Cap de Creus II

Cap de Creus II, AJW

He gulps and he jumps back in between the two blues, frozen in heat, still there now and not here then and in the hotel bar kitchen you see and hear and smell and feel that Fatima is reincarnating octopus and squid in oil. Legs and eyes in heat and fat and dried peppers from Caceres and eggs and rosemary and garlic. Fatima had tortilla and she had cod and peppers and olives in bowls on the counter and there is something with anise and burned flour beyond the bleach Fatima uses on the tiles and something cooked with peaches and figs and the smell does not spoil the food because a smell is not like time going in circles, the then and the now, getting to the point, to the elastic point, getting in-between the skins of people who love and fail and are in time. Fatima is there, very much herself, and she ran the bar wearing a housecoat and a headscarf and I could see her sweeping the floor under the arches and bricks in the morning. The gale that dusk was armed with salt and pollen while I was waiting for my wife to return from a tour of the ruins by the port. She had wanted to see the sculptures and the puzzles, the geometry and the tricks, what had remained of the fossils of where we come from, what had been taken from the elements and turned around.Fatima was throwing pans into the sink and swearing in Catalan as she wiped the zinc counter and I sipped my beer and thought about my son falling between blues and the argument with my wife earlier and I told myself I could not feel my son’s feet resting on the backs of my legs as he went to sleep with the toy dragon in his hand and my wife read her book on the chair on the balcony with the light in breaking lines on her body. Maybe I could not see the future made, the on and the off, or what I could have thought or how I was waiting for my wife to return from the ruins now in this swell I do not need to understand, moving from a surface to a surface, arms out as he leaps, as he swims, my son falling between two blues, a nature swimming, the bravery of ignorance, and Fatima stocking the shelves and the refrigerator, the flag stitched on her headscarf, racking up gin and rum and tequila and bitters and lemons and milk and dialing the radio from station stop to station stop, chewing in one side of her mouth, exhausted in health, never happy with which wavelength she is pulling through, experiencing but not moved from her position, pushing through but at the side of her existence, her status in light and cells and speed, as the world seems to move but does not, as she circles the tables with a washcloth and stocks the fridge with juice. She likes to watch the children when she opens the bottles of juice, pushing through. A trader is fanning himself with a magazine when he is not massaging his indigestion. He smells of shaving foam and cognac in his coffee. He tells me I must know how it was last night to see the dust making the sky behind the fort as the sun went down and he tried to sleep but he saw dust animals and all the dust raking up in the sky like dust animals, he says, throwing a magazine on the counter. And he asks me about puzzles and the logic of empire, about the tyre pressure on heavy vehicles, about blood pressure and cancer, about these cysts he will not show to a doctor, waving his hands when he isn’t rubbing his indigestion, his aftershave made of charcoal and cardamon. And the trader asks about national borders and psychopaths and sadists and what you can or cannot see beyond and a woman he knew who curled her hair with saltwater and slept naked in the winter and what she liked, and he fanned himself with the magazine and told me about narcissists and princes and you are not here now, my son, diving between two blues and you are not waking up and asking me for a glass of water in the dark when the darkness is lit dust in the shutter I kept open because of the monster. I shook my head and waited for my wife and son to return to the hotel bar and the trader fanned his skull and ankles and talked about tyrants and heroes and libraries and graffiti and computers and accidents at borders and journalists and how we were lucky not to live in a gulag or any death camp and how about the dioramas made of neon on the promenade before the executions, tapping his inhaler on the zinc, not smiling, and he ordered us another drink and anchovies. Fatima told him to keep his voice down, her baby was trying to sleep. I tried to leave the bar but I obliged by the universe to listen, like watching a flame or a whirlpool, like being and watching a bird falling. Fatima scrapes the chairs into what she thinks is their arrangement and their scraping echoes its echo and she swears about the parakeets and all their shit and noise and the bar shakes as if a plane has buzzed over and I close my eyes and the shaking stops and Fatima moves ladles and knives like they are her mammals who must learn how to be handled by her, and she knows they never will, and the trader hinges back his head and lowers an onion as long as his forearm down his throat and I picture him calcified in this pose, head made of mummified peatbog leather, away from this time and caught by a disaster on the flank of a volcano. The shape of the world has made him, I realise, then and now, and he is his own geology, a baby crawling to his mother’s breasts, and his thinking is a clock. Here is the pool before curfew, a man weeping in the street behind the courtyard, towels encrusted on balcony iron and the birds go echoing in the blue, with chairs on tiles and Fatima unpacking tins of peas in the then and the now and the blood from my brain is in the blood in his heart, swimming and then stopped frozen in heat without hearing, my boy about to jump and jumping with sun in his blood and birds in our hearts and across the street I see through the window of a restaurant where a butcher is yanking muscles and cartilage and sinew from the bones of a sheep, and the sheep has a grin and teeth flecked with the blood draining from its throat. There are buoys in the bay and the wind makes them nod and oscillate in time.

About Adam Wilshaw

AJW is an experienced news reporter and teacher of English. In 2023 he finished a collection of short stories and started work on a novel.

AJW is an experienced news reporter and teacher of English. In 2023 he finished a collection of short stories and started work on a novel.

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