sorry that happened to you. Half a dozen of us would love to just go throttle Dagon and Krampus and push Bub off a cliff on your behalf. You didn’t deserve that!

    The cool thing about God, He repays us for our suffering and troubles, and pays us well, like ten fold over. I hang onto that concept like it shows us in the book of Job. We forget sometimes, God restored what Job had lost and left him better off then he was before.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. tracykard says:

    I’m having a hard time “liking” this story. Love your writing, as always, but dislike the misadventure. Glad you made it back!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. How sad! Glad you’re physically okay. I imagine there’s some trauma about fireworks that lingers. God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I actually learned to be less afraid of fireworks after that. I eventually began to realize firecrackers couldn’t hurt me as long as I was a few feet away–and didn’t have them stuffed in my pants! Thanks, Nancy!

      Like

  19. Bub makes me sick, to be “chaperoning” and leave minors on their own in a foreign country. The other two were just as horrid. I’m sorry you went through that ordeal, Mitch, but grateful you survived and are thriving today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thanks, Manette. Actually, I’m pretty sure “Bub” had issues of his own (alcoholism, depression, failed marriage?). And the two teens? I can only hope the trajectory of their lives changed somewhere along the line.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would have guessed as much. I really believe those whose behaviors manifest in horrible actions are hurting people even if they themselves don’t know or recognize it. After all, every one of us are made in the image of our Creator but we don’t act like it until we have a personal encounter with Him and then change our ways by allowing Christ to transform us from the inside out. Much like your characters in Healing River.

        Regarding the three on your trip, I pray that God get a hold of them if they are still living and if they do not yet know His available redemption.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Oh poor you. Well written and entertaining but I feel so bad fornthat little boy.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. revruss1220 says:

    Wow! That really does sound hellish. Three guesses what Daggy and Krampy are up to today, not to mention Bub. Glad you weren’t swept off into the underworld somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. annieasksyou says:

    You answered my question. You conveyed the anguish so well, suggesting this episode was, indeed, traumatic. But you say you don’t think you’re any the worse for it today. How or why do you think it didn’t have more lasting impact? Did it change you in any way? Lessons learned?

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Actually, Annie, I think I learned to handle mistreatment a little better after that, learned to stand up for myself a bit more boldly, and how to talk bullies down. I also learned, the hard way, that firecrackers aren’t as lethal as I’d thought they were.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. pastorpete51 says:

    Oh, I made it down to TJ in the good old safer days once. (1970) Yes, it was exactly as you described though thankfully my friends and I took a taxi in and out and in spite of all the crazy stuff we got into I survived. Sometimes I wonder if my guardian angel petitioned God for someone easier to look out for once or twice!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. alison41 says:

    As we frequently say in South Africa: Ag shame! meaning, we commiserate.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. murisopsis says:

    Wow. I’m glad your dad believed you and took action! I know too many parents who would have just said “suck it up buttercup” and that would be the end of it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      My dad was a little torn, I think. Yes, he was angry about how I’d been treated, but I suspect he also wished I’d stood up better for myself. He’d been a Marine, after all, and yet his son was turning out to be the “sensitive, artistic” type, not exactly a chip off the ol’ block.

      Like

  26. Boy, that was the trip from hell!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Awful!! Goodness, gracious awful! Bless your heart! I’m glad your Dad filed charges because our hearts need to know that we are due justice, and then that our loved ones want us to have justice…we can’t always get it in this crazy world, but, it does our hearts good to know we deserve it.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Pingback: Goodbye, Brother Cat | Mitch Teemley

  29. Great Article, you are very skilled blogger, thanks for sharing info.

    Liked by 2 people

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