Road Warrior: Barcelona Ch. 03byJakeRivers©
BUT NEVER DOUBT I LOVE
Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
Shakespeare, Hamlet, II,ii,116
The voice was saying something I couldn't quite make out. There was the timbre of anxiety in the voice; the words filtered as if I had earplugs on. I gradually became aware of my body – my subconscious sending out urgent messages to the organs and extremities asking if they were doing okay.
The right responses must have been sent back because I had a sense of feeling better without knowing why I felt that way. I felt, and then saw one eyelid then the other as they were pulled up, an unpleasant graininess causing discomfort. A blinding flash of light, with that special intensity of a too close bolt of light caused a sudden pain in my eyes. Firm hands holding my head tight ... the owner of the hands offering a barely heard, "Easy, okay, easy."
The soft voice knew somehow – experience? – that my eyes were dry and gently applied two drops of some liquid to each eye. There was instant relief and by squinting I could make out the plain but somehow peaceful face of a nurse looking over at me. Moving my head slightly I saw a short, pot-bellied man who must be the doctor – standing there observing us.
I could also make out a large bandage covering my nose and now, with the sight I knew that pain would arrive shortly. I mumbled, dry mouthed, "What happened?"
The doctor came closer, and looking at me with a smile, said, "Yes, I guess you wouldn't know." He pointed at something outside of my range of vision and the nurse held a water bottle with a straw in it to my lips.
"You fell down at the port. Your head hit the sharp corner of the concrete base of a light pole. You had bleeding in your brain. We had to put you in an induced coma and drill a small hole in your skull to clean out the clot. We just now brought you out from under. We will keep you here for a few days for monitoring but you should be able to leave by the end of the week."
"How long have I been here?"
"Just under two weeks."
"What happened to my nose?"
"He smiled, "Well, a bit of bad luck there. When you fell your wife fell on top of you and hit your nose with her elbow. "Fraid you aren't going to be quite as handsome with that new bend in your beak." He chuckled at what he must have considered a joke.
Sounding stupid, even to myself, I asked, "My wife?"
"Yes, and I must say she is quite lovely. I have never seen a wife as dedicated as her. She has been here almost all day, every day. Sitting by your side, reading to you from a novel. The nurse said she went to the hotel to get some sleep just before I came in to bring you out of the coma."
"How soon can I travel?"
"Well, I'd say a week from today should be okay. Don't do anything really strenuous for a couple of weeks. By the way, there is a gentleman waiting to see you, if you feel up to it."
I asked the nurse to put the back of my bed up some and to let him in.
"Charlie, damn, you look like you got hit by a truck!"
It was my boss from New York, Gerald Adams. "Thanks, Gerald. That makes me feel a lot better. Listen, I'm ready to move closer to the action. I need to work out something. If I can make it happen I want to be based in Miami. That would be best for travel to South America and good connections to Spain and Portugal. Otherwise I'll go ahead and move to Madrid like you originally wanted me to."
Gerald stared at me, "I'm a little confused here. Candy told me you guys had patched things up. She also said she was changing her focus to work mostly in the US so she wouldn't have to travel so much."
"Well, Gerald, that's not true. Candy and I are through. We've both signed the papers and the divorce is in process."
"Uh, Charlie, Candy said she tore those papers up."
That bitch! That damned bitch!
"Well, Gerald, I kept a copy signed by both of us and I'm going to turn it in. If that doesn't work I'll move to Nevada for six weeks and do it there. We are clearly incompatible, which is all that Nevada cares about. I have the note that she gave me when she said she was dumping me for Llewellyn. So talk to me about Miami."
He looked a bit stunned – I didn't really blame him.
"Well, sure it would be better for us to have you either here or in Madrid. Actually, all things considered here in Miami would be the best. We do have an affiliate office you can work out of when you need to. And I fly through here all the time so it would be much easier for us to meet."
"Okay, great, Gerald. Look, I need you to do something. Could you call the law firm we work with in Santiago and have them set up an introduction for me in, say, two weeks? A lunch would be great. I need to meet with a guy and I don't know much about him. His last name is Galvéz and he is a lawyer working on the Pinochet stuff. I know his wife's maiden name is Pomar, but that's all I have."
"Sure, I can do that. How are you feeling? I have to say your nose looks like shit." He laughed at that.
I told him how everything went on the cruise. I'd already copied him on the reports I'd written.
"Charlie, they were quite impressed with you. I met with Cary Edwards and he gave us a contract to do a feasibility study on your recommendations. He apologized again for taking the room they were going to have you use and told me to tell you he meant what he said about his offer of the suite for you to take a cruise on them. He said it just had to be scheduled. He gave me his secretary's number here in Miami and you just need to call her when you are ready."
We chatted for a bit more, and when the nurse came in to do whatever it is that nurses always seem to be doing, he stood up.
"Gerald, I appreciate your not asking anymore about what's going on. I'll let you know when I either do or do not get it worked out. Be assured, though, that in any case Candy and I are not getting back together."
After the nurse left I fell asleep for a couple of hours. When the nurse's aide came to serve me lunch I saw that Candy was standing there staring at me. From the look on her face she had run into Gerald and heard what I'd had to say about her.
She came over and sat on the edge of the bed. "I screwed up, didn't I, Charlie?" I looked away for a moment then looked back at her, curious about what she would say. "It was so stupid. I'd gone shopping but I got a headache and came home. I caught him in bed with the guy that was supposed to be the best man."
She teared up and tried a laugh that didn't work out quite right, "I guess that was the problem, huh, he really was the best man. It turned out his dad wanted him to get married to make him look more respectable. I guess there is no chance for us?"
Quietly, I replied, "No, Candy, there isn't. I've moved on. I've ... well, Candy, I've found someone new. Someone special I want to live the rest of my life with. She was there, at the dock. Did you see her? She was with two small girls, twins about five."
"No, Charlie. I only had eyes for you. I stupidly figured we could just start over. I told Gerald that I was going to stay in Denver. But if it's not going to work out I've been offered a partnership in a small firm in Odessa, Texas. There will just be three of us and we will specialize in oil leases."
She started crying and I did feel some sympathy for her. I'd loved and lived with her for years. I didn't hate her; just what she had done to us. Forgiving her or not wasn't an issue. Our lives would go on in different orbits. The way that it had come about left a bad taste in my mouth but that was history now. I was impatient for her to leave, distracted with trying to figure out what had happened to Ana. The only thing that made sense was that Ana had seen Candy kiss me and jumped to the wrong conclusion.
She stood up, "Can you give me a goodbye hug?"
I did but, with no guilt whatsoever, my mind was on Ana.
As she left, Candy added, "I know this doesn't mean much, but I really am sorry. Not just for what I did but for the small, mean way I did it. I'm not proud of myself. I won't fight you on the divorce, Charlie. I hope you find that girl. Oh, by the way, there was a man called Terry, an Englishman. He saw you fall and said he would have the cruise line hold your luggage. Just call them and they will have it delivered.
She walked out the door and out of my life. It was ten years before I saw her again, and that was at the airport in Houston ... ships passing in the night.
I improved rapidly and that Saturday they let me out of the hospital. The doctor wanted me to wait for another three or four days before traveling. Gerald had called me and told me the meeting was set up. I still had ten days before the meeting in Chile so I made reservations for the next Wednesday to fly to Lima. I figured I'd spend a few days there with my extended family that had remained in Perú. Then I would go on to Santiago for the meeting that I hoped would answer some questions and save my life.
I checked into a hotel room and called to have my luggage delivered. I had everything cleaned and washed, and paid extra to have it done right away. It would be winter in Lima and Santiago so I bought a couple of heavier jackets and several pair of slacks.
I spent my days walking along the beach, thinking of Ana, trying to puzzle out her disappearance. I could see her being upset ... more than that, feeling betrayed if she saw Candy kissing me. There wasn't anyway she could have known that I didn't want and would have refused the kiss if I had the chance. I loved only Ana and for me it was the last love I would have.
I finally decided she must have seen us and turned at once in shame and anger. Yeah, she did have a fiery temper. I know that she wouldn't have been able to walk away if she knew that I was hurt.
I didn't want to sink into depression, I had to fight this and find my love. I was dying of curiosity about the girls and found myself wishing I had had a chance to meet them. I was careful to drink only wine or beer and then only with meals. The solace of alcohol was tempting, but I knew it would ultimately be self-defeating.
The trip to Perú went quite well. Everyone must have thought I looked skinny 'cause they did their best to fatten me up. It was good to decompress – great and terrible, my life had been chaos for the last month.
A highlight was when my cousin took me to see Cecilia Barraza at a club, Manos Morenas, in Barranco. She had such a lovely voice and the Pisco sours were going down easily. The food was great and the conversation made me realize how important family was. In Perú, family is sometimes a somewhat loose concept and that night included cousins of cousins and several persons that I had no idea of how they fit in.
The next morning, having both a slight headache and a warm feeling from the night before, I flew down to Santiago. The temperature was about the same as Lima but the lower humidity was more comfortable than Lima and it was quite pleasant. In the winter Lima usually has what they call garua, which is a gray mist that settles in over the city to a height of about three hundred feet, for months at a time and is totally depressing. Santiago was cool but sunny, and all in all was quite nice.
My meeting with Ana's father was set for the next day for lunch at two in the afternoon at a well-known place called Giratorio. It was on the sixteenth floor of the building where Señor Galvéz (it was hard to think of him as Ana's father) had his law office.
I met him at the restaurant and he wanted to hold off talking until after the meal, which was incredible. Over coffee I told him my story. My nose was obvious and I showed him the still healing scar on my head where they drilled for blood.
I was disappointed with his attitude. I think he pretty much believed me but felt that Ana's privacy was her business. The most he would agree to do was to take the information on how to contact me and give it to Ana the next time she called.
Despondent and disappointed I walked down to take a taxi back to the hotel. Raúl - that was his name - did agree to walk me down stairs. The doorman of the building waved for a taxi and as we were standing between the taxi and the building I saw a fast movement to my right.
Remembering what Ana had said about the Basque separatists, I must have been subconsciously wound up. Seeing a motorcycle coming fast down the street I saw that the driver and passenger both had stocking caps pulled over their heads and the passenger was pulling a pistol out of his pocket.
Not thinking about it I shoved Ana's dad to the ground and threw my briefcase, and, just as the pistol started firing, I dropped to the pavement. I heard screeching and a crash. I stood up and the taxi driver told me I had hit the driver in the head with my heavy leather case. The cycle had slid under a bus and it was clear no one survived.
The police, of course, came in short order. It turned out the two guys were Pinochet loyalists and didn't like what Raúl was doing. Ana's dad was shook up but took me back in the lobby.
"It's seems like I owe you something. Look, Charlie, why don't you come to dinner tonight and meet my wife. You can tell her your story and we'll see what she has to say."
So at nine that evening I found myself in front of an attractive, moderately sized house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. As the taxi parked I did notice a police car at each end of the block.
The dinner was both elegant and simple. The wine was from Chile and went well with the meal. Afterwards, we retired to what looked like a library and Raúl poured me a nice brandy. I told my story all over again to Silvia Marcela, Ana's mother.
She looked at my nose – the swelling and discoloration were gone but it still wasn't a thing of beauty. She carefully looked at the scar forming over the hole in my head, and looked sad.
She finally finished with her questions and left the room. Raúl shrugged his shoulders and offered me a small, pungent cigar. Everything considered I thought it prudent to go ahead and smoke it.
About ten minutes later Silvia came back into the room. "Señor Charlie, please, the phone." She said as she pointed towards the instrument setting on a table. She motioned for Raúl to leave the room with her and quietly closed the door. I picked up the phone and instantly heard the click of the extension being replaced.
Really having no idea what was going on, I answered, "This is Charlie."
I could hear the soft sobs as she answered, "Oh, Charlie! God, I'm so sorry." She started crying hard – I waited for her to gather herself. "Mom told me about your fall. I just saw Candy kissing you and I thought ... Charlie, I thought you weren't serious about me. I was shocked, I felt betrayed. I grabbed the girls and ran to the car. I didn't see you fall. Oh, you know I would have come to you ... even if, even if you didn't love me.
"Please don't hate me – I couldn't stand that. My girls need you ... I need you. Please come to me."
"Ana, I love you, more than anything. I was so scared because I didn't know how to find you. I was desperate."
"Please come to me, Charlie," she said again.
We talked for a while then I went to find her parents. I gave her mom a hug for helping me out and told her that everything looked okay.
I flew out the next day for Miami. They were living in two rented houses in Ft. Lauderdale until they could figure out what to do. They, consisting of her in-laws, and her brother and his wife were in one house and her sister, Ana and the two girls were in the house next door.
Ana picked me up at the airport in Miami. It was so good to hold her. She felt terrible about not being in the hospital with me, but I just shrugged, "Ana, it's in the past and we can't change it. Let's learn what we can from it, about trusting each other and always talking before we do anything drastic. Being with you now is all that matters to me."
"Charlie, what you did for my dad, thank you. You risked your life to save his. You are a good man."
It was late when we got to her house and everyone was asleep. Her sister got up when she heard the door and went right back to bed after Ana introduced us. Ana led us right into her bedroom, which was the master bedroom of the house.
I needed to shower from the trip and as I was soaping up Ana squeezed in with me. It was a lot more crowded than the bathroom we'd had in the suite but I wasn't complaining. We didn't really do anything, just soaped each other up and got out.
While I was drying I looked around the bathroom, curious to see if she had the diaphragm on. When I went into the bedroom Ana was already lying down, with a pink gown on, this time with panties.
Not wanting to make a mistake about it, I asked, "Do you have your diaphragm on?"
"No, Charlie, I don't need it anymore."
"I guess you started your birth control pills, then?"
"No, Charlie," she said patiently, "I can't start the pills until I start my period."
I swear she was smirking at me. Maybe I was just too tired to understand. "Is something wrong with you?"
"No, love, something is exactly right. I'm expecting!"
I guess I looked confused.
"Charlie, I'm pregnant."
"Yes, honey, I think you finally figured it out."
"But how? When?"
"Well, the when is obvious ... probably that first time on the ship. The how is a bit more complicated. There are these bees and then there are some birds ..."
I threw the pillow at her and pinned her to the bed. "Really? Honest to God, really?"
I put my ear on her abdomen, listening.
"Baby, you're hopeless. You can't hear anything for a long time. But as long as you are down there ..."
I took that as an invitation, and after twenty minutes of vigorous activity, we fell into a deep sleep.
About eight the next morning, there was a soft knock on the door, and it opened a crack, "Ana, honey, you have about two minutes to get decent if you aren't already and then the girls will be coming in.
Ana put a robe on and I pulled on my boxers and a tee shirt. Shortly afterwards, the girls bounded in all excited, and jumped on top of us on the bed.
Ana introduced us and they each gave me a slobbery kiss on the cheek. They were really cute but I didn't have a clue about how to tell them apart.
Later I made a suggestion to Ana and she agreed. Two days later we drove up to Orlando and Disney World for three days. I thought it would give us time to bond. They loved it and Ana and I had a lot of fun too. We did get to know each other much quicker than we would have otherwise.
Candy sold the house in Castle Rock and sent me a check for half the proceeds. We bought a house closer to Miami so I wouldn't have to drive too far.
I did start working out of Miami and started doing training sessions there instead of on the road. I was gradually able to plan my trips better and to travel less. The business grew and they hired someone to work in Spain and Portugal and I only needed to travel there for the rare emergency. I traveled mostly in Latin America.
We got married at the parish we went to a week before Christmas. My mom and dad flew out and Ana's parents came from Chile, and both sets of parents stayed for the holidays.
It was several years before we were finally able to take the cruise. We kept the smaller Royal Family Suite like we had before because of the two bedrooms. Ana's sister stayed in one, the girls on the sofa bed in the living room, and the baby with us. We flew to Barcelona and took the ship back to Miami.
Terry had retired but Jens was the captain again and was glad to have us aboard. On the second night of the cruise we had dinner with Jens and his first officer. Carolina, Ana's sister, fell for Jen's assistant like a ton of bricks, so we were happy to give her a lot of time alone ... well, not alone, but not with us.