As if the houses are climbing with me. Up the slope. While the rain shower should have been soft and friendly. Like a spring promise. With the scent of freshly cut grass.
I struggle up the deserted street. Like a drowned cat. Higher and higher over the black shiny steep asphalt slope. The rain is falling. In wavy silver curtains.
It seemed to stay dry. Apart from some splashing. When leaving the cafe terrace. A gross miscalculation. That appears to be around the corner. Half a street length past Pastelaria Jobel. Ongoing against better judgment.
Time is of no significance in Portugal. Strangely enough, I did not wait. To let the cloudburst pass. In the meantime pleasant to linger. Stir-dry enjoying a second or third cup of coffee.
Now I pay the price for my eternal restlessness. Because the rain falls with buckets down. From a gray sky. While the tree crowns swung wildly back and forth. Moaning under constant rain.
Eighteen degrees and a hundred percent chance of precipitation. But they were completely correct. The more unlikely they seemed to me. Those unfortunate weather forecasts from IPMA. The Portuguese meteorological service.
The hilltop is in sight. Creeping with heavenly dew from the dripping olive trees. Plenty of unpleasant surprises. Comparatively a trifle.
Thinking back to my moment of carelessness. That affair about a solid line. Perhaps tapped it, anyway just too much to the left. On the IC1 en route to grandma Rita and grandpa Dick.
Noted by an oncoming car. By all means the devil is in the detail. A car from the GNR gives a warning light signal. It crashes with a hiss. I reassure myself, quite naively. Nothing turns out to be less true.
We would meet again, that much was certain. Just like the coming dawn. Just as inevitable, Grandpa Dick confirms to me afterwards. He knows all about it. You are an experience expert or not.
Regarding the priorities of the Portuguese police. The emphasis is on solid lines and mandatory stop signs. Obsessive and otherwise a lack, no variation. Neither for speed control nor for alcohol behind the wheel.
Which seems obvious. To be seen many people racing around the IC1 at top speed. Two lanes, so no highway. And don’t forget that glass of “Medronho”. Or even two, after lunch. A way of life amongst Portuguese drivers.
At ample distance from the exit at Ourique. Driving in the direction of Cercal. I see them looming in the rearview mirror. Blue flashing lights, as if they are cheerfully winking. An ominous feeling comes over me. My driving style is followed critically.
When overtaking a hand waves at me. From the open car window pointing to the side, into the verge. An extremely polite young police officer appears. A razor-sharp fold in his pants. Sharpened in a manner you could slice a tomato with it.
Meekly I hand him the requested papers. I will give you a fine for it, he announces in neat English. The standard amount that we always charge for this violation. You probably remember. Because of crossing that line on the IC1.
The maximum penalty is € 249.99. As usual, you owe me € 49.99. His enthusiasm is unstoppable. Refreshing as a breath of cold air in a stuffy room. A pittance I think to myself. Must be on sale today, probably.
Thank you very much, I reply. With a grimace ready. That’s how they sell it. That cheerful mess. My mouth leads a life of its own. He doesn’t respond to my mind. That advises me to avoid this topic.
The comment splashes out of my mouth like smelly pus. That finally finds its way out. From a throbbing pimple. I was distracted for a moment, I say, searching for the button of the windscreen wiper.
Never mind. Nature paints the fields exuberantly green. My motto is: don’t moan, whine or be difficult. It’s my lucky day, I am throwing out. If the word adamant did not exist, it would have been invented by him.
The policeman does not fade for a moment.
He has followed a course for this. His smile appears naturally. With the enthusiasm of a dog looking for a discarded stick.
Logical after all that effort. From tracing to coming after me. Rewarded with the ticket. Driving away I shrug my shoulders. Whatever you want, after so much nonsense.
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