Fernando’s Footsteps

by Tony Carreño

Fernando noticed that a train was pulling into the railway station. As it stopped, passengers began filing out rapidly from its three cars. Fernando smiled broadly as a familiar face emerged from the crowd.

 "El Zapato Que Habla!" He called out to Ignacio, using his nickname....."The Shoe That Talks". It was the norm in small villages across northern Spain to refer to people, especially men, by their nicknames, rather than their given names. This custom emerged to avoid confusion since many shared the same first names.

 "El Gaitero Candamín!"....responded Ignacio. Back home Fernando was known as "The Bagpiper From Candamo", references to his reputation as a good bagpipe player and the county of his birth, Candamo.

 The two men raced toward each other, embracing as if they were two long-lost brothers. As they exchanged a warm kiss on each cheek, they began simultaneously speaking. The two life-long friends were frantically trying to make up for the four years since they had last seen each other.

 Belarmino had followed Fernando toward the train and was standing bedside the two Spaniards. Realizing his unintended rudeness, he pulled Café con Leche toward them.

 "Belarmino Pedroso, le quiero presentar a Ignacio Préndes González. Zapato, te quiero presentar a Café con Leche".

 Fernando had introduced the gentlemen, and they were now on "nickname familiarity"....a gesture of warmth and sensitivity in the Spanish and Cuban cultures.

 Ignacio pointed them toward the train, displaying two tickets in his hand. As they approached the entrance of the train car, Fernando politely stepped aside to allow Belarmino to enter the car ahead of him. He noticed that Café con Leche had abruptly paused and he sensed an awkward, silent uneasiness in both the Cuban and Ignacio. Before Fernando could process what was happening, a conductor standing nearby grabbed Belarmino by the arm and pointed him toward another car at the very back of the train.

 "Gracias, caballero. Pero nos vemos después", Belarmino commented to Fernando. He had thanked him, saying they would see each other later. With suitcase in hand, he walked toward the last train car, as instructed.

 Puzzled, Fernando hesitated to board the train. A nudge from Ignacio broke his hesitation. Sensing his friend's confusion, he whispered to him..."Después te lo explico, Gaitero". Ignacio had told Fernando that he would explain what had happened shortly. The two Spaniards took their seats.

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This is a work of fiction. With the exception of references to known and publicly documented historical entities, the following apply:

Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. ©Tony Carreño 2020