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Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 09. Forget Barcelona

Von | 07.06.2013, 12:07 | Kein Kommentar

The sun forces itself upon you, the streets are crowded with ugly people. Without Lover, this city has nothing on me. At the hotel, a gift is waiting.

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal, men usually pay for different services in hotelrooms. He just paid for my words. Here they are.


The next morning my boyfriend got up and left for the course. He flew to Amsterdam, and I remained in Barcelona, to do my job.

It seems as if in Barcelona, summer never ceases.
It forces itself upon you, like that or not.  I still had three days of work left. Three days of sunshine, which was meaningless, the beach felt completely fake, the streets overcrowded with ugly people. I tried some swimming, I managed to do a little money spending, I ate some food. Strange city it was to me. If you take a pencil and draw a straight line from Barcelona, you can connect that city with Paris and Brussels. Neither of them are cities I feel comfortable in. It seems to be a bad longitude for me.
All around me the tourists were busy doing what tourists do, a vocabulary of travelling completely unknown to me.  So I walked the streets. And started noticing that my stiletto heels got stuck in the sticky tar pavements. It felt like I left my footprints all over the city. A good way not to get lost. So round and round I went, repeating the same route over and over, trying to find myself back on track.
Late in the afternoon I as I had just sat down for a coffee, two men came to an adjacent table and sat beside me. Father and son. They sat there for at least an hour. The father must have been around fifty, the son fourteen or so. Neither of them said one word.  The father ordered two beers. A large one for himself, a smaller one for his son. The boy tried to gulp his drink in as quickly as he could. The father drank his beer in a far more seasoned way, and then another one. With the third beer, he ordered another small one for his son, who did his best to empty this glass as soon as he could too. Sometimes the father would light a cigarette, and inhale. The son sat, slouched over, looked at the smoke dwindling. He seemed like a sensitive boy, the way he observed his father, somehow as if knowing that a conversation was not to be had. I wondered if the father was divorced and if this was his way of spending some sort of quality time with his child. But there was no quality in the actions the father undertook. Just drinking. And smoking.  I felt so sorry for the kid. He was so lost there. I so had the urge to go over to his table, put my hand on his shoulder, maybe sit down next to him and hold his hand. I wished I could tell him all would be better once he was grown up. I didn’t. First of all I realised that both of them would be at least completely bewildered by this action and would doubtless think I was insane.
A deeper thought withheld me. No matter how much I wished for this boy to give him some kind of consolation, some hope of a brighter future, I knew that there was no assurance that this would be the case. Probably his life would never get any better at all. My stomach turned. It was sad. This was all there was.  The big holiday, the highlight. Hereafter he would go to school, if lucky finish it, get a job, and drink alcohol. And be silent. And sit next to his father, or, later, next to his friends. It would be so cruel to tell him all would get well in the end. This fake Hollywood ending which I wished upon him so dearly, was probably way too far a goal for him to ever achieve. There was no promise of good times in his expression, and no solace in the appearance of his father. The father was a callous echo of the future that would be the son´s one day. It was sheer emptiness that lay ahead for the both of them: steering clear of too much trouble and hassle would be enough of an achievement.
I went back to the hotel. There was a card, R. had taken the liberty of giving me a gift. A massage at the spa on the top floor. I felt strange about that. Whenever I would go into his room, to tell the story he wanted for the night, he barely seemed to acknowledge me. He hardly looked me in the eye, he would just lie down on the bed. Or start rummaging through the room, organising his papers. Walk into the bathroom, organise the towels, and come back. If I would stop in the middle of a story, he would respond immediately, saying I should continue. I was way past the feeling he wanted sex or anything by then, I thought he was not attracted by me at all.  The gift of the massage however, was, very physical, by proxy.
The lack of sleep, having watched my boyfriend write his letter, made me decide to take the massage anyway. I could use some soothing.
R. sat at his desk, eating a pizza. He gestured me to sit down. „Have you had dinner, would you want some?“ I told him I was not very hungry. He kept pushing more slices into his mouth, hardly chewing. „So what will it be tonight, have you lost the game of backgammon?“
I told him I had.  „No more games then, for the time being, how was your massage, I had one too, just after you, great guy, works your muscles through and through.“
I thanked him for the massage, and said it had been nice.
„I want a short story tonight, or a poem, do you know some good short poetry?“ I said I knew only two poems, and that they weren´t any good. I did know songs. I could sing him a song,  if he liked, although I warned him my singing voice was terrible. And then I remembered a story about a song, and we settled for that version.

To be continued. Next friday. Every friday.

Link to German Translation: click Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 09. Vergiss Barcelona

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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