No. 1: Duct Tape Blues
El Gato Pervertido Bar – Salamanca, Spain
40.9684° N, 5.6637° W
It was 3:12am on a rainy Wednesday in the El Gato Pervertido karaoke dive bar on Calle Zamora in Salamanca.
The gloomy place was empty, except for me, five other patrons and the cross-eyed old bartender with bad breath. At the round table nearest the cramped spot-lit stage, three slurring Tokyo Electric Power Company nuclear engineers animatedly argued in English with a gap-toothed local working girl in orange spandex about the difference between being “culturally fucked” and “fucked culturally.” They were genuinely perplexed by the conundrum, which was mildly amusing at first, but soon grew tedious. I tried to tune them out, but the more Ozeki sake they imbibed, the louder and, apparently, the stupider they got.
Interestingly, the golden-haired girl’s figure reminded me of Honey’s wondrous curves. Vivid memories of those crazy, hot nights in Tulum, Mexico crashed through my consciousness like a California mudslide. Oh, how I missed romps on moonlit beaches an arm’s length from green sea turtles laying eggs in the sand. We’d both fill our respective holes, then crawl to the ocean for a swim. There seemed to be less anger in the world back then, back before the events that set me upon this insane quest of mine.
Here and now, on the bar’s stage next to an old drumset and cheap disco ball mounted on a flimsy stick, a drifter in a tan 1980s trenchcoat–who I learned from the barkeep was suspected of being a former Catholic priest excommunicated for impregnating five nuns, all of them literally sisters–mauled Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in a high-pitched, effeminate voice. Every time the lyrics required him to shout “Hey,” he’d enthusiastically fart and giggle, then sheepishly scan the indifferent establishment for a reaction.
At the bar, I slumped, disheveled, with two black eyes and a busted lip. I reeked of sweat, cigarette smoke and cheap vodka. Exhausted, I lazily stirred my ninth Bloody Mary of the night with a wilted celery stick, recalling recent events with a tired grimace that made me wince.
Twenty-one hours earlier, gagged, with my hands and feet bound by duct tape, and a Vibracare electric toothbrush lodged up my ass, Gérard Depardieu’s bodyguard had “escorted” me to the Spanish border in the back of a black Hummer H3 Alpha. The two-hour journey was horrid, and for a while I actually feared for my life. The insipid French pop music blaring from the radio exacerbated an already terrible situation.
The inciting incident–in an abandoned railroad car in Toulouse–involved Depardieu’s daughter, Roxanne, a fully charged marine battery with three meter-long jumper cables, and a slobbering doberman on Viagra named Russell. The judicious addition of flammable fluids to our encounter proved particularly stimulating, if in retrospect somewhat foolish, considering the adjacent tank railcar still contained several hundred liters of kerosene-based aviation fuel. The incredible experience prompted me to jot down on a wet napkin this little diversion.
Still, I was angry with myself for risking complete exposure of the operation over a piece of tail. The stakes were too high to be so selfishly reckless, and for a classic dead end! All of the surveillance, bribes, dumpster-diving, blackmail and hacking. All of it for nothing. How was I going to break this crushing news to the crew?
Bzzzt. My vibrating smartphone wrenched me back to the present. The text message from my trusted lieutenant that I’d been waiting for all night confirmed our rendezvous for the following day. It read:
c u rg plc, rg tme. dnt b l8. 😉
Javier, for fuck’s sake, I am not an Allied cryptographer trying to break the Enigma codes. Spell things out when you text me from now on, you dildo. Round up the Lizard chiefs for a summit. Turning my phone off now. See you at the tank. Bring coffee.
I tossed a crumpled €100 note onto the bar next to my drink and hastily slipped into the dark alley that would disgorge me onto Calle Vázquez Coronado to the south. That horny holyman’s shitty rendition of “Desperado” was the last thing I heard as the door closed behind me and I made my way in the drizzling rain to the train station.