MAGPIE TALES: There Is More Than One Toledo
As Willard Markley applied the sienna dye to the wheat colored brush, he realized the bristles were the same color as the thin moustache above his thin lips. Certainly there were plenty of farmacias off las Ramblas and Passeig de Gracia where he could buy mascara or simple tubes of beard dye, but he preferred his own concoction -- a mix of Kiwi shoe cream, soy sauce, corn starch, Noxema and Old English floor furniture polish. These familiar products always in the pantry of his parents home in Toledo, Ohio, created a horrible stench but a sturdy color that would last up to six weeks.
He had since visited the "real" Toledo many times, carrying the term "citadel" in his head on his journey back north. But, tonight, with his facial hair now artfully restored, he felt freedom and ventured off to Placa Catalunya where he would tip his fedora to certain familiar Catalan gentlemen who returned his discerning stares but never spoke, first smiling at his rat terrier, Wilma, but then flashing a disapproving scowl as he managed a weak smile. After more than fifteen years, he had feigned a passable Catalan accent that ultimately showed its artifice not unlike his mustache that looked like synthetic wig hair when the Mediterranean sun poured onto hit, exposing his fakery.
Returning to his flat and carefully placing his keys in the Lalique vase in the foyer, he strolled to the kitchen to fetch a dinner of poultry soft food and kibble for Wilma who sat patiently and looked up at him with a reverence he had seen from the eyes of young Catalans on his first trip here 30 years ago. As Wilma devoured her evening meal with great gusto, Willard recalled boots clomping on parquet entries years earlier that turned the corner to a sitting room with glorious anticipation. If only that moment before the turn could be captured and pressed in a book of memories forever. Before he could even complete this thought, Wilma had completed her meal, turning to her water bowl lapping in the drops with great enthusiasm that brought Willard back to the immediate and content knowing that she would soon be next to him in their favorite large armed chair by the double windows facing the street.
Labels: Magpie Tales