He lit a cigarette from the stub of the last, held the smoke and did the dragon nostrils thing. Someone further along the terrace coughed. About 60, some botox, some filler and expensive hair-dressing, but still an easily guessed 60. Crisp looked at her, inhaled again and sent some more nicotine her way. She became interested in her menu. Just as well. Outside was outside. People had to smoke somewhere.
His watch said a quarter past. The woman who'd phoned had said definitely one o'clock. Maybe she'd meant tomorrow – or after midnight. Okay, he'd wait another fifteen minutes. Half-an-hour late wasn't so bad. If she had been local he'd have given it an hour, depending on the weather and how many beers he felt like at the time. Crisp pointed at the empty glass. El Gordo picked it up.
'¿Otra?' He waggled the glass in his bony hand.
Crisp held up a thumb and watched the skeletal figure disappear into the bar.
El Gordo, it meant 'Fatso', more or less, and must have been funny once.
The bar owner placed the glass on the formica-topped table and only some of it spilled onto the rings of dried coffee, beer and cola.
Paco arrived on the terrace. As usual he was wearing sweatpants 3 sizes too big and a knock-off Ferrari jacket the same number of sizes too small. A toothpick was clamped between his gums and he sat down next to Crisp,
'¡O ah, keh eye!'
¡Hola, que hay! He meant - or 'Wattsuuuup!'.
Crisp shrugged. Paco moved the toothpick to the gums on the other side of his mouth, pointed at Crisp's half-drunk beer and said,
'Wiki?' It meant whiskey. It was supposed to be a joke. Paco said it every time.
The wizened old man began a rambling tale about a body that had been found in a well on a finca on the outskirts of town. Crisp wondered if it was an anecdote or the latest news from his son-in-law who worked in the Policia Local. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference, even when Paco had finished.
El Gordo came out with a café corto for Paco. It was all the campesino ever drank. He claimed he'd given up drinking as a young man, thirty years ago. Crisp reckoned that Paco might have been a young man once, but for sure it was a few more years ago than that.
Crisp reached into his pocket and tossed a coin on the table. El Gordo picked it up. Paco said something that might just have been 'Gracias' if it had been spoken through a gag by someone with deviated septum.
'Paco, do me a favour,' Crisp leaned forward across the table.
Crisp recoiled. There was a reason Paco had lost all his teeth.
'If the person I'm meeting comes, follow them. Find out where they're staying.'
Paco took the folded note.
'Y diesel tambien?'
'Fuck you, Paco. You'll use about 90 cents worth on that scooter.'
The old campesino laughed,
'No eres tan Guiri, Crips.'
But of course he was a foreigner, that's why Paco couldn't pronounce his name, just like every other local.
Crisp watched the old man finish his coffee and saunter over to the water bowser where he fiddled with the taps and winked at Crisp. If the customer turned up, she would spot Paco tailing her almost immediately, but then, that was the point.
She came on the half-hour. Crisp tried to look as though he hadn't been about to go.
'Sorry I'm late.' She pulled out a chair and sat down with a crackle of nylon that Crisp tried to ignore.
'You sound older on the phone,' he said.
'You don't. Can I have a cigarette?'
She held out a leather-gloved hand. Who wore gloves? She had drawn a line at a hat. Though it would have suited her. No, she looked dangerous enough in her black two-piece and the shoes she hadn't walked in to get there. No dust, just shining, immaculate leather. Crisp lit a cigarette for both of them and handed one over.
The woman laughed, head back, white teeth striking against the carmine of her lipstick.
'We're both old enough to have seen that picture.'
Crisp didn't think so, not even on a black-and-white, Sunday afternoon TV set.
'What can I do for you?'
Her eyes half-closed,
Crisp noticed the tiny crows feet for the first time,
'I don't need yours and you know mine.'
'You can call me Rita, Rita Cansino.'
'You're not a red-head.'
'Neither was Miss Hayworth.'
'Give me the name I do need.'
The woman dropped the cigarette and ground it out with the sole of her shoe. A fleck of ash slid off the leather upper as though it knew it had no right to be there. She took a photograph from her clutch bag, then laid it on a cleanish part of the table.
The photograph showed a man in his fifties wearing a double-breasted pinstripe suit.
'That man will be dead by now. No-one's worn a suit like that for longer than I've been alive.'
'Rico has… unusual tastes.'
Crisp looked at her. The woman looked down at her clothes.
'I like them, but yes…'
'Seville. There have always been Cansinos in Seville, you know.'
'Give me two days. I need to be -'
'Somewhere else? That's what alibi means.'
'Sure, that's right.'
She did have an American accent, but whether she was from Calexico or Columbia, Crisp couldn't say.
El Gordo finally came out. The woman ordered a café corto with the excessive politeness and perfect diction of a stranger in town.
'So you'll do it? Friday''
'You'll find him. He's Enrico Cansino.'
The coffee disappeared behind her white teeth. Crisp stared at the bright red on the rim of the glass.
The woman stood up. Crisp thought about what she wanted. She blew him a kiss over her shoulder as she stepped into the taxi that had appeared the moment she left the table. Few taxis came out as far as the Café Bar Tentación. Paco's bright yellow scooter followed too close behind the cream Mercedes.