Victor Nubla

THE TRAVELLER

Published in catalan at the "El Laberint" monographic, Reus, 1997

CHAPTER ONE

That morning I left the house really early. I had to meet a lot of people. I had such a tight schedule that I woldn't probably be back until the evening.

The chill of the early hours welcomed me at the front gate. After the first rush hour, the street was peaceful. Unemployed people, gardeners, housewives and mailmen shared the street, scattered here and there with phone, water and electric companies' employees, and door-to-door salesmen.

First I had to meet 1, then I had a meeting at 2's office, an appetizer at the tavern next door to 3's house, and have lunch with 4 at the restaurant a. After lunch, I had an appointment with 5 to have coffee at his place, where he lives with 6, and 7, 8 and 9 were invited too and, immediately afterwards, I was thinking of stopping by 10 and 11's place, whom I haven't seen in such a long time. Then I'd visit 11 b, who lives near them. In the afternoon I'd visit 12's store at b and invite him to have a drink across the street, at the bar c, and then take a taxi to arrive in time to the d opening that 13 had invited me to. We'd dine together along with 14, at 15's place, who's a great cook, and then I had in mind to stop by for some drinks, with whoever came along, at 16's bar, where 17 and 18 usually go. After that, I'd stop for sure by the bar that's owned now by 19 and by the party at 20's house, where I expected 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and many others would go. Considering all of them, the number of acquaintances I'd meet by chance in the street in such a dinamic day, I would complete a month's social activity in one single day.

CHAPTER TWO

I walked down the street breathing the clean air and mentally checking if I had with me all I needed: money, cigarettes, lighter, papers, talismans, glasses, phone book for eventual second appointments, magnetic cards, when I saw 27 in the corner, who had plans with 21 of going for lunch with 2, who had some days to spare to adjust the terms of a business deal with 14. The truth is that, while we had some coffee, I was completely surprised to see 12 and 10 coming in and taking a table without even saying hello. Well, we were at a, where I should meet 4 for lunch, but it was still really early and I had many things to do. I finished my coffee while 27 told me that 1 was out of town at the moment. So my appointment with him wasn't going to happen. Since 2 wouldn't be at his office, I relaxed and ordered another coffee. 12 stood up from his table to say hello, he told me they were waiting for 13 and 9 to eat at the tavern next to 3's. Shortly afterwards 2 arrived, and told me we couldn't have our meeting until he spoke to 5, who got into the business following 15's advice, 1's old partner. I thought of joining 12, 10, 13 and 9, so I could check some of the appointments in my morning schedule: the excellent appetizers in the tavern next to 3's house and the conversation with him, to whom I thought of informing of my presence through the intercom. Since I said this out loud, 10 warned me that 3 would probably have lunch with 11 outside the city. 13 and 9 arrived and, since the morning had progressed enough, 27 suggested moving on from coffee to martini, although without leaving a, because 21 hadn't appeared yet. I mentioned 2 that I was thinking of having coffee at 5's place, and we could discuss some of our deal's terms, but 2 had plans of having coffee with 7, 8 and 9 at 10 and 11's house. We had finished our second martini when 21 arrived, followed by 6. He suggested getting a table right there, because he was waiting for 4, who'd arrive just in time for lunch. I told him I had also plans of having lunch right there with 4, and that I had no problem at all. So we got a table. 13 and 9 arrived, cheered and ordered a couple of beers they had at 12 and 10's table. 12 said he wouldn't open his store that afternoon, because when 3 came back from lunch with 11, he'd have to work with him on a project that was 13's idea. He remembered he couldn't get the invitations for d's opening right when we were sitting at the table. I told him not to worry, because we could see d in the following weeks, and the four of them went to the tavern next to 3's house. 27, 21, 2, 6 and me were waiting for 4, who was running late, having some tapas. When she finally arrived, she was with 5, who had to leave with 6 after lunch to a typical party of 22's country, that took place at the bar c. They had run into 14 and that was the reason for the delay. He had told them that the party at 20's house might not be held if 20 didn't come back in time from a long working session he'd have to have today with 3, when he finished his duties with 12 and 13. After lunch we had some coffee. 5 and 6 went to 22's party at c. 27, 21 and 2 went to meet 14. I was about to get up when 11 came in, really happy to see me. He sat with me and told me he had an appointment there with 11 b. Seemingly, 19 had sold the e bar and now owned the place we were at. 11 and 11b had to meet there to discuss an eventual partnership. We drank to it, toasting with several glasses of orujo, and as the afternoon progressed, 19 and 15 (who's now the cook at a) came to join us. They talked about their things for a while. 11 b arrived. Later on, 22 stopped by to buy cigarettes, and on seeing us hejoined the party.  He had spent the day with 16, where they met 17 and 18, who worked as monitors since a couple of days ago. According to 22, the other three where thinkin of organising a barbeque at the beach, now that 20's party was probably not going to happen. 19 mentioned he didn't think 23 could make it to the barbeque, because he talked on the phone with 26 and he said they were not in very good terms with 24 since an incident that happened at 20's last party. It was already dark and 11 said he should leave us, because he wanted to give 25 a ride to the airport. 15 came from the kitchen with some cold tapas which made us thirsty, and we drank some beers in happy and friendly conversation. About an hour later 14 and 3 came in. They came hungry and tired from work. a was getting full of people who came to dine. 19 set up the table again. We were talking about what to have for dinner when 11 b pointed to the door: 1 was coming in carrying two big suitcases. He talked about his trip and declared his appetite. We had dinner enthusiastically, talking over each other, because the day was ending and early night is very exciting. Little by little the patrons began to leave their tables and closing time arrived. 21 and 22 showed up then, very happy and up for a drink. The phone rang and right after it 19 told us 5 and 6 were leaving the party at c to join us. They arrived very quickly, just as 27, 21 and 2, who after working with 14 they had met 16, who was definitely not going to open the bar that night, and he was on his way to a.

Strong beverages began to roll around the bar. 12, 10, 13 and 9 arrived just then, followed by 11. 4 arrived a little later. 20 and 17 knocked softly the restaurant's curtain when 19 had already closed it; they had with them some music tapes. More knocks on the curtain followed as 18, 7, 8 and 24 arrived. We talked and drank until dawn, when everyone began to go home. First 20 and 24 left. Still, 23 and 26 arrived, but they stayed shortly, leaving with 5 and 6. Then 18, 17, 8 and 4 left. A little later 27, 21, 1 and 2 left. Just like 14, 11 and 10. 11 b, 3 and 7 went away right after them, followed by 12 , 13 and 9, just like 25, 14 and 16. Finally, 19 and 15 closed the place and I went up home, which is at the same building as a, while I noticed the dawning through the stairway's windows.

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