It sputtered to a stop and kind of floated and hovered the way they can, the old ones you know, they wobble like giant scales. I stepped out and turned right because to the left there was a lawyers’ office and that was it.
I rang the doorbell and trilled the way most do which kind of surprised me because I kind of expected a deep and solemn dong or a melodic suite of notes, I don’t know, something countess’ listen to. The woman herself opened the door which startled me even more. Tumultuous. Tumultuous. I don’t now how I knew, but maybe from years of observation as a teacher I could tell it wasn’t the domestic service but she was no maid.
“Buenos días. ¿Qué desea?”
I told why I was there and she immediately broke into English. Very good English as a matter of fact.
“I hope you don’t mind. My father made me learn English when everyone was learning French. He was a visionary. He said, “Concepción, querida, in just a few years, everyone will want to speak this language, so you better get a head start.”
“A man ahead of his time, indeed.” I only said words like “indeed” when I talked to countesses or wanted to pretend I was Anthony Hopkins or someone like that. I vaguely remember bow slightly as I said it as if I were talking to the Queen. You never knew. Maybe this woman held a hundred nobility titles. They say the Duchess of Alba has the most titles in the world, something like 50, and that if she were to come face to face with the Queen of England it would be Elizabeth who would have to curtsey to the Duchess. That still sounds a little farfetched to me but you never knew.
“My nephew will be out in a few minutes,” she said. “Come to the window and see the view. It’s the Castellana. Madrid’s finest street. My father built this house her early last century.”