Book 1, Chapter 7

Miserable.

Walking around with a half a tooth missing and getting lightning bolts every time something touches it is the pits.

Toothless hick.

I didn't realise it straight after the fall, but I've broken my nose, and hit my head really hard - just to add to the rap sheet. And that hangover...


Round two with the dentist.

He gives me a root canal on my broken tooth, then shoves a metal spike into my toothhole and moulds a 'temporary crown' around that.

It looks like a piece of chewing gum...

I get a mouthguard, for free, that I have to wear 24/7, even to eat...


I can't stay in Barcelona. Not for two weeks...

So I flee to somewhere I feel safe: Andorra.

It's only a day's ride from Barca, a tiny country nestled in the Pyrenees. It's gorgeous. The hostel there has a big fireplace, and feels like a rock-cabin retreat for millionaires...

I'm gone.

I take the major motorway; fuck the scenic route.

I have a tub of yoghurt for lunch at a petrol station; it's all I can eat with this fucking mouthguard.

Back on the road, and I can see it coming, a long way off...

Black. Near pitch...

I start the climb into the Pyrenees mountains.


Rain....

Pissing rain.

I've never, ever seen rain like this before.

Violent! And cold as ice.

Heavy and brutal, in seconds it's running down the back of my neck in rivulets, and under the back of my waterproof-onesie-riding-condom.

I quickly lose the feeling in my fingers and toes.


Half an hour of climbing.

It comes down harder.

And colder.

I'm shivering, violently.

Hands and feet turned to wood.

It's fucking stonking down. The noise in my helmet is drowning out even the Enfield...

I touch one hand onto the other. It feels like touching a corpse. No feeling. It's like my hands don't belong to me anymore.

I'm freaking out. This is doing me damage.

I'll be ok. I'll be ok. I'll be in front of that fireplace before too long.

I'll be ok.

Hot shower soon...

I'll be ok. I'm not gonna cry.


An hour.

My brain's not working right anymore.

I pull into the hostel. Finally.

My feet are so numb it's like walking in a moon boot.

Locked.

The doors, are, locked

A message: 'We're on holiday!! Back in a month!'

“No!! no no no no no no no…

I just keep saying it, over and over, while the rain buckets down on me.

What a clusterfuck…

Right. Now what?

My fingers refuse to work. I can't get the waterproof pocket open on my jacket to get my phone out.

My fingers; they just won't cooperate. And there's nowhere to get warm... I have to use my teeth to open the velcro pocket, with that fucking mouthguard...

The pocket rips opens.

There's my phone; swimming in two inches of water.

"FUCK!! Faaaaaaaaaaaaark. Oh fuck it!!"

Woe is me.

I sit, under a little overhang. Shivering, with my busted face, fucked-up lip and silly mouthguard, and sulk.

So much for my safe place...

Nothing left for it. Gotta go...


I head all the way back down the valley to the tourist information centre. I walk in, wringing wet.

At least it's warm...

I ask the old duck behind the counter if there’s another hostel in the country. She just throws me an accommodation booklet. Like, 'you figure it out'.

Can't find any hostels, but there is an 'aine' which seems to be like a hostel... I ask the duck if she can make a phone call for me to make sure they have a bed available.

Nope. Can’t do that. It’s against the rules.

Whatever. I'm fucking past caring.

I smile at her - with my garish mouthguard and fucked lip - give a 'gracies' in Catalan, and shake off as much water as I can on the walkout.


All the way up the valley in the pissing rain we go.

The 'aine' is huge.

And deserted.

I’m looking in all the windows and it’s just big open spaces with no one in them.

The place looks abandoned...

Clearly abandoned.

I’m starting to have to push back the panic. I'm so cold.

If I can get inside I’ll just squat there for the night...

Worth trying.

I try the front door.

It's unlocked! Joy of joys!

I go walking through the place.

"Halloooooo...? Hallooooooooooo??" My weird, mouthguardy voice echoes off the walls.

Other than that, it’s dead silent.

I poke my head into what looks like the old admin, and shit my pants: there’s someone here.

My saviour!

He hasn’t heard me because he’s had his headphones in while he’s working on his computer.

I ask for a room for the night.

"No, uh, booked. Complet."

I look around. What??

"What??"

Apparently, there's not a single bed available for the night.

Neither his English nor my Catalan/Spanish are good enough to get a reasonable explanation of how that could possibly be true.

It all feels like some sick joke.

I beg him for a bed.

Then grovel, from my knees.

Nope.

Nothing. This arsehole doesn't budge.

He turns me out, into the rain...


Back to the bitch at the tourist centre. I'm not impressed that her 'rules' have just cost me forty minutes in the pissing rain. And it's getting later, and darker.

I make a none too subtle effort to get all of my wetness on her desk.

Cop. That. Bitch.

I find an expensive hotel close-by.

It's either that, or go to the hospital...

Oblivious | Luke Gelmi