Conquering the City - Part 2
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have tried finishing this story. Either I get interrupted or I somehow enrage the computer and it deletes everything. I´m slightly concerned that by the time I actually post it, I will have grown old and senile and that, like many a joke told by moi (shhh, don´t tell the Spanish police I´m speaking French!) it will lose impact after ten or so attempts. Nevertheless, I am not a quitter and one more time, I will attempt to finish telling you how I conquered the city. Then, when I am not inclined to throw the computer out of the nearest seven-story window, I will tell you how the city came back with a vengence.
So, where was I? Walking along, I believe. Ah yes...there I was, walking along the bridges and parks, highrises and boutique storefronts that line my way home, taking in the sunshine and feeling pretty good about life. As I only had those four street names written down on a sticky note without such frivolties as ¨left¨or ¨right,¨distance or landmarks to accompany them, I would stop every so often to make sure I was going in the right direction. And every time it turned out I was. In fact, in order to appear more as a native and less like an American tourist, I would phrase my questions in such a way: ¨Excuse me ma´am, Calle Sant Vincent Martir, that´s further down this way, correct?¨ And the ma´ams and misters (in Spain called señoras y señors respectively) would nod and say something along the lines of,¨Yes, just keep going. You´re in the right direction.¨
Well when I checked my watch and saw I had been walking correctly for a solid half an hour, I was just on cloud nine. That meant, fifteen minutes to go - the home stretch! I started thinking about other things, such as calling my Dad for his birthday when I got to the apartment, what we would be having for lunch that day, if I wanted to walk back to school that afternoon or perhaps give the metro another try...and suddenly I found myself on a street that well, was not in line with the bridge and boutique image I had mentioned earlier. This was the only moment of hesitation in the entire walk. Why? Well, thank you for asking.
I found myself at the end of a street whose main contingent of storefronts advertised the sale of something that, for the sake of the general audience to which I am writing, I will say simply...cannot be put in a bag and carried home with you. Además (moreover) the sale of this particular ahem, service, was aimed at a particular group of people to which I do not belong. The few people moving about on this street all seemed to be impersonating zombies, which was not exactly comforting nor inviting. Scanning about, I saw a flight of stairs leading to an underground tunnel and thought to myself, ¨Well, maybe the metro isn´t that bad after all.¨ I stood there a few moments longer, my eyes darting back and forth between the direction I thought I should go according to the mental map I had and the tunnel which seemed a decent alternative. Then one of the zombie-men grunted something at me and, tunnel it was! For about five seconds.
As I scurried down those filthy stairs, out of the sun and into cold darkness, the most horrifying stench rose up to meet me. It took about three seconds to realize this was not, in fact, taking me to the metro. So I sprinted back up the flight of stairs, turning left to retrace my steps.
At the corner of the next street I came across an old woman hobbling sideways down a stoop. I asked her what direction I should take to continue on my way and she pointed to the seedy, smelly, zombie-inhabited Land of Scary Tunnel. I asked her if there was any other way, perhaps crossing the street (or jumping roofs?) She seemed annoyed by this question and told me there was no other way. I had to go under to get over.
Trying to maintain my mental composure, I bid her a ¨Gracias¨and a farewell. Then I turned on my heel (I really did. The dramatics helped my nerves) and told myself, ¨This is it Campanella. If that old woman can do it, so can you.¨ I put on the best don´t-mess-with-me face I could find and walked back to that tunnel like I owned it, stench and all.
Let me just take a moment to inform those of you who don´t know me very well that I never watch scary movies. As in the full extent of that word. Never. Why? Well I´ve always said it´s because I have a very vivid, possibly overactive, imagination and I don´t want those nasty images in my head. Now I think it´s because the day was going to come when I would have to pass through this tunnel and if I had actual images of people get ripped apart or aparitions passing through dark scary places, I probably would have had a breakdown. Luckily for me, I didn´t have these stored images to ponder so that grand imagination of mine took over.
At the entrance I saw a pool of something. This in itself is not unusual in tunnels, as my fellow tunnellers can tell you. Every metro station has its collection of ponds and pools of various sizes and shades. However I had never come across one of this particular shade of, yes, you guessed it, RED.
I´m not sure which leapt into my throat first, my heart or my stomach. Red? Red! What on earth could possibly be leaking red in an underground tunnel?! Pushing that question out of my head before Mr. Imagination jumped into Scattegories mode, I told myself, ¨Just do it. There´s no turning back now.¨ (This in fact is not true. Having already turned myself around twice in the previous two minutes it was actually something I felt pretty physcially confident in doing. Alas, the Columbus in me would have it no other way and I continued.)
Once I rounded a curve I saw a light at the other end (take that however you want). I also saw scattered silhoutted (spelling anyone?) objects moving towards me. These later turned out to be other people but that didn´t stop the don´t-mess-with-me-face from being accompanied by hunched, defensive line shoulders. I suppose after all these years, I have finally found out what they are for. Well hunched and angry and brisk, I walked through that tunnel like Vin Diesel in ...well take your pick of any of his movies, minus the Pacifier and you´ve got it. And then, suddenly, a bright light shone and I was among the living once more.
I checked the street sign and sure enough, the old woman was right. Although my scant directions didn´t include Sheer Terror, I was in fact walking the right way the whole time. I immediately said a prayer of thanks on the heel of the last one for safety and dropped the weighty façade. Ten minutes later I was looking at my apartment building and five past that I was sprawled on my bed, giddy with the delight of a major accomplishment.
At lunch, I proudly told Marisa that I walked all the way home from school by myself. I debated whether or not to tell her about the tunnel, worried that her reply would be something along the lines of, ¨What are you, insane? We call that the Tunnel of Standing Blood! No one ever comes out of there alive!¨ I decided I´d rather know what it was all about if she was able to tell me. So I briefly added that I had a moment´s hesitation at a tunnel around this particular road and waited for her reply.
She merely raised an eyebrow and said, ¨¿Sí? No pasa nada.¨ Which translates into, ¨Yeah? Don´t worry about it.¨ Apparently, it´s perfectly safe to walk through as long as you don´t go it alone at night. (Heeding this advice, I made sure to avoid this tunnel one night which led to another, even more ... shall we say ¨interesting¨ situation. Story to follow soon) Well, now I know, right?
Alright guys, so there´s my story about conquering the city on my own two pies (feet, not tasty baked goods.) Thanks for sticking with me through it all, I hope you enjoyed it. And, for anyone who is wondering, the blood-like pools I encountered throughout the entire tunnel experience proved to be nothing more than vast amounts of liquid over old patches of red paint. I discovered this upon exiting, when the light was shining directly onto one of them. Now as to what those large, separated quantities of liquid actually consisted of...
Until the next dramatic episode! All my love,