This is where I live. My apartment is the one at the top on the left with stuff hanging down from the terrace. That stuff is my jungle. Sometimes I write there. Not today. Today I’ve got the door open, and it’s a warm fall day in Barcelona, but not nice enough to be outside writing. I’m inside thinking about a story from my novel Black Sheep. It’s about Ibiza in the seventies and the people I knew back then. The same people come and go throughout the stories in the book and it’s about them, about what it was like to be a black sheep in Ibiza and be happy, or at least, entertained. In my book, the stories have an order so there can be a plot, but I don’t care much about plot. Part one of today’s story takes place at the Café Mar y Sol, on the port in Ibiza in 1980.
RHONDA AND CARTER, Part One
Rhonda has so much energy she feels like she could walk up the side of a tree. Instead, she borrows a bike in Cala D’Hort and rides it to Ibiza town. As it is, she has been riding for over two hours when she sees Carter on the port sitting at the Mar Y Sol. He invites her to sit down, but she can’t sit down. First of all, her butt hurts from where she was shot up with Vitamin B, and second of all, inside she is flipping like a fish out of water, she feels like she has coca cola cruising through her veins. She is high on Ibiza’s electric energy and a bunch of happy hormones recently activated by exercise and fasting. However, because Carter is cool and Rhonda belongs to the same cool set, she contains her nervous energy, swings a very long tan leg out of a very torn, very short pair of cut- offs, steadies the bike and stands like a queen with one hand on the seat, the other on the handle bar, filling Carter in on the Nazi dentist in San Antonio.
“He wouldn’t stop drilling. I went in there with a chipped filling and now I have a gaping hole in my head. I was screaming and told him if he didn’t stop drilling I would go to the police. I ran out of there while that maniac in the white coat was staring out the window with his air gun pointed at my eye… Can you believe it ?… while he was drilling, the whole time he kept telling me I would have to have some special fluoride treatments. He practically obliterated my molar. I heard he’s ruined a lot of people’s teeth, not just mine. A lot of people probably have no teeth at all if they went to that assassin. Now I have to get this thing filled by another dentist in Ibiza town who I hear is also really bad. I’ll probably have trouble eating solids for the rest of my life after going to that escaped Nazi butcher.”
She paused here for a moment, expecting Carter to say something, at least a word of sympathy or a hint about the dentist his rich bovine aunt used, but Carter merely tilted his head slightly further back as if to be more in line with the most potent rays of the sun. He was wearing his ski instructor sunglasses and it was hard to see if his eyes were open. His silence embarrassed her, so she kept on talking. It was very quiet on the port this morning and each time Rhonda’s stomach growled, she raised her voice.
“There are way too many cars on this island. The air in Ibiza town is so polluted. Smashed cars are all over the windy little roads, it’s starting to look like that Godard movie…oh, what was the name….the one with that traffic jam? San José is getting so tacky. All those tourist buses. Did you hear about that man? They carried him out of the water half-drowned. He died on the beach, but probably not because his lungs were full of water, there was this crowd of tourists breathing down his neck! Why would they go to the beach anyway? There’s no ozone layer. Their faces are so… pink!”
She would have continued, but now she could see Carter’s eyes. They were closed. Rhonda paused, breathed, and looked out to sea.
“I never eat indoors.” She said, inhaling the smell of diesel and salt water and fish. “I prefer to eat under a tree whenever possible.”
“Free as a tree,” Carter chirped. “A single free tree.”
Rhonda turned and looked at him. This was exactly right! Exactly! She loved that he said that, it was the exact image she had of herself. Not only had Carter finally said something, he had said something to her, the real her. And, he was sexy. Up until this moment she had never even considered Carter a man, he seemed like a handsome suntanned robot.
“Yes,” she said. “I love trees.” She adjusted her Woolworth’s halter top with the hand that had been resting on the bicycle seat, and brushed a fly off one of her bony knees.
Her smile, Rhonda would have no way of knowing, reminded Carter of his aunt. This association led him to think that he should feel something for this skinny girl, but just as it was with his own body, it was with hers. Useless. He couldn’t even feel himself sitting here, not with his head or his feet or the wet seat of his brother’s bathing suit.
Rhonda decided she would take him up on the invitation to sit down if he offered again.