"At Least I Didn't Whistle" [Mr Martinez Part Twenty Six]
He stretched the two bottles of Estrella to an hour and a half. The last mouthful was warm. The coffee machine hadn’t been used since he came in. Bad sign. It looked old and the chrome was coffee-darkened. Good sign. He’d have to listen to it. If you could hear it over the nearest table of marooned football fans' arguments over whether Messi was past it, then that would be another good sign. The woman on the bar was at the far end; behind the counter, on a stool, reading a book. The men from the cruise-ship had slowed down, in expectation of their partners’ arrival laden with tourist tat that they’d have to be sober enough not to break on the way to the boat. Three of the bar’s camareros had sloped off, as there wasn’t enough custom to justify paying them. That left the one outside smoking and the woman reading.
Martinez waved just enough to catch her eye. She was reading Reverte, El Club Dumas. Hadn’t Reverte been cancelled for people under forty? What a surprise if she was reading it just to make up her own mind. She put the book down. Used a book mark. No dog ears. She had taken off the microfleece. Her name was embroidered on her polo, just under the bar’s logo. ‘Dolores’.
‘You enjoying that?’ Martinez pointed to the other end of the bar, where the book was.
‘Si… pero…’ she shrugged.
‘What? ¿La mirada masculina?’
She laughed, ‘The Male Gaze? We’re invisible soon enough, Señor. I’ll miss it when it’s gone.’
‘Reverte has watched too many pelis yanquis. All the women are Phyllis Dietrichson.’
‘Is that a problem?’
‘We are all much more complicated than Phyllis. She’s a cartoon.’
‘Like Jessica Rabbit?’
‘What do you want?’
‘Black coffee. Extra sugar.’
The machine was as loud as a pneumatic drill in an alleyway.
The coffee was set down in front of him, landing light as a feather on the bottle-scarred wood. She looked older without a smile. Martinez decided not to tell her. There were no loaves and fishes this time.
‘At least I didn’t whistle, Dolores.’ He said, but she was already returning to Reverte and Liana Taillefer. He hoped Dolores never saw that movie.