"Somewhere Full of Guiris" [Mr Martínez Twenty Five]
Martínez had been lucky, he’d been able to buy a ticket for the 1.44 Regional 2S over the counter at the Estació De FranÇa. Lunchtime regional trains were never full on a week day. Commuters took long lunches rather than travel home and los touristas extranjeros took siestas, because they hadn’t had quite enough sleep the night before. The cell rang. It was Margarita’s number. He let it ring out. It gave a ping, notification of a voice message’s arrival on the cheap cell. ‘Rita had spoken two words. ‘I’m calling.’ Martinez thumbed out un texto,
“Book night-ferry to Ibiza: You, me + bike. Grimaldi Lines ex- Barça. On quay at 8.”
The return text came quickly,
‘Cuatro mil, mas gastos.’
He’d been expecting a long spiel and a price double the four thou she’d asked for. He smiled. He’d been right about ‘Rita.
He changed trains at Sants Estació, catching a local line for Drassanes. It was a forty minute walk to the quayside from the single platform rail station. He checked his watch, 3.15. It was time for a drink. He headed along Las Ramblas, towards El Barrio Gotico as it was more or less on the way. A tourist place would be best. Somewhere full of guiris, for preference. He finally settled on The Wild Rover. It was on the very edge of the Gothic Quarter; somewhere ‘Rita’s ‘bike could get to without braving the labyrinth of the GQ’s pedestrianised streets. Last night’s fixture at the Camp Nou was replaying on a dozen large screens scattered throughout the faux-wood panels that no bar in Ireland had ever had. The tables were full of men whose shorts propped up a belly that their polos, tees and singlets didn’t quite manage to cover. There were more drinks on the tables than men around them. Martinez figured they were off a cruise ship, killing time while their partners went sight-seeing. The Catalan young men and women of the personal sported a logo-d uniform, shirts and chinos, and some kind of micro-fleece against the cool that had Martínez shivering in the early afternoon.
He took a seat at the bar. All brass and wood, promising the ersatz taste of over-cooled Guinness and tired Kilkenny. The woman behind the bar lifted her chin, and, having spotted him as no more local than the cruise-ship escapees, said‘¿Que quieres, Tio?’ rather than speak to him in Catalan.
‘Estrella Damm.’ Martinez couldn’t avoid the ‘zhuzh’ himself sometimes.
The woman raised one eyebrow, ‘¿Una pinta?’
‘Dos botellas, porfa.’
She capped the bottles and placed them gently on the bar.
‘¿Eres de Colómbia, No?’
‘Hace mucho.’ And it was a long time ago.
She reached under the counter and brought out some anchovies in oil and vinegar, with two bijou slices of bread on the side.
‘You look hungry, Tio. If you need anything else, just whistle.’
She walked off. She caught him admiring the spring in her step, when she turned back to look. Martinez shrugged his shoulders. She smiled, tossed her head and went out among the sea-farers to collect some glasses.
Martínez texted 'Rita the name and address of the bar, then enjoyed his scraps of loaf and fishes.