May 24 2009
The sound of the small overtaxed motor receded into the distance, its tin cylinders rapping out a code that Morris himself would have trouble dis cyphering.
The great stone valley held in its old arthritic palm the coughing rhythm long after the small yellow fiat lifted its driver over the ridge and out of sight.
The alien arithmetic of its rattle sifted in the shifting wind, whispered in a long lithurgie of distant combustion until the brutal silence of the valley flooded forward and over the small figure in a light blue rain coat and grey jeans. A breeze fluttered curly hail and ruffled sage branches and thyme, the perfumed chatter of some odd invisible winged creature lifted a laughter of solitude from the young mans thoughts.
Liam brushed a wild lock of hair from his forehead and turned from left to right.
He knelt by the almost dry riverbed where at a dozen feet trickled the last of springs snowy peaks, wavering in the warming morning air like stone clouds to the east.
The paved road lingered away from the orange scar of a trail from which the fiat had come and to which it had returned. Now its dusty approach and departure had settled into the long rolling horizon, embracing the rising sun as it lingered hesitant at the breach of day.
A silent family of stones of related shapes and colors lay strewn at the toes of his leather boots, laces undone.
His hand caressed the cold surface of the smooth dynasty of stone generations before his bruised fingers closed around a shiny flat piece of rock, its rounded edges embraced the form of his cold hand and its pale white brilliance danced in the corner of his green eyes.
He slid it into the breast pocket of his wrinkled shirt and buttoned his raincoat up to his collar.
He lifted his alarmingly light sac and placed it as easily as a pillow on his sore back before he stood.
His thighs felt the tight grasp of three weeks of hard labor lingering like steel in his muscles as he strode out and down the paved road.
He did not look back.
Seven cars, three gas stations and one fantastic look at death in a near accident near Fernandez junction later, he stepped down from the blue station wagon and nodded at its toothless driver a sincere gratitude, swinging the heavy door shut with a clatter and crossing the cement barrier into the vacant lot only three kilometers from his destination.
She wasn’t waiting nor could she be as she had no idea he was coming, nor did he have any real idea of whether she would be there or want to see him.
His stomach stirred with delicious fear.
He had only an address and no language to ask questions of the quiet evening vendors that littered the streets in a sleepy stupor that lent an air of familiar festivity to the cobbled sidewalks. Huge Lebanese ceder trees umbrellaed the small square of the city and women in formless checkered work dresses sat at the fountain and watched him pass with not unfriendly curiosity.
The women giggled as he held out the dimpled shift of paper, pointing to the feminine scrawl and trying to punctuate with interrogation the few appropriate words in his armada.
He gave up on the friendly dames and bowed a timid and road tangled head of hair before asking in a wordless glance a young man in blue jeans and teeshirt if he could read eyes.
The man smiled and took his paper, turned it upside down before turning it around and chuckling softly to himself. He lifted his eyes in knowing admiration and nodded at the stranger.
Liam laughed a timid “si” and followed with intense concentration the pointed finger of his brown friend to be. He looked anxiously down a white alley bending to and fro then out of sight in a maze of blue shutters and deliciously fuchsia flowers in pale pots posted before the windows.
Drying clothes hung in rainbows on invisible lines dancing in the tired breeze.
The promise of summer wafted in the smell of cooking ripe vegetables from the alley and a distant hum of children playing football lifted the ears at the fountain into awareness.
Liam smiled gratefully and started into the bright shadows of the alley, plunging into its cool air and listening to the whisper of laugher in the dark houses where women stirred giant pots of jam and split fresh salads into copper bowls.
Music full of impatiences slipped to his sides as it sauntered our from hidden courtyards and fell from rooftops shaded by small fruit trees.
23 was scrawled on the ruffled page he held in slightly sweating hands, his pulse beginning to climb uncomfortably into his ears and his sex and stomach beginning to vibrate.
He needed a drink, or to pee, or to sit down or to run.
He moved on.
The small oak door decidedly open that stood under the small red numbers had been stained a light forest green and a small red flower had been painted on it just above the knob.
There was no bell, nor any knocker.
He lifted his knuckles into a hesitant pose of he who intends to knock on an open door, and stood waiting, listening, smelling.
He knocked thrice, so quietly that not a single hat was raised from sleepy eyes in the neighboring houses, not a single ear was turned to hear if it had been mistaken in a tiled kitchen next to an open window.
He entered the dark hallway and began to shiver.
The door was locked and well locked, but in a tiny flowing hand her name was written on a small wooden panel. He flushed with fear and gratitude alternately, and began to wish he had written, and thanked himself for not writing.
He looked for a way in.
From the rooftop it was a small leap to attain the neighbors balcony and a tiny drop to the large window spread open before the unknown pleasures of Julia. Or so it seemed. In reality it was a rather scary leap followed by seven seconds of unhindered panic before dropping almost five feet and grappling like a baby monkey at his mothers hide the stone and wood of what seemed like a much smaller window then before.
He fell into the apartment with a springy scrambling and lifted his head quickly before realizing this was certainly not a very good idea. He went to the bathroom and washed his face in somebody else's sink using somebody else's soap and hoping against all potential awkwardness that this was Julia's soap and Julia's sink.
He touched nothing else except a comfortable chair where he sat and stared out the window. La Sierra stood hovering over the desert he had crossed and held the fascinating though that he had been to its top, and lived there, and worked there, and loved there, all in such a short time.
This was another universe, he tried not to see the pair of small underwear on the chair, the short dress slung on the floor, the single bowl with a tiny pool of tea still reflecting the colorful drawings and shelves of books, and drying herbs and...
He closed his eyes.
It was beautiful.
He took a book out of his bag, its tattered cover catching on a folded scarf and ripping a little bit more, he folded it into his hands and began to read and reread the same invisible lines before forgetting to remember that he had not read a single word and maybe he should reread the page, or something.
He fell asleep in a heavy awkward slumber and slumped in the chair, woken once by the book falling to the floor, and a second time when Julia slammed the door and yelped before recognizing him in the cruel kitchen light that she had just turned on sending him spinning into a half remembered shudder of wiping the sleepiness from his mouth and eyes, trying to find a smile or a reasonably romantic version of “surprise” before all was lost.
But she left him no time.
She took possession of his lips, his hair, his hips and pulled him from sleep into her deliriously confusing embrace. He tried to talk; she heard nothing, he stopped trying.
He became embarrassingly hard before he had time to breath and she began to melt to the floor.
He tried to laugh but her eyes tore away his awkwardness into another universe; hers.
He lifted her dress and felt her back, smooth and warm with the days sun, the tightness of her skin, of her cotton underwear, her wetness, her softness.
He began to hyperventilate ever so little. He struggled for self control and lost.
She took him and turned him and laid him down and opened him and opened and closed around him and brought him into her Spain like a thunderstorm crosses the mountains and crashes on the valley in hot electricity and the quaking air and earth.
He fell and understood nothing of what she said yet it worked so well like wind and waves or avocado and olive oil or warm melon or a peach too ripe to contain its juice any longer.
They trembled together in painless tangles, wilted and ripe, raw.
They slept like strangers in the torrid head emanating from their bodies, taught and folded, stretched and whimpering in reseeding ripples of heavy pleasure.
She whispered in the dark, he wondered who turned off the light, she cupped his sex in her hands, felt their dampness mingled, took the rolling line of her neck in his mouth, his unshaved chin brittle against her softness.
They said nothing until dawn.