He was surprised, but she seemed to be right. He felt it was going to
be good, too.
They forgot about the ice cream and walked without aim in the jumbled streets. They laughed at each other. Simon was astounded. He had
not had the slightest inkling. He would have said it was impossible. The
city glowed with amber light, and he felt a glory ablaze before him.
Over the past weeks Simon had begun to focus his research on rigging
design. A battle-armed galleon might carry a crew of 180 men, but conditions at sea were lethal, and attrition rates were terrible, so the Spanish
developed ingenious rigging systems that allowed gross sail movements
to be managed by a crew of only a handful of men.
The rest of the afternoon he felt like such a ship, light-headed, stum-
bling and barely controlled. They ended up beside the cathedral in a
plaza loosely filled with loitering tourists. A busker with a guitar played
“Sweet Home Alabama.” Simon spotted the German sitting on a bench
next to a young woman. When she saw Simon she waved. He went over.
The German introduced the young woman next to her, Megan, from
Jacksonville. Megan had a large bottom and large dark eyes, each differ-
ently shaped, as if a child had put them on with a brown crayon. “Which
team do you like tomorrow?” the German asked. “Sevilla? Or Zaragoza?”
Simon put his fingers to his temples and closed his eyes and hummed.
“I just like saying Zaragoza,” he said gleefully.
“Yes. Excellent.” The German looked at Megan and said, “You see,” as
if Simon had proven a point.
They were quiet a moment. The German plucked at her suspenders.
“There was a girl I saw on the stairs a few times,” Simon said. He glanced
at the girl from Jacksonville but went on. “A stud in her nose. Very short
blond hair.” The crayon eyes peered up and brushed Simon’s gaze, then
flicked away. “I talked to her a little,” Simon said. “She seemed nice. Do
you know what happened to her?”
“Ach.” The German’s mood died, and she glowered at Simon’s knees.
“Did she go somewhere?”
She pushed her hands back through her hair, then glared at her hands.
“Do you know who I mean?”
“The police came to see me.” The German’s shoulders seemed to grow
smaller in her blouse. “There was an accident. Maybe it was an accident.”