"Not Even God" Mr Martínez Five
By the time Martínez had walked for two hours alongside the beltway, four vehicles had passed him. Only two were near misses, one of the others had no lights on, but as it was being driven from one side of the road to another in what sounded like second gear, he’d felt quite safe. Just the one car had forced him to jump the crash barrier at the side of the blacktop. None were law enforcement vehicles. The new olive press (and museum) project had started eighteen months ago. Rueda had told Martínez that one of the Alcalde’s cousins had gotten the architect’s gig, but it was okay, because his practice was at the other end of the road along the valley, in the next town, the one overlooked by the Sierra Gorda project. Rueda had shrugged as he’d said it. Martínez had known more than most about the olive press as he had driven out once a week to make sure the digging didn’t go anywhere near his hidden stash. He used to park his vehicle in the Parque Industrial, outside Café Rosa, usually next to a vehicle from one of the Law Enforcement agencies. There were so many empty units, he could have left his ancient Renault 4 wherever he liked. Shame Trafico had impounded it, Rueda had said there was nothing he could do. He would cross the road from the Industrial Estate and skirt the perimeter of the construction site. People asked questions, of course they did, but no-one expressed surprise at his curiosity, if they even remembered him from week-to-week. Martínez had met others doing exactly the same, engaging him with complaints about the cost, the noise, who the contracts had been awarded to or just anything at all. After about six months, it was clear his cache of cash was going to remain undisturbed. So he’d cut his visits down to one a month. At night. He was overdue a visit, but the grand opening of the press and museum had been a fortnight ago, on a hot afternoon. The bar at the edge of the Poligono Industrial had taken the overspill to the early hours of the morning. Una diputada from the Junta de Andalucia had stayed to the bitter end, drinking all but the Alcalde under the table.
The ground sloped upward behind the olive press, many hectares of olive groves had been sold to the Ayuntamiento along with the parcela of land the olive press now occupied. Right at the top of the hill was an abandoned, ruined finca; roofless and with the only non-olive tree as far as the eye could see growing right out of the place where fireplace would have been. It had probably only been empty twenty-five years when Martínez had chosen to bury his emergency money there, just after coming to the pueblo for the first time. It wasn’t buried deep. Coming to such a place armed with a spade would arouse suspicion, if not from the law, from the crazy English – what was it? Detectorists. As far as Martínez knew that hadn’t even been a word when… Well, thirty years ago. The ground had baked hard over the summer. He walked over to an inside corner of what was left of the one-roomed ruin. He rucked up his loose sweatshirt and drew his cuchillo out of the sheath strapped to his back. Six inches of cheap steel he’d picked up at a coastal mercadillo. What was the English? A flea-market, it didn’t sell fleas, although some of the hippy Guiri stall-holders looked like they might give them away with any purchase. Yes, a cheap-knife, single-use only, as it wouldn’t cut anything after digging up the cash-box.
He hacked at the ground, creating large clumps of dried, sandy soil that he battered with the pommel of the knife, scooping the resultant smaller lumps and stones away with his hands from time-to-time. The hole was six-inches deep when he realised he wasn’t going to find it. The rusted petty cash box with no key, as the knife’s last job would have been unlocking and locking it, after he’d checked the contents. Gone. He hurled the knife out into the olive trees. He felt like shouting up at the stars, though he knew anyone who did hear him wouldn’t be inclined to help, not even God.