The frantic Spanish of a frightened woman woke me at 3am.
I couldn’t make out what was being said, but I knew it was about Josep. Without switching on my light I peered through the venetian blinds. Amelia, illuminated by lamplight, was speaking on a cordless phone.
The conversation went on for a while then ended. Then another conversation started at a different timbre. Then it ended. It went on like this. I lay awake listening.
About half an hour later a buzz rung out, followed soon after by the clicks and clacks of the front door’s locks. I listened to the thud of footsteps and the clattering of a gurney, “jesus, how would they all fit in the elevator?” I could make out at least one man and woman they both spoke with patient, sympathetic tones.
After a few minutes the front door opened and the thud of footsteps, clatter of the gurney and voices of Amelia and the paramedics disappeared outside the apartment. Everything was quiet again.
I crept to the front door and peered through its peephole, I watched them all trying to squeeze into the birdcage elevator. The lazy paramedics had positioned the gurney vertically. Josep, with the blanket pulled up to his shoulders and the straps across his torso resembled Hannibal Lecter. Amelia was crammed in facing him, the two paramedics filled out the rest of the compartment. It took them a moment to work out they needed to shut the outer screen door for the elevator to descend then they all sunk out of view.
A cramp kicked me in the stomach and I limped back to bed.
I got up at 8am. The whole apartment was still and quiet. I fixed myself some boiling water and squeezed lemon into it (this is literally my remedy for everything). With nobody to keep me company/make me feel uncomfortable I wandered around the living room for the first time.
The room was draped in the gentle Barcelona winter sunlight that streamed in through the windows. Decorative plates, mostly depicting scenes from around Spain, covered every countertop.
I sat on the couch. On the coffee table was one large book, La Mancha: La Terra de Quixote. It was a fabulous edition; Picasso’s skeletal rendition of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza was printed on the front. Running along the bottom was the name ‘Josep Ferrer’.
Opening it the first thing I saw was a photo of Josep. But it was not the ghost I had watched haunt the apartment for the last few days, he was young, smiling, his eyes bright behind his glasses.
Josep was dead I was certain, but we sat together in the calm of his apartment washed with the Barcelona sunlight. I turned the page and he began to speak to me.