Steve got some money out of the wall, enough to get the four of us to the next stage, being Valencia. Dominic begged off, saying he´d been there, done that, got a whole wardrobe of T-shirts. So the three of us, Steve, Paul and myself left on our own. Dommy and ourselves were pretty emotional at saying goodbye. We had been the famous beach bums together for nigh on six months. Paul said he had a friend in Valencia who could take us over to Ibiza on his fishing boat. We´d try and get a job there in the rave scene.
Whatever, we never got there. The friend told us he was booked full up till the next year in March. Blahblahblah…So we checked out Valencia, same shit, different beach. We met two finnish girls, who got robbed. They had to go back home, because the thieves had stolen a special dental something that one of them had to wear at night to keep her teeth straight. Bloody thieves! It got a bit chilly and we started making a bonfire every night.
You can do that there, because the beach in Valencia is so wide the cops can´t see you from the promenade, when you´re close to the sea. There was this five-star hotel being built there, so we didn´t want for wood. Some German joined us and told us where there were good bins to look for food. Things that supermarkets throw out on their last day before the sell-by date. Perfectly edible and we could barbecue. A bit hard to do in the dark sometimes, though. The fires kept us warm at night.
One day it started pouring down. I was under a big sheet of plastic and didn´t care. The other two buggered off and said:”We´ll be next to the park.” When I finally ventured out I found that there were five parks in the neighbourhood and couldn´t find them. I did eventually. The bastards were drinking calimucho and whisky and having a whale of a time. I asked them why they hadn´t come looking for me. They said because it was raining. Sensible people, they are. We slept under this covered arch for a couple of weeks till they kicked us off.
This first night when I found the guys again, this girl showed up. I remember as if it were today. She had dripping wet reddish hair, a long wet coat and her upturned nose was twitching with the cold. Her brown eyes were timid, but at the same time burned with a hunger for companionship. I called her over and asked her name. She told me she was called Francisca Jimenez Jimenez, Paqui for short. Thank God for that. It´s a bit of a mouth full. She said she was staying in a car with a Chilean guy. Apparently he wanted more than to be just friends, but she didn´t. So I told her she could stay with us. She radiated gratitude. She was a right little chatterbox. Pity my two friends couldn´t speak Spanish, or was it? Haha!
I liked her a lot and I could tell she liked me. It showed. The next day, while I was on a butt-run, she told the guys in broken English that she like me very, very much. Paul dubbed her our wayward Spanish gipsy girl. With Jimenez Jimenez, you can´t get more gipsy than that. That was alright by me. I´d more or less grown up with the gipsies in our village. I knew their whole family and Mano, my friend from karate class had a girlfriend who was friends with mine. So no troubles there. Paqui had apparently left her family long ago. At least, that´s what she told me. And of course, we fell hopelessly in love. We couldn´t get married, both being on the street, but we exchanged our vows to each other and from that moment onwards we considered the other our spouse. I certainly didn´t need a piece of paper or a priest to tell me who my wife was.
Paqui, you have to let me go! you can rattle your chains against the walls of my heart all you like, but it just won´t do. Go and annoy Saint Peter, would you. My time hasn´t come yet. And I can´t mourn for you forever. It´s impossible to hug a ghost and you can´t kiss a spirit. I´ve been more or less numb untill now, but recently all the feelings that I thought had died with you, have started to resurface. I´m alive and I need love. From a physical woman of flesh and bones. Someone to come home to every evening, to talk to, to whisper sweet nothings to. And if I betray you by doing that or at least your memory, then so be it. I´m not made of stone!
I did something really silly, a while back. I started writing poetry. I started talking about love and hopes and dreams to some lady that I´ve never even met. I don´t even know what continent she lives on. And then, inevitably, it all started coming back, the whole kit and caboodle. And so now I´m buggered, I´m in love with some digital ghost. Isn´t that irony in its purest form, to take one ghost for another. Except there´s a real live woman on the other end of those bits or bites or thingamepixels. I wouldn´t for the life of me want to hurt her. So I called it a day. No more poems. But it might already be too late. I know it is for me. Paqui, she moves me so. But I´m an idiot, a twat, a nincompoop and a blithering moron, for having initiated it.
What do I have to offer her? Nothing, nada, zip. An old bum on the street making a fool of himself on the internet. There´s no fool like an old fool, right? What a joke! And yes, it´s on me. Tears of a clown who was never funny to begin with. I´m disgusted with myself. But what can I do? You know me, Paqui. I do so love to love. I´ll use the old cliché: tomorrow is another day. Sleep tight. No, I´m not tired yet.
I did make you smile, didn´t I dear? And I made you laugh. What did you say near the end? That you hadn´t given me a lot?!You silly cow!!You gave me more than you can ever imagine. but why, of why couldn´t you tell me the truth? I know, you were afraid I´d leave you. Leave you?! Never in a million years. You were my wife, my everything. At least now I know why you would never go all the way with me, your husband. You told me it hurt and that was enough for me. No, it wasn´t. It made me angry. But if only I´d known the truth, Paqui. For God´s sake woman, why didn´t you tell me you had AIDS???????
Remember that the next bum you see, is also a human being. If you don´t feel like giving him ten or fifty cents, then don´t. But do me a favour, at least give him a smile and relieve his fear of being ignored.
I was a bit stuck after this part, what with recurring memories about Paqui. But I dealt with them. I´ve been ferrying between the bank and my former sleeping place, which is the front terrace of a former bowling alley. In the bank it´s too hot and in the other place I´ve had some trouble with five teenagers. They decided that it would be fun to throw rocks at me, when I´m asleep. Luckily their aim is awful, they don´t seem to be able to hit me.
I´m really upset about this, not so much about the possibility of getting hurt, although that would be no fun at all, but because of the fact that they so infuriate me, that if I were to catch one of them, I would most probably do him serious bodily harm. Which I certainly do NOT want to do. First of all, I don´t get of on hurting a fellow human being and secondly I want to avoid all the hassle with the police, if that were to happen. I was just this close to losing it and I do not appreciate the feeling, at all. What is it with this young morons? Don´t they realise that they could take out one of my eyes or worse?
And another thing, the place where I´m sleeping is about a hundred yards form where that Swedish homeless guy got murdered, two years ago(not a happy thought). I´m sure that if you were to confront them with it, in broad daylight, that they´d say something along the lines of: I didn´t really want to hurt this man. we were just having a bit of fun. Yeah right, fun. Like when some assholes burnt that homeless person alive in Barcelona, a couple of years ago. It must be real fun, burning alive. It´s not the first time that this has happened to me, either. And the cops don´t really care, unless there´s a fatality. Then they must be seen to do something, to keep up appearances. Because, hey, what´s one less bum, right?! He´s probably better off, that way. No more troubles.
Except we do feel and dream and hope for the same things, as other people do. Maybe even more so, because we are lacking just about everything that everyone takes for granted. But that is not enough, is it? Kick a man, when he´s down, why don´t you. Does it make you feel better? Enough negativity! I finally scraped enough money together to be able to pay for the domain name of my very own site, to be called “ralphiesportal”. My friend “the rascal” will help me put it together. So, please, be on the look out for it.
I don´t know why, but every lunatic in a five-mile radius, seems to want to gravitate towards me. I can run, but I can´t hide. Last night some guy was shouting from his balcony and no he was not calling for Juliette. Apparently he was pissed and pissed off over something and wanted to exterminate the whole neighbourhood. At one point he shouted that he was coming down to the street with a joint and invited anyone with enough balls to stand up to him.
But he just kept raving on and on. So finally I shouted at him to shut up and get down here with the joint already. Which he did. I didn´t stand up to him, I sat down with him and we had a chat. He went up to get another dooby and even brought me some hot food. Far from exterminating me, was it? I find that if you talk to people who are ranting, in a civilised tone of voice, that most of them will listen and communicate with you.
Fucking bastard youths came back and this time they meant it! I was sleeping on the front terrace of the abandoned bowling alley again and all of a sudden I woke up from a kick in the haed from one of them. Nice one, guy! I was still trying to get my brain to function when the other two had come over with a slab of marble, one and a half feet long, half a foot wide and a bit more than half an inch thick, which they intended to stave my head in with. I managed to deflect it, luckily. After that I got into such a rage, I picked up a broomstick that was lying beside me, for just such occasions and sprang up. The cowardly wimps decided to make a run for it. I called them back and said: “Come on then! I want to play now!” No use, run they did, back to mama.Figures, doesn´t it.
I went back and notified the others who were sleeping not far from I am. I hear you asking, why weren´t you with them, safety in numbers, right!? Well, I got bored with them, after I stopped with the drink. Always the same day after day. But hey, I´ve been there and done it. But enough is enough. I don´t want to end up dead like most of my friends lately. I went to the beginning of the street, where there are normally always cop cars. This time, nada Anyway, I needed to smoke because I was so nervous and I had run out of rolling papers. One of the guys said he´d keep vigil on my stuff and off I went to look for butt-ends.
When I came back he told me the cops had been there, looking for the stolen handbag of some tourist lady. They had been questioning some guys that had nothing to do with us. My “colleague” had told the cops what had happened to me, but they had told him that they were busy and couldn´t be asked to check it out. Were they joking? No! I spotted two police cars, with four cops who were again questioning some people and told them that three youths had tried to kill me. No reaction! I did address them in Spanish! I waited a little further up, expecting them to come over later on. No such luck, they drove off. Third time I tried to flag down a cop car that was driving down ´our´ street, but again they were apparently too busy to give a damn.
So, I told myself not to bother anymore. A tourist´s handbag is more important than a streetperson´s life any day of the week, because they bring in the dollars. End of story. This was why I was a bit out of sorts after Sunday the 15th of May, which is when this happened, at six in the morning. Sunday, bloody Sunday(luckily without blood, just two black and blue spots on my arms from deflecting the slab). It´s amazing how long that spun around in my head. At first I told myself to just forget it and thank God that I wasn´t worse off, but this kind of nonsense really gets to you, you know!
I shall write some more episodes about my life with Paqui as I start to remember them better, but at the moment it is still too painful to dwell upon and I seem to have locked it all away in a private part of my subconscious. Patience is a bitch, isn’t she, dear reader?
To be continued.