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Accidental couple

They drank a lot, slept in the streets of Lleida and accidentally loved with an unbelievable intensity

Marco Antonio and Francisco, killing time at the bus station in Lleida. © Albert González Farran – SEGRE
Marco Antonio and Francisco, killing time at the bus station in Lleida. © Albert González Farran – SEGRE

Francisco and Marco Antonio were protagonists of the street. Dragging a stingy past, they were always drinking alcohol to have the excuse of never getting out of their hole. I met them in December 2005, at dawn, taking some brandies in the bar at the bus station in Lleida, and I spent more than fifteen hours with them, the most intense that I had lived by then as the photojournalist.

My intention was to write a personalized profile of homeless in the city during a very specific dates, and I came up with a an amazing story that was published in SEGRE local newspaper on Christmas day. Someone criticized me to trivialize a dramatic realityand to involuntarily force my characters to overact in front of the camera. Even today, I am not sure if he was right.

Francisco Martínez was 26 years old. He was born in Jerez de la Frontera. When he was ten years he moved to Lleida, with his seven brothers (from mother side) and five more (from father’s). He committed his first crime at eighteen and later he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for an attempted murder. Fights, thefts, illnesses and addictions were his daily life. Doctors diagnosed him as depressive and schizophrenic.

Marco Antonio, 41, was son of Andalusian landowners and on the day I met him he said he was about to claim an inheritance of a farm with 3,000 olive trees. Alcoholic, a compulsive smoker, seropositive and sick of hepatitis and cirrhosis, he was also in prison for few years for a crime that he did not want to confess.

They were two random testimonies that brought me throughout their Lleida for a day at the streets, parks, bars, stations and banking offices to cover from the fog and cold of the city. They said they loved each other, they showed me their rings and they did not stop kissing. It looked like a fantastic love that smelled like an accident. They were two lonely souls, left by the family and the society, so they sought mutual shelter. Their relationship had no future but that which dictated by an unstable present.

The day I accompanied them was chaotic, wild, confused, crazy. Francisco and Marco Antonio got drunk four or five times. They visited the cemetery to mourn the recent death of a relative, they unsuccessfully wanted to speak with the director of a bank where they had an inaccessible account and planned a trip to Andalusia that never started. Everything was built on a fleeting instability that ended, as every day, in the first bank office where they could get in. That instability is the one that marked their lives forever and the one that had to mark the portrait I wanted to take.

I took the picture when they were both seated, at the evening, at a bus station. Marco Antonio, squeezed by the alcohol, slept resting on the shoulder of a Francisco, who looked at me with lost eyes. With the slow speed of the camera shutter, I wanted to catch that frenzied movement that I thought their lives had. It was a movement that wanted to denote dizziness and madness.

Shortly after, I read their names in a police report. They had been arrested for a crime of public disorder.

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