Alfredo, goatherd.

As I related at some stage in my stories, my adventures, about the indomitable Alfredo, he suffered from this malaise, as he would term it, an illness, a grave disease. One day whilst being sorely tried by the sickness and collapsed on one of the city benches, lost to the world, I found him. I called him, I shook him and he responded. He stunk, he would yet again poison my car for a time to come, despite all my efforts to disinfect it.

“Come with me Alfredo lets get you to the Christians,”

He looked at me blearily,

“ I am not really in the mood for their ineffable goodness, their kindness, gentleness, and shuddering compassion. Because Mr. Pete, I am not well today.”

And so we set off, Alfredo unconscious in the back, and I resigned to inhaling a mature mixture of many unpleasant things, and loving my friend with a great effort while also detesting him for the discomfort he was making me suffer. To cut a long story down and make it short, I took him to a hospice run by a band of reformed criminals and hard men from the toughest parts of Malaga. They took him in and cleaned him and cared for him and fed him and housed him. Within days when I visited, Alfredo was in charge. He was after all a highly intelligent individual, extremely cultured and later, once he was again in the loving embrace of the Christians of the area, he could be found on park benches reading the bible and quoting, not any prophet, no Sir. Alfredo spoke to us of the life and Works of Hamakuk. I’d never Heard of Hamakuk so my biblical education was to be extended, yet again. Well, he was put in charge of, or rather, he assumed control of the kitchen, and the many scary, to me very scary, individuals who lived in the centre and for whom he now cooked, adopted him straight away as a figure of authority, second only to the pastor himself. It was a sign of his charm and wonder, perhaps he was unusually touched by the Lord.

You can imagine, after several months, that his newfound friends were hardly delighted when Alfredo announced that he had been sent to another Christian place, a farm in the countryside where he could work, honest labour in the fields. It wasn’t so much that his cooking was good, simply that everyone ate everything always just to please Alfredo, and not be chided by him. I often had visions of these big dangerous-looking men being scolded by Alfredo who was quite a skinny small person. Who it was that had sent him away to the farm was a mystery? I was questioned by the men there on one of my visits. By the time he left we had all been more or less led into thinking, he never actually made any claims, but, that it was the Lord who had sent him, and after all, he was probably the only one whose decisión would be accepted as final on the matter.

After a short period working in the fields on the farm, miles away in the middle of the countryside, I had news that Alfredo had been selected to work with the goats. Then he phoned me, full of the joys, and so, one Sunday I went to visit. He showed me around, the fields and the goats, and I met his colleagues who were delighted.

“Alfredo is so wonderful, such a positive contribution, even the goats are happier now with him here. From next week he will come with us to market to sell the cheese.”

Several weeks later I received a call from the headman on the farm.

“Is this Mr. Pete? You are the friend of the “said Alfredo?”

I said yes,

“Mr. Pete, have you seen the “Said Alfredo” recently?”

I said

“No, not since my visit, why? Is he OK ¿”

I later discovered that one bright day Alfredo had absconded from the market with the cheese cash and remaining cheeses, never to be seen again. When I saw him a few months later and asked him about it he said,

“I got sick of the bloody goats and the cheese,” he said with a beaming grin, “ and anyway my malaise had returned unannounced.”



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