The rain painted the stones grey of a darker hue. I was on my way to nowhere, it is how it began.
My saudade, the fadista. I sat in the back, holding my drink, hugging the wall.
There was no direct translation, the secret made for a more powerful experience. Residuals of the rain? Tears? Night after night, that sorrow, tinged with nostalgia. It was enough to burn a person down from the inside. Out of self preservation, a few would perform from route, the tourists did not notice the difference. Rarely, some would feed the flames, emerging from the wreckage of the stage with a profound knowledge.
So, to keep it simple, it all started with a sad melody. No, not really.
All I remember of her, that night, the crowds, anxious eyes, a beast with teeth which kept biting. All I remember was applause which rang false.
She was for real and they had not been ready.
After her set, it was late, but she stuck around. Someone else was now on stage but I could not take my eyes off of her. There she was, perched on a stool, telling fortunes.
Without the words coming out of her mouth, she looked a different person.
There was something witchy about the way her fingers tapped the table. Staccato beat with no visible movement unless one looked peripherally.
I wanted them both.
Two drinks later, her customers left the table. In an act of boldness I presumed to receive a signal. We talked. She wanted to tell me of her dream, but only to force an intimacy over my feigned indifference.
She lived closer and her place had to be nicer. Everything blurred. My lips into hers, two bodies whose silhouettes conquers the far wall. I had not thought to hold onto that first kiss, who ever does.
Ambition washed away by wine, tears, drowning in desire.
An ill fitted suit, my hat hanging off the doorknob, always too close to the bed for my peace of mind.
We now spent every night together. Sometimes she would fall asleep before me. Sensing my body next to hers, she would forget where she was. In the dark she lurched for the light switch. Hip hitting the edge of the night table, she caused the fall of an empty bottle city.
The guitarist had a party one night. I fell off the balcony as I reached to pick her a flower, breaking my leg.
She insisted I move in with her, it would be an easier trip to the club, her stairs were also less steep. I did not want to give up the security of having my own place. Even though she asked no rent of me, I could not seem to afford keeping my safety net.
She liked to hear me talk. At first it was just the sound of my voice, but after awhile she grew used to that and started drawing power from my words. She used me as an excuse to explore appetite, ambition organized to feed it. It was around this time she started dropping hints about a big time promoter and a tour of France.
My theory was that she needed everything in our immediate orbit to achieve her sound night after night. A food which came directly from the sights and sounds we observed from the top of that stairway less steep than mine.
I decided to start being honest too, even out the playing field. She cared for me and was risking that, let it become a give and take, let it come down.
It was actually refreshing. With complete honesty came a new type of eroticism. Ah, Montserrat, only you know how bad I want to be.
Now it is your turn to talk. Come to me in a moment of weakness, desire. I roll the words describe the scene around in my head. It is sort of like you, with your thing.
Again, she brought up the promoter, a short Italian to whom she had pointed me out to one night at the club. She brought him up in a less vague way. He would gladly do the tour for her, but needed something first.
As she told me this, for what ever reason, she felt it appropriate to cry for us both.
A day was set. Friday night, because despite this, she still insisted Sundays were "ours".
She seemed a little nervous, of two minds, which was unlike her. She wanted me there as some type of security. As she told me this over and over, I won. Perhaps later as I sat there it would be her turn.
To avoid any awkward confrontations, after her set they would go home first. I knew her, her sounds and would know when it was over and would go buy the mornings bread so he could leave, the two of us unseen by one another.
I had some notes to take and could keep myself busy.
There was an extra urgency in her voice tonight. The audience did not notice, maybe the guitarist, I did. Me, I am a connoisseur of such things.
I notice they leave through the back door. One more quick drink, then I too am gone.
All the time we had made trouble together. I was not used to being her voyeur. From behind the sheet hung in place of a door I watched the locomotion of the silhouettes. She had left a bottle to distract me. Not our usual brand, but the real good stuff.
I would not feel bad about finishing it while I wait, while I write. Nor would she for being there in that room without me. A perfect symmetry of desire.
Finally I went out to get the day's bread. On the corner the little café is just sliding up their gate. A young girl with a broom in one hand waves.
I will give her time, extra time to wash. I go in, standing at the small table right by the door, the girl. The girl keeps looking at me, she blushes. I light the cigar which had lain forgotten in my shirt all night. Some of the coffee had spilled into the saucer. Lightly I dip the spoon in and write on my napkin.
The cigar was almost gone. Exhaling, I hit a moth with the last plume of smoke to gain its wisdom.
I had written it several times with my coffee ink.
The girl comes to look over my shoulder at what I had written.
"They say it means fate, but there is no accurate translation".
Painting above: Fadista by Wayne Wolfson
For more information on Wayne's writing, art and the recent Midnight Latitudes CD check out his website Terrible Beauty, or click on his name below to see a list of all of the stories in this series.
FICTION & POETRY ARCHIVE
- At Witz End
- What do you call a bloodsucking fiend in the daytime?
- Tindersticks Love You Too Much, Baby
- Panther Burns and Howls
- Preaching to the Choir: Phil Kline and Arvo Pärt
- Grand Duchy: I Got You, Babe
- Creosote on my Soul
- Michael Jackson and plunderphonics
- Five Great Love Songs of 2009 (so far)
- My Rival - Alex Chilton Remembered