'He Sold You La Familia Sagrada?' [Mr Martínez Part 36 ]
The imposter went through the whole story as though he’d read the protocol and been briefed afterwards by Mercedes Riglos. If Martínez hadn’t known it was his own childhood, he’d have believed it himself.
‘That’s a nice story. I find it comfortably familiar,’ Martínez said.
Escombe shrugged, ‘There are only so many stories. Even true ones.’
‘Rita took out a cigarette. Escombe wagged a finger. She didn’t light it, just kept it between her second and third fingers, and said,
‘It might make a movie, but not a documentary. Who would believe it?’
‘People will believe anything, if they want to.’ Escombe replied.
‘Anything?’ Martínez leaned forward, hands on his knees. Escombe shrank away, perhaps, as he’d said, he didn’t like to be touched.
‘Yes. Some people might even believe you are in movie production.’
Martínez looked at ‘Rita.
‘What?’ she said. ‘You can’t just go round beating the truth out of people.’
By this time Escombe’s arms were round his knees and his sandals were leaving footprints on the sofa.
‘You can if no one finds out.’
Escombe sputtered out, a “what do you want?” Then he hugged his knees even tighter.
‘We know this story’s not true. What’s to gain?’ Martínez said. ‘The narco’s family aren’t going to be pleased. Not even the Architect, who’s more respectable than anyone with that surname you’re stealing has any right to be. Besides, I know for a fact the youngest son is a – well, let’s just say he might not be pleased to find out someone is pretending to be his half-brother.’
Unclasping his arms, Escombe put his feet back on the tiled floor. The dust from his sandals would be just another stain on his linen pants.
‘Actually it’s an art project. No, listen…’
Martínez was rolling his eyes at ‘Rita, who seemed to be trying not to laugh.
‘It is… I’d been in Barcelona, talking to my agent-’
‘You have an agent? Do you make money?’ Martínez sounded like he wouldn’t believe any answer in the affirmative.
‘Yes, and I do. Or at least I used to… Anyway, I went out for a drink and I met a guy in a bar and we got to talking. He was buying so…’
‘So you listened.’
‘Yeah, well. He said he had this idea for a hoax. There wouldn’t be any direct money in it, but… well, it’s not fame that sells, it’s infamy.’
‘And then what? He sold you La Familia Sagrada?'
Escombe let out a sigh that vibrated his lips like a horse’s.
‘It wasn’t like that, he… said he’d worked for the government, hace mucho, in the last century. He gave me some documents. Copies, I think they must be.’
The man got up and went over to a filing cabinet with no handles on the drawers. He pushed near the top of one and it glided open smooth as a ballerina’s bow. The man spent more on furniture than Martínez did on staying alive. Escombe handed over a blue folder around a centimetre thick. There was nothing written on the outside and the elastic cords holding it shut looked a little frayed. Inside, naturally, were the contents of the protocol and a couple more sheets, including a faded form headed Certificado de Nacimiento, recording the birth of one “Juan Martin Escobar” in Medellín, nearly 50 years ago.