Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Unite d'Habitacion...

Expat architect, part-time archivist Antony Benton-Wood was living the life you'd expect of a Corbusian devotee traipsing about Europe on the company dime, preparing "feasibility reports" for futuristic underground parking garages during the 1960's. Apartment blocks were sprouting furiously, as you no doubt remember. If you caught him at a good time, he'd tell you about his English father, his American mother, and his by-all-rights beautiful sister who lived, at last communication, in West Hollywood as an actress. If you caught him at the best times he'd tell you she's really one of those cigarette girls at The DelRay. It's a nightclub. We've been. Bottom line, 'tony's an honest dude, which when we come to think of it, might be what we Donkaynians prize most highly in our contributors. That, and the submission of all entries in periwinkle blue colored pencil.

I am leaving Porto, not for good, but for Madrid, and if everything works out I'll be in the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas by evening. Thomas is waiting for me, with the others, most likely at Sol. The plans will have to wait. I console myself by repeating the phrase, "It is well known by the locals that the curvature of the arch in Eiffel's cast-iron bridge over the Douro is hopelessly incorrect." (But do they know which one is his, not his student's?) Everything seems imprecise in this rain.

Already in Gaia. I began the morning quite nervous. The feeling built to a head in Pedro's Renault, on the way to Campanha. I choked on a cigarette, spitting up coffee onto the platform, just missing my pack. Now that I'm safely on the train to Lisboa, I breathe more freely. Strange because people are smoking. I can just make out the Atlantic through the gloom over the horizon. There's a huge sand bar. One hundred meters from crashing waves, someone should be out there, shadowboxing. Instead, it's a golf course. Now Espinho.

A small girl with a sack piled high and wide on her shoulders walks down the aisle. She looks at me with a flat grin, then turns away to find her seat. Where is she going? Why do I care? I won't speak to her. I don't speak to her. Another golf course by the sea. I've done this all before, just in reverse. But it seems different. I still shake when a train speeds by in the other direction; the whole train does.

The old man next to me brought food, presumably with which to torture me by eating, disgustingly. I am correct. I brought none. I have cigarettes though. Two packs of Ventil. A lighter. A book. Colored pencils. This notebook.

Portuguese days begin very late. Rarely is it ever bright before noon. As I write that, the sun breaks through the gray, and I can see lines of growth in the fields, neon greens under thick white, and one blue streak. I draw them on the opposite page. The old man next to me is sleeping with breadcrumbs in his beard. I steal one and use it to bleed the green into the blue.