Even though he had been damned unhappy living a sabbatical in Buenos Aires, even though he was afraid of being so miserable again in that city he had loved since he was a child even before he met her, Barclays, who lived in Miami, where he was doing a television program, he accepted the proposal of an Argentine channel: he would spend a week of every month in Buenos Aires, recording interviews with big celebrities, or with little celebrities, with somewhat self-destructive people, willing to waste their time, talking trifles with he.
It was not for money that Barclays wanted to spend a week of each month in Buenos Aires: contrary to reason, defying prudence, he was still in love with that city, with the inhabitants of that city, with a particular inhabitant of that city. He had a powerful hunch that he would be a better writer, or a less sloppy one, if he allowed himself to be disturbed and maddened by Buenos Aires, even at the expense of his health.
Barclays put only one condition on the owner of the Argentine channel: I don’t want to interview politicians, I don’t want to talk about politics, I want to interview characters from art, culture, entertainment, musicians and singers, actors and actresses, comedians, to models, to starlets, even to bumper-to-bumper figures of the coarsest, crudest showbiz, not to politicians, in no case to politicians.
That was how, every three weeks, Barclays took a week off in Miami, played repetitions of its program on the channel in that city and traveled to Buenos Aires to record interviews with the stars or ghosts that the Argentine channel chose. That is how he became a temporary resident of Buenos Aires again. This is how he fell in love with two women who lived in that city: a bookseller and writer for the Ateneo Splendid bookstore and a cultural journalist for a television channel. In addition, she had a reluctant or reticent boyfriend in Buenos Aires, a very handsome young fashion journalist, who no longer seemed in love with Barclays, as he seemed frustrated or exhausted because Barclays, all of him, was at odds with fashion.
He met the budding bookseller and writer, named Andrea, one afternoon, visiting the Ateneo Splendid, overwhelmed by the beauty of that theatrical bookstore. Andrea recognized the peripatetic Barclays, approached him, greeted him, told him that she had read his books, that she used to enthusiastically recommend them to clients who asked for a suggestion, advice on an undiscovered author. She was middle-aged, certainly younger than Barclays, and she could appear pretty or not so pretty, depending on how you looked at her, depending on how you listened to her. When Barclays looked at her and listened to her, he thought that Andrea was a fantastic literary creature, who lived for books, in books, and so he took a keen interest in her, as well as being flattered, because Andrea claimed to have read all her books.
Andrea lived in Liniers, with her mother and her dog Frida. His father, a mathematics teacher, intellectual, writer, had died of a heart attack, teaching. Andrea had not been able to recover from that loss. He loved his Spanish grandmother, who lived two blocks from his house, in a peaceful area of Liniers. He wanted to write a book about his Spanish grandmother. I wanted to be a writer. Not for that she was willing to quit her job at the theater bookstore. He liked it, they paid him well, they loaned him the books he wanted to read, they allowed him to decide which titles would be exhibited more prominently and which works would be confined to the margins, in the shadows, in oblivion. She had, therefore, a power: she was the boss or factotum of that theatrical bookstore through which as many Argentines as tourists passed, and not a few writers cultivated their friendship, not only because Andrea was a strange and fascinating character, but also because she had the power to elevate some and relegate others.
Barclays and Andrea saw each other when he had finished recording his interviews. Usually, she went to the hotel where he was staying, a French hotel in Recoleta, where he was pampered and pampered. They didn’t talk about television, about the Barclays interviews, because Andrea didn’t watch television, she didn’t have a television at home. They would talk about books or movies, they would go to the cinemas at the last late night show and then Andrea would do what she liked best: she would kiss Barclays furtively, sitting in the last row, as if they were two lovers committing a felony or a crime. wrongdoing, and at times he got emboldened and opened the writer’s fly. Rebellious, rebellious, freethinking, Andrea said in a sardonic tone that she was not interested in penetration in any of its forms and that her true passion was oral eroticism, mainly attacked in theaters: that was the most pronounced feature of her extravagance or madness. , and she didn’t seem willing to apologize to anyone for that. How could Barclays not love Andrea: in Miami he certainly wouldn’t find a woman like her, this catty and ghostly.
The newscaster’s reporter was called Paola, after one of Barclays’ daughters, and judging by her insolent beauty, she looked less like a reporter than a tortured model or escort. He wrote to Barclays with such insistence, asking for an interview to talk about his books, not television or politics, that the writer gave up and they agreed that the interview would take place in a hotel in Puerto Madero. Barclays didn’t know what maze he was getting into, which roller coaster he was riding. He thought it would be one more interview, without too many consequences. He was wrong. The interview was rather bland, without sparkles of originality, without pointed questions, and Barclays resigned himself to saying four predictable nonsense. Then Paola said goodbye to the cameramen in some haste and suggested to Barclays that he go up to her room with her, as she wanted him to sign one of his books, which she had left forgotten upstairs in the room. As soon as she entered the room, Paola, who had a beautiful body and knew it, who was staring with a disturbing impudence, said to Barclays: “I want to know if you are fucking.” Then she took off her clothes, all her clothes, as he looked at her, puzzled, puzzled. Barclays answered honestly: “Yes, I’m fucking.” Immediately he approached her, kissed her, carried her to bed, took off her clothes and loved her with a burning fever. Not content with a first erotic skirmish, Paola asked or demanded a second skirmish, a third act, the prolongation of that unfinished volcanic ceremony. This is how Barclays realized that, for the first time in his traveling life, he was loving a nympho, a catlike and ghostly nympho from Buenos Aires. To be fair, that discovery, or that glare, scared him.
Formally, then, Barclays came to Buenos Aires every three weeks to work for a television channel, to record interviews with art figures, or from that loud and unruly area, the show business, which believed to be art, without being it. Informally, however, Barclays had other ignoble missions to fulfill: buy books at Andrea’s bookstore and then go to the movies with her and let her assert her power, clandestinely screening her own B-movie; to meet Paola at the hotel for no other purpose than to invade her begging body and listen to the more or less gruesome stories of the loves she had with powerful characters in the city, always ready for one more erotic encounter; and seeing her reluctant or reticent boyfriend, who knew about Andrea, who knew about Paola, and that is why he saw Barclays as a desolate, lost subject, who did not know fashion or beauty, who was not capable of being loyal to a single girlfriend or a single boyfriend: it was clear then that Barclays still loved her boyfriend, but he didn’t love him anymore.
In addition to seeing these three people, Barclays often went to a clinic in the historic center of San Isidro, where her boyfriend’s sister, a young, noble, charming woman, was fighting advanced cancer. The woman was desperate because she was the mother of a young daughter and she did not want to die, she did not want to leave her daughter orphaned of a mother, at such a precocious age. She was the wife of a rugby player, she had fallen ill with cancer when she went to live in Chile, accompanying her husband. Now death had her surrounded, cornered, and she found no way to escape. Her name was Candelaria, they called her Candy. Sometimes he suffered so much that he beat his head against the walls, until he passed out, until he was unconscious, bleeding. Barclays was so shocked after visiting her that he desperately needed to call Andrea and love her, call Paola and love her. She needed physical love, the most animal eroticism, to escape death, from the shadows of death, from its stale, thick, stinking breath. He could not forget that devastating image: being with Candy in the clinic and suddenly seeing her banging her head against the walls, crying out loud, cursing her luck. In a year or more, cancer destroyed Candelaria and caused her a slow and excruciating death. At her funeral, comforting her reluctant or reluctant boyfriend, Barclays thought that the only possible revenge against death was art and, if anything, love, passion, eroticism, the unbridled pursuit of pleasure. Because of that, he always returned to Andrea and Paola, the one knowing about the other, without caring, fortunately for him, although without wanting to meet.
For three years, Barclays had that promiscuous relationship with Buenos Aires: she did not live in that city, but she spent a week out of each month, and she did not have a love in that port, but two or three, depending on her boyfriend’s fickle mood.
After three years, Barclays sold out and gave up. In addition to doing the program in Miami from Monday to Friday, he would travel to Lima every Saturday to present a live program, on Sunday nights, and he had no more left over to go to Buenos Aires one week of each month. Weary, he collapsed, dropped like a camel in the desert.
However, he did not last long without seeing Andrea and Paola. Now they traveled to Lima from time to time, invited by him, to see him on certain weekends. The ceremonies of love, elusive with Andrea, who shunned the conventional or aided forms between lovers, and instead fiery with Paola, who left Barclays reduced to rubble, they then moved to a hotel in Miraflores, where the writer knew how to keep alive Argentine passion with those catlike and ghostly women of Buenos Aires.