Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tales of the road, part 4

Monday January 31, 2011

My last night in Brugges I went back to the Jazz Bar. Patricia, the ex-pat American owner, had told me on my first visit that there would be live music. When I came in the second time she welcomed me and introduced me to her friends, regulars at her place.

Torben was a tall, bright-eyed, rustic, self-deprecating Dane with long hair and a beard and a fondness for mushrooms and make-believe in the forest - perhaps one leading to the other. Natalie with the beaming smile was born in the US but never lived there. When she told me her name she said it in a flat nasal way, mimicing how she thought Americans sound when they say it.

Patricia told them I was a writer and an actor and they began to tell me of their recent parts in a "theater play," as Torben called it, in Ghent. I asked what they play was about and they looked at each other and smiled and rolled their eyes and said they really weren't sure, except for a theme of "men are pigs." Some things are the same in all cultures, I said. They all agreed that Heidi, when she got there, could tell me more about it. She will tell you more about everything, Torben said. If you don't want to listen to her all night, don't talk to her. Everyone laughed.

Heidi arrived soon, and Torben got up from his seat next to me, guaranteeing that she would sit next to me, and then he smiled at me from the end of the bar - a smile that said get ready to have your ear talked off. He bought a round. We drank. I bought a round. We drank more.

Heidi spoke with a faint accent of London and told me she came from a weird ethnic mix that included some Huron Indian. She lifted her unwashed lanky bangs to show me a purple-red glow on her forehead that looked like the kind of bruise you'd get from falling down stairs. This is proof of my Huron blood, she said. Her teeth were proof of her English blood, a fact I determined on my own.

Later we smoked outside and she told me that she and Torben had been lovers. What she didn't say was that she was still in love with him, but from the way she looked at him it was another thing I determined on my own. She talked of her frustrations trying to get published and with her job as a translator. She told me Patricia was false and superficial, and Brugge was boring, and many other things, and eventually she said If you weren't a tourist I would take you home with me. I smiled but kept to myself the thought that even if I weren't a tourist, I wouldn't go.

1 comment:

Steve Scearcy said...

Berry, love the pictures and words of your travels. Keep them coming. This is well written! Thanks