I am so close to making my airfare.
Why doesn’t she go back to the cathedral with the other beggars? I am so close to making my airfare. She is spoiling it all, spoiling the whole thing.
Her name is Kirsten. People call her Chris, thinking her name is Christina or something like that. But it is Kirsten. She doesn’t know why that is so hard to get.
She is on a winter break with Ricardo in his home town Valencia in Spain. It is cold, which is a little bit of a shock for Kirsten, thinking sunny Costa Brava/Blanca.
The Airbnb is an apartment in the old part of town that used to be fashionable during the 1900s, passed down from generation to generation. The generations moved on, no-one wanted it, so granny rents it out. The furniture is not antique as advertised. It looks old, very old like it would be left out on the street in the States.
And when Kirsten turns on a space heater and plugs in the toaster at the same time the fuse box trips, the whole place is thrown into darkness. She tolerates all this, it is economical.
She enjoys being an American abroad. The wine is cheap. The tapas are fabulous. She can do a month before heading back to the music conservatory in Florida.
Kirsten plays in a quartet with Ricardo and two other Valencianos from the Conservatorio Municipal. She expects to pay for her return ticket with the her cut of the money the quartet makes playing around town.
The rebajas, the sale days January through March, are over. The quartet moves from the shopping center Marché de Colón to the Plaza de la Virgen, between the basilica and the cathedral.
The quartet plays the B set. Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, lots of Baroque with some Leonard Cohen thrown in. Ricardo calls this the brunch music set for the tourists. They are playing Alleluia to a crowd when the pleasantly melancholy music is pierced with a shrill whistle, ZSHTWEET ZSHTWEET!
It’s the cripple. She is blowing a Mardi Gras whistle loud, incessantly, irritatingly. She is a pathetic sight, this cripple, not only dirty, but maimed, deformed. She wraps her too-small legs under her body. She is rolled up like a ball. She extends a dirty hand, filthy from the street, which she uses to push her body along on a makeshift wheelchair, a sheet of plywood on wheels.