Erik and I had left the cramped quarters of Shmuel's so-called guest house and moved into a small building that professor Hubnoth assigned to us. The roof didn't leak – not that it rained much – and it had new doors and windows. We drove to Málaga and bought some basic furniture at Ikea. Two beds, table, chairs, cupboards and had it delivered to our new home in the as yet unnamed village. All day long Marcel Hubnoth would throw suggestions around for new names for his pueblo and they all had Virgin in it. Nobody liked it.
“There are already so many names of villages with 'Virgen' in it. Think of something new,” I said.
I did not have much to do, as head of entertainment, as there were no guests to entertain. Progress was being made, though, and the place looked better and sweeter by the day. I started to like it, even though I had serious doubts about the viability of the plan. A resort. Who and how could we entice tourists to come and rent a home here for a week or two? I didn't see it happening. Still I went along with it, because it was thrilling to be involved in such a crazy and unlikely endeavour. There was a lot of good energy going around, thanks to the enthusiasm and unbridled fantasy and imagination of the professor and his friend.
Erik spent his days at our new table, a Skogsta, made of durable acacia wood that we both agreed would blend in well in our new home. If he wasn't reading Keats he would do endless calculations and keep an eye on the expenses. He complained a lot, but Marcel waved it all away. “Don't worry,” he kept saying, whenever Erik warned about excessive spending on – for example – a roundabout.
“What do you need a roundabout for?”, Erik asked despairingly. “There is only one street in the village and no more than 24 houses!”
“I like roundabouts,” was the simple answer the professor gave. “You can do wonderful things with them. Landscaping, a statue, a fountain.”
Erik just sighed and went back to his accounting.
Everyday, by the end of the afternoon, he went for a walk. “Stretch my legs,” he said and walked all the way to the haunted house only to come back around sunset, when evening's empire had returned into sand, and dancing underneath the purple skies like the pied piper of Hamelin. He danced and twirled as if swinging his partner around. An invisible partner, but with a strong presence.
Yesterday he carried a large terracotta pot with basil in it. As always he danced to the cemetery and stopped at the misplaced grave. Curious about the basil I joined him there.
“You have met before, haven't you?”, he asked me, pointing at the empty spot beside me.
I nodded, but had no idea what he was talking about.
“Her name is Isabella and she hates to be confused with Deborah, her mother, who died ages ago and has found eternal rest. Not so Isabella, her daughter. In this grave lies Isabella's lover Lorenzo who by her brothers was slain.”
Erik carefully put the pot of basil on Lorenzo's grave. “Can you smell that?”, he asked. “More balmy that its peers of basil-tufts in Florence.” Then he folded his arms as if holding a woman, comforting her, murmuring sweet words of solace.
“You read too much Keats,” I said, but Erik just smiled. “You need your head examined,” I added.
Erik took Isabella by the hand and danced her back to La Casa Embrujada. He returned after midnight and acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.