She had gone to powder his nose. I was sure of it. I would’ve seen her had she left. But by the time I’d finished my drink, there was no sign of the mysterious beauty. Could my mind be playing tricks on me? Was she a figment of my imagination, like the vivacious bat-winged succubus who had appeared in a recurring dream last week?
I slurped the last watery drops of my overpriced cocktail and hailed the bartender, not sure if I was in the mood to get drunk or call it a night.
“Do you have a light?”
A female’s accented English strummed my eardrums. I turned to see it belonged to the raven-hair fairy and felt the firing synapses in my brain shoot my tongue full of Novocaine. “Um, er, sure,” I muttered, fumbling in my pocket for a lighter, as I rose from my stool to greet her.
“Has anyone told you—you’re the spitting image of Harry Potter?”
I was too focused on the flutter of her succulent lips to catch every word of her question, except for the last two. The answer was yes and my English accent didn’t help. My usual reply to anyone, who cited my uncanny resemblance to the boy wizard, was to point out the ugliest celebrity doppelgänger the person speaking looked like. But this Spanish pixie didn’t remind me of any actress or model. She barely reached my shoulders, yet her deep-set astral eyes would’ve unnerved Voldermort, rendering his dark powers useless.
I stood there in a trance, speechless and thus unable to answer her question about my resemblance to JK Rowling’s most famous character. I was able to think, though. And I laughed silently, without even a quiver of my lips, as I remembered how proud the Basques were of their pintxo sniffer.
It wasn’t “spike” shaped, like the English translation of the word implied, more like something found on Pinocchio, after he had told one or two lies, but before the branches and leaves sprouted, à la the Disney version of the story. I explain this because the famous Basque snout was on full display when the girl turned her head and lifted her chin to blow smoke into the ceiling that I could touch without fully extending my arms.
“What’s your name?” Her voice broke the spell she had cast over me and her dark stare was once again the sole focus of my attention.
A minty tidal wave crested and crashed inside my belly. I gulped and stuttered, “S... Sa... Sam,” nodding at her for a reply.
“Edurne,” she said.
I still couldn’t form a complete sentence, let alone pronounce her name correctly. Her bucolic perfume sparked images of the dense forests and jagged hills of the Basque Country. Its people were the Scots of the Iberian peninsula, famous for their brute strength and games, which consisted of heaving heavy objects as far as they could, in a clearing of an ancient Oak forest.
My mind unable to function, my mouth took over and I blurted, “Do you lift rocks?”
The Basque girl caught the reference to her homeland and laughed. “Only when I swim,” she quoted the punch line to a joke about her people. “Have you been to Pais Vasco?”
“I went to Bilbao once.” The words now slid off my nimble tongue. “Loved it. Getxo had a great beach.”
The girl’s stormy eyes flashed. “I come from a small village near Bilbao.”
“What brings you to Barcelona?” I followed up with the usual first question when meeting a fellow transplant.
“The same thing that brings you.”
“The weather?” I laughed at myself for giving the most common answer and noticed Edurne smirk. “How long have you been here?”
“A year this Halloween. And yourself?”
“Seven years this Christmas.”
“Wow,” she said. “That’s a long time for a guiri. Do you speak perfect Spanish?”
“Not fluently, but I get by.” Edurne didn’t speak English with the abruptness of most locals, whether they were Basque, Catalan or Valenciano. But she did have a trace of a strange accent. “Your English is impeccable by the way.”
She repaid my compliment with a smile. “Tanks. I lived in Ireland for a few years.”
That explained the lack of a “th.” “Whereabouts? Dublin?” I asked as if I knew, when the Emerald Isle was as remote to me as Transylvania.
“A village near the Wicklow mountains.” Edurne ended the sentence with a light sigh before her lips curled at the edges. Her teeth weren’t so much crooked as offset, with sharp incisors behind the top row, giving her smile a hint of vampire or maybe even werewolf, the night before a full moon.
“Let’s go somewhere quieter,” she suggested, her Irish tinged cadence striking a cord in my brain that rendered my prefrontal cortex catatonic. Her back was toward me now, her hair up in a pony tail. Her flowing skirt swished and I zoomed on the lines of a tattoo, peeking above the collar of a red and black corset. What was the picture etched on her milky skin? A vampy Betty Page? A ninja geisha? One foot went before the other without any orders from me as I tried to imagine her marking. The balls of my heels stomped on shoes and my shoulders barged into backs, but I didn’t catch people’s glares or their warnings to, “Hey! Watch out.” Same went for the distant shouts of the bartender, telling me to come back and pay for my drink.