A Faint Whistle in the Night


At the entrance to the urbanización where I live is a sign. Some bricks and wrought iron and a hand- painted board with the name of the urbanización painted in green on a white background. The hand that painted the board maintains the sign. This hand belongs to a retired cartoonist from the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph.


Most hot afternoons two old geezers rest using the brick-built part of the sign as a makeshift seat. There’s no shade, the urbanazación’s president felt it would be too costly to water a palm, if one were planted. The two walkers don’t mind. They rest their long sticks against the sign and tip bottles of water carelessly over their heads.  My one-minute exchange of pleasantries is enough time to watch their hair start to dry. There isn’t much of it in any case –  and they both wear battered straw hats with an aplomb alien to all but those who can remember a time when everyone wore a hat of some kind.
There are plastic plants around the sign. The two Andalucians shake their heads at these every time they take their ease here. Most likely they walk all the way along the old railway track to the Coin railway station building that’s been derelict for over 50 years. They probably remember taking a train along here themselves at a time when few people had a car. Or maybe they rode a horse to work or lived and toiled on one of the farms now covered in northern dreams.


I expect my own northern dream – if not the whole urbanización – stands on a former horse ranch or cereal field. Sometimes I listen to the donkeys at night and in the background I believe I hear that Duquesne Whistle blow. 


More Smashing Words at Smashwords

I have put a further shortish collection of mostly flash pieces on Smashwords.
Around 80 of your British pennies would buy it in any e-book format…

A Story A Week by Ewan Lawrie

40 short stories written at one a week over the course of a ten-month period. From the Andes to Andalucia and many places in between as varied a selection of short stories as will ever be read

There Are Sandwiches in the Afternoon

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Chato’s is on the shady side of the street, where the blocks melt into industrial units and the vans outnumber parked cars by 3 to 1. It’s a breakfast and early evening place, except if there’s football on the TV. Partisan fans who’ve never been out of Malaga Province bellow for Barcelona or Madrid – there is only one Madrid. It’s mostly friendly – if high decibel – banter. Some voices are lowered as they leave, muttering, if the result hasn’t gone their way. Then the shutters are lowered by 11 in the evening, come what may.
Morning is coffee and buñuelo time, although some of the more macho clientele have bread smothered in Manteca, an orangey, garlic-redolent lard. This tastes worse than it sounds, and smells – at second-hand – worse than it tastes. Older guys, retired or near to it, have a coffee blacker than a smoker’s lung and a clear anis in a shot glass. Then they go out to smoke. They eat neither a buñuelo nor the Devil’s Lard on Toast, being sufficiently fuelled for the day.
At about 10, the Policia Local arrive. They park their car out of view in front of the Centro Polideportivo on a street going off the other side of the road. They sit outside on the terrace and someone might wonder why they park out of sight. No-one would dream of asking them. A coffee takes them a half-an-hour and maybe this goes down in the activity log as security advice for local businesses. The Policia Local leave and the Guardia Civil arrive, most likely having occupied the self-same parking space.
There’s a blackboard on a window-sill. Careful block capitals read ‘There are sandwiches in the afternoon’. This carefully correct grammar is puzzling. Are there none before midday? In any event, these sandwiches will not be neat crustless triangles containing cucumber or cress. Rustic hard-crusted rolls with tomato passata and stiff, cured ham. With a glass of anis on the side, naturally.
Oh, and down here in Andalucia they’re called Pitufos, which means Smurf.