CHAPTER FREE TWELVE – MANO PO: “ ALFREDO LOPEZ DE ATUNES “.

CHAPTER FREE TWELVE – MANO PO:

“ ALFREDO LOPEZ DE ATUNES “.

The main square of the town was laid with the same yellow grit you could see in the bull ring. It was a spacious open area surrounded by some casas (Houses) belonging to the “Señorito “ families of the pueblo. Two bars and a casa de comidas (a restaurant which serves a menu of the day) whose tables and chairs festooned with striped and colourful tablecloths populated the area lying directly in front of the church.

In the far corner, an ancient and immense tree played home to hundreds of birds who would quarrel noisily from sunrise to nightfall. Beneath the gnarled branches of the tree, a chiringuito, a sort of makeshift shop served the delicious lemon granizadas, (smoothies) which together with the nuts and salaitos (root snacks) being sold by Salvador off his handcart, made up the essential ingredients of a summer evening in the pueblo.

The bars also had their tables and chairs. They were round wooden tables on which stood the carafes of crystal clear spring water used by the patrons to pour into the Anis del Mono.

The man sat silently, contented, watching the children play. Little girls sat with their parents and abuelos calmly taking the evening breeze. Some little Tomboy would escape joining the boys in their noisy, boisterous wonderful games, running jumping  disappearing up the side streets and alleyways in games of hide and seek. Others, spinning their tops or playing with a cart they had assembled out of bits. Sometimes one of the boys would have matches, and they would use the silver paper from discarded cigarette packs to make cohetes (rockets) which when lit would shoot several metres up into the air.

A smartly dressed attractive man sat down and joined him at his table. “Good afternoon, or evening, Mr. Pete,” Pete said nothing. The stranger called the waiter over loudly. “Chhhh Waiter, waiter, please,” the volume of his voice and his insistence drew the surreptitious glances of the families seated at several of the neighbouring tables.

“Waiter, waiter.”

“I heard you, sir, I heard you, but we are busy, you must be a little patient.”He rushed over to their table, a skinny sharp-featured very dark-skinned man with a moustache.

“Oh I am so very sorry my friend, forgive me, I know you are a true professional I was entertaining the company,” he said expansively spreading his arms to take in the surrounding tables and bowing.” Bring me Anis please.”

“What difference is there between you and these señoritos, now, today, this one day when you are dressed like a peacock?” asked Pete.

“Firstly, only a handful of these are true señoritos; the rest are fantasmas (show-offs), cantamañanas (blusterers) and some catetos (Hicks) dressed to deceive. Even if the monkey dresses up in silk clothes, he remains a monkey. Now, I, have the blood of the dons, of Caballeros running in my veins. I am indeed known mainly as a drunk, due of course to my unfortunate malaise, but you notice that in my sober state none dares to challenge me because they, as much as I are fully aware of who I am in the traditional scheme of things.”

“But surely amongst this quite substantial group, there must be some working-class family or some burger who has made good for himself?” “Well yes and no,” Retorted Alfredo, the stranger, whose sudden appearance in such magnificent attire and polish, a total contrast to the rags or stinking clothes and hand-down old boots he usually wore, seemed to have brought about a metamorphosis in his overall persona.

” You see, the Spaniard, and moreover the Andaluz are natural-born protagonistas and señoritos. The lowest born and greatest enemy of the señoritos, in fact crazily admires them, envies them, and the moment he enjoys any success championing the social underdog and attacking the señorito, he  will use that success as his springboard to become a señorito himself. When he takes power for himself, he will be yet one more, indeed the most corrupt member of society. ”

“But Alfredo you cannot paint all with the same brush. There are a great majority of noble and wonderful Spaniards and Andaluces, and I know, I have been dreadfully sick amongst them and they have looked out for me. I can only speak great things for the medical and nursing profession in this country.”

“I grant you, Mr. Pete, there are those amongst them who have hearts and souls, but you would need to sift many kilos of sand to find the one glittering morsel hidden amongst the thousands. And as for the medical profession, you are a `private patient, so your treatment would be privileged. I am in no way biased, just saying what I find day to day.”

“Señorito, señorito some pesetas to buy food we are hungry, the little ones, my sisters have not eaten.”

As Pete reached into his pocket for change to give the gypsies, Alfredo leaned over and stayed his hand.

“Trifling pesetas to buy them off, to satiate your guilty soul? No sir, adopt their cause, commit yourself. Children” he shouted,” This extranjero (foreigner) wants to adopt you,” All the plaza was looking, and the skinny waiter was stopped in mid-flight, his tray in the air and his head twisted around uncannily, to look at them.

“What’s that señorito?“ asked the boy, “ is it food señorito? And he moved closer to the table dragging his hungry sisters in his wake. “Perhaps it´s money, is it money? At the sound of the word ”money,” an older gypsy sidled up from behind the bird tree, where he had been discreetly skulking.

“How much money? There are three here if he wants more I can bring the rest.”

“Nooooooooooo! Alfredo screamed clapping his hands wildly, Adopt he wants to adopt,” and in the same breath,” He has changed his mind, the extranjero has changed his mind. Go go go “ He jumped around busily shooing the gypsies away.” Camarero the Anis, the bottle, quickly. Now you know my friend, you understand,” As he put the bottle to his lips.

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