I’ve always been a lucky son-of-a-bitch.
For instance, they paid me eight-and-a-half thousand dollars to write this prologue, and I haven’t even finished reading the manuscript I’m supposed to write the prologue for.
Wouldn’t you say that was lucky?
Or at least admit that I’m a son-of-a-bitch?
My publisher finally tracked me down at El Gato in Madrid. “Where’s that prologue?” she demanded over the phone. “And keep it under five-hundred words this time.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied sarcastically, trying not to let her hear me laughing with glee.
“Who’s that with you?” asked my publisher, somewhat annoyed. She thought I should always be writing, not enjoying myself in some tapas bar with the señoritas.
I covered the mouthpiece with my hand. “Shhh, she can hear you,” I said to Glee and the others. “Stop that! Please girls! I’ll be with you in a minute. Order me another Mahou and some croquetas, will you?”
“Is that your wife?” asked another, reaching for the phone. “Let me talk to her.”
“He’s married?” asked a third. “He sure doesn’t act like it.”
“Shhhh,” I hissed at them. “Quiet girls, please!”
“There’s nobody here with me,” I lied into the mouthpiece. “I’m writing.”
With any luck, of which I have plenty, I’ll knock this prologue out by siesta time, I thought. Then maybe go uptown, get a bite to eat. I know a great little place just off the Calle de Alcala.
“I need it by Friday,” said my publisher.
“What’s the hurry?” I asked. “It’s just an autobiography by a broken-down old animator, isn’t it? How interesting could that be?”
“The Company thinks it has great potential,” she answered.
“He named it Hold the Beetroot, for fuck’s sake,” I said. “What does that even mean?”
“Remember, Rusty. By Friday please.”
“We’ll see,” I said. “Bye.”
“Don’t you hang up on me!”
“Eureka!” I answered. “Inspiration has just struck! Gotta go.”
“Inspiration my ass! Listen, you no-good, lazy …”
I hung up.
Turning to the girls, I said, “Sorry ladies, I’ve got to get to work. Why don’t you meet me at La Paloma tonight about ten o’clock. Okay?”
The girls picked up their things and left, calling me a few choice names in Spanish.
That was okay. Luckily, I don’t speak Spanish very well, so I couldn’t be too offended.
The beer and croquetas arrived.
I picked up the manuscript and began to read…