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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part II. South West

Waiting for Hamish

Steve Porter
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Warm African air drifted in on the first of March. Mary and I took photos in the tiled gardens near the Caleta beach where real flowers were in bloom now. Men were fishing in the harbour and colonies of cats sought out shade between the old coastline defences. Down on the beach I found a toy soldier next to a dead crab in a rock pool. He was one of a Napoleonic army; his face eroded by the tides.

Death among the coral
Another face stolen by the sea —
I offer mine to the wind.

We bought oranges and then went to the bakery for flautas, a chocolate stick, wrapped in pastry, which looks vaguely like a flute. Why didn’t they make chocolate kazoos? We ate on the steps of an old church before phoning Hamish.

“So you’ve left Vigo then?”

“I’m down and out in Alicante,” he said. “Wait till I tell you this. Just before I left Vigo I was in the bank to close down my account, right? I turned to leave and who do you reckon was behind me in the queue?”

“Not Kane?”

“Spot on.”

Kane told Hamish he couldn’t just walk out. It was unprofessional.

“You just watch me,” said Hamish, leaving Kane there in the bank whimpering for his Mammy. Kane, the big man.

“So are you going back to Scotland, Hamish?”

“Yeah but I’m spending a couple of days here with friends. I have to go back via Madrid but I thought I might drop in past Cádiz on the way.”

“That would be great. Just come down. If we are not in the flat we won’t be far away. You’ve got the address. Listen, I’m down to my last 100 pesetas here. When are you coming?”

“Well, don’t count on it. It’s not certain, right? I’ll check it out at the bus station tomorrow. I hope to come the day after...”

The phone went dead. Mary was holding onto my arm, jumping up and down.

“He’s coming, isn’t he? We’re going to get a visitor.”

In preparation, we went to the supermarket to stock up and bought Hamish’s favourite Lindt chocolates. We spent a lot of time indoors, looking out for Hamish amid the joggers and walkers. Illusions sparkled in the sea. Mary painted while I read on the balcony. The sun dropped over the horizon.

“I don’t think he’s coming,” said Mary.

“No. Let’s take a walk on the beach before dark.”

“It was probably too far out of the way,” I said, following Mary’s footsteps in the sand. “It must be at least ten hours on the bus from Alicante to Cádiz.”

“It would have been nice to see him and take him out to the cake shop or ice cream parlour.”

“You shouldn’t encourage him. His tooth is sweet enough.”

“Oh well. We’ll just have to eat his chocolates.”

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
By the same author RSSThere are no more works at
Date of publicationOctober 2006
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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