By Neli Tomova, All rights reserved © 2011
Summer in Bulgaria, 2010
- Would you, please, repeat where you want to go? - I don’t understand some English words.
- We want to have henna tattoos, Madam - those temporary tattoos which become deleted with time, - said the two 9-year-old boys to the receptionist on shift at the hotel.
- I think I still can’t understand you - probably, I have to ask your mothers to explain me in a simpler way what you exactly want.
- Oh, don’t bother, Madam, we’ve just decided we can do this when my father and his uncle comes here, - said one of the two boys and they both disappeared running out from the hotel ground floor. At the exit, the two boys were about to bump into a stranger who talked in a strange language but still looked like from a country very close to theirs.
- No, Gavin, do not sell my favourite pictures right now. Of course, my art is for sale. They can wait - maybe they are even worthless when they are drawn without inspiration… er, er, I mean… when I draw at a stroke without rest, - he was still talking when he took out his identity document.
- Mr. Johnson, we have been waiting for you. You will be here for just 2 days, but the room, I’ve chosen for you, has a nice view.
Gwallter Johnson stopped talking, but he was not in a mood to greet heartily, just said perfunctorily: "The pleasure is mine”, took the electronic card and climbed upstairs.
- God, he is behaving as though he cannot recognize me – and how could he, provided my employee thought she could seduce foreign tourists at her working place? Even her cheap tricks of not having obtrusive conversations and pretending you don’t know a language do not work sometimes. I bet these naughty kids will find greedy dealers that will make tattoos for them, but what can one do – Britons tend to give their credit cards to their children. The crisis started somewhere there – which side of the Atlantic Ocean is not so important. These little kids are about to produce over-consumption of tattoos instead of the over-production in the 30s, last century – in all cases, frugal entrepreneurs suffer.
The janitor thought to himself, "You should have given our salaries on time, my saving dear, instead of accusing some snotty English kids.”
- Well, I won’t find Cymraeg interpreters right here, maybe. But I am an artist and I need a cosy place I can stay at.
- This way, Sir. You go up this one-side road and you are right there.
- I was to the town of Bansko some or even many years ago. Then I knew someone like you, who warned me I hadn’t chosen the right season.
- Yes, Sir, he seems to have been right. Bansko is a winter resort, - the big and large man said, while he was thinking to himself: "This old chap hasn’t forgotten me, or the vague notion of me and these words. But I wouldn’t tickle his pride by telling him I was the same man that after his departure used his fame of a gentle foreign suitor to provoke jealousy and splice my sister with one of my friends. Poor her, what a crash her immediate marriage because of that foreign semi-suitor was – she married "a nice party”. We just did not know of that nice party's addiction to other women”.
- I had a child like yours, Madam; she got drowned when she was in her adolescence, then I and my wife … Never mind, - said Gwallter, thinking he didn’t want to sound like a desperate suitor looking for a replacement of his ex-wife by telling a hotel she-occupant he got divorced right after the loss- for not finding anything common with the woman who was a mother of his beloved daughter. They were different – they accused each other’s profession of the lack of heed to their child.
- Oh, Sir, you have found a nice place to stay at and to be away from home and memories. And the staff here thinks 24 hours about the 16 occupants they have at the same time, - said the unknown English woman; and then pointed to the villa manager, - turn to her whenever you want, but you know how to treat hotel staff – praise their professionalism and you will give them a reason to make them keep doing their best. Even if you want to complain, first start with something positive. Are you satisfied with the serving and your … what did Bulgarians call it … the Greek word meaning a decked with dishes table … "trapeza” - with the right syllable stress?
- OK. I want to complain about the buffet supper yesterday – a gluttonous German child overtook my last attempt to get to the trays, - Gwallter started laughing. His laughter made the villa manager turn.
- Mr… Mr… if I am not mistaken, this laughter belongs to someone from Wales I knew. I was not here when you arrived, but don’t bother to tell me who you are.
- Ivana, is that you? The Bulgarian girl from 1990.
- Gwallter? Well, we seem to be old enough to be called a grandmother and a grandfather, not a girl and a boy. ***
From the telephone receiver, Gwallter could hear the cheerful loud voice of Gavin saying:
- Well, it is good that you met your old inspiration – Ivana and you talked to her. You know when a man becomes old: when he starts talking to women 20 years younger than him on the social networks- ha, ha. If she is free, take her away, or you will count on the old saying: a man should look for a woman who can bless him with an heir- young enough, with years ahead for mistakes.
- If I didn’t know you, Gavin, I would say you get at the 25-year-old Gwallter disregarding feminists’ understanding of the older husband. You know I would keep a nice sense of women’s feelings – at least, for the sake of my beloved Lois, - here Gwallter did not know why he mentioned his daughter’s name – because he felt as a lonely person having understood there had been years since his last visit to a place abroad or he wanted a serious regarding to his memories, including those of Ivana.
- After all, beware of women with a humorous brother – we all know how he called you -"Jane” . I didn’t get the meaning of this nickname.
- Probably, it comes from some abbreviated variants of my favourite singers John Lennon and Bonnie Tylor – Bonnie Tylor’s song Total Eclipse of the Heart was ours – of Ivana and me.
- You will have grandchildren soon?
- Who told you that?
- You – you said you would be called a grandmother soon, - he was about to explain further, but he couldn’t, as a telephone ring interrupted his speech. There was a conversation in Bulgarian he could not understand, but it made Ivana annoyed. And she said after having finished the telephone conversation:
- Something bad has happened to my brother today: he was stricken by a tree he tried to cut.
- Really. I am coming with you.
- I am fine: I moved aside, but a branch accidentally hit me - it wasn’t big. It’s good you are with Jane now, Ivana.
- "Jane”? Why do you call me that?
- I call you similar to the Bulgarian for "a woman” – "zhena”, because you refused cutting timbers when you wanted to get acquainted with my work at the hotel yard 20 years ago – although you weren’t about to work much, it was summer then.
- Ha, ha. There is such a meaning in English too. Who is Jane now? Oh, sorry. Any anguish?
- I don’t know, Jane…, Gwallter, I am not a young man, not so bad if I am not OK – my children are grown up. May God bless me with grandchildren sooner.
- Oh. Ivana and you will become a grandmother and a grandfather soon – your descendants ...
- No, silly. Ivana doesn’t have children, but the saying is: I have become as old as a grandfather or a grandmother – depends on the case.
- I see you have met Ivana again - she is my competitor, but she does not have a huge parking and a rent-a-car office. It is nice you don’t forget friends and you have come personally for your forgotten belongings.
- An artist’s room is very messy; it’s nice you’ve found them,- said Gwallter, he also thanked and went away, while the two boys turned up and started to ask:
- Our mothers talked to you, didn't they? And the artist came for us – to make tattoos for us.
- Not exactly. They told me you could have washable tattoos at our tattoo artist’s, - and to herself she said, "Oh, God forbid Ivana have a tattoo studio soon,” and she added, - unless you are allergic.
- No, Ma’am, we are not. If you change your mind and are less suspicious, we will forgive you for a little compensation, - said one of the English boys with a grin, and they both made their way to the tattoo studio. The hotel receptionist smiled at them gently before they ran, and said to herself: "Hey, little crooks, you seem to be so smart that you may want money from your mothers for having carried such geniuses in their wombs”.