Ryan Day

Balcony Scene

Psst ... Psst ...

I craned my neck to see where the sound was coming from.

She was old and seemed desperate. Maybe she’d been been locked in that apartment for years. Rapunzel grown old. Her hair too thin and brittle for any prince to climb.

Psst ... Psst ...

It was just a matter of crossing the street. Helping an old lady. Maybe she was some distant cousin of Franco who didn’t know he had died, the King restored, democracy left to pretend to be in control of the chaotic swings of economies, tempers and weather patterns.

I crossed Bravo Murillo, carefully looking to either side to avoid Vespas and hatchbacks zooming by.

Psst ... Psst ...

I waved to let her know I was on my way.

She was four balconies above me as I stood in front of the Chino. Chino. That’s what the Spanish call the convenience store. The British used to call them Pakis. Maybe they still do. But, for some reason I think they’ve learned better. The Spanish, though, to them it’s still a Chino. There are lots of Chinese in Spain. More every day. Even the bars, the little well-lit ones that make you think of Hemingway, the ones where whole pig legs dangle like wreathes in the windows, and cigarette butts cover the floors like linoleum, even those bars are turning into Chinese bars. So far the Spanish seem to be taking it well.

Psst ... Psst ...

I hopped out from in front of a Peugot which honked a loud and unnecessary honk delaying me momentarily from my efforts to save this old lady from whatever it was that had stranded her.

Chico, she said, Me puedes coger unas cervezas del Chino.

Beer. She wanted beer.

My son has gone to work, she told me, and I have made plans to play cards with the neighbors.

I listened closely.

It’s my knee, you see, which keeps me locked up here. There’s no elevator, and my knee, it’s false. It’s only polite to bring beer to the neighbors when you are going to play cards.

It made sense. Of course. Why wouldn’t I?

I walked into the Chino and picked up a liter of Mahou Classico.

The Chinese girl at the counter was about my age.

You buy for you, she said in a broken Spanish, or you buy for crazy woman?

I paused for too long and my answer betrayed itself.

You buy for crazy woman! I know! She is so crazy! Too crazy! She always wants beer and then her son he scream at me every night for too long! I no sell you beer for that crazy woman. Pschaw.

It was out of my hands.

I left the store and continued up Bravo Murillo where I had plans to meet an old girlfriend for coffee. She was getting married.

Psst ... Psst ... Chico ... Chico ... Donde vas?

Rapunzel. Rapunzel.

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