Intrepid Optimist is the place where I can share my stories; fact, fiction and thoughts from the past and present. It’s Written by myself for people who believe adventure knows no age
It is another of those sullen days, which rarely occur in Madrid in the Spring but do unsettle me so. The gloomy morning causes me to pass three or four cafes in succession, all being previously unknown to me and then, without reason, I enter the fifth? I am hustled to a small table at the rear of the bar by a swarthy, agitated waiter.
I am also tense. There are too many people in here but it is too late to leave. I change seats and am happier with my back turned to the other clientele. Facing me on the brown, tobacco stained wall is a full-size, photograph of a bare footed, ragamuffin of a girl, holding a pistol at her side.
Fish seems a good choice and the carafe of the house Rioja and a plate of boquerone I order arrives promptly. Wasn’t it my dear Mama who insisted that eating fish on a Friday stimulates the brain cells? But today is Monday? Will the sardines still have the same effect on my grey matter when today is not Friday?
This tit-bit of nutritional information is only one of the many excellent guidelines which Mama on a daily basis, imparted to me. I also learned from her that alcachofas are beneficial to my prostrate, that honeycomb tripe is excellent for my poorly tummy and beetroot is the best root vegetable for my blood pressure.
Mama always knew what was good or what was bad for me. One thing she would never have approved of would be my associating with any girl-child who looked like the scruffy guttersnipe on the wall. I must not let her bother me. It is proving difficult enough to get my head around a further chapter of my book and I must finish it today.
Still hungry, I order a small tapa of conejo Navaro. There is no protein in rabbit, except for their eyes. But the tomato sauce with white wine is to my taste and I can feel my senses stirring. The little slut on the wall is staring at my plate. I would bet she was the one who shot the rabbit with that pistol she is holding? If so, I am sure she is the one who gutted and cleaned the poor animal? She looks quite able to do worse things; quite capable of any mischief.
“She’s Mexican.” Explained the waiter, catching her staring arrogantly down at me. There you are! I knew it. The shameless little sloven is a Mexican. My Mama never liked foreigners. The only exception was my father, a Spaniard. That was until he ran off with her sister. Since then she became convinced all foreigners, especially Spaniards, were blackguards and thieves – and the women…? She never said what they were but I already knew.
Getting up to go to the toilet, I give the Mexican gypsy a withering, leave-me-alone look but I am mortified when I return to find her sitting at my table and another carafe of wine has appeared. She does not speak as I sit down opposite her; merely smiles scornfully as she refills my glass from this new carafe. I am shocked that they even serve her in this place. Her pistol lies on the table, its long, silver barrel pointing directly at my heart and her left hand rests lightly over it.
I remain calm, not indicating how affronted I am with such behavior but it does not stop here. I hardly gulp down the wine before another is poured. I order her sharply to stop. I must be speaking too loudly, as a couple at a nearby table, seem startled at my severity.
She shows no inclination to explain herself. This pleases me because I do have some difficulty with females, especially the likes of her who arrive uninvited at ones table. As I continue with my meal and l find I no longer resent her presence. I am content to have her sitting opposite me and in silence, despite the sardonic smile on that grubby face.
Feeling I should say something, I declare that in some circles, it is considered bad manners to pour a drink backhanded as she had done. I pour one correctly for myself to demonstrate this to her. She does not respond, neither does she appear offended by me scolding her. She continues to stare at me with that mocking smile.
Her finger nails are as dirty as is the tattered garment she has on. I assure her this is of no importance to me. If she wishes, I will buy her a new dress and she can have a manicure because I do not like dirty nails, although I do tend to neglect my own bitten ones. She fills my glass again, this time correctly, which pleases me and I tell her so.
The waiter interrupts and asks us not talk so loud. I apologize and order another carafe and a Crèma Catalana for Adora, which I know to be her name and I know little girls like sweet things. We sit quietly, not speaking. Her smile beguiles me. I know she is curious as to what I do for a living so I explain I am a writer in need of encouragement and that her company is beginning to inspire me, which is precisely why I came to be here to meet her today.
I know Adora is pleased with this so I continue. I tell her Mama did not like me to speak to young girls but I am sure Mama would have liked her. Anyways, poor Mama is dead. I blow my nose so she cannot see the tears I feel welling-up in my eyes. We will have to be careful to keep our voices down Adora, the waiter is telling us to be quiet or we shall have to leave.
I cannot believe I am confiding in this strumpet. She must know I like her. I tell her I have never had a real girl friend. I do not even have friends because they criticize my writing as not worthy enough. Not worthy enough for whom? That dreadful editor also, is too full of her own importance to understand my work. She had the gall to say it was offensive. I told her that she would not accuse Lewis Carroll, who wrote, “Through the Looking-glass” of being obscene. Why should my effort, a far more literate work, be considered offensive?
Adora’s smile seems warmer now. I confess to her Mama, before she died, burned my literature but tell her I have written more – lots more and I can show her where I hide my work. I tell her, once, when Mama wanted to throw out my dolls we fought. We must keep our voices down Adora. Otherwise the waiter will make us leave. Do you have a doll Adora? I shall buy you one, I promise.
I do not hear Adora order but a glass of Anis arrives in front of me, I am annoyed to see that the waiter leaves the bill with it and say so. He is angry and takes away my Anis before I can pick it up and I am bundled out of the bistro into the street. I have a chance to look back before the door is closed in my face and I see my Adora is no longer at the table. She is back on the brown stained wall…and on the table underneath her the Crèma Catalan remains uneaten.
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