THE PRIESTS are right. The Favoured of God are theFascists, the bastards, anyone can see it.
Barcelona is ruptured, we all have our problems in this city,but when the water fails it’s not the penthouse Donnas whogo thirsty, it’s us in the tenements, dry as cockroaches.
Then come Saturdays, on the best seats at the corridas,see the perfumed lace, the mantillas, crucifixes, the medalsof bravery, the noble sashes, all on the shaded side of thearena. Out there in the sun, it’s us, stinking like the horses.For the young ones things are no better. A young miss ofhigh birth gets with child, they take the nino to a provincialestate where it grows up with a Name of Grace and chubbylegs. If the man wants the child for an heir they make amarriage in the cathedral as quick as you like, no banns,nothing, and they pre-date the cheque.But a girl from my part of town, she heads for the hospicewith her bundle. The place I’m speaking of is in the lanebeside Santa Theresa’s, with a chute like a safe-deposit.
She tugs the bellpull, slides her babe inside, and the clangof the hatch must be to her as a gateway to hell. Shamelike this is not born of the bed, it’s of the religion. What sortof Church does this to a girl? She hides her face and runs.
For our part, we keep the street lamp broken with stones.
Enric, the boy of To the Death, Amic works as a smuggler for The Organisation, the resistance movement in Barcelona. From France, over the high country, he brings in ammunition, leaflets. This time his job is to smuggle a young woman north, across the French border, over the Pyrenees.
Where the night air is so cold I tell you, I piss icicles.
This guide, the now older Enric, shows off the history of the Old City where his boyhood was spent during the Civil War, as the narrator Enric in the novel To the Death, Amic, (see The Novels).
Walk LaRamblas, everyone does. This is the promenade.
The centre concourse is a mall. Bulbs light the trees like stardust. Stalls stock newspapers in any language. Bird breeders sellpigeons and small parrots.Take a table and sip coffee, the finest from the New World.
Please keep a few banknotes in a ready pocket and do notuse your wallet in public. I promise, you may not noticethat it has gone for quite some time. I used to be in thebusiness myself, as a lad. Best to stay on the mainthoroughfare here. The alleys on either side are not for you,if you are well dressed. A few precautions and all is fine.
MOTHER was at the treadle. All I could see of her,by the sewing-bench lamp, were fingers as swift as shuttles,a scarf at her shoulders, and at the hollow of the throat hersilver crucifix.
Mama, I said, I’m home. I was home from the prison, soexpected a welcome.She snipped, tugged, her foot pumped the grate and the bobbin raced over the fields, along the ridges, the tucks and the folds, fleet and sure-footed, but also fugitive.
So I was wondering if she made this connection, hour after hour,saw this mimicry of the way her sons live now; as if watching,from her high vantage, the traverses and the mad spurts,cunning backtracking and frantic dead-ends, all the whilesmoothing as best she can some safer path ahead? In thelanguage of omen, what means a snarled thread, a shatteredneedle? Does her heart catch?Mama, I said.
Home from his prison sentence, for smuggling an illegal over the north border, Enric is summoned by the Organisation, the resistance, south to Cartagena. His age, at twelve, makes him a favoured courier for the underground, since living around the streets has trained his cunning beyond his years.
General Francisco Franco is to pay Barcelona a State Visit.
The day chosen in secret for his reception here in Barcelonawas no surprise to us, since the garrisons on the waterfront at Atarazanas and in the castle atop Montjuic were now crowdedwith the regiments of Navarre and with African Moors;the Guardia Civil enforced the nighttime curfew withcompanies on horseback, and factories were closed forthree days so smoke would not entice rain.
Markswoman Jacinta Llano Moya, member of the anarchist cell named after the revolutionary prostitute Maria Lopez, prepares her welcome for the dictator.