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“¿Hola, cómo están ustedes?”, Pablo Escobar inquired to the hearty bunch of mujeres that just walked into his small gallería.
“Ah, mas o menos señor, gracias.”
“¿Tu necesitas ayuda o sólo estás buscando?
“Estoy sólo buscando, gracias…” The young lady said curtly. She looked him up and down for a few seconds as if she saw something wrong and then walked on. Pablo turned around and looked at himself to make sure he had not spilt his patatas bravas, or delicious potatoes with a spicy sauce over them, that he had eaten earlier. He saw nothing except his size small polo shirt tucked into his clean cut khakis so in relief he rolled his eyes towards the rude woman and sat down behind the counter.
Pablo had owned this gallería ever since he was a teenager. He had learned the trade from his padre and taken over when he had died suddenly of cancer years back. He absolutely loved painting and art; however, it just was not making him el dinero that it used to. People in Madrid should be thriving over his hand-made paintings and sculptures! Also, he was right in the middle of Carrera de San Jerónimo, a local shopping square in the heart of the city. The best sales he ever makes are from tourists usually, in which he is thankful for his English speaking abilities. Being bilingual can become very useful when you are trying to barter a sale with a silly foreigner.
As the four women walked out of the story chatting away with plenty of other shopping bags, Pablo’s irritation heightened. Dios mío, he thought. He walked outside of his shop, locking up the doors and turning off the lights on his way out. He flipped his little “Abierta/Open” sign to “Cerrada/Closed” and then sat down into his plastic chair in front of his tienda. It was finally siesta time and it was much needed so that his temper could subside.
Once Pablo’s small watch on his wrist began beeping to tell him that it was four o’clock already, he took a deep sign, flipped back the sign to open, and went inside his shop. He walked to the back to check on his earlier painting from the morning and see if it was dry. Perfecto, he said aloud to himself.
“Si, es”, agreed a higher pitched voice from behind him. Pablo jumped from surprise and whirled around to see his beautiful hermana standing behind him.
“Dios mío María, you scared me!”
She laughed, “Lo siento Pablo, I was just coming by to say hello. I was shopping in the city with my friends and guess what?” She teased with a little bit of her Spanish accent rising over her otherwise perfect English.
“What?” He asked, now smiling and glad that she had come by to cheer him up.
“I told them all about your little tiendo and your beautiful paintings and I told them to recommend you to all of their families so that you can get more business!” She seemed very pleased with herself and could not suppress the smile overtaking her face. Frankly, Pablo could barely hold back his grin either. He stood there for a few seconds and then responded to her kindness with a big hug.
“Muchos gracias hermana, I need the business!”
“Si, yo se; I always will have your back brother, you should know that by now!” She insisted.
“Yes, I know I should. I’m so worried that mi tienda will have to be shut down if I do not make better money. Poor Alejandro across the way closed his restaurante up for good last month…”
“I know Pablo! And I feel bad…everyone feels bad! This economía is awful for everyone”, and she quit talking as an American man walked into the store. They greeted him and she continued in a hushed tone, “Yo estaba mirando las noticias esta mañana y ellos dijeron que una de cada cinco personas españoles están sin un trabajo. No sé qué hacer!” The man that was looking around finally left so she began to speak in a normal tone again and back to ingles. “I am so worried about you because you’re our family’s main income and we have to take care of our madre. Primero es familia Pablo!”
He let her rant on because he was fully aware of how much he was depended on. He must produce beautiful artwork and make sales and make his father proud. He knew that he was looking down on him and the absence of knowing what tomorrow will bring pained Pablo’s conscience every day. Finally he answered, “I know María. Please just let it go. I will never let this family go to waste. Papá may be gone but he knew that I was capable of providing; so please just trust me.” He kissed her on the cheek and thanked her a last time. She left without another word.
In the next four horas, Pablo made only one small sale to a young Spanish woman, so Pablo closed five minutes early and rode the bus home as always. As he arrived to his casa he forced a smile on his face and walked in to greet his madre.
“Mamá! Estoy en casa! Donde estas?”
“Pablo, rápido! Mamá is not well!”
“Que? What’s wrong with her!”
“Ella tiene dolores en su corazón, que hacemos?”
The fact that María was now speaking in all Spanish, he knew something was extremely wrong. They usually spoke mostly ingles to one another for practice and simply because they both spoke it, but Spanish is much quicker, so in fights or urgent matters they revert back to their native language.
“Dios mio, how long has it been going on?” He asked her trying to stay calm for the both of them.
“Yo no se, acabo de llegar hace cinco minutos. Necesitamos ir al hospital ahorita!”
“Si, si, vamos a ir”.
So they rushed her to the nearest hospital by bus and the entire way she clinched her chest and Pablo tried to keep her supported and María calm. They waited in the emergency room for almost an hour and finally they took her back but Pablo and María had to stay out in the waiting room. María was frightened and Pablo was forcing himself to keep it together for her as he pulled her close and tried to comfort his sister. Finally after almost three horas, the doctor came out and called for the familia de Felicia Hernandez. Pablo and María jumped up and five minutes later they were both in tears.