Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Jeremy spent the next couple of days trying to find Mr. Fuentes at the university. The door of his office remained locked and even Ulises did not have a clue where he was. Jeremy soon found out Ulises knew about most things and he believed him when he said that he professor was nowhere to be found. The situation reminded him of the time his dad had disappeared in the middle of the night and gone AWOL for weeks. Jeremy had spent long hours after school pursuing his father’s trace all over the city centre with the innate sensation that his future happiness was somehow vanishing too. He was only twelve years old and no one in his family told him what was really going on. The old man eventually returned but the hollow feeling in the stomach never really left him. It would pop up unexpectedly in the most random of situations and roaming around in a distant land looking for an old professor had definitely summoned the anxiety once more. It made Jeremy decide to boot his twelve month plan of sobriety and find a joint in which to get completely and utterly wasted. He wondered what drinking in a foreign land would feel like and concluded the answer would surely beat spending another evening homebound with Juan and his obsessive Thatcherism.
That evening Jeremy ate his rolls with avocado and tomato in a hurry and hit the streets of La Serena. Ulises had pointed to a sort of gastropub named “Afroson” where Bohemian locals played LIVE music every night. He did not know exactly what the word “Bohemia” meant but he decided it sounded exotic and alluring. He found the place quite quickly in one of the narrow back streets of the city centre. He was a little reticent at first. It looked nothing like the working class boozer down the road where he would get trashed with his mates whilst bouncing up and down to Pulp or Blur. The candles and table cloths reminded him of a French restaurant he had once been to in Liverpool. A place he had not enjoyed whilst trying to pretend he was not a ruffian to an American girl he had dated. He was not used to the smell of corn and non-matching furniture either but when the barman of the charged him 500 pesos for a massive bottle of the local beer “Escudo” Jeremy thought he had walked into paradise. He could get at least ten bottles with the equivalent of the five pounds he carried in his pocket. The thought transformed his state of mind. He wished he could share the experience with some of the alcohol loving lads back at home and toasted to them when he received his second giant and ice-cold bottle of Escudo. As he scanned his surroundings, his eyes and ears were drawn to a bearded thin old man who was playing a melancholic tune on a Spanish guitar in the adjacent room. The song was melodically pleasing though Jeremy was not accustomed to such raw emotion. The man sat alone in a small stage arpeggioing the hell out of the instrument and releasing the most minor chords in the world. Jeremy had never realised you could formulate more sorrowful chords than an Aminor. That nylon-string guitar sounded more melancholic than a funeral march. He thought about the bands he liked, even Lou Reed could be dark as hell but at the electric guitars and the epic production made you forget about the heroine infused lyrics. What he heard that night was pure unfiltered pain. When the guitarist proceeded to sing the mood in the venue darkened further. A heart-warming and emotional howl emerged from his throat and filled the entire physical space with longing and wet desire. It was a refined and tuneful howl to all accounts but so sad that Jeremy wondered how anyone could decide to endure such misery on their night out and pay for it. It cost some extra soles to enter the central area of the venue where a dozen tables were spread out in front of the stage. Customers in what Jeremy described to himself as hippish attire were sitting in groups of four chatting under the candlelight and drinking the sadness. He had never seen anyone drink sadness before and it seemed so unfitting of his idea of an exotic venue; there were pots and plants everywhere and instruments decorating the walls. Jeremy took one of the high-top stool at the bar nearer to the entrance away from the stage and paying area which was separated by a bamboo screen. He could still hear the music perfectly. The howling continued.
Jeremy was sipping his beer happily pondering on the nature of melancholy and music when a grey-bearded homeless looking man walked to the bar and stood beside him. The middle-aged man smelt of bee