Friday, 29 April 2016

Los 3 'P's and The Longhair


 This is a work of fiction, the restaurant is real but the people aren't. Any resemblance to real people living or dead is purely coincidental


Pablo, Paco and Pepe are sitting on the terrace outside. To tell the truth, it is a pavement blocked by assorted chairs around two mis-matched tables. Los Tres ‘P’s have occupied one. The same one they sit at every day. The sky is the non-reflective grey that threatens rain but doesn’t follow through. The old men are wearing scarves and not-quite-Panama hats with heavy top coats. The occupants of the other table are wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Their hands clasp the glass containing their coffee that is too hot to drink but a blessing for their cold hands. The British couple, for this they surely are, are facing the road. Normally they would sit at the tables on the wider pavement to the front of La Higuera. Javi and Maria haven’t put any out today. All three ‘P’s have managed to sit with their backs to the Guiris. Watching them shiver might make them feel even colder.

The three old men will only go inside if it actually does rain. Even then, they will repair to their table when it stops. They are drinking the black tar that is called café corto by the locals. In addition each of them has the chupito -shot- of their choice. Pablo has Ponché, Paco – brandy and Pepe has his clear and dry Anis. Los Tres ‘P’s don’t play cards, nor do they read the paper – in fact Paco can’t read and doesn’t care, while Pepe can’t either but sometimes pretends he can by picking up the flyers that unemployed youngsters scatter on restaurant tables throughout the town. Pablo pretends not to notice when Pepe holds them upside down.

It is 5 o’clock. Pepe nudges Pablo and all three twist in their chairs to look up the hill towards the High School. They manage to avoid catching the Guiri Tourists’ eyes. Anyway, they’re watching the Guiri Teacher saunter down the hill towards the restaurant. He doesn’t teach at the school. What state school would employ a Guiri? There are enough unemployed teachers in the town, both Paco and Pepe have grand-daughters who cannot get a job. No, the Guiri with the horse’s mane for a hair-style teaches English to adults in the town who can afford it. Good luck to him, Pablo thinks, but he doesn’t say so to the others. They’ll only say his son has the family business, so what does he know.

The longhair doesn’t greet the Guiris. None of the old men can understand this. Don’t all Guiris know each other? Even so, Los Tres ‘P’s and the Longhair will indulge in the game they play every Tuesday and Thursday. The table is right next to the side entrance. Longhair and Los 3 ‘P’s will attempt to wait until the last minute before offering a salutatory ‘¡Buenas Tardes!’ before the Longhair enters the restaurant. The three Alhaurinos lose if Longhair says it and they do not reply before he is inside, and the Guiri loses if he has to stop and return the greeting from the doorway. This has gone on for about a year. Ever since Longhair started teaching English to the boyfriend of the owner of the restaurant’s daughter. Honours are about even.

Pepe splutters, a little anis dribbles down his chin. Pablo almost drops his coffee and Paco’s straw hat falls off. The Longhair has stopped. He has said ‘good afternoon’ and ‘¿Como estan ustedes?’ and he is standing waiting for an answer. It is very awkward, but there is nothing for it. Los 3 ‘P’s half rise from their chairs, there are hand-shakes and introductions. The foreigner tells them his name. It is quite unpronounceable.

Well, the game is over, but maybe the Longhair isn’t such a bad fellow after all. He sends out 3 chupitos after he gets to the bar.