I feel a raging love for all this crap

Il·lustració. ©Genie Espinosa

She pedalled just as the traffic light was turning red, he took off too soon: the upshot was a traffic accident. His handlebars on her torso, her wheel on his tibia; the girl took two steps backwards and collapsed over an iron railing and a bush, very spectacularly, with her chin up and the back of her hand on her forehead, like in an opera.

It was the early hours of the morning, at the intersection of the Provença and Sicília streets. He cautiously approached her, touched her diaphragm and said: Somebody please call an ambulance. From behind the bushes out came three or four Barcelona residents ready to save anyone but themselves, eager to feast their eyes on a bit of blood, happy to be of use. These locals called 112. She said: I’ve broken a few ribs at the very least. He accompanied her to the ambulance, a responsible guy. They spent the night in the emergency room amidst teenagers in drunken stupors, people with aching bodies and souls, and old people stranded in the corridors. She hadn’t broken any bones. He had beautiful hands. They left the hospital at six in the morning and by five past six they had already been madly kissing and canoodling.

He was Irish. He had come to spend a few weeks in Barcelona and was going back the next day. How original, she said. He told her that he had come, in a way, in search of shock therapy. He was from a very small town and had always been told terrible myths about life in the city: madmen, witches, kidnappers, posters of missing persons. He had been told that, in Barcelona, they would make mince meat out of tourists, they were served up in surf’n turf paellas, and sold them in restaurants on the Ramblas, English people eating English people; he had been told that you arrived in Barcelona dressed and left naked; he had been told that people shouted at you in strange tongues and that it was full of graffiti inviting everyone to bugger off. She was very amused by all this. She asked for more details. The weather was good. They found a bakery open. She said he had to treat them to croissants, which was the tourist tax. The city of Barcelona was waking up: the shopkeepers were sweeping and mopping their patch of street, the waiters were setting up their pavement bars, people were treating themselves to a break between family and work with a coffee at the bar. And suddenly they were back at the Provença and Sicília intersection, the corner of the accident. Theatrical, eccentric, she leaned her body against the same railing as before and he snogged her hard, with great passion and dexterity, and behind her head he could still catch a glimpse of the Sagrada Família.

Il·lustració. ©Genie Espinosa Illustration. ©Genie Espinosa

She worked as a gallery attendant at the Fundació Joan Miró. It was a temporary job. She invited him to go with her and go in: Come with me and I’ll get you in. He had one of those apps for renting motorbikes and they hit all the green lights, each and every one of them, on a Wednesday in August on the street Carrer d’Aragó, in Barcelona. Facing the wind, not many people. They didn’t see a single accident, they didn’t hear a single honk of the horn or an ambulance. The city surrendered at their feet. She told him he could go in to have a look at a few Miró pieces and then go for a coffee. He spent ages contemplating the paintings in the room she was supervising. At first he was ingenuous, but then he joked that it could all have been drawn by a child. A child? She said: Go away. She was really tired, working as a gallery attendant at the Fundació Joan Miró, standing the whole time on a Wednesday in August in the city of Barcelona. It was unbearably hot, this idiot almost broke her ribs and she hadn’t slept a wink. She said it again: Go away. He thought she was joking. He said he appreciated modern art. But was she joking? No, she wasn’t. She said: Go away or I’ll call security, and started talking on the walkie-talkie. The boy took off. Sitting in Marcelino, he took the opportunity to check in, looked at the city and was overwhelmed by a few strange and deep feelings. When the girl came out, two hours later, he was waiting for her at the door, a dutiful guy. He took her by the hand, led her gently to the gardens next door and kissed her hungrily, and her neck and ears too. She groped him hard, first on the outside and then on the inside, and the whole thing got steamier and steamier, unravelling amidst bushes and pergolas, amidst rose bushes, acacias and orange trees.

When they finished they were quiet for ages, and eventually he said: It’s so very hot, and she nodded. She invited him over to her place, told him she lived nearby and that she had a fan. They walked down Montjuïc, to Poble-sec and then to Paral·lel. They felt the blues that come after bad sex, but also the arousal that comes after bad sex. It was four o’clock in the afternoon and the city of Barcelona lolled: a woman was walking a poodle pruned like a Versailles bush; a delivery man with a trolley of boxes was trying – in vain – to squeeze past an old woman strolling by; a guy leaned against a wall without a look of expecting anything or anyone, just for the simple pleasure of being there. She looked at his face and felt an impetuous need to devour it whole, and so did he. They snogged for a long time, as they walked. It was August, dammit, you could be dripping with sweat but you were in a hurry to grope one another, kiss each other, savour each other’s flesh.

She turned the key in the lock and shouted: Hey! She was testing the waters. From inside came a voice that replied: Hey. She said: I’ve come home with a furriner. The other voice laughed and said: We’ve seen worse. He waited at the entrance to the flat. He was afraid they would chew him up and spit him out, the last night of his holiday therapy in the city of Barcelona. She ushered him into her bedroom and turned the fan up to three. Several sensations ensued: listlessness, lethargy, laziness. They slept for almost four hours. He woke up because she was licking the salt of his sweat. Slow, torrid petting, slippery skins. She sat on the balcony and smoked a cigarette. She could hear the commotion in the street, the buzz of the bars below her flat. Night was falling and people were coming out of their burrows, like bugs, and indulging in the revelry, the partying, melting into each other. It was still hot and the city was giving off an unbearable stench. She said: I feel a raging love for all this crap. Then her stomach grumbled and his belly growled and they went downstairs for a kebab, minus the spice; the quiet of that ball of meat going round and round endlessly.

It was easy to indulge in a one-night stand. She licked the oil off his lips in front of the fan, he ate a piece of meat from between her teeth, her tresses fluttered like in a film. He said he would have to leave early the next day, to pack his bags. She didn’t say anything. What could she say? She stroked his lunchbox as sleepiness took hold and overcame them. In the early morning they were woken up by a commotion. Startled, he asked: What’s going on? Hands on the balcony railing, feet touching, they watched the drunks, the furriners, the revellers, the passers-by. She had a trained eye for pickpockets. She would say to him: Look over there, and he would say: What? Where?, and after two minutes someone would put their hands in a pocket, shuffle or look down at their feet, and the bag would be gone. From the balconies, in their underwear or pyjamas, in their dressing gowns, knackered and bleary-eyed, the neighbours, all together, gazed at the spectacle.

When she walked him to the metro it was pretty early in the morning. She went down with him to the ticket machines. He told her that he deeply appreciated the night they’d spent together and invited her back to his little town in County Clare, in Ireland. He was delighted to be going home in one piece, with all his limbs intact. She kissed him passionately, ferociously, with disdain, and then left without looking back. The escalators had broken down and she didn’t notice until she was already on them, so she had to walk up them. On the way home, her cheeks covered in mascara and her muscles tired, she stepped on a piece of chewing gum. The heat was beginning to oppress bodies and souls. A bunch of people had gathered around a dead cat; a white sheet had been draped over it; someone was talking. The city of Barcelona was waking up, another day: people throwing buckets of water on the piss, cyclists telling car drivers off, shopkeepers raising shutters.

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