There he stood, an uninspiring man in a blue tie, looking at his watch to break the discomfort of proximity on the otherwise empty platform of the Ríos Rosas metro station. I’d never been to this stop before but knew it would take me to my apartment by the colors on the metro map. I’d only wandered in anyways, to escape the rays of a new day’s Sun that insisted on finding me through gaps in between buildings. Before that I’d been content with meandering the dark alleyways of unfamiliar neighborhoods calcified by dwindling patronage and the crisp aridness of a January night. And though the cold pecked at my cheeks they were flush from the memory of a man’s large hand searing itself firmly into my chest.
Oh yeah, we were standing at the side of a blue sedan, his friend in the driver’s seat with the ignition on and he drunk and with no better way to communicate how he felt than to push me away and get in the car. This, moments after I’d declined an invitation to share a cab with a cute blond girl outside the Jazz club. The Jazz club where he had looked at me and nodded toward the bathroom with his tall head and crazy eyes, just before the security guard stopped me from following suit. The blonde girl standing next to me scoffed in protest that it wasn’t fair, that he didn’t know what I would be doing in there. The security guard knew exactly what I’d be doing in there, but hadn’t I just been making out with this girl? Yes at the bar. “You should go for it,” she’d said, empty shot glass in hand. “Besides you’re a good kisser.”
“He’s Basque,” I informed her. “He doesn’t speak English or Spanish, his friend told me.” His stature was unlike the skinny young things I was used to picking up, but his large hands on my hips made me feel like a boy and when I finally asked his name he responded by licking my face, turning around and dancing with the woman behind him. But how did I even meet him? Oh yeah it was his friend; he liked the blond girl I was with and bought us all a round.
“He’s ugly,” she told me “But he’s good for drinks. Here, make out with me so he thinks we’re together.”
The blond girl. The blond girl. We’d walked to the jazz club together, from some place with brick walls, drapes hanging everywhere and a slue of African men who never let silence creep into their small drum circle. There, sitting on damp pillows, in some back corner we did lines together off a mirror she kept in her purse. She wanted to celebrate she said.
I had just told her I had a boyfriend. “Well kind of. We broke up right before I moved here. I got an email from him today though.” She was polite enough to ask what it said. “Happy birthday. But it was a week ago.”
I couldn’t quite place her accent but she spoke English well and when she saw me sitting at a bench surrounded by three empty glasses she stuck her face in mine and said, “You’re from America aren’t you?”
I had only ventured into this place because a boy I met on the metro coming home from work told me that was where he was going to be later. That I could get hashish there, and to just look for the African fellows. The boy never showed up and not even three rum and cokes gave me the gull to ask for something I’d only ever smoked at parties.
And that boy on the metro, he spoke so confidently in broken English, and had his hand on my thigh throughout the conversation. It was so easy for him, and when we came to his stop he made a quick but gentle grab for my crotch.
And now the man in the blue tie who only seconds ago seemed so far away on the metro platform, was now so close to my face that I could smell the menthol on his breath. My hand was firm on his crotch and I was trying to stretch my lips toward his. He grabbed me by the collar holding me still for a moment, his face oozed disgust and self-defense. He shook me once and then pushed me hard against the wall of the platform yelling “¡Cuidado tío!.”
“No… no…” was all I could muster “it’s my cumpleaños.”