Simon sat back and turned away. Anny began telling Dennis that the
bread in Seville wasn’t any good, but Dennis ignored her and climbed off
his stool. He edged up to one of the young men at the bar and said some-
thing. The young man slid a cigarette to Dennis and lit it for him. The
young men were all smoking. Anny was touching her stomach. Dennis
and his new friends were laughing. Simon heard snatches of broken
English. Dennis said, “Mi nombre Dennis. Dennis.” He took out a pen
and wrote on a napkin. The Spaniard looked at it and pronounced it in
a way that sounded like “Denny,” but with the accent on the second syl-
All of the young men were glancing at the young women at the end
of the bar. From the dim ceiling overhead hung legs of ham. Anny said
something about ice cream.
Dennis moved down the bar alone. He spoke to one of the young
women. She replied. Her friend added a word. The three young Spanish
men watched. Dennis talked. He pointed to the bandage on his face and
pointed at Simon and said something, and the girls laughed. He gestured toward his trio of new friends. The young women nodded at them.
The three young Spaniards laughed madly. Dennis talked. One of the
Spaniards cheered, “Den-E!” The others took it up and chanted, “Den-E!
Den-E!” Anny said, “Look at that.” Simon said nothing. He saw he had
misunderstood these people, this place, that there were things he hadn’t
learned in months that his son had discovered in minutes. He hadn’t
understood anyone. Anything.
Dennis ignored the chant. One of the girls poked Dennis in the arm,
and the young men roared and chanted, “Den-E! Den-E! Den-E!”
Hours later he lay awake, the chant still in his mind. They had left Dennis
at the bar, and now he listened for his son to return, although he guessed
that Dennis wouldn’t be back until after the sun came up. His thoughts
touched again on the insult of Dennis’s gifts. Momentarily he had the
confused impression that Dennis had presented them in a small white
With a sudden clammy clench of guilt he rose from bed. In slippers
and pajamas he jogged down the stairs and through the cold to the waste
bin. Inside lay only fat bags and loose scraps. He lifted out several bags,
then climbed in to sift and scoop with his bare hands through a muck
of oozing rinds, wrappers and bones, down to the steel floor. But he
couldn’t find the suitcase.