Thursday, 24 April 2008
Michael’s heart sank as he walked out of the underground station and saw all the crowds. How did he ever imagine that he would spot Sonny among all these people? The only way he felt he had a chance of finding him was to start at the top of Las Ramblas at Placa Catalunya Square and slowly make his way down to Port Vell. He knew the place that Gerry and Andy were looking at was around there somewhere, if he was lucky might spot a bar that was up for sale and maybe they would still be there.
Walking along surrounded by the crowds of people enjoying the chaotic atmosphere of Barcelona, Michael wished that for once he had been impetuous and suggested to Sonny that they had come to the city together. He could just imagine Sonny loving the street performers’ elaborate costumes and dragging him into the Boqueria market to look at all the wonderful foodstuffs on sale.
Watching other couples walking along hand in hand or sitting at one of the many bars along the way, he felt jealous that Sonny was happy to be here with his friends, enjoying all this without him.
By the time Michael reached the Port Vell end of Las Ramblas without finding Sonny he was feeling very hot and very foolish. Spotting a small bar at the harbour side, he dodged the traffic to cross over to the inviting terrace and found a table under the shade of a large parasol. Ordering a large cold beer and a small salad he sat looking at the tour ships moored in the harbour.
The sound of laughter from inside the bar made him glance over. His heart stopped, it was them. In the gloom of the bar he could see Gary and Andy sitting opposite two other men. With their backs to him he couldn’t be sure who they were. Glancing over again he recognised the sweater thrown casually over the younger man’s shoulders, it was the jumper he had bought for Sonny last Christmas. Michael glanced again to see if he could recognise the man with his arm stretched across the back of Sonny’s chair.
As he turned in his seat Michael could just see a reflection of the man in the long mirror above the bar. Michael felt sick, he was right all along, Carl was in Spain. So it was true, Sonny and Carl were back together again. Looking at them laughing and chatting Michael knew that he was right all along. All the months of uncertainty, not wanting to really believe that Sonny could be cheating on him, were over, the truth was now staring him in the face. Without waiting for his order Michael ran from the bar stumbling to put on his sunglasses to hide the tears streaming down his face.
Running along the seafront, oblivious to the attention he was attracting, Michael felt like his heart was breaking. All he could think was that he wanted to get out of the city and back home to the village. He needed to get away from the crowds and to try and get the image of Sonny sitting happily with Carl’s arm around him out of his mind.
At the next taxi rank Michael jumped into the first waiting cab and tried to compose himself as they made their way through the chaotic city traffic back to the train station.
‘What was that?’ asked Carl turning in time to see the back of a man running from the terrace.
‘Just some old fool who realised he couldn’t afford the prices here’ laughed Gerry
Sonny turned too late to see that it was Michal knocking over the chair in his panic to leave. ‘Don’t be mean Carl’ he said lightly punching his friend on the arm ‘maybe the poor bloke just had some bad news or something.’
‘Oh trust you’ smiled Carl ‘you’re too sensitive for your own good’
‘It’s living with Michael’ answered Sonny turning back to his friends ‘He’s a civilising influence on me’
‘Well somebody needed to be’ said Carl ‘God knows I tried hard enough’
‘Yes Carl but I was young and foolish then.’
‘And what are you know?’ asked Carl
Sonny thought for a moment and smiled ‘Happy’ he said ‘Michael’s made me happier than I ever thought possible. I know that you think that he’s a bit of an old woman but he’s good and kind and he loves me.’
‘Well in case it’s infectious’ said Andy choking on his wine ‘can we stop this conversation now and get back to the matter in hand. What did we all think of the bar we saw this morning?’
‘Bags of potential’ said Carl ‘I really liked it and the location in Carrer Del Carme is excellent, only minutes from Las Ramblas. Couldn’t be better’
‘Sonny, what do you think’ asked Andy
‘It needs a bit of work doing to it. But if you are prepared to spend some money on it I think that you’ll have a winner on your hands’
Gerry, what about you?’ asked Andy
‘With Carl’s money, Sonny’s flair and our know-how, how could it possibly fail?’
‘I’d like to propose a toast’ announced Sonny standing up from the table ‘To the future’
‘To the future’ they all chorused.
As he poured himself a large Scotch Michael looked around the empty villa. Everywhere there were reminders of Sonny. The bathroom with its usual jumble of Sonny’s lotions and colognes, the wall hangings that they had bought together from Lizzie's stall and the silver framed photographs in their bedroom.
With tears running down his flushed cheeks Michael thought, why did I have to follow him, why couldn’t I have just carried on living in ignorance?
‘I thought we were happy’ he cried to the empty room
As Michael worked his way through the whisky bottle his hurt turned slowly to anger. Everything they had together was gone. All the love they shared was now just a bitter memory. Tipping the remains of the whisky into his glass Michael threw the empty bottle crashing against the kitchen wall.
‘Nobody cheats on me’ he cried ‘nobody takes me for a fool’