Kepa began stacking up some of the plates as another woman, dressed in the same uniform of a white blouse and red skirt, came in from the kitchen. He looked up.
“Maite!” he exclaimed. “I wasn’t sure if you were here.”
Maite smiled as she helped clear the tables. “I’m here. Just so damn busy in that kitchen. You are a demanding bunch.”
“What’s going on?” asked Kepa. “What are we doing here?”
Maite shrugged. “I guess there must be another zatia around here, somewhere.”
“But, where? I’m supposed to join the sheep camp in a few days. How are we supposed to look for the zatia if I’m wandering these godforsaken hills?”
“Maybe it’s up there, with the sheep?”
Kepa collapsed into a chair. “I highly doubt that.”
“Well, I doubt it’s in this kitchen, but that’s where I’m stuck for now.” She grabbed a stack of plates. “Let me finish cleaning and then we can talk. I think I saw a bar across the street. Let’s meet there in an hour.”
“Let me help,” said Kepa as he reached for a stack of bowls.
“Ez. I’ve got it. Just find us a table where we can talk in private.”
Kepa nodded as he stood up and went to his room to clean up.
His room was upstairs. He was sharing it with another recent arrival, who he had yet to meet. He wondered if he even would before he was supposed to head to the hills. His suitcase, which contained all of his worldly possessions, rested on the floor under the bed. He walked down to the communal bathroom and splashed some water into his face. Looking in the mirror, he stared at the face that stared back at him.
“What have you gotten yourself into this time?”
It wasn’t long before he found himself in the bar. It wasn’t very crowded and he was able to find a small table for two in the corner. Not long after he sat down, Maite came in and joined him. She had changed out of her working uniform. She now wore a simple one-piece sleeveless blue dress that fell past her knees. Her hair was tucked into a tight fitting pillbox hat, her curls peaking out from the edges. As she approached the table where Kepa sat, he stood up.
“You look amazing!” he gasped as he pulled out a chair for her.
“Why thank you. You don’t look too bad yourself.”
“What would you like?” asked Kepa as he motioned to the bar.
“A bee’s knees, mesedez.”
Kepa looked at her quizzically as he made his way to the bar and soon returned with a cocktail and a beer.
“I have no idea what that is, but at least the bartender did,” he said with a smile as he handed her the cocktail.
Kepa and Maite chinged glasses. They each took a sip and were starting to talk when they heard a loud voice bellowing in the background.