Calle Empedrada was a sad, sorry place for a romantic misadventure. Despite its charming name, this narrow decrepit artery running east to west along the Canal de Cadáveres Flotantes is a veritable slum. The famed colonial cobblestones from which it derives its name have long since been paved over, leaving only a few scattered remnants beneath its ubiquitous potholes.
|Calle Empedrada, Quito. David Schoffman 1982|
In 1982 my good friend David Schoffman and I were involved in an unmanageable ménage à trois with benzedrine and aguardiente. We asked to be consumed in the heat and fog of aimless dissipation and we were. We were young and we were immortal. We were Kerouac and Cassidy or as the locals referred to us, Auxilio and Epifiano, the legendary inebriates from Ulises José Malatesta's novel Hacia Abajo.
If it were not for the sudden appearance of Javiera Popova I'm afraid this story would have had a much different ending.
Popova was the granddaughter of Ratmir Makarichev, Abakan's former chief of police under Nicholas II. Makarichev was known as a particularly sadistic official who took great pleasure in personally participating in even the most trivial interrogations. Many wondered openly how such a cruel beast could have grandfathered such a glamorous beauty.
In any event, Popova was a twenty-year old art student when the cross-eyed besotted Schoffman asked her in his broken Berlitz Spanish to dance. It was Samba night at Democraticus, one of two bars on Calle Empedrada that had live music. The way Javiera remembers it, David hobbled over, handed her a canelazo on ice and tentatively mumbled something like "agustaría profundizar conmigo"? which doesn't exactly mean "would you like to dance" but was close enough.
She took him home that night and did not leave his side until he was completely straight and sober. They stayed together, on and off, for the next year and a half, Javiera even moved to New York but that ended badly. Popova went on to become one of South America's most popular actresses appearing regularly in El Corazón Roto, Venezuela's longest running soap opera.
As you know, my good friend and compagnon d'ivresse went on to become David Schoffman.