This is a story about daylight robbery.
The man kneels next to his wares, spread out on a mat that touches his neighbour. It is a lively market – Las Ramblas is bursting with salesmen and tourists alike. The sunglasses have folded their arms neatly into pockets on the blanket, and the black screens gaze up at passers by, tempting them with bargain prices for ‘authentic’ labels.
A group of girls stroll past, only to double back. After some tepid haggling with the trader, who is a tall, black and muscled man, they feign disinterest and walk away. A final offer lingers in the air after them…then the girls return, buying a pair each. The sun intensifies as the pavement bleaches itself white.
Next, a man wearing a chequered shirt kneels to inspect the wares. He already has a pair on his head, but is after something special. He has come to the right place – the seller sweeps his arm across the blanket in a grand arc before plucking up the first pair for the man to try on. No good, they are returned to the rest. Another, here, how about these? No, something more like these aviator ones. These make you look like a celebrity, very good. However, the customer isn’t sold, and begins to get up. Wait, these are perfect! He walks away.
Streams of tourists saunter past, some stopping to gaze and only a few crouching on the pavement to study his sunglasses more closely. Sweat dribbles down the seller’s neck, but he is too busy performing to wipe it. He knows greetings in many tongues, and fires stock phrases at those who come near his stall. But the competition is cut-throat – other men selling similar fakes line the road and vouch for attention with flattery and sheer volume.
At last, an opportunity. A young group of guys are drawn in and stoop. They laugh as they try on different styles, seemingly choosing them for comedy effect rather than serious consideration. A pile of glasses that has not been properly re-homed sprawls across the floor. The seller, desperately trying to convince them to buy, is ignored as the men continue their joyful abandon.
A sudden snatch. The seller whips out his athletic arm and swipes a backpack. He sprints between them, flooring two of the men. His other arm, slick with sweat, grasps the corner of the blanket. He is lost in the crowd within seconds. Witnesses of the scene hand the victim the sunglasses left littered on the ground.