The lips of Spanish prostitutes are so red and so bright that you can see them even if you close your eyes. The lips of Spanish prostitutes are grotesquely, phenomenally vulgar. And in the whole of the carriage taking him from Santo Domingo to Sevilla (a short way, but a challenging way), and without once turning his head, he could see just them: the lips of two Spanish prostitutes.
They entered at Opera, and they saw him straight away. It was like currently this middle-aged Irish gentleman was the sole reason for their existence.
The two Spanish prostitutes sat on both sides of him. One pretended that she was reading his book, a short story collection by Brendan Behan, while the other was looking at him, quite intensely, without saying a word. He felt helpless, like he was mugged in bright daylight, with half a dozen sleepy Spaniards scattered about the carriage.
It was his last day in Madrid, the business trip was a relative success (a complete success was not on the cards in the current crisis), and he had spent the evening at O'Brien’s, an Irish pub not far from Noviciado. It had all been going beautifully right until the moment the two Spanish prostitutes fluttered into the carriage and perched on both sides of him.
He tried not to react. He knew what they wanted, oh perfectly, but there was no point in telling them about his wife in Dublin or that it simply wouldn't work after four pints of San Miguel (for the love of God, he couldn't get it up). They were hot, these girls, with skirts that defied imagination, but he was determined to ignore them until they realised that he was either a good family man (which he was) or a wanker (which he wasn’t).
It didn't work. Brendan Behan's "After The Wake" was a wild jungle of words, he blushed like a girl, and they stayed with him until his station. At Sevilla, he swiftly stood up and walked out without ever looking back. In fact, he only realised they were following him when he was already in Carrera de San Jerónimo, clicking their high heels ten metres behind. Silently, without saying a word.
He walked faster, and they walked faster. He slowed down, and they did just that. So that he changed the strategy and ran to his hotel, bumping into the smiling guy at the door who had always looked like a pimp but who compounded that suspicion now by asking him if those two 'beautiful ladies' behind his back were with him. Which was the point where he gave up.
To wake up the next morning with a hangover the size of a Raymond Chandler novel and no money in his wallet. In fact, the wallet itself was also missing.
'So the birds have flown’, concluded Sam, studying his face in the glass of Guinness that offered zero reflection.
‘Was the sex good?' asked Kevin.
This was Wednesday, our night at the Temple (fuck the tourists).
'I only remember the beginning', said Jim, evasively. 'They were doing things women had never done to me before'.
Poor old Jim, I thought, he had only slept with Margaret all his life.
'Soon they discovered the mini-bar, and we opened whisky'.
'Were they pretty?' asked Kevin. Clearly he was thinking of going to Madrid himself.
'I never even saw their faces. The legs were pretty. And please, don’t tell Margaret'.
'Jim', I said, trying to imagine who else could have called those legs ‘pretty’, 'did they really not say a word throughout the whole thing?'
And then it was like a small lightbulb that suddenly lit up inside his head.
'You know what – they did. They did! Now that you mention it. I remember waking up early in the morning and them standing over my bed, trying to talk to me'.
'Yeah? And what did they say?'
'It was Spanish, and they may as well have been speaking in tongues. Besides, I was basically unconscious. But I think they were telling me that they were not taking the credit cards'.
'So why did they?' asked Sam, quite reasonably. ‘Why did they, Jim?’
'Because I couldn't answer them, I guess. I do not know a word in Spanish'.
We all loved Jim, everyone did, and the next round was on me.