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The family holiday

14 Jan

Even amongst the seething mass of colourful crazy inhabitants of Raval, he stood out like a dark tower. Sporting a big bushy beard, long hair, filthy bare feet and eyes which a kindly person given to gross understatements might describe as stark raving mad.

He seemed to just crop up on the Raval one day. Already geared to full throttle insanity. A Blue-Peter nutter, pre made before the show. For two weeks he strode up and down La Rambla de Raval shouting his rage to the skies or rocking in doorways, growling and muttering to himself.

Something about him, about those demons howling out of his eyes and reaching out to pull us in, made the Ravaliers kind. When the police rounded on him, a homeless alcoholic shuffled up and talked them out of arresting him. Street thugs shrugged off his physical and verbal assaults with no attempt at retribution. Men walking by would stop and offer him cigarettes. Some days he would accept a black coffee and a slice of bread from us, kiss our hands and call us beautiful. Other days he’d spit and call us whores.

He told us stories. Of the mafia-like woman who lived down the road and her evil son who brandished his pistol at him. Of the electricity shooting out of his feet which prevents him from wearing shoes. Of his family who went on holiday, and how he somehow got locked out of the house. ´This is why I’m like this’ he gestures at his dirty clothes and blackened feet, ‘And now that man with the gun is going to kill me’.
For two weeks, Mr. Electric Feet was everywhere.

Then he was gone. A silent full stop.

Raval life flowed in to fill the space he left empty. Comfortingly normal chaos resumed.

A month passed. Then a neatly groomed young man in his late twenties walked in. He handed in a twenty euro note and asked for change. When he was given two 10 euro notes he handed one back. ‘For the coffees’.

We were confused ‘Do you want a coffee?’ ‘No it’s for the coffees from before’. Our confusion increased ‘Coffees from before? We don’t remember you mate’.

‘Never mind, keep the money anyway’ he shrugs and turns to leave. Just as he walks out the door, his smiling brown eyes meet mine and from their depths a cheerful little demon waves back.

‘I think….’
‘Didn’t he remind you of…..’
‘Kind of looked like….’

I think Mr. Electric Feet is going to be alright.