Coming & Going: Halloween

That night I took the metro to Jaume 1 to Justin’s gallery. The place was filled with a number of people lingering outside drinking free cava and an old man shouting down from a balcony onto the gutters below. The old man, I found out later, was the owner of the place and constantly rode around town with his little dog, barking orders at people whilst the dog remained satisfyingly mute.
The gallery was one of these small, white, low-ceiling places with a little cupboard where the mops lived and where you could piss out all that free cava in the token toilet. I liked it. Low ceilings at night, in a strange town, with free drinks and women all around…I was pleased, lost in the new city and feeling the hospitality. The art itself was peculiarly inspiring. Three different artists: one whose work seemed effortless, and the others more so. Justin was doing the rounds and struck me that night as a very open sort of chap. He seemed happy to see me. He started introducing me to some folks, artists, Catalans, Irishmen and a kid from New York. To tell you the truth I felt like a little bit of a punk, with my hood pulled half over my shaven head, a motorcycle jacket, tracksuit bottoms and a fleshful of tattoos sticking out. Everybody else looked half decent, an effort had been made, laces had been tied, buttons done up.
Soon Mandy arrived, already half cut and several sheets past the wind. Followed closely by Samuel who seemed to be her guide for the entire rest of the trip. I think they were mentoring each other through various notes and shades. I mentioned the free cava to Mandy and we both got stuck in, topping up our glasses and abusing all manner of trust. I felt like we were the dirty British mother and son, on some heinous vacation, with plots to ruin all manner of decency. I felt like I had a companion – a comrade from the same lands as I – that rotten fish and chips empire where we had been deported.
Now, living the same corrupt and heartless expedition, amongst locals of a Native land who could just about ignore our hideousness, we were free to do as we pleased. Sam fitted in somewhere, at parts I was walking the background, in others it was he. I the adolescent son. He the maturing homosexual friend.
Us three, on the piss, somewhere in Barcelona.
The cava was almost running out and the rest of the crew had seen the gallery’s art and motions were being made to push onward, to some bar yonder.
But I suddenly got my eye caught on some beautiful dark skinned lady with gothic eyes and Spanish lips. She looked Mexican, I thought, and had a full body underneath a black leather coat where her curves were rounded but firm. She was not quite a silhouette of a desert landscape. More – the silhouette of a large Iranian vase. She stood there, in all her Latin glory, staring directly at me whilst her tall and skinny friend was talking to Justin. There was no doubt in her eyes, or mine. And whilst I poured my last glass of cava, watching her stare, about to walk over…Mandy suddenly intervened. Oh mother! You haunt me still.
‘’S’ere any moore drink?’ She dribbled.
‘Er…not sure.’
‘Cud you jush take a look?’
‘Not now Mandy, I’m in the middle of something abrupt.’
Mandy’s interruption made my decision. And I walked over, feeling slightly obvious what with being in an art gallery &c. I made my salutations and Justin made the formalities.
Her name, Renata…rolled over her tongue like [____________]
There was, indeed, no Mexican blood. She was part Italian, part Brazilian. And as the gallery was about to close we joined the others outside and all finished our cavas together. Samuel took a group of Americans onto ‘the other bar’ as Mandy held tightly onto the group, staggering a little around the cobble-stoned streets and sucking on several cigarillos at once.
Renata, the Latin girl, appeared as the strong-minded vixen. Not in the typically Brazilian style where a mask was often put up on display. But things were done because she sincerely wanted it, her actions were not a revolution, they were not a boycotting device, or tables to be turned…she knew that what she felt didn’t have to be explained. I imagined most of her friends to be boys, that she wouldn’t have the time for females who were ‘complicated’ or two faced rivals…and that she’d happily get fucked up, drink beer and stagger around the apartment with her curves hanging out. All this she reiterated in the first ten minutes until it was time to join the others at the bar in El Born.
By the time we’d arrived Halloween had exploded across the bar. Vampires, zombies and the Monster of Frankenstein were lining up shots against each other and slamming them down. A couple of transvestites were kissing one another in the face of Dracula. Some lanky kid about seven feet tall was dressed as Gene Simmons. I met a couple of witches with their tits hanging out on the way to the toilet.
I began to grin as I stood there to piss. What was this new place I had suddenly inhabited? Who the fuck were these people I was hanging out with tonight? Where was this going? Such questions seemed rhetorical. And none of them I asked seriously. Everything, I knew, was right.
As I returned Renata was chatting to the two trannies and a thought crossed my mind that she was into she-males. ‘Why not?’ I thought. There’re plenty of Brazilian she-males around. Just don’t expect me to –
‘Hey Floyd!’ cried Sam amongst a group of mummies and undead TEFL students, ‘why doncha gimmie a kiss?’
I knew that question was coming. And I knew it was a test.
‘Not now.’ I cried. And we ordered some Tequila.

I don’t remember much after Tequila. It works on me kind of like Sake, but more viscous. I forget things which return only a couple of days later in awkward flashbacks. I say things which’ll never be remembered. And I do things I don’t care about.
My flashbacks of Halloween, after those few Tequilas, go thus:
…pissing all over the toilets and chatting to the Brazilian trannies…meeting a dark-haired American which Sam introduced me to and leading her outside to kiss her in an alley, only to get interrupted by Sam asking where I was going…talking about crack to an Irishman dressed as Santa Claus…more shots of Tequila…a pint of Guinness which tasted poor…Sam and the collective going to a rave by the airport…kissing Sam goodbye on the lips and watching his face full of surprise…heading to Sidecar (a club on the corner of Placa Reial) with Renata…meeting Paul Arnold – the main DJ and manager of a night called Chew The Fat at The End Club on Tottenham Court Road…having a long, solitary chat with him by the bar…drinking more shots…drinking beer dosed with MDMA…dancing like a fiend amongst locals to Paul Arnold playing UK breakbeat…meeting a Brazilian barmaid who gave us more shots and a joint…taking off Renata’s clothes in her room…the condom breaking…the two moments before passing out.
The next day was Friday… and the course was still going on. Renata woke up, kissed me and headed off to work. She’d given me her number and was fine about leaving me in her apartment. ‘Just don’t walk around naked, my housemate hates white boys.’ I nursed my head and slowly put on some trainers and shuffled out of the house; feeling rather pleased with the situation in general. Searching for the metro, riding it to Villa Olympica, and arriving late to class…feeling embarrassed. But there was no cause for shame or embarrassment. Everyone else had no idea what went on, or frankly didn’t give a shit. It was really only Sam and I who’d had burnt the candles on both sides. He was clutching a can of Diet Coke and looked wearily at me.
‘Dude,’ he laughed. ‘I lost my phone –’
I remember listening to a disturbing answer-phone message at about six in the morning full of screams, sweat and neon. There was shit music in the background and Sam attempting to communicate. Apparently he’d rung me whilst dancing on podiums in-front of several hundred Catalans.
‘I don’t even know you. Why would I ring you?’

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