To Capture A King: A Short Story


by Norbert Ehrenfreund Published Spring 2012
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Illustration by Josh GeorgeOfelia couldn’t understand what they were saying, but they were arguing. They circled around, and he pointed at the inn hopefully, but she crossed her arms and shouted. Eventually, they parked their bikes, and he reached for the lady’s hand, but she drew it away. “No,” she said, and walked ahead.

The woman was exceptionally pretty, much prettier than Tomayo’s bride. She was very young, hardly twenty-one, and a natural blond with bright blue eyes, a big chest, and long legs. Her hair curled around her shoulders, and she wore a man’s white shirt, which was wet with sweat in the back from the bicycle ride in the sun. She stopped at the doorway, turned to the man, and spoke in an angry whisper, gesturing back toward their bicycles, but he opened the door anyway.

Ofelia guessed from the movies she had seen in the main village that they were Americans. When they entered the inn, the men sat up and stared. Television had not yet reached the island, and the only movie house was thirty miles away. Ofelia was sure that here in this remote corner of Ibiza the men had never seen anything like this woman.

“Kevin . . .” the woman said sharply as they approached Ofelia’s counter, and tugged on his shirt sleeve.

Habla inglés?” the man named Kevin asked Ofelia.

No,” she said.

The woman threw up her hands and rolled her eyes at Kevin. They fought for a few minutes more, and finally he sighed, conceding the battle to her. She crossed the room impatiently and went to wait for him by the door.

He turned to Ofelia. “Tiene teléfono?” He made a motion with his hand to his ear as if he were calling on the phone.

This time she understood. “No,” Ofelia said. “No teléfono.”

Kevin turned and went to leave too. But the woman’s expression had changed. She held up her hand and nodded toward the men playing chess at the tables. She seemed pleased with what she saw.

The couple looked at each other. This time they were in agreement. They turned back to Ofelia. Kevin pulled a book from his backpack and referred to it as he spoke to Ofelia in broken Spanish. Yes, she had a room upstairs, she said, and led them out to the backyard behind the inn to show them the pump. She worked the handle up and down in the dim light until water came out. She filled a pitcher and handed it to Kevin.

El lavatorio,” she said, and pointed to the outhouse across the yard. It was an old shack with boards nailed to the side.

Back at the counter, the couple turned over their passports. Now Ofelia was sure they were Americans. Kevin looked at his book and said: “Electricidad?

No,” Ofelia said. “Lo siento.” She lit a kerosene lantern and handed it to Kevin, who looked at his bride and shook his head. He held the pitcher in one hand, the lantern in the other.

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