We were eating in a bar after a concert, and joined at table a young man named Toby. About halfway through the meal he leaned forward over his plate and pretended to vomit everything he had put in his mouth. Disgusting.
I was in those days quick to temper, and I got up from my chair put my arm around his head and dragged him along on his chair to the stone wall to our right and banged his head against wall. Then I went inside to pay our bill, not his. He followed me into the bar and tried to kick me, but didn’t connect.
However the next week I received a summons to go to the courts in Palma. I had to make a statement in the presence of Toby of what happened and why. The upshot of that meeting with him and the judge, was that Toby would go for a brain scan to see if any damage had been done and I would have to pay for the brain scan.
When I tell this story to friends I usually say that did the brain scan but they did not find a brain. That’s not really true of course, and the fact is I had to pay about a hundred euros for the brain scan.
After that I never saw much of him. He inherited his father’s house. He sold most of that property, keeping just a little piece of it, a little house at the edge of the torente which he called “banana house” because of the plantation outside the door.
Then he was gone one day, for years.
The blonde boy had grown up into the blond bearded man who stepped into the bar where we had that altercation.
I wondered what could we say to each other. I would have said nothing. I would’ve ignored him. But he approached my table and to my surprise he held out his hand and said “I want to thank you.”
”You knocked some sense into my head. Changed my whole life.”
He asked me to join him in a glass of wine. I shrugged “Is it okay?”
He ordered a bottle of good Mallorca Reserva, sniffed the cork, swizzled in his teeth, and satisfied, told Pedro to pour, showing off his sophistication.
He proceeded to tell me a lot of stuff you don’t need to hear. How he did this and did that. He invested his inheritance well. He poured another glass.
“It looks like maybe you did have a brain after all,” I said. He gave me a blank look.
“You remember that brain scan I paid for?”
“It was worth it. I always tell people they didn’t find one.”
For a split second I thought he would deliver the kick he missed that night.
Then he broke into laughter, and soon we were both in high spirits. He lifted his glass and we toasted life, mine three quarters spent, his still half to go.
Patrick Meadows 1934 – 2017.