A woman walking several steps behind a man, in the way her sex demanded of her, passed by , head held respectfully low. She was tall slender but shapely, and as she went you could somehow visualize from her manner that her legs were long and her buttocks full and sensual. Her eyes locked with mine, and in that brief instance, I imagined it to be a look of terror and of pleading. That I had received a hidden message, a dumb crying out. Then she stumbled and muttered indistinctly. The man stopped, turned around, and took two steps towards where she had also stopped, and as she cringed before him, to my utter consternation and anger he backhanded her viciously across her face. She staggered backwards a step and fell to the ground. I leapt up with an angry shout. But men pulled me back . “Don´t interfere brother, he´s her father”. I was struck, sickened and saddened by the animal brutality I was witnessing. Some onlookers, amongst them women, were shouting their approval, even urging on this father who was brutalizing and humiliating a young girl publicly. Other more reasonable men had gathered round the attacker trying to convince him to cool down. He shouted back in guttural Arabic, and as a to and fro of words developed , took a flying kick at the girl who was lying prostrate on the ground. At this, I could no longer contain my anger , I I threw off the men holding me back and went for his face. He was a very big man, probably from the country , and hard . His head was big and woolly , a hooked and flattened nose, eyebrows as thick as two fingers, and shoulders that looked as if they had spent a lifetime pulling a plough across fields. He saw me coming and suddenly there was a knife in his hand. I was committed, plummeting forward roaring my venom, with no idea at all of where to hit the bastard. Suddenly, as out of the blue, the head of a younger man suddenly whizzed past me, there was a thud and a loud clack, blood flew from the erstwhile fathers face and nose and he collapsed in a heap. Sirens could be heard over the general mayhem that had been unleashed all around us, and to add to the din, the muezzins suddenly spluttered out from the mosques in their staccatto metallic sound calling the faithful to prayer
“What difference is there between you and these señoritos, now, today, this one day when you are dressed like a peacock?” asked Pete.
“Firstly, only a handful of these are true señoritos, the rest are fantasmas, cantamañanas and some catetos dressed to deceive. Even if the monkey dresses up in silk clothes, he remains a monkey. Now, I, have the blood of the dons, of caballeros running in my veins. It´s true that I am known mainly as a drunk, due of course to my unfortunate malaise, but you notice that in my sober state none dares to challenge me because they as much as I are fully aware of who I am in the traditional scheme of things.
“But surely amongst this quite substantial group there must be some working class family, or some burger who has made good for himself?”
Eustace is one of those people who get angry if all of the tables at one of his “haunts “ are taken, and if there’s no room he seethes and walks up and down looking threateningly at those seated.
“What can I get you?”
“Have you any campari love?”
“No, I don´t want a campari love, I was just saying to my colleague here that you can always tell a bar with class, just ask if they´ve got any….”
“Campari! Well we have, so what´s it you want then? Not got all bloody day.”
“Well you got any whisky, no E, white label.”
“If you have I´ll have a vodka and orange, and some crisps” she stormed off “
“See how she fancies me? A?”
When he awoke he was in a dark place that he did not recognise. He felt strange and in some discomfort. His head was heavy and his mouth dry and tasted of metal. Two women were washing his neck and his chest. They lifted him, bodily, to change the soiled sheets. Metal equipment and machines with small lights and screens whirred silently around him . The women were businesslike but ever so gentle as they swabbed him he felt better, refreshed. He asked questions, how long and was it ok now? They just continued, humored him said things and laughed gently. They got close to his instruments with their swabs, he protested. He had been brought up to be private. His inner strength was in his morality, inner strength like Uriah Heap, although Uriah was an immoral man.
“I used to wonder why my auntie told me that the people from the town stand on the seawall and throw stones and sticks at the helicopters and the launches. I thought they were just doing it symbolically but who knows maybe my auntie hit a chopper one time with a stone. You know man that´s something to be proud of. ” Jimmy’s voice hoarsened with emotion.
“What you saying man, proud, proud of what.”
“Clive, think about it, what people on earth would stand on a wall and throw sticks and stones in defence of the young people of their island.”
The other young men were listening now and laughing. One of the drivers Seba joined in.
“But Jimmy we´re smugglers, we run tobacco why should we be proud of the people who applaud us, why do they applaud us anyway?”
“Listen to me Seba Coño! This is not about smuggling, it´s about the fact that we´ve been bullied by these people for decades, half of us smuggling people, are descendants of Spanish refugees from the civil war.