Higgins sensed my distraction. Obviously he thought being left alone was worrying me. No-one could ever guess what went on in my head. I surprised myself most of the time.
"Nothing to worry your little head about Twiddle, everything is taken care of. I might have a nice surprise for you on my return" . . . Hmmm, I might have one for you too.
And of course everything I needed was taken care of; plenty of cigarettes, food at one of our cheaper restaurants all paid for. A tab at the beach side cafe for morning coffee, lunchtime coffee, evening coffee . . . Brandy coffee. All paid for. Why would I need money? . . . I checked the Brandy cupboard . . . Dutch courage for my journey, there were almost two bottles. That should do it . . . Do It? What the hell did I think I was doing? I tried hard not to bring "think" into it, stick with do for now . . . think later.
Now . . . passport, I did need to think here. Should I find a reason why I might need it; hospital, bank. Hmmm. Would I have asked for it if I wasn't planning my escape? No. So I didn't. Somehow I had to make sure he didn't take it with him. As far as I knew our paperwork was in a leather clutch-type bag that Higgins carried with him, a continental "manbag". I could easily get it out once he was asleep, but what if he checked the bag before he left? Realistically, he would only do this if he had any suspicion . . . it was my job to see that he didn't. Time to make use of the acting lessons that he delighted in giving so generously. O yes. He'd taught a few people that I'd never heard of but I'd never heard of anyone.
"I will miss you, you know . . . it won't be the same here without you".
"You can rest Twiddle, you need to rest, not in the sun, you stay in the shade little one . . . you hear me?"
"Yeah, of course . . . I've learnt my lesson . . . I do need to rest, you're right"
I was still burned and sore from the sunstroke. I could hardly bear a bed sheet on my skin and my period was due, I felt heavy and confused. In his mind the timing was impeccable. It probably was. My pre-menstrual "cotton wool" head was preventing me from thinking too much.
He made a vague, slightly too arrogant, attempt to apologise after knocking me out. It wouldn't happen again . . . but I was wrong to nag him, let's make sure that was clear . . . Did I not trust him?
"You know I love you dearest Twiddlestick . . . please let's not become Mr and Mrs bloody middle England! I mean, why would you feel the need to know the minutiae of my business? Good God, how frightfully tedious, I can't imagine anything worse! (you will) I have no desire to know where you go of an afternoon. I simply trust you. You are free to come and go as you please".
Right again, I was free to come and go . . . and I was going.
Yes, you're right. Right and right again. Right. It wouldn't happen again. Let's put it down to the fever and delirium . . . I could see that it was very un-attractive behaviour. I was sorry. Really sorry. I trusted him, I loved him. I would rest and recover, in time for his return. We would celebrate alone when he came back . . . I almost started to believe myself, to look forward to our celebration, with a possible surprise . . . Could I really do this, did I really want to do this? What was I thinking? Maybe I did need to think first . . . No.
We drank wine and listened to the piano man, who might have been a woman, until the early hours. I paced the room trying to stop my mind fast-forwarding to tomorrow. His passport was on the dresser with flight tickets, cheque book etc. so maybe he wouldn't take the bag, he didn't usually carry a "manbag" in England. Perhaps I should risk leaving my passport in the bag . . . but then what if he did take it. I couldn't risk anything, or re-make decisions half pissed . . . As soon as I was sure he was sleeping I took my passport from the bag and threw it on top of the bathroom cabinet. I then washed my hands, partly to try and stop the tingling and shaking, partly to remove any trace of guilt . . . How would I sleep? I needed to sleep and I did sleep.
I couldn't get him out of that room fast enough the next day, the taxi was booked to collect him from our beachside cafe late morning . . . he wasn't taking the manbag; only the essentials that were on the dresser and a colourful, long knitted cardigan for the "Abhorrent English weather . . . Speaking of which let's go and have some coffee . . . I do miss decent coffee when in England".
The coffee came, the taxi came and he was gone.
I went back to our room and lay on the bed. It all seemed surreal. I was in an empty no-mans land, It was familiar, I'd been here before . . . also on the brink of a huge change of mind, of life. I began checking the wardrobe and drawers, there could well be some forgotten money somewhere; a few pesetas would make it so much easier. I roughly knew the price of some Tapas and a room for the night if need be. What I didn't know was how far I had to travel. It didn't look too far on the map in the bar. I needed to head North along the East coast of Spain to France, turn right along the South coast of France, until I reached Nice . . . I swigged some more Brandy straight from the bottle, maybe I shouldn't wait until tonight. If I did it now, I could go now. Waiting was not helping, my mind was made up, I was off. I found my old metal framed army backpack that I'd brought with me from England. Stuffed inside were my grey jersey trackie bottoms and a loose white jersey top that I wore on the plane. Higgins must have hidden them in there so I wouldn't wear them. My casual, sometimes Bohemian, clothes really annoyed him . . . I knew he preferred women to be well dressed, coiffured and well groomed but I met far more important criteria for now. Polishing my vowels and edges could wait, that wasn't necessary for this game. In Spain.
In the side pocket of the backpack were my old Indian leather sandals. They smelt of patchouli . . . finding these old clothes made me feel safe. They were my friends and they'd be perfect for later . . . later, not now.
Any dress would do for now, I would bin it after my mission. I threw in a face cloth and towel, the brass candle holder, the silver cross, make-up and hair crimpers with adaptor, a few condoms, Tampax and the un-opened bottle of Brandy. Fuck it, he could buy another one, or two. That was it then . . . was it? One more swig of Brandy. I slipped on some heels, retrieved my passport from the top of the bathroom cabinet and rescued my beloved teddy bear, Floppy ears. Floppy ears had been everywhere with me since I was two.
On the dresser was a wooden bowl of loose change used for tipping the local waiters. It would all help, I emptied it into my backpack and thought how wrong this old army bag looked with my dress and heels but I wouldn't risk coming back. Once I left that room . . . I wasn't coming back.
I cut through the square, it was deserted. Lunchtime was turning to siesta and the streets were quiet . . . O shit, this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. Should I wait until tonight? I couldn't bear the thought of the wait, it would surely drive me mad. I would walk along the promenade, I needed to be heading North, so as long as the sea was on my right, I was on my way. Simple.
There were still a few folk out on the promenade, not many but I only needed one. I sat on a bench next to a middle aged, well dressed man who turned to look . . . that was enough. I didn't waste any time asking him if he was interested . . . No, he told me. No, he was married. I'd already seen the wedding ring . . . but that didn't always mean no . . . OK, I was desperate here, perhaps the truth would work. It was worth a try, I tried, said I needed money to get away. He looked around worried, like maybe this Higgins guy was about to appear . . . that hadn't crossed my mind. He was off to meet his wife now, he was sorry he couldn't help . . . but be careful.
yeah, yeah, I will.
I walked inland for a while towards where I imagined the main coastal road out of here might be. I wondered should I go without money, or leave now and try and make some money on the way. I sat on an empty bench this time and opened the bottle of Brandy . . . It wasn't long before I was joined by a Spanish bloke, mid-thirties, unshaven, a bit rough looking . . . I didn't have the luxury of choice here . . . again I wasted no time telling him what I was doing. He laughed, said he had a room we could use. Taking some notes from his wallet, he passed them to me right there, I could see they equalled at least a few meals so I accepted, shoving them in my rucksack with the coins from our room . . . and we walked inland some more. He laughed a lot . . . I might have known this wasn't a man with sex on his mind.
He exchanged a few words and laughs with the man behind the reception desk, as he collected a key . . . up and up we went, the stairs became more narrow and more dirty with each flight. Now there was no carpet and it was the last flight. Fuck this was not looking good. Don't think, this is not the time to think. I was almost done, let's look on the bright side, I had the money and with any luck it would be quick . . .
He unlocked the door, opening it onto a tiny room with a single bed . . . Shit. I sat down and as I did so I felt that unmistakable sticky warm feeling of blood, coupled with a cramping in my womb. Even my body was protesting. If I'd half a mind, I'm sure that would've protested too. Damn. Fuck. Shit. Not now . . . pleease . . . what could I do? or say?
"Problema" I tried . . .
"Que?" he snapped, suddenly not laughing.
"Sangre" . . . I knew that word from the bullring.
He made the universal sign for a blow job, laughing again . . . I nodded then pulled the condoms and Tampax from my backpack. Roars of laughter. What the fuck was so funny?
Helping himself to the Brandy, he poured roughly a quarter of the bottle down his throat . . . I wasn't liking this at all but reasoned that was normal, I wasn't here to enjoy myself. He pulled the condom from it's wrapper and stretched it length ways, still laughing . . . I didn't like this fucking constant laughing. O Lord. The next thing I knew he was sat astride me on the bed, he'd pushed me backwards and his hands were tight round my throat. I couldn't scream, I couldn't move and I couldn't breath . . . No. God. Is this a game? I looked into his eyes, it wasn't a game. I felt so tired, too tired to fight, my head was hurting, throbbing and swelling like it might burst. Everything closed in around, turning black and red. I'm guessing that I missed the next few seconds, or minutes . . . I was coming round, waking up . . . but I really didn't want to. My head was banging and I couldn't face this, not now. Lying there curled on my side I fought the light of day, eyes tight shut. So so tired, I only wanted to sleep. My body and mind were waking again, I heard him leaving the room and felt nothing, other than slight relief and sheer exhaustion. Even as I registered the sound of him locking the door from the outside, I felt nothing. So what? I just needed to sleep . . . but now I wasn't so tired, I was almost awake and sitting up . . . My mind was focusing, I stood up on weak legs, surely I had to get out of here?
Ps. For anyone who has missed the episodes leading to this one, and would like to catch up, they are listed (and linked to) on the "Flashes from the Archives" page.