THE DANGER OF THE PERFECT BRUNETTE
By Larry Kovaks
I’d gotten an email from a mug named Gareth Chamberlain. He was scant on the detail, but claimed the matter was urgent. So urgent,
in fact, he said he was ready to pay me a “handsome sum” in return for my “immediate assistance to his person”. Whatever it was, I
needed the scratch.
I logged off my email and thanked Antonio, the bird who runs this dump of a pension hotel. He had the foresight to install a computer
with internet access, and the goodness to let me check my email every once in a while. To tell you the truth, this septuagenarian only
looks at porno. That’s my hunch as to why he got the internet. When he isn’t doing that he’s listening to COPE, the catholic news radio
station.
Gareth’s address was up in the Gracia area. A weird mix of anarchist squatters and rich kids can be found there. It also attracts well-to-
do-guiris like this Gareth fellow.
I took the subway to the Fontana stop. Once I got to the surface, I stopped in the first bar I found and shot a carajillo de coñac down
my gullet, ordered a shot of Mascaró straight, and shot that down too.
I blew the joint and headed up the street to Verdi, one of the most pijo streets in town. I took a right on Verdi and walked to the
address he gave me. I punched a single button on the fourth floor level. Half a minute later I heard male voice over the crackly
intercom:
“Si?”
“It’s Kovaks. I’m here to see Mr. Gareth Chamberlain.”
“Come in! Come in!”
The door buzzed and I pushed it open. I walked through a poorly lit foyer, past a sleepy doorman in blue overalls, slouched in a chair
behind his desk. I thought he nodded to me, but his head was a limp thing. It nodded like one of those dashboard figurines set on
springs. A few too many cervezas at lunch.
I got up to the fourth floor via a brand new elevator and rang the doorbell. The door opened and cool air blasted out. Standing in the
air’s path was dilly of a man. Scrawny neck and full head of dirty blonde hair, sloped in a marcel, with little frost highlights. He was
about my height, but half my girth. Whereas I’m naturally fat, this mug was naturally reed thin.
I followed him into an open plan loft apartment. Dark oak parquet flooring swept all the way to the back. Past a large enclave housing
a kitchen on the left. Across from that a large dining table with fruits and flowers on it. The general look of the place evoked female.
From Gareth's highlighted dome and his dandy attire – a kind of silken dressing gown – I figured he was a fanuck or whipped dog of a
boyfriend.
He lead me to a long L-shaped settee. I went around the back of it and passed a hifi system and a flat screen television on a long low
table. Between that and a vase with a bamboo shoot corkscrewing out of it, sat a small framed picture. In it, Gareth and a bespectacled
young woman with short strawberry blonde hair. It was recent, judging from Gareth’s hairstyle. Unless he was one of those fellows
who took his hair out of a box.
“Oh, that’s my wife, Eva. She’s at work.”
“You work at home?” I asked, taking a seat on the large settee. It was one of those dinguses you could stretch out and snooze on. A
pretty nice set up.
“You assume correctly, Mr. Kovaks. Freelance translating for multinationals, brochures and things like that. But three mornings a
week I give private tutorials to children in Pedralbes.”
I know the deal. I’ve encountered many a de facto English teacher who taught English to the children of Barcelona’s wealthy elite.
While the parents are getting corporal beauty treatments or giving marketing presentations, the little brats are alone. Susceptible to
mischievous activity. The padres are thrown into a guilt trip. They decide junior needs a babysitter, but also a scholastic advantage.  
They hire mugs like Gareth to “teach” them English. Really they’re just babysitting the pijo brats for sixty euros an hour. English-
teaching-babysitting is the most lucrative job there is for guiris.
“Mr. Kovaks … I need to cut to the chase. I’ve been involved in a most damning affair, and due to this affair I’m afraid someone’s
life might be in danger. I’m afraid, Mr. Kovaks, that I might be responsible in some way for the threat posed to this person’s
wellbeing.”
“Mind if I smoke?” I asked as I took out a deck of Ducados.  He declined a cig, I set fire to mine and tossed the deck on a coffee
table in front of me.  He slid a jasper tray forward.
“She’s very attractive, very well put together.  We were involved in an affaire de l’amour, Mr. Kovaks. This is primarily why I asked
you over at this hour. My wife mustn’t find out about this.”
“It’s strictly on the q t, Mr. Chamberlain.  Tell me about the good-looking dame. How did you meet her?”
“I’m sorry, I haven’t even offered you a drink! How rude of me!” Gareth shot up suddenly and glided towards the kitchen. “What can
I get you? What do detectives drink?” He tittered to himself after his last remark. I replied:
“Mascaró if you have it.” While he was preparing the drinks I spied a notebook on the coffee table. I picked it up and fanned through
it. Heavy-handed scribbles. I dropped it when I heard him coming back. He gave me a snifter and I raised it to him in gratitude.
“The only fortunate thing in this whole chain of unfortunate events, Mr. Kovaks, is that my wife is completely in the dark about the
whole affair. It was all a terrible mistake, and to tell you the truth, I really had no choice. Any decent person would have done what I
have done.
This happened, oh, I would say about two months ago. I had finished tutoring some twins in the Sarrià neighborhood and decided to
get lunch in the Diagonal shopping center. Down below, I mean, where the food court is.”
I nodded. I’d never been there personally. It was a district that fell out of my personal jurisdiction. Not enough crime. Or at least the
crime I specialized in: short cons and rip artists that scavenge the barrios in the center. Gareth continued:
“All the food establishments were bursting, and I found myself sitting at a bar in an open bistro kind of place. I had ordered a
bocadillo and a coke and was trying to read the dailies when this stunning woman sat next to me. An absolute minx, I tell you, Mr.
Kovaks. Everything about her; her smell, her striking silhouette. That smell, Eau Sauvage, I still remember it. It’s funny, but it’s always
smells that bring back the most vivid memories. You see Eau Sauvage is the scent my first love wore many years ago … but that is
over now,” his eyes rolled up languidly and looked at a corner of the ceiling, as if recalling something.
This Gareth had fallen hard for the dame. As sure the sun revolves around this mudball. this sorry mug was a sheep ripe for sheering!  
His eyes settled on me again and he continued:
“She had to sit close due to the traffic in between the bar and the tables. She excused herself in a most charming way … that
endearing, almost rude way Spanish women have. And I could tell, when we briefly made eye contact, that she was imploring me.
Something was troubling her deeply, and she needed my help.
There was no room to read the paper anymore and she had definitely signaled a desire to talk to me. So we struck up a conversation
and I learned she had just had an argument with her boyfriend. She told me, typically enough for these Spanish gents, that he was
extremely jealous, and that he was constantly paranoid about her talking to people. But especially men. She said she couldn’t avoid
contact with people, as is normal, but even casual conversations were enough to send her boyfriend into frothing, jealous tantrums.
At this moment a rather brawny, but stout chap presented himself behind us and proceeded to berate her.  From what I gathered – my
Spanish is shamefully rudimentary – he was her boyfriend, and he was fed up with her talking to strangers. He grabbed her by the arm,
yanked her up with brutal force and escorted her out of the bar. I only caught her eye for a brief moment, and I saw desperation. It
was a frightful scene and I just froze and watched her get marched away. I hadn’t the time to fully understand what had just
happened.”
Gareth was delusional. True, he’s taller than the average Mediterranean. But his fey mannerisms can’t get him very far with fiery
Latinas. I couldn’t imagine this sleek kitten, if she was all that, wanting anything to do with him. Unless she was a dirty gold digger. He
rattled on:
“I thought that was the end of my unpleasant experience with the woman and her macho ibérico. At my work I hear lots of similar
stories of jealous husbands and boyfriends. You see, when I teach English, lots of times I’m just a sounding board for problems. My
woman clients just want counseling most of the time. I was shocked in other words, but I wasn’t surprised.
So then I left the bar and walked out of the food court. I had a class to get to and was in somewhat of a rush. And then, surprise,
surprise, someone tugged on my arm, and when I turned it was her. Her nose was bleeding and she was holding a tissue to it. She
pleaded with me to help her, and, of course, I discarded all thoughts of teaching and decided to help this ravishing and distressed
creature. I asked her where her boyfriend was and she said she didn’t know. She had just run away from him. I led her to the curb
where we hailed a taxi. She said I could take her home but I insisted she report this brute to the police. She refused outright. She said
she didn’t have residence papers, and that she was afraid of getting deported. This is how she ended up in my flat.
It was midday, so my wife wasn’t home. She was at work. My plan was to have her calm down and think of any alternatives rather
than return to that brutal boyfriend of hers. One thing lead to another, Mr. Kovaks. She was so irresistible. It was a terrible
indiscretion on my part, but she certainly initiated it.”
“You mean,” I said, as I thrust my index finger into an “o” I made with my other hand.
“Yes.  We had, ahem, intercourse.”
“After that?”
“She insisted on leaving and going back home. She said not to worry, that she would be in touch and we exchanged emails and mobile
numbers. She needed to go back home and straighten some things out. I asked her about her boyfriend, and she said it would be okay.
He had a temper, but he would be cooled down by the time she got home.”
“When is the last time you saw her?”
“We’ve been carrying on. What was compassion at first has turned into a torrid love affair, Mr. Kovaks. I never thought myself
capable of it, but we’ve been meeting in those apartementos por horas …”
The apartemento por horas is another lucrative racket in this burg. You rent an apartment by the hour; you take your dame there. Do
your thing. You’re out in an hour flat and on your way home to the missus. He continued:
“The last time, though, something terrible happened.  This time she was followed, by her boyfriend. We were together in an
apartemento por horas, Mr. Kovaks, locked in a passionate embrace, when her boyfriend burst in and started snapping pictures. This
happened so fast I hadn’t the time to react. I don’t remember anything else after that. I woke up alone in the room with a massive
bump on my head.”
Gareth went on with this all too familiar tale of woe. The boyfriend had very compromising photos of Gareth and the dame in the
sack. Gareth's lilly white ass unmistakably in dishonorable union with this chica. These photos were emailed to Gareth.  With the emails
came threats of revealing the photos to Gareth’s wife if he didn’t pay up.
Gareth had only met the dame a couple times since then, for quick payoffs.  She can hardly leave the house anymore, she said.  Her
boyfriend was always watching, even during their quick meetings in public places like Plaza Catalunya.  But now they wanted to soak
him one final time and the payout was big.  That’s why he called me in.  He was going to lose his wife or his savings.  This frisky frail
and her macho ibérico were milking him for all he was worth.
“I just want to make sure she’s okay,” he said, his voice trailing off.
I had a feeling the whole affair was beginning to smell rotten to him. He was beginning to see things clearly. Like he probably had no
chance with the babe. And didn’t want to blow his class set up with the wifey.
I told him I needed whatever dope he could give me on his lady friend. Pictures, writing samples, phone numbers. He dashed up some
stairs behind us which lead to a mezzanine. I heard him turn on a computer. Then the tap tap of his fingers pecking at a keyboard.
I reached for the notebook I saw earlier. I opened it at random, near the last entry. It was poetry. Of some sort:
Oh dearest pamplemousse
be gone be gone
such days of strife
ce ça l’amour, my dear
oh you minx! you vixen!
you cosseting body of plaisir
my immoral animal
wherefore have you vanished
what lacunas, bespoke traps
have devoured thee?

If poetry is like a map of the way your dome works, then this guy was in shambles.  I heard a chair scrape the parquet on the
mezzanine and I folded the little notebook. Set it back on the table in front of me. Gareth descended the stairs and took his place back
on the settee. He handed me a rather poor quality photo he had just printed out.
“That’s the photo he’s been attempting to blackmail me with. I’m rather ashamed to give it to you, but it’s the only photograph I have
of her.”
In flagrante delicto. It looked like paparazzi work for one of those lady’s rags like Hola. The flash of the camera washed out all the
contrast, but the picture was fairly sharp. I almost winced.  Gareth - in strictly scientific terms - was plunging the broad missionary
style. His derriere exposed and in contrast to two very nice brown thighs almost spread eagle on the receiving end. Though his back
was facing the camera, he had his dome half twisted towards the cameraman. In his eyes, the stymied look of a mug, immortalized.
The odd thing was the broad. I could see why a mug like Gareth would muff up his life in pursuit of her. From the looks of it she had
shoulder length glossy black hair. I could tell that, even though it was mussed up around her due to their misbehavior. She had slightly
indigenous eyes and a fleshy kisser. A mujerona. A Brazilian babe if I ever saw one.
But back to the odd thing. It was the way she looked straight at the camera. None of the shock and awe like Gareth, her ardent swain.
She was posed for the camera. Her eyes two sultry slits, sensuously dark. Her lips, slightly parted. A hint of a smile in the creases of
her eyes.
“This is good enough.”
He didn’t have much more dope on the subject. Besides the picture he had a cell phone number and an email address.
I hit the streets with a decent retainer in efectivo and footed it towards the center. On the way I stopped in a tapas bar and feasted like
a rich English teacher. Gambas al ajillo and pulpitos and chocos, sopped up with sliced up French bread. I downed four cañas, and
finished it all off with a shot of orujo.
I set fire to a Reig cigar.  Thought about the case:
The girlish-built guiri was no lady killer.
Didn’t have the presence or the virility.
That’s why Flavia, that’s the babe’s name, didn’t make sense.
No dame like that would flop for a dilly like Gareth unless she had ulterior motives.
But then I remembered she was the victim of macho ibérico abuse. Violencia doméstica. I thought this could be a motive for finding
refuge in Gareth’s arms, as puny as they were. And his poetry. Dames are weak-minded that way. They fall for fancy sham scribblers
like Gareth. Big words and all that hooey. The thought of it made me ill.  No.  I just didn’t see it.
Then I remembered one of the lodgers in my hotel. Stan Skinner. Another yank like me. He also fancies himself a wordsmith. He was
also seduced by a latina temptress. She took air with his laptop computer, and with it the outline to one of his tawdry romance novels.
A curious coincidence, indeed. The fact that these two scribblers both fell victim to a sultry succubus.
I had to follow my intuition.  This frail was crooked and I was going to prove it.
I paid the bill, bought a deck of Ducados and stepped out.
I footed it to the hotel and went straight to Stan’s room. After three knocks the door squeaked open.
“Hey, Larry …”
Stan looked the worse for wear. Red-rimmed eyes, nappy head. Obviously I caught him trying to knock off last night’s bender.
“Stan! Good to see ya!”
He groaned. Left the door open and went back into his room. I pushed it open and stepped in. A filthy, disorderly spectacle if I ever
saw one. Much worse than my digs. An Olivetti typewriter sat on a wobbly desk, between two glass ashtrays overflowing with butts.
Crumpled paper. Empty bottles. Crumpled Chesterfield decks. Paperbacks. The corner of a girly mag peaking out from under his
mattress. A terrible testament to his psychic state. As a detective you automatically dope these things out.
He came back from the bathroom, dabbing his face with a towel. He looked only slightly better.
“Rye?” he asked.
“Natch.”
He pulled a bottle of Jim Beam from his nightstand and poured two slugfulls.
“What’s up, Larry? Last time you came around you were half naked drunk and looking for the clew to history. You almost gave me a
heart attack!”
“I’m looking for a slant on this case I’m doping out. It might involve the dame who made off with your Great American Novel.”
He took his glasses off the nightstand and put them on. I knew he was still carrying a grouch over what happened.
“This is the straight of it as far as I know. English mug up in Gracia is getting harassed by a flimflamming couple. They snapped some
pics of him and the dame in the sack, and figure the mug is loaded and are asking in a not-so-nice-way for his money.”
“Awww, Larry. I feel bad for her and the English guy. Really. But sounds like a typical badger con to me. How do I fit into your big
sleuthing scheme? More fuel?”
I drained the last drops from my slug and he took it and refilled it. He handed it back and I continued:
“That’s it booze-brain, don’t you see? I have a feeling the dame who made off with your laptop is the same one who is squeezing the
Englishma
n!”
“That’s a bit farfetched,” he said, as he sat back and tapped a cig out of his near empty deck of Chesterfields. He set fire to it and
blew a green cloud to his side. His chin was covered with three days worth of beard. The wife-beater he wore was the same color as
the old smoke stained walls. “Larry, Larry, Larry. Always sleuthing around,” he mumbled to himself before laughing and choking
smoke.
“There’s lots of angles to this, Stan. I need to know what went down the night your laptop disappeared.  You already told me ‘she had
legs up to here’, she was some kind of Latina temptress …”
All I knew from our run-ins before, usually in reception or in the bar on the corner at the cig machine, was that he met a babe in a
local dive. The babe really took a fondness to him. Stan isn’t exactly a virulent specimen. But his repartee and clever obfuscations have
bagged him a few birds. He said he brought this babe back to the hotel. After doing their thing he left her alone while he took a
shower. She took advantage of this moment to blow out. Took his cash and his laptop. Never seen her since.
“Did she look like this?” I asked, thrusting out the incriminating photo of Gareth and Flavia.
“Sheeesh Larry, I was so trashed that night it’s hard to tell. Looks … a little like her though.”
“Peep it good, Stan. Real careful.”
“Come to think of it, yeah. It’s those eyes. That little mole right next to her right eyebrow … Jesus Larry! It might be her!”
“Don’t wet your panties now. Where d’ya pull this babe?”
“Kentucky. The Kentucky Bar. Yeah. It was a dark and lonely night …”
I couldn’t pump him for more info, so I told him my plan. Stan was going to have to run with me on this one.  In order to get this
dame I was going to have to go deep cover.
That evening I threw on some of my classy duds from back in the day.  This flower print shirt I got in Manila.  20 years and fifty
pounds ago.  The best part about this getup is crooks mistake me for a tourist.  I hung up my stetson, draped my gabardine over chair-
cum-clothes rack.  Then I slipped on a faux gold wedding band I bought in a pawn shop that afternoon.
I had Stan meet me out in front of the pension, and we walked together through the barrio, past the tourists and thieves, all the way to
the Kentucky.  We took a plant there for two nights in a row.  No sign of the dame.  But the third night our luck changed.  
Well, you know, luck is a figure of speech, and some might not agree that it applies in this case.  This is what happened:  
We got to the world famous Kentucky Bar just as the polychrome churrianas hit the streets.  This joint is off the Ramblas on Arc del
Teatre, near a couple bars run by Moors and about a couple overflowing dumpsters.  It's old joint from back in Franco's day.  Over
the decades it played host to drunk American servicemen, continental long haul truckers looking for hot action, small time rip artists,
and uptown sharpies looking for danger. I turned up here once or twice in the late seventies.  Back when I was doing the merchant
marine gig.  I drop in every one in a while, but I try not to make it regular.  It brings back memories, and some not so good.
It's exactly the same.  The same low ceiling, neon rimmed, the same old sailor memorabilia, U.S.S. Whatnot.  The same cast of actors
playing the barflies, only this time with different getups.  
The only difference is now, starting around 2 am, there's less lonely men with dirty collars and more on-the-tip tourists looking for a
bang.
It was half past 10.  The zinc bar was a long cold looking thing.  There was this old dame sitting at the end near the door.  Stan and I
cut through the still clean air, past the empty bar stools.  I nodded to Manolo, the old time bartender.  It was silent except for the hum
of the neon lights and the rumble of the ice box motor.  It wasn't until we took up stools on the far end that I noticed the old broad at
the end had a companion.  This little midget dame whose head barely peeped over the edge of the zinc counter.  I nodded to them.  
Manolo put down the paper and raised his eyebrows in our direction.  Soon we had two shots of silver tequila, two frosty Coronas
back.
Hitting the Kentucky this early meant I had time to Rand McNally the place.   By the time the boozed up crowd started showing I had
the place memorized.  Not one corner had a rat or a smashed cigarette butt in it that I didn't dope out.
Also, Stan was almost positive he met the dame here when the bar was not half full.  So between now and 2 this jaded jane might show
up.  It being tourist season and all the scratch being thrown around this was highly likely.
We chinned a little while the tequila flowed.  He said he’d been back a couple times since his laptop got stolen, but she’d seemed to
have avoided the place for the next few weeks.  After that he holed himself up in the hotel room, to rewrite the entire novel she had
stolen with the laptop.
We were on our fifth round of the mex sauce when a shapely brunette on stiletto heels sashayed in.
“It’s her,” grumbled Stan.  “I’d bet my left nut it’s her.”
By this time we had moved to the back tables, next to a dusty old standup arcade game.  Stan had his cell phone ready.  I punched in
the number Gareth gave me.  Told Stan to punch the call button on my signal.  But above all, for him to lay low so the dame wouldn’t
see him.
I walked to the bar, two stools down from the dame.  Black tube dress, gams men would die for, glossy black hair.  It’s a miracle I
hadn’t seen her before.
I was almost positive this dame was Gareth’s Flavia.  I just had to be sure.
A driving rhumba beat pulsed in the air.  Cigarette smoke trailed up from a thin cig she was holding.  The neon buzzed over our
heads.  Projecting my voice so Stan could hear, I said:
“Uh yeah gimme a BEER, por favor.”
That was it.  Manolo hadn’t made two steps towards me when the dame’s phone went off.  She looked at the number and wrinkled
her nose.  She answered it.
“Hola?  Hola?”  She gathered her Dolce Gabbana purse close to her, pushed off her stool and strutted towards the door, her phone
pressed tight to her left ear and her right ear cupped by her other hand.  I could hear her by the door.  “Hola? Hola?”
I nodded to Stan.  He hung up.  The dame looked at her cell phone screen, folded it and placed it back in her purse.  She walked back
to her stool, just as Manolo placed a single beer in front of me.  I turned to her.
“Excuse me, do you speak English? Yo no hablo españa.”  I placed my mitt with the wedding band on the counter in full view.
She smiled broadly, her fleshy lips pulling back over a healthy set of teeth with tiny lipstick stains.
“Yes!  Yes of course I speak English!”  She took out her cell phone.  “It is … it is 11 hours and 43 minutes.”
“Oh great, you’re just in time!”
“What you mean?”
“See the door over there?  Watch it carefully.  At exactly 11:45 it will open.  All by itself.  You won’t see anybody.  Just the open door.  
Then it will close.”
“What do you saying?  Like a fantasma?”
It actually happened one minute earlier than I had anticipated, at 11:44.  But it happened just like I said.  The door opened, nobody
came in or out, then closed.  Like hocus pocus.
“Wow!  How you make that?” She asked, with a look of genuine astonishment.
“I tell you what.  Let’s dangle and I’ll tell you in the next joint.  Something a little quieter.”  I threw down change for the brew and we
walked out together.  I’d left Stan twenty euros, enough to cover our drinks after I left.
The street lanterns cast a pale green light down on us.  An old drunk wobbled past.  The door to the Moor bar was open.  Showtunes
blasted out.  Sharpies and fine looking dames bantered out front.  
She introduced herself as Flavia and we walked towards the Ramblas, cut up to calle Roca.  There’s a joint there run by a coke hound
who does impromptu magic tricks.  I mean the kind besides make your money disappear from your wallet.
We sat down at the bar, next to a large wax sculpture made from the drip of a thousand candles.  The walls of this joint were black
with soot, from probably thousands more candles.   We got our drinks.  Just a brew for me, a Malibu on the rocks for her.  We
toasted.
“You must to tell me how you make the door open.”
“That’s duck soup doll.  At the other end of the bar there was a midget dame …”
“A what?”
“A small woman, like a child, small.”  I held my hand up to the height of the barstool seat.  “You couldn’t see her because she was too
low behind the counter.  You might have noticed only the top half of the door was visible … that’s because the bottom half was
obscured by the bar counter.  When the midget dame left the place she couldn’t be seen because she was shorter than the bottom half.”
“But how you know the time she leaves?”
“Easy.  That’s when the last subway runs.  I learned the hard way last night when I missed it.  You know, stupid tourist,” I said, making
finger quotes around “stupid”.  “And she’s too short to step up on the late night bus.”
I made up the last part.  I’d seen Esmerelda, the midget dame, in the Kentucky the last two nights while I was staking it out.  Manolo
told me she always left the bar around that time because that’s when her favorite ballroom dancing show came on.
Flavia’s cell phone went off.
“Si …. Si?  Si en breve …  Estoy con alguien …  Si … No … No se entera de nada …  Es un guiri de estos …  Ha ha!  … Nos
vemos …  Mismo sitio.”
I played like I didn’t understand a word she said.  Like I didn’t dope out she was talking about me.  “Everything ok?”
Then she started.  Her well-practiced spiel.  
She told me about her brutal boyfriend, about his jealous tantrums.  He was out of town tonight and was suspicious that she was out
meeting men.  I said that’s a shame about those “macho Spanish types”.  She complimented me on my surprisingly vast knowledge of
Spanish culture.
I asked her if I could help in anyway.  She said she lived nearby and that she would feel safer if I could stay the night with her.  Her
hand was on my unusually powerful bicep muscle as she said this.  I flexed it.
She was inviting straight to the wolf’s lair.
It was on.
We blew the joint just as the bartender did his signature magic trick.  It consisted of him discreetly tapping the butt end of a full beer
bottle on the counter, then him forming and “ok” sign with his index and thumb, then making lewd movements with his fingers over
the mouth of the bottle as foam poured out.  Don’t ask me why he does it.  Then again, you never know what a coke hound is
thinking.
Flavia led me back across the Ramblas, past the sub-Saharan joy girls and the drunken English tourists.  I followed her down Nou de
la Rambla, past Plaza Lancaster.  More hot to trot joy girls and old time junkies, all the way to Paral.lel, just past the live sex show
clubs.  We crossed the street and went past the Apolo theater and entered Poble Sec.  
We stopped at a building with a crumbling façade.  There was a silver Citröen out front with flat tires, covered with graffiti.  Reggaeton
blasted out of a beauty parlor that was brightly lit and still hopping with clientele at 1 in the morning, just beside the entrance to Flavia’
s building.
The first thing I noticed about her digs was the complete lack of personality.  It was all ready-made, Swedish.  Two-seat sofa next to a
sliding glass door in the front room.  Small coffee table with a single clean-wiped ashtray.  A small hifi, small black tube style TV, a
single tessellated throw rug.  Not a picture in sight.
We just to come here.  It eez a new flat.”  As she said this she came close enough for me to feel her body heat.  Her wonderful thigh
brushed up against me.  
“You want a drink?”
“Sure.  Whatever you’re having.”
I’d take it, but it sure wasn’t going past the old bocarino.  Last time a crooked kitten like her offered me a drink she slipped a mickey
finn in it.  I sat on the tiny Swedish sofa, and almost busted it with my weight.  I set fire to a Ducado and blew a fat plume out in front
of me.
Flavia came with two slugfulls of rum on the rocks.  She handed me one and we toasted for the second time that night.
I faked a sip and mashed out my cig, then gripped Flavia’s smooth fleshy thigh.  She set her drink down and straddled me.
“Larry!  You are so big, so poderoso!”
Soon this fiery latin babe was leading me back to the master bedroom, her hand tugging on my nobler parts.  The Venetian blinds were
cracked and orange street light striped the dark interior.  Flavia pulled her dress up.  She was stacked, solid.  I could see how a mug
could lose his mind over her.  Stinko, tourist, expat or whatever.
She lay back in the bed, her head resting against the pillow, legs crossed, falsely demure.  I lay down next to her.  She pushed her warm
flesh up to me.
“Why don’t you take this off?” she asked, pulling on my flower print shirt.
“What’s the hurry doll?  Anyway, I gotta use the toilet.  After all those brews.”
Reluctantly, she pointed to the left side of the room, past a large wooden armoire, which was embedded in the wall.  There was an
open door just past it on the right, which led to the can.  
That large wooden armoire.  Bingo.  I soon as I got in her digs I scoped it for a nook where someone could hide.  Nowhere else
besides this large armoire and the bathroom could anyone be hiding.  I took the gamble.
I got up and instead of going to the bathroom I grabbed the two doors to the armoire and yanked them open.  I couldn’t believe what
I saw.
Instead of a macho ibérico armed with a camera, it was another dame!  And I’d seen her only two days earlier.  In Gareth
Chamblerlain’s apartment.  In the photos on their entertainment center.  She had the same glasses on, and the same strawberry blonde
hair.  Eva Chamberlain.  
Oh yeah.  I was ready to momick up Flavia’s Mediterranean shrimp boyfriend, but this new thing threw me off.  Eva lifted a camera
and clicked …
The flash blinded me.  Just then something hard smashed over the back of my head.  KO.
I woke with the gray dawn cracking through the blinds.  My dome ached something awful.  The most infernal hangover I ever had.  I
felt the back of my head.  A tender nob stood out, pulsing with raw pain.  I creaked up, staggered forward and sat on the bed.  There
was a shattered ceramic tray – the kind they put those smelly herbs in - on the floor next to where I had lain.  
My pockets were empty of course.  The jig was up.  With the notes and ID in that, they new everything.
Somehow I stumbled back to my digs.
That afternoon, after a cold bracing shower and a half a bottle of brown to kill the pain, I made it back up to Gracia.  Gareth, let me
in and we sat back down on his fashionable settee.
His perfectly coifed marcel of two days before was a matted mess.  His eyes were rimmed with a purplish hue, and bloodshot.  Before
I got a word in, he told me his wife had left him that morning.
“I knew it … I knew it.  Eva was going to find out sooner or later.  She was out, with friends I thought.  She took an overnight bag
and left early this morning when I was sleeping.”
“That must have been right after I saw her hiding out in Flavia’s closet.”
His forehead furrowed with three deep creases, his eyes got wide.
I offered him a Ducado and this time he took it.  He choked out smoke as I told him about my encounter with Flavia and Eva.
We went up to the mezzanine and logged in to his email account.  He had just received an email from one Eva Chamberlain.
The email said:
Dearest Gareth,
You are a pringao and a liar. You thought you was a clever chap.  You thought I would never find out about Flavia.  You don’t think I
know the password of your email?  Well I do.  You told me remember?  My dearest PAMPLEMOUSE?  You should choose your
sweetheart names more careful.  Well I decide to meet this Flavia in person one day and she seem to be a very nice woman.  Very
nice.  In fact, I am leaving you for her.  She already dumped her useless boyfriend.  Her useless boyfriend who was taking her money
anyway and wasn’t very good at tricking English tourists anymore.  He went to live with his mama like a good boy.
We have got sufficient money from you and the other men who tried to cheat on their women.  We are going to be happy.  Oh, and
take care of your detective.
besos,
Eva and Flavia
PS – Thanks for helping us pay for the apartementos por horas we used for our sexy encounters.  It even paid for the one we met
your detective in.
The attachment was a picture my sorry mug, a heartbeat before Flavia smashed my dome with the ceramic tray.
I could see the two dames heading down south along the Costa del Sol.  I could see their eyes when they hit the local watering holes
and saw all the rich tourists and expats looking for strange flesh.
I took the elevator down and headed back to my barrio.