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Kathy Peck and Nancy Kirkwood were returning to America. The two women exchanged ambiguous farewells with Paul Lowery on the train into Barcelona from the beach.
Halting as their public separation had been, Nancy’s earlier private leave-taking had been absolutely clear. Nurse-minding Kathy for the week, Nancy had spent little time alone with him. Through recompense sex she erased absence and distance.
The last morning, likely while Kathy showered, Nancy tapped on his hotel door. Bound in nothing other than a large fluffy white bath towel which further darkened her complexion, she stole into his room. The door closing and her towel falling happened simultaneously. Nancy’s lean nakedness stretched his boxers. A condition she quickly eased by yanking them around his ankles. On her rise Nancy gave his tool a sloppy tongue swipe.
With so much sleight of fabric, Lowery missed the foil package in her fingers. Deftly opened, latex adroitly affixed, she pulled him to the nearest wall. There, wet and eager, copper eyes burning, Nancy flattened while he angled then rammed up.
The impromptu nature, its time constraint, cleared his mind. One shaky leg steadied her, the other corded around his thigh. Lowery pinned her between his forearms. Nancy’s arms seized him from shoulders to waist.
Lowery pumped and grunted. She panted after his every heavenward jolt. When he came she trembled enough to shake him.
The two women de-boarded at El Prat, a station whose trunk spurred into the airport. Lowery continued straight towards the Catalonian hub.
Their Costa Garraf week had clarified the major dilemma: though under duress, Kathy, a pro golfer, would “out” herself. Forthright admission ought prevent further drama. As other celebrity disclosures had amply proven, evasions, half-truths, prolonged indignation simply fed the monster and worsened the eventual revelation.
Quick confirmation ended speculation whose burden tarnished the newsmaker.
That decided, they made a small sour game of sponsors who might drop her immediately against those who’d gauge the resulting winds. The least they could’ve done for a shining image of All-American womanhood.
Hetero as could be, the idea of someone having to publicly declare her or his orientation disgusted Lowery. He hoped Kathy presented herself in a manner that dissuaded the more ravenous media from demanding greater cringe-inducing answers.
Kathy and Nancy left Spain at an opportune time. A inversion blew through. One that not only purified the air, but also dropped temperatures. While he welcomed the brisk weather, the Spaniards behaved as if it portended a second Ice Age. Shawls he understood — but scarves and coats!? In August!? On the Mediterranean!?
Either Lowery had been so preoccupied or victimized by lousy signage because he wound up at the wrong terminal. The terminus for France-bound or -arriving trains. Off the carriage he stepped onto a dogshit spackled platform.
Lowery stayed just long enough to appreciate the soaring structure’s roof, direct himself properly, then board the right train. He was extra vigilant during his retrace. This train creaked through stations whose names were obscured by darkness, cluttered or poorly placed signs. Nor did it help announcements were mumbled in Catalan. Only a hunch let him off at his transfer.
Unlike the commuter line, the metro was well-lighted and clearly marked. A short time later Lowery stood outside the Fontana stop. Narrow streets lent mid-range buildings a “canyon effect.” Before walking several blocks to his hotel he scoured the neighborhood.
Late afternoon around the metro entrance certainly was lively. Youth predominated. Wiry vulpine boys wearing the latest slacker fashions hung in hungry clots while their bold-eyed, pliant-lipped female contemporaries filled benches or heated up the general vicinity by slowly ambling up and down the same pavement in trios and quartets. The girls were remarkably similar. Each edgy face had chestnut or inky hair piled atop it. Proud, unspoiled breasts heaved beneath cardigans or jackets. Low-rise denims squeezed nicely flaring hips. Legs ended in ornate leather lethal-toed arching heels.
A few abuelitas rounded out the assembly, looking just as out of place as himself. Beyond the metro itself a highly-selective bookstore, a tabac, pizza parlor and bars formed the secondary main congregating points.
Rooted as he wished to have remained, Lowery pushed off. His hotel shouldered inconspicuously on the Via Augusta. Its exterior began as at Art Nouveau but settled into Modernisme.
In the compact gilded lobby florid Britons exited leaving two swarthy desk clerks behind the reception desk. Cleaned up as they were, the pair reminded Lowery of field hands recently stuffed into new blue blazers.
He spoke to the crabbier of them in Castilian. Seeing Lowery’s passport the man replied in clipped business English.
Basic information gleaned, Lowery ardahan escort rode to his ninth-floor room. The elevator opened onto a pristine floor. Half of it at least. The other half underwent renovation. Despite thick plastic partitions resins, sawdust and paint tinged nostrils.
His windows looked north into apartments. If he hoped spying some young thing walking around in her sweet altogether, Lowery would be luckless. Those windows only revealed thoroughly domesticated couples or retirees leading numbing routines.
Lowery grabbed his camera then hit the bricks. The metro funneled him downtown. After deciphering and navigating the below ground tangle, Lowery climbed to street level Placa Catalunya.
Topside proved a bigger louder version of Fontana. Except with fountains, gardens and statuary added. Early evening now, Lowery intended snapping several pictures while he still had decent natural light. Not for himself or memory. For his female colleagues in Colorado. They were suckers for this stuff.
Once done he’d tour La Rambla, the city’s main promenade, to the harbor. Along the way he’d have some cold ones while determining which of its “world renown attractions” were worth his tourist’s attentions.
Lowery saved that stroll for another day. During his photographic obligation of a lavender flower bed perfectly offset by an oversized fountain and gray building, he saw the woman sitting on the garden’s edge. She sat alone. A cigarette dangled on her lower lip, while a backpack rested at her feet. He decided to center the frame with her. Through his viewfinder she came into better focus.
This woman, who he guessed in her resilient mid 30s, returned his lens stare. Most female subjects would’ve turned away or covered their faces or gestured rudely. She only expelled cigarette smoke.
Lowery lingered before and after snapping the picture. Gradually she reminded him of a girl he’d known in Connecticut. One of the approachable ones in high school. Miriam Trescuervos. Much older than the Miriam he remembered, heavier and sterner, too. But nearly 30 years apart, they shared the same lupine features emphasized by thick lips.
Hadn’t Miriam’s people come from Spain? She was only first or second generation American. It wasn’t too hard believing she’d retain foreign characteristics. Photo on film, Lowery walked towards the woman.
Aware of his attention, she dropped the cigarette and crushed it beneath an engineer boot. On closer inspection differences became apparent. His subject was harder than Miriam could ever have been. Her expression was leaden where Miriam’s had shone. The girl in his high school memory had a long thick mass of gleaming black hair. This woman did little for her short dull curls.
Lowery knew what she was. It didn’t matter.
They conversed in terse Castilian. Lowery mentioned her facile resemblance. She acknowledged being many women to many men. He wondered aloud how it might’ve been to fuck Miriam Trescuervos. His English made her flesh and blood ghost rise as if weighted by stones.
Upright, Lowery saw how Miriam never would’ve filled out. He’d last seen her when she verged on recognizable adulthood. Seasoned by life, the person now standing before him had ripe breasts, a womanly waist and hips.
Lowery asked her name. Carmen. His smirk sufficed for both. She stated relaxation services and their prices. He accepted.
Carmen sealed negotiations by fishing a pack of cigarettes from her jammed backpack then lipping one out of the carton. She would’ve rummaged further for a lighter or matches if he hadn’t provided one. Although he himself never smoked, carrying a lighter often proved invaluable. Lowery didn’t discriminate among women who smoked. He just got them to blow their plumes away from him.
She slung the backpack over a shoulder and they abandoned bright bustle for murky quiet.
Twilight settled thickly over Carmen’s street. Dim streetlamps deepened grays and browns. One notable color burst: an anarchist’s red “A” defacing someone’s wall.
Carmen didn’t bother switching on the stairwell lamps. They climbed three flights through gloom. Noisy gloom. Her footfalls were cinder blocks scraping dry wood. She unlocked and opened an apartment door. Wilted light and tired colors escaped. Before crossing this threshold, Carmen yelled out a name:
When she repeated it, and silence continued answering, he followed her inside. The worn door now at his back carried a brand-new lock. Lowery wondered whether obsolescence or insistent police compelled that new hardware’s installation.
Stale cooking oil and tobacco twanged the air. Any stronger and both would’ve left bad tastes in Lowery’s mouth.
Carmen led him through a neglected living room into her bedroom. By its looks this chamber must’ve been hers. “Fausto,” if he bunked at that address, slept in another corner.
Lowery felt certain this Carmen’s adıyaman escort domain. Surrounding the rumpled bed and smashed pillows every flat surface held doodads or gewgaws regarding Betty Boop. She’d even stuck the cartoon character’s postcards in mirror corners. Which was how he knew “Fausto” rested elsewhere. Such incessant cuteness would’ve driven any man insane.
Carmen sparked up another cigarette. While she luxuriated in it, Lowery pulled euros from his wallet. He flashed the bills for her inspection. She nodded approval and he placed them under a statuette of the flapper that held down a dresser.
The money part transacted, Carmen began stripping. She managed this without once disturbing her cigarette. Briskly, efficiently, boots thudded on the floor, denims crumpled there, too. Carmen rolled the drab long-sleeved crew up her torso, carefully expanding its neckline to accommodate her cigarette. Shorn of outerwear Lowery glimpsed her figure.
Curves contained in flimsy black bra and panties, she inhabited a woman’s body. An esthete weight-watcher might’ve disdained the ample though not yet pendulous breasts, round hips and solid legs. Perhaps even more so when her last garments joined those already on the floor.
Dollar-pancake sized nipples centered each chest globe. Lowery knew from experience that with the right dialing — orally or manually — they’d pucker into brown crags.
Her pubic patch mimicked the same sad care she gave the brush atop her head. While Carmen readied the bed, Lowery shucked his clothes. He left his watch on, placed his camera, lighter, wallet and passport within easy grab-and-dash range.
After grading the bed and arranging two hillocks of pillows — a pile to support her head, the other her hips — Carmen again picked through her backpack. Out she plucked a condom. She faced Lowery. Her eyes aligned on his tool. Lips pursed, Carmen nodded to herself. Once more into her backpack. A short search, and she’d exchanged foil packages.
Carmen explained the first rubber fit white men; it was obvious Lowery had black blood.
He laughed. She almost cracked a smile.
Carmen reclined upon the rickety bed. Its four legs swayed. More so when Lowery joined her.
Carmen kept him kneeling off to the side. With one hand she stroked his meat into stiffness; the other readied her snatch through one rough two-finger massage.
While she prepped them both, Lowery leaned forward and kneaded her tits. They were firm melons. So much so he checked whether these were a store-bought pair. No scarring, no unnatural skin ripples. Nature had been generous was all.
His fingertips flipped across Carmen’s nipples. Both responded as expected. Somehow Lowery refrained from pulling them. Teats though they had become, they’d only dispense pleasure. He bent forward and filled his mouth with one. His tongue sliding along the rough dense peak disrupted Carmen’s own stoking. When he switched to licking its sister, she mumbled something unintelligible and sighed.
Lowery’s pole hard, and her box adding a peculiar tang in the atmosphere, Carmen fitted the big boy raincoat on him. Engorged and protected now, Lowery pressed against her. Not that he didn’t appreciate it but Carmen’s guiding him towards her haven was unnecessary.
As a matter of fact her goddamn hand got in the way! He found her hidden spot loose and lippy.
Lowery skipped any finesse. From his first poke onward his long strokes pounded Carmen. Their pelvises smacked. His every lunge ended with her knees jerking up near his triceps, while her tits whipsawed. Throughout it all Carmen ground palms against his shoulders, squeezed her eyes shut, and gritted her teeth.
Lowery thought he saw tears. If so, he ignored them.
The bed, though, that was the true measure of his violence. The headboard might’ve been flush against the wall. However, his careless exertions bashed the wobbly bed into long faded wallpaper.
When he came, Lowery lost himself to mindless repetition. He heard the tempo quicken and saw Carmen’s nipples flapping. Strangled grunts finished a brutish climax that mauled her pussy. Lowery yanked his cock into open air then just rolled beside her.
She opened her eyes. Relief smoothed her face. A moment spent collecting herself, Carmen and the bed creaked as she sat up. Impatient hands fumbled in her backpack. The rummage through it yielded cigarettes.
One precariously hanging between her slack lips, Carmen waited for his light. This time she held his hand in her own. Her draw off his lighter lasted longer, too. Folded arms supporting breasts, concentration replaced indifference on Carmen’s face. Lowery hoped she wasn’t seeking meaningful or deep words.
They had merely fucked. It wasn’t a commemorative event.
Carmen asked about her American likeness, meaning Miriam Trescuervos. Had she and Lowery been lovers? Did the affair end tragically karabük escort with her in another’s arms? Was there any regret?
‘Wonder-fuck!’ Lowery thought. ‘A whore who is a telenovena addict!’
He answered succinctly. “No. But she had two ugly sisters who put out whenever the sun rose. Their sister preferred cautious men. She even married one. She surprised him and disappointed herself by dying young. The end.”
Naturally Carmen said, “That’s so sad.”
Carmen was not someone with whom Lowery wished to resurrect Miriam Trescuervos. He swung out of bed and started dressing. Occupied by the mysteries of a cigarette, Carmen remained obtuse, unaware of his rush.
Fully clothed again, personal effects restored to his person, Lowery nearly told Carmen “s’long.” Instead her clouded expression intrigued him. He asked if she’d allow him to snap her photo. She shrugged approval.
Lowery set the flash on “fill.” As muse, Carmen provided nothing. Her poses weren’t provocative at all. Passivity took over and bleached her face. Only during the end frames did something like inspiration strike. She twisted her body towards him and spread her legs wide. Two fingers dug among her pelt, splitting enough fur to show pink.
In English for himself Lowery murmured that these final exposures were for his Christmas cards. Confusion waved across Carmen’s face.
Letting “boop-boop-be-doop” serve as his good-bye, he left.
The next morning toiling laborers and talkative housekeepers roused Lowery from solid sleep. He tried deciding which created more noise: renovation using power tools or wooden heels clacking on bare floors.
Showered, shaved and dressed, Lowery devoured from the breakfast buffet. While hurrying through his meal he eyed fellow guests picking at theirs. Italians by their chatter. Fair-skinned, attired in casual chic his more vain countrymen would envy. He left the peacocks for pavement.
Mild sun blessed the streets. The natives, however, felt differently. Sweaters and light jackets abounded. By their outerwear one might’ve mistaken this for Barrow, Alaska, not Barcelona, Spain. Uncovered arms poking from his short-sleeved shirt no doubt marked him as an alien.
Back at the Fontana metro, new people following the same disposition milled.
Before going downtown, Lowery hoped to develop two other rolls and the one he finished with Carmen there. Not in the States. Drop those off at the wrong developer, some prude technician might take umbrage at adult nudity. From shock, disgust, childishness, the tech would naturally alert the police. They of course would have the force’s one self-righteous moral arbiter investigate rather than any mature badge-toting adult. Forget that!
He saw a photo shop. It advertised one-hour developing. Which in a Latin country meant “same-day.”
The two female clerks wore sweaters under their smocks. His accent preceded him. The women were happy for live-practice English. After agreeing to his prints’ particulars, both promised him his photographs would be ready at “16 o’clock.”
Emerging again onto Placa Catalunya, Lowery didn’t see Carmen. Not that he sought her. Undeterred now he descended La Rambla towards the harbor.
People, tourists mostly like himself, jammed the tree-spotted promenade. Autos ran along either side of the pedestrian island. Until the Columbus Monument low bulky buildings pressed upon crowded sidewalks.
The only locals around sold periodicals, souvenirs, birds or waited tables whose restaurants sat across either side of traffic.
Despite growling motors, jumbled languages, squawking fowls, he got no sense of having his ears assaulted. Occasionally his fellow gawkers clotted together for better stares at tableaux-vivant performers or breakdancers moved by earthy African percussions.
At Columbus’ pillar Lowery noticed the explorer pointed toward … Genoa? Everything considered, wasn’t a New World direction merited?
Believing his morning tourist obligation fulfilled, Lowery decided he had a thirst needing beer. He remembered walking past an impressive saloon. After retracing half his steps he entered an Australian-themed bar. The bartender was pale, lithe and frisky. A wispy red mane flowed behind her. Italian by birth, Lena spoke flat English. She poured Imperial pints.
Idling while sipping, he fabricated Lena’s history. Since she had the requisite cheekbones and body type, Lowery credited her with having modeled. In Milan. Naturally.
Years of high-living jet-setting rendered her disillusioned. Rather than suicide, Lena discarded notoriety for simple, honest, satisfying toil among simple, honest, satisfying people.
By the end of his speculation, Lowery had not only lured its subject but several Americans and Britons who’d dropped in for their own worthy pints. Skeptical as she reacted, Lena was flattered nonetheless. In jest she thought about taking Lowery home. There, Lena would have him relate his impression to her husband, a man who’d seemingly transferred all his passion to Barcelona FC.
Rhetorically, insinuation buttering his voice, Lowery asked, “How can men in shorts compare against your beauty?”
Besides a big tip, Lowery left Lena and the remaining barflies wondering the depth of his sincerity.
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