"A Man Needs Favours At Times Like These" Mr Martínez Two
El Calvo had put a brandy in front of Martínez. He reached into his pocket. The bar-owner shook his shaven head,
'Te invito, Tio. You look like you need it.'
Martínez nodded and took plenty out of the glass before putting it down on the counter.
'Thank you, my friend. A man needs favours at times like these.'
'Unless he's a politician,' the bar owner said.
Martínez stared at El Calvo, ''They always want favours, don't they? It's the nature of the beast.'
'Y que bestias son!'
And they were beasts, all over the world politicians were compared to pigs with snouts deep in the trough of corruption. Martínez felt that was insulting to pigs. He left a crumpled five-note on the counter. El Calvo hunted through the cash register for two 2 Euro coins. Martínez found 20 centimos in his pocket and left it on the bar. He always carried change for the 'Bote!' He liked to ring the bell, even for a coffee, except when someone made change with a Euro in five coins.
It was still raining. The walk to the Comisaría to meet Rueda would take a half-hour. He turned up his collar and walked up the hill. Outside the town-hall two of the Policia Local were 'interviewing' a known vagrant. Pepe Garcia. Martínez knew him. He did odd jobs around a few of the Ventas outside of town; washing down terraces, watering flowers and picking up cigarette ends. He liked to call him Pepe Le Moko; although Pepe had no clue who that was and was as likely to visit Toulouse as Texas. One of the Agentes had hold of Pepe by his shirt front, the little man was on tip-toe, cocktail-stick wedged in the side of his mouth. He caught Martínez's eye and gave a shake of his head. The other policeman turned to look at Martínez.
'Nothing to see, Señor. Move on.'
He started to continue up the hill.
The cells in the comisaría of the Policia Local were like hotel rooms Martínez had rented on several continents. Places that were roach farms, with a man in a dirty undershirt on the desk; this lock-up belonged on the only floor of one of those hot-sheet motels with the coin-operated, vibro-massage beds. Without the bed, of course. Or the sheets, law enforcement couldn’t be too careful, except in countries where the generals had more medals than officers running after them. Some drunk or junky might take the long drop to oblivion. No, better to let people lie on the thin ticking on the concrete floor. If you didn’t mind the roaches, after dark. Martínez hadn’t argued with the Policia Local. One of them, Valdez, usually gave him a nod if they passed each other on the sidewalk. He’d given Martínez a shake of the head whilst the other guy wasn’t looking, when they’d braced him outside the Town Hall. The other guy was new. And young, he had shaving cuts from shaving where no hair was growing yet and wouldn’t be for a while. Agente Soldano, same name as the the mayor, Alcalde Soldano. Maybe the boy had waited ‘til his father had beaten the corruption rap to sign on for the Policia Local. Maybe not.
There wasn’t much rough stuff. Martínez ducked when being pushed into the patrol vehicle, sprawling on the seat after the final poke from the baton, right around the kidneys. The Locales didn’t say a word. Not after they confirmed that he was the person that they both knew he was. Not after they dragged him out of the auto. Not when they shoved him in the lock-up. And not for the last four hours. He would have done some yoga. Not here, maybe in the Lubyanka or in a Scandinavian holding cell. Like a lot of things here in the deep south of Europe, yoga was for the ladybirds. So he counted. Nothing visible. He counted in his head. Operatives, dead ones mostly, then those that might be alive and those that were, although he was certain of only one person’s membership of that group. Maybe he was going to get voted out of that particular club today? No-one got a phone call here. Didn’t stop the young guys demanding one, too many yanqui movies. There was nothing visible from the lock-up. On the far side of the bars was a wall with a regular door. Wasn’t even locked, most likely, but the cage was a good one. Two serious locks and 1” gauge bars. Even Popeye wasn’t going to bend those and sneak out between them. 25 bars with a 3” gap between, the lock-up was barely seven-by-seven, two square meters. There was a clock above the door in the wall outside the cell. Martínez had noted the time at ‘check-in’. His watch was out front, probably in a drawer with his wallet, a few hundred euros and his DNI in the name of Martínez. The two agentes locales probably wouldn’t make much of the lack of credit or any other kinds of plastic money. The Mayor’s boy might not have a side-line, but it was damn sure that Valdez did, probably gardening for Guiris on the Urbanización on the outskirts of town. That kind of money was best kept away from banks. Black money kept the town afloat, got the Alcalde out of jail and kept the Guiris in their place, sometimes.
Martínez wasn’t altogether surprised when Rueda turned up at midnight. He was out of uniform. His five o’clock shadow was showing a.m. not p.m. Valdez unlocked the cage, handed over a paper-sack with Martínez’ wallet, watch and belt in it.
‘No night shift for the Alcalde’s boy, Agente Valdez?’ Valdez laughed, ‘The Mayor’s son does not work past siesta if he can help it. Sometimes he comes in and takes the patrol car out to check on the Night Clubs near the autopista. He tries to intimidate the Ukrainian girls. You’d think he’d have given up by now. He lost his hat a few nights ago. The cabron will lose his gun one day.’ Rueda gave the agente local a look and Valdez clammed up. ‘Let’s go, Martínez. You’ve got an appointment.’ Rueda wasn’t laughing, he looked like he’d swallowed manteca when he’d been expecting the cream out of a danish pastry. They left the building, got into Rueda’s personal vehicle, a rusting Seat that hadn’t looked new since 1986. Martínez asked Rueda what was up.
‘Callate, Señor Martínez. I’m not in the mood.’
So Martínez shut up and stared out of the window at Sierra Gorda and its little sister Sierra Chica, whilst Rueda drove into the mountains.