El Raval


Early evening I entered the absinthe bar with a copy of Ask The Dust. Two women sat at an adjacent table, drank half a glass, and asked what I was reading. A conversation ensued, and I moved my chair over.


The older cousin, a secretary in black dress and red lipstick, was able to communicate in English. The younger cousin, a professional-acrobat-in-training, looked at me with promise, in grey sweatpants I imagined sliding off.


I bought the next round. As we spoke in basic Spanish and English, the British owner yelled at a waiter from behind the bar:


“If they don’t lower their fucking voices, kick them the fuck out!”


The waiter approached our table.


“Excuse me sir, and ladies, would you mind keeping your voices down?”


We agreed, and ordered three drinks.


The cousins’ friends arrived; one was celebrating a birthday, and we sang.


“Get those motherfuckers the fuck out of here!” the owner screamed.


The waiter came over.


“Excuse me sir, and ladies, would you mind keeping your voices down?”


I was invited to join them at a club, the younger cousin passing a joint on the walk. After we entered, and I returned from the restroom, they had vanished; I searched the dance floor, bar and upper floor; waited 20 minutes and repeated; I had no way to contact them.


At 4am astride dark streets; from the shadows, directly in my path, a figure approached briskly; we bumped shoulders, continuing in opposite directions as he cursed me in Spanish and I shouted “Fuck you you fucking asshole!”.


Four absinthes, three tokes, zero acrobats.

James Brodows

About James Brodows

James Brodows currently resides in New York City. His writing has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Pif Magazine, Southword Journal and Wilderness House Literary Review.




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