'Who of you two clowns is going to explain to me what on earth is going on here?' I looked the two men in the eye. 'Where is Yosht? You seem to know more about his disappearance.'
We were sitting on the terrace of their beachfront home near Perpignan, all three of us with a terrible hangover that we were trying to chase away with cold beers. We left Estelle and Lydia very early in the morning and when we arrived in Perpignan we went straight to bed.
'Well...' professor Hubnoth said, drawing his fingers through his thinning hair. 'You're looking for Yosht. Why is that, do you think?'
'He left a note for me! He told me to meet him in the fifth of octagon. I knew what he meant, the remains of an old monastery behind Estelle's house, so I went there, but there was no sign of him.'
Moshe Cohen intervened and said: 'What about the message in the glass? That didn't ring a bell?'
'No, it didn't. Now I know he meant that stained-glass window, but how was I supposed to know? It has been thirty-five years since I last saw that darned thing!'
'Easy now, easy. Don't get yourself all worked up. It'll all work out fine,' Moshe said soothingly, bending forward and stroking my naked knee in a most loving fashion that I did not really care for. It's true that I was getting agitated and had started wondering what this was all about, this search for Yosht. Was I doing the right thing or just making a fool of myself?
'Let me fill you in, Erik,' professor Hubnoth said, while stroking my other knee. 'Yosht was here a couple of days ago and told us about his long lasting, long distance relationship with Estelle. The two have been lovers for all these years, ever since they first met in 1982.'
'I didn't know anything about that!' I cried. 'And he is my best friend.'
'Even best friends sometimes have secrets from one and other. Isn't that so, Moshe?' Professor Hubnoth gave his friend a meaningful look that Moshe answered by blowing him a kiss.
'Anyway, whenever Yosht was in France he made sure to visit her. And she came often to the Netherlands to visit him.'
'Lydia is his daughter,' Moshe Cohen added. 'But Estelle never told her, nor that Irish guy, Pádraig, who thinks he is the father.'
'What a mess...'
'The real mess is Estelle... She suffers from Alzheimer and there's no one to take care of her. Lydia lives too far away, busy with her job and all that.'
'You know that when Yosht visited her last week,' Moshe Cohen interrupted, 'she didn't recognize him? Still she let him in, offered him a cup of tea and had a perfectly civil conversation with him. Without knowing who he was. It broke his heart.'
'O God, that's terrible. Where is he now?
'He is in search of duende, Erik. He is following the footsteps of Cervantes and Lorca, the two giants of Spanish literature.' Professor Hubnoth wisely nodded his head as if all this was making perfect sense.