Lately, my travel-minded thoughts and actions have temporarily been put on hold, and I’ve been working on my eternally gestating book. And forever figuring out my style of work, proper schedule, inspiration (and lack of), and demons of all sorts, I’ve been simply clocking in and out, and trying desperately to produce a thing of meaning and accomplishment.
Below is a small excerpt, work that represents part of my fleshing out of two characters who may or may not be in the final product, but at least are a couple of personalities maturing nicely in my mind. And that’s all I can ask.
“I just love all types of crustaceans,” she said. Rain always made her think of seafood. “And of course you know I hate white chocolate.”
“Have you ever eaten snake meat?” he asked.
“I’ve told you, I don’t eat meat.”
“Really, now. Jamón Serrano or chorizo? Or some other Christian, pork-derived flesh?” he said.
“You know, there’s a few things more annoying to a girl than when someone slaps her with a thing, osea… The espanish, whatever, the French have their baguettes, the Rusos don’t get cold or something.”
“I think you mean few things,” he said.
He looked at her as she turned her head away to one side and scrunched her dark eyebrows. She stretched her smooth neck to meet the cigarette in her hand. He loved to watch her smoke, her lanky limbs twisting as she inhaled, legs crossed and arms pulled in at cubist angles, her triangular lips now rounded and cheeks pulled in. He pretended not to notice that she was carefully forming her moments of elegance.
They sat at a small table outside of the restaurant, tucked under the canvas covering on Calle Regueros, and she exhaled the smoke into the falling rain. The puff slid out from her mouth, floating through the drops of rain and this reminded him of her pale, naked thighs, rough with stubble like an aged urchin and damp like they were laid out in a hot greenhouse. And he thought of the dark mole at her lower back. His mole. And the white covers on his bed, peppered with her wiry black hair and with the slight smell of her body deep in the cotton fabric.
These images, scenes and shots played out only hours before, were already like grainy sepia pin hole pictures, and they were like all the others, becoming mere mental files, poorly embroidered badges noticed by no one, like junk food that, for a few seconds, staved off the panic and hopelessness of another squandered moment otherwise filled with beauty.
“Like, few things, not a few things,” he said.
“Or an English lesson at 11 o’clock at night,” she said. “joder, that can make a girl dry and grumpy. And gone.”
He sat back in his seat and his spine softened as he fell into that familiar slumping posture. His guts squished against his ribs, but it felt safer and natural, pulled in, away from the world. He reached for the bottle of wine at the center of the table and poured, spilling some around the side of the glass.
“I could leave now if you’d like to smoke and contemplate the universe and linguistic power plays alone, all by your hot and beautiful self,” he said.
“Don’t be a mopey little guiri,” she said.
She patted him on the head and tapped his lips with her finger, which smelled like cigarettes and coffee, and she thought about leaning over to give him a kiss, but looked away again. He suddenly desired her to wrap her long fingers around his neck, a squeeze of unannounced punishment, and suffocate him with the blue fabric of her blouse.
The calm patter of rain continued on the bumpy street, where a few passersby stood close to their table with wet hair and looks for slight embarrassment, waiting for a break in the rain. There were many people walking the streets, holding their joblessness under long jackets and wrapped in flowery pañuelos and behind teethy smiles and patchy beards. For a long time now, wallets and purses held little money to spend, and in table side conversations there was a vague perverted anger at some nameless gods of modern society. But sometimes the rain fell and cleaned the streets, and the warm lights of cafés and bars shone yellow and reflected on the uneven narrow roadways, laying a soft-toned blanket on the pretty dresses and tight suits worn by the cranky youth of the country.
“I taught you that word, mopey, and you’ve been using in constantly ever since,” he said. “Why don’t you ever drink wine with me? I feel like a drunk around you.”