She began to cry, silently, suppressing a basic human emotion and words flashed through my adolescent mind. “There, there – it’ll be okay – are you alright?” Words from my childhood and all of them cowardly used by people who want normality. A desperate space existed for us, a space between home and Javea – Spain – 1976. So, I said nothing, instead I held her hand and surprisingly she smiled. She had been seen shoplifting and the local police chief had stuck a deal. Sleep with him and she was free to go – tonight. We had sneaked away, the Master was looking for me – time for my run – her friend was looking for her – time to pay a debt. We drank some Sangria and I made a plan. She liked it, but she was scared – I knew it was the best way – the only way. I had to leave her for an hour, I promised to return and she believed in me. Santiago was a fisherman, a friend a fellow drinker and a scoundrel. He fished the French waters – illegally 😜. He was no lover of the Guardia, so cheating the Chief of Police and to have a beautiful young girl as company was not an unattractive offer, but unlike the Chief of Police, Santiago wouldn’t be a threat to her honour.
I returned to her, we drank more Sangria and I explained how she could easily get from Normandy to London and home. We walked and talked late into the night and found ourselves by the Marina, we needed somewhere to rest and where better than a yacht. I picked one with a cover and we squeezed inside. You don’t need sleep when you’re eighteen, we snuggled down on one of the beds and with her head resting on my shoulder I reassured her that she would be safe with my fisherman friend. Santiago was due to cast off in four hours and as a gentleman I’ll leave you to decide how we spent it 😉 I said goodbye to Grace that morning, forty two years ago and I’ve never seen her again. When I returned to the van the Master was not pleased. “Missed your run last night, out all night again and up to no good I reckon,” he said.
“As always,” I grinned.
Footnote: A deviation from my usual post and it’s up to you guys to judge 😉 Santiago wasn’t his real name as he did more….. lets say ‘delivering’ than fishing. I have no photo of Grace or Santiago, but the images I selected are very close (from memory) Is it true? Well I’ll leave that up to you to decide 😉 xx