The Sangria Girl
“Sorry but I didn't catch your name”, I said to her.
“Sangria”, she pointed to a cardboard label attached to the very big glass pitcher. “Very good! Made of Red wine, cut fruits and a small amount of Brandy……traditional Spanish. 20£ for a Jar. Very cheap.”
“You too from Spain?” I was more interested in her and she was more interested in selling the concoction. We each had our reason. I for good part longed for some companionship for the last night of my vacation and she obviously wanted to make some money by selling the blood colored brew.
She looked in her early twenties, had blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore a black blouse, a black mini skirt and a pretentious smile. The smile I presume was reserved only for her customers for I got a smiling welcome but then she must have concluded that I was just wasting her and my time, because the beautiful smile had vanished. Moreover there were no other customer around her stall at the moment.
Would you only take pictures or will you buy something?” she asked in exasperation.
“You see I am alone. I possibly can’t finish a jar of that.”
“Why are you lonely?”
“I said I am alone not lonely. You see.....” I thought of justifying my being there alone but then realized that I would end up looking stupid. What should I tell her? That I was traveling this part of the world all alone because my girlfriend dumped me just days before we were to do this trip together. That my Tinder mate had done a vanishing act after our last night rendezvous. That I came to this street feast since this was the cheapest option.
Instead I melodramatically said, “You see that’s the story of my life. Sometimes the person who tries to keep everyone happy is the loneliest person.”
And with more animated expression than Bollywood actors I sang कोई होता जिसको अपना, हम अपना कह लेते यारो I” (I wish there was someone in this world to call my own).
This time she laughed a hearty laugh.
“You sing well! What language is that?”
“Juliet from Ireland”, she extended her hand.
“Romeo from India”, I gave her hand a light squeeze. It was icy cold. She laughed again on my stale joke.
“I get a lot of that”, she winked at me and my spirit finally rose.
The English summer hadn't been a good one for my pride but to sound sagacious I would say that it hadn't been good for my soul.The dumping act was a bad omen. For starters my week stay in Scotland was marred by incessant rains and the Loch Lomond was more intimidating than romantic at nights. I sprained my ankle in Edinburgh as I was jostled at the Fringe Festival by a group of dancers. I came to London and both Shama and Sharmin kept me waiting for 2 days while I did all sightseeing alone. I guess my breakup was the reason for the cold shoulder that I got from them – they were more close to her than me. Finally not being able to bear the solitude I got a Tinder lady to be with me for the final 4 days, who after our second night vanished without a word. I am still speculating if it was my company or my weak libido that offended her more.
“Can you sing to attract the crowd? And please sing some peppy Hindi songs”, she requested and demanded in the same breath. She was smart enough to understand my need to impress her but I guess she overestimated my swagger. This time it was my turn to be pretentious. I took a deep breath and acted as if I was contemplating hard.
“What's the matter? You nervous?”
Back in India the girls know how to massage a guy’s ego. They might even add a bit of a pouted “please” to assuage your male chauvinism than being brutally direct like this girl.“See I'll pay you 50£ if we sell out the entire stock.”
Though she looked very young her mannerism were that of a grown up. She meant business and she was looking me in the eye with a stare that was partially hypnotic and partially intimidating.
Then something got to me at that moment. I don't know if it was she or my insistence to prove my bravado but I pulled a chair to the front of the stall with her on my left. She made me a small glass of Sangria, I gulped the sweet-sour beverage. I started with a Bacchan song and the party started. People kept coming and I kept the crowd entertained by singing Bollywood numbers – old and new. Some gave the needed chorus and some even gave the much needed thumkas.
By 10pm the stock was over and my voice weak. Juliet hugged me and gave a peck on the cheek. Her way of saying thank you. I was famished, my throat chafed but my battered pride was mended a bit. She went out and brought some Beef and Bacon Burgers and a Fish and Chip. She produced a Jar of Sangria and poured us a glass each and we ate chatting and laughing. I was feeling a bit tipsy by the time the jar was over and that's when she got up to leave. I held her hand and sang “अभी ना जाओ छोड़कर के दिल अभी भरा नहीं I” (Don’t leave yet for my heart is still not contented)
I pulled her down in a chair very close to me. She surprised me and gave me a passionate kiss on the lips. She was rough and drew a small amount of blood from my lower lip. I could feel the warmth of the blood on my lower lip. She reached her finger before I could and tasted as someone would taste honey.“Sangre in Spanish means Blood.” she said with an enigmatic smile. “I have to go.”
“Then take me with you “she looked more promising to me for the night. I mean I never ever had been kissed so roughly; plus I had to redeem the 50£.
“I stay with ghosts. “She said with a giggle.
“At least that is some company. Don't want to spend my last night in this country alone. Even you know I am lonely.”
“Aren’t you afraid of ghosts” she tilted her head to one side and looked at me from head to toe as if she was trying to reach a conclusion.
“Not of the pretty type.”
She pulled me up and we almost ran toward the Dalston Street Underground. At the Ticket counter she excused herself and made a phone call. I reckon that must have been made to her friends asking to keep a room vacant. When she returned from the call she looked evidently happy and I didn't bother to probe further, I too was happy for obvious reasons. We took a tube to the West Ham Underground.
It was well past mid night when we reached the deserted West Ham station. We walked towards the Corporation Street which was a good 10 mins walk from the underground. I was getting bolder and my hand was roaming her bare waist which was oddly cold despite the hot summer night. The corporation street looked deserted and lined by haunted looking houses. The only other light was at the start of the street. Thankfully it was a bright moon in the clear sky. She stopped a few paces away from a house, removed her shoes, then removed a bottle from her bag and poured a lavender smelling water on her hands and feet. Then she took out an antique looking torch and turned the keys into a door that read 271 and we stepped into a stair landing of a house that was silent and dark. She closed the door behind us and we climbed the stairs in the neon light of the torch. It was an eerie silence and her gait changed to that of an alert cat. All this peculiar performance on her part should have got my aerials standing but my inebriated and horny stated blocked my thinking for I followed her into a room that smelled damp and strangely cold for a warm London summer night. I don't know if there were other people in other rooms of the house and frankly I didn't care. Once inside she quickly locked the door, put out the torch and kissed me wildly and we made for the bed tearing each other's cloths. The moonlight entered the room from the window and her pale naked skin was the only visible thing in the room. We made love like bunnies, and drained I finally drifted off to sleep. In the middle of the night I thought I saw a shadow leave the room and heard some strange noises coming from the window but dismissed it as a dream.
Next morning I realized that I have had an unusual experience. I was alone and the room door was ajar. The room had strange symbols and objects on the walls. There were iron chains all over the walls. The room shelves were lined with Lavender and Salt Bombs. In the center of the wall was a silver rapier that looked stained with ectoplasm and finally there was a note on the bed that read.
Don't worry I knew that the ghosts were successfully exorcised from the house but the owners wanted someone to stay here a complete night to believe that. There is no way you can get out of the house except the main door. The owners would come by 8 am, just stay put till then. I assure you that nobody in your life would ever be so happy to see you alive than the people you'll meet at the door. Thank you for all the help.
The Sangria Girl
My blood froze and I could not think what to do next. I checked the window and it was locked. I had no intention of leaving that room till the owners came thus i quickly closed the door.
But the clock ticked and ticked and ticked and no one came till 8:30 am. Each passing minute was like an hour. Finally I decided to try my luck at the door hoping that I would not encounter a blood stained hand. The door was locked and the silent house behind me was scarier than any ghost or a blood stained hand. I ran back to the room, kicked the window so hard that it gave away in one kick and clumsily I jumped down to the ground from the window and sprained my ankle in the same place again.
Grinning from ear to ear, in front of me, were an elderly couple who looked like twin gargoyles.
“We are so sorry for being late” the lady said with happiness that was oozing from her teeth.
“Here is your 50£ as promised.”
1) Ghost-busters usually use young boys and girls to detect presence of a ghost because as we grow old our sensitivity towards ghost detection diminishes. But we are still prone to being killed by a ghost despite our age.
2) Lavender, iron, salt, silver, neon lights and running water are known to keep a ghost away as they can damage an ectoplasm of a spirit. But a strong ghost can still kill us.
3) Dead bodies are cold and so are people who are surrounded by the dead and ghosts. So what's your body temperature?
(Above photo is used just to aid the story but has no relation to the story told)