Fishing in Beirut

March 26, 2010

Part 6: Things As They Are (scene 6)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 6: Things As They Are — fishinginbeirut @ 08:37

Frank watched the wall assembled. The keeper screamed inaudibly, moving the four men left, and then halting them. Guti, Beckham, Raul, and Figo placed their hands over their balls, and braced. Ronaldinho hovered, bug-eyed. Giovanni Van Bronkhurst whispered something in his ear.
The free kick came in and Casillas parried it, Salgado thumping it forward, defenders clearing their lines. Salgado seemed to be hobbling. Frank took a sip from his glass, Belgian wheat beer Leffe, and leaned a little back on his stool. The bar was deserted.
The ball went out over the Barcelona goal-line, skidding off the head of Puyol. Helguera trundled forward using elbows to gain space. Raul and Ronaldo darted and shimmied, as Luis Figo stepped up to take the corner, with two centuries of Portuguese melancholy etched into his face.
Frank ordered another. The set piece came to nothing, the game unsurprisingly tight. El Clasico. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, a big event in Spain, and all over the world. Loyalty, passion, and once a severed pig’s head. Zidane did some tricks at the by-line.
So it was two weeks knowing Aria, weeks where the ground wasn’t there, and he ate from the free bowl of peanuts, dreamily. Her smile made him want to do right.
He got up to drain some beer, and returned to the spectacle of Raul Bravo doing the splits. Xavi had gone down from this unorthodox challenge, and Raul Bravo didn’t seem to be able to get up without assistance. Saviola scuttled about.
Frank wanted Aria to experience this with him. They could share each other’s interests, joyfully. They had already spoken at length of their lives and their frailties, but they each had something extra, which they hadn’t mentioned yet. Time might provide the occasion.
He sensed into his body and felt some tension in his shoulders. He rolled them slowly around. Tendons stretched and muscles were loosened, and something gently cracked. His hair was warm on his forehead. He watched Raul give out pointlessly to Figo, as it was he himself who was playing badly. Figo batted him away.
Frank sent her a text at half time, and then sat staring at his phone for the reply to come. Seven minutes later he was satisfied. She was at home hanging out with Laura, tired as a dog after work. He imagined them there in the kitchen.
He’d first seen her apartment a week before, and she had yet to see his. Next week. He would ask her down and try to cook something, and he could meet her off the bus and drop her back. Laura was still unknown to him, and often meeting friends is the hardest. The girl’s close companions, who scrutinise.
Madrid emerged from the interval galvanised. The game was taken to Barca in the glorious Camp Nou. Figo sprinted down the right to boos and jeers and whistles, and fired a cross to Ronaldo, who thundered it off the post. Beckham did his best to look pretty. Guti and Xavi battled for midfield supremacy, using whatever questionable methods might gain the upper hand. Ronaldinho bounced like a schoolboy.
Frank felt some pain in his ankle. He could never play this game again, even for fun in a courtyard, and although he hadn’t been good the loss nevertheless registered. It was restriction, lessening. He finished his beer and let the game finish too, and left. It was dark with some frost on the street.
Some guy shouldered past and demanded cigarettes, but Frank ignored him, oblivious. It was sweet to know Aria’s name.

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