"I Thought I'd Do Something About the Tropes Instead" [Mr Martinez Part Twenty Seven]
Around six, two of the camereros came back with two more young women in the same uniform as Dolores. She started handing over the cash-register contents, counting out the bills on the bar-top next to her book. The manager taking over was looking bored and occasionally even rolled his eyes. Martínez hoped Dolores had pocketed a few hundred euros for herself. She left Reverte on the bar and departed without a backward glance. Maybe she had better books at home.
The night manager finally spotted Martínez, just as the football fans had been rounded up by their partners and loaded with the bags full of souvenirs. He asked what Martínez wanted in Catalan, most likely just to be awkward. Martínez held up his empty coffee cup and said ‘Negre’. When the coffee arrived, the night guy managed not to spill any, though his jaw had gone as slack as a ventriloquist’s dummy’s without the hand up its ass. ‘Rita’s leathers were red, The man behind the bar was still young enough to blush when caught looking. His colour matched the leather, when Margarita winked at him and said,
Margarita’s coffee arrived with two galetas.
Martínez asked her if she spoke Catalan.
‘I dropped out of UAB and stayed for a few years.’
‘Dropped out? Really?’
‘I was pregnant.’
‘Suddenly I wasn’t.’
‘I know what you meant. I was young and stupid. Students sometimes are.’
‘What were you-’
‘Studying? Comparative Literature.’
‘That sounds like a Master’s to me.’
She offered Martínez one of the sugary galetas, then put the other in her mouth, whole.
Her crunching was loud as she concentrated on finishing the cookie. She swilled some coffee around her mouth before swallowing.
‘When I wasn’t pregnant any more I took a job in -well- it’s called The Dollhouse now, at the south end of Las Ramblas. They say you can’t hide much money in a g-string, but I put some lucro away before the crash. So in 2008 I moved to Madrid and bought some property. Cheap.’
‘And now you’re some kind of low-rent courier for the bajo mundo? Why?’
‘I was going to do a PhD, later.’
Martínez felt dizzy. This wasn’t how he’d imagined this conversation.
‘Aren’t you going to ask me what my thesis was going to be?’
‘You’re going to tell me anyway.’
‘The Femme Fatale and Her Paradoxical Lack of Agency in European Noir Literature.’
She smiled, proud to have got it all out in one breath.
‘I can see why you decided against it.’
Her smile grew wider, Martínez noticed her canines were a sliver longer than the norm.
‘I thought I'd do something about the tropes instead.’
She was pointing a tiny pistol, hidden by the bar and their mutual proximity, at his gut.
‘Let’s go,’ she said.