Patrick detailed much of his life’s story through his writings, compiling these tales in volumes relating to geography or sometimes without pattern.
There is no pun intended–even though Patrick would have fully embraced it–but this story is painful to share. Nonetheless, he recorded this exchange and it deserves to be told, warts and all. It took place in the early 1980’s.
We drove up to the village and parked in front of the bakery. We went inside and bought a loaf of brown bread with seeds. We wanted something from the pharmacy across the street, I forget what, but it was closed until four o’clock and it was only a little after three-thirty.
“What say we have a coffee?” I asked.
We walked along the narrow sidewalk by Christian’s bar. We could have gone into Christian’s, which would have been a better idea as it turned out, but we went to our usual place.
The Bar Palmeras was where we had first met five years ago and was a good place to go. We used to go there every day, when she lived across the street. After we met, I lived with her in that house across the street. Now some Germans owned it, and we had another place at the bottom of the village. It was a very pleasant house where we lived now, in the country, much better than on the main street in the middle of the village. The noise sometimes from the bars went on into the early morning, especially in the summer. So we were happy to be at the bottom of the village, with lemons, and avocados and a little land to take care of.
As soon as we walked now into Las Palmeras, I saw Ushi sitting at one of the tables. I might even have been the same table where Stephanie and I first met. In fact I am almost positive that it was. Ushi and I exchanged a brief look, but Stephanie didn’t miss it.
“That’s her, isn’t it?”
No use lying about it.
We sat down at the table with Ushi. It seemed the best choice. Get it out into the open. Get it over with.
“Why don’t you find your own man?”
“Why can’t you share this one with me?”
“We could live together?”
“Are you crazy?”
I watched them with dismay, an eye on nearby tables. Nobody else seemed to be paying much attention, but ears were perked, and conversation was light around the terrace.
Jordi came and stood by the table. S and U ignored him.
“Café con leche for me. Nothing for the ladies, it looks like.”
“I hope you don’t have AIDS,” Stephanie said. She was seething.
“I hope you don’t too,” Ushi snapped back.
One thing leads to another.
S and I rented cottages attached to our house. Cottages, from the nineteenth century. To reach our main house, you have to pass in front of three cottages. One fine day I walked past number three, and something caught my eye in the little alcove outside the arched doorway. I turned automatically and recognized the shape of a woman. She was in a yoga position,on her back, feet beside her ears. She seemed to be naked, and I looked away and continued to the steps ahead. But turning to go left and along the stone path to my own door, I could not resist looking back. She was now in a kneeling position, a slip of cloth held between two delicate fingers, head on one side, blue eyes blinking. We said hello, and I went on my way.
That might have been it, except for a small seemingly unimportant event. She paid with a traveler’s cheque when her rental period was up – she had filled in a few vacant days between other guests – and moved on to a nearby hotel.
When I took the cheque to the bank they pointed that there was no signature on the cheque, so I called her hotel. She came to my studio in the garden to sign the cheque. She said I’m glad I had to come back and leaned toward me. Being who I am, I leaned right back. We had a quick embrace. And the next few days we met here and there, snuggling in the bushes by the swimming pool, for instance.
I make no excuses. I have a low threshold of resistance to adequate temptations. And Ushi was adequate.
Before long, word got around and back to Stephanie.
Patrick Meadows 1934 – 2017.