Caballero! More from the Drama Queen.
By Parson Thru
I slowed and swung my head to one side. In the queue of cooling fans was a dark blue Citroen. Cuerpo Policía Nacionál (CNP).
They’d slowed to walking pace. I cut through the parked cars and walked over.
Two young men in dark blue. Elbows out to the street.
“Todo está bien?”
I looked in.
“Gracias. Sí. Todo bien, yo creo.”
I took the pad of tissue from my eyebrow and showed them. I hadn’t a clue how it looked, but blood had gushed down the side of my face and dripped onto my shirt and forearm.
I’d come out of the James Joyce, feeling all was well with the world and seen a gorgeous old BMW R100 stood against the railings of a smart little street leading back to Recoletos. With the last few percentage points of battery, I’d taken some shots to post on Facebook. Perfect.
I turned to cross the road and felt Thor’s hammer strike against my brain. The fluid came quickly, dripping surprising coolly to my forearm.
Plaza de Independéncia. This is money street. Maybe the most expensive terrazas in Madrid.
I swayed a moment until things sorted themselves out. I knew I had a pack of tissues in my pocket. I took a look at the sign I'd just encountered. Leaning. I'd have said flimsy, but it had had the last word on that.
Things come back from thirty years past.
Digital pressure. Clean wad of tissue. Decent sized. Push. Press hard and keep it there.
If any of the people coming and going or sitting at those expensive tables had seen what was going on, they kept it to themselves.
I crossed Serrano and continued up Alcalá, believing I could walk it back ok, and factoring walking time into pressure and coagulation.
Darkened Retiro was across the road to my right.
I clamped my left hand to my brow and pressed. No one heading into town seemed fazed.
I continued up the hill. Changed the saturated paper pad for another. The blood still flowing well.
I couldn’t help thinking of the time when I was four and a half, coming back from the clinic with my mother, some vaccination and a polio sugar cube just before I walked into an ornamented lamp-post. I'd been remarking on my bravery in the clinic. In a Sophoclean change of fortune, blood gushing and me howling, we'd walked back.
That moment lives on, evidenced by a small scar beneath my eyebrow.
Tonight, no one bothered me. Ah, there were some looks, of course. Who wouldn’t want to know where someone bleeding down his front, tissue clasped above one eye, might be headed next?
I cut up Principe de Vegara, up the grade, across Jorge Juan, Goya, with their little stories to tell, past the French perfumery where I taught this year, across Hermosilla and Ayala, and turned into Don Ramón de la Cruz, feeling guilty as I shuffled passed busy boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Finally, I saw the junction with Conde de Peñalver. Almost home and dry.
I’ve always loved that word. Cavalryman.
I turned to my left. Yep. Citroen. Dark blue and white. More blue than white, which made it CNP rather than Policía Municipál. Two young men.
They’d stopped the car.
I walked to meet them.
“Hola! Buenas tardes!” “Sí. Todo bien, gracias. Yo he encontrado un señal en el centro del ciudad.”
I lowered the clump of tissue and showed them.
“Estoy presionando en la herida.”
I pressed the tissue back on the wound to demonstrate. They seemed content.
First sign of interest and the first act of kindness since I’d walked into the sign. I told myself it would be the same in London, Bristol or Leeds.
"Muchas gracias por tu interesante." I said, genuinely moved.
They drove on. No doubt to the Comisaría just off my street.
The flow seems to have stopped. I’ve dabbed the wound with iodine and maybe I’ll get through the night without it sticking to my landlady’s pillowcase.
Was it Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who sang “And drama comes just before the change”?
Or is that just me being stupid?