Latin lawyers


When I called, Ladiana’s lawyer wanted me to come to her home, something about papers that needed signing. I smelt a rat.

‘Can you come to my house?’ I asked. We waited two and a half hours. She arrived scowling. Obviously, we were putting her out.

Our salmon-coloured building was art deco, streamlined with geometric forms and features, which could have been designed by a mathematician.

I thought it best to sit on the balcony, a craggy half-moon that had been made up of triangular structures. From below it resembled a jigsaw puzzle incorrectly assembled. Like its Spanish colonial neighbours, it was protected with a wrought iron banister draped with a blaze of bright blooms. We were in the shade of the upstairs balconies and the street below, while gay, was unobtrusive. We could hear the odd car rattling over the cobblestones, a vegetable hawker, an assembly of sweaty tourists in short pants and newly purchased Panama hats herded along by a guide who pointed out antiquities. A lone lunatic, shirtless and shoeless screaming out his frustrations for us all to interpret. I served tea, hoping to improve the atmosphere.

The lawyer was young and handsomely proportioned. She wore pastel. Her dress fluttering at the hint of a breeze. Her jewellery conspicuous and dazzling. She remained hostile. Ladiana seemed close to the woman and I thought that odd considering their different social and economic backgrounds. I could only assume they both saw me as a way of earning money and had joined forces. Because of Agua, I hoped I was wrong. With little preamble the lawyer gave me a figure. The bill had suddenly grown from seven hundred to two thousand dollars. ‘Incluyendo mi tarifa.’ It was her way of comforting me.