The Tomato Manifesto
There was four of us, in that bar, in Toledo. They were there discussing tomatoes, and I nodded my head in agreement, but never put forward any particular pro or anti manifesto, for the pesto ally, although if I could, I would have promoted the beefheart, and it should be on the vine too.
Spanish was a language I could not manage well, but no matter, as that was also true of my English, but I mastered the art of keeping a keen ear for the utterance of the sound of 'tamata', from the mostly misunderstood grammar of these classical Madrilenos.
Now and then the question was asked if I was alright, and a reassurance was given that I was fine.
My cheeks hurt aesthetically, prosthetically, but pathetically, I sat it out.
An occasional Mediterranean night sigh, cooled, as it hovered through the open window, carrying with it the Camel carbon monoxide mixed with a thick squid stench.
The smoker was a woman, a tramp, a tink, with long flaxen soft locks, she was sitting, with her white shorts and cut away top, that enhanced her muscular biceps, triceps and legs, that were dark, dark brown, if not quite light black, with slack flip-flops at the ends. She swallowed back, fast, the glasses of red wine that came furiously her way and I hoped that the songs she sang, to me,were Hemingway ballads of the Franco Years.
Her face was, scarred, chiseled, carved, and well worn.
She drew on her continental roots, her black fingernails, a little darker than her nicotine knuckles. Men passed and ran their fish-stinking hands about her thighs.
Her moist cleavage glistened in the moonlight.
I hadn't realised that the conversation was now on olives, and there was further curiosity about my state of mind again. The reassurances were repeated.
It was then that she asked me, this time, holding a hand rolled reefer, for a match.
She had to ask me twice.
I looked around and lifted a lighter from our table. She crouched over and down to the flame, exposing to me the full landscape of her perfect pert breasts.
Drawing on the crumpled fag, she drew back and smiled.
I did too, a little.
I put the lighter back.
She got up and walked on, still singing.
Yes, they were told, once again, I was fine.
* * *
John Crosbie is a writer of love, life, tenderness, and savagery and a purveyor of martial arts, running and dancing.