Jumat, 18 November 2011

The Streets of Paris

Thirteen years was a long time to stay away from Paris. The city had traded on the grime of the 20th Century for cleansed stones. The streets were avenues of luxury stores. I spent most of the morning searching for a beret. I had no success. Paris might be eternal, however it was not the France of my youth. I was as much a stranger to the Parisians as any tourist.Walking back from the Seine I spotted this attractive couple in their 40s on Rue De Voltaire. The smartly attired man carried a stylish valise and his wife in sensible clothing was weighed down by two slightly larger bags. I figured them for English. The narrow sidewalk was slick from a splash of rain. I stepped into the gutter to let the two pass inside of me and the blonde woman cast a quixotic gaze like I might have been an ex-lover. This was Paris. I had lived in the city of love during the 80s. I had been in my 30s and girls had thrown themselves at me. I had just had breakfast with Candia. We had lived together for over a year. She told me that she was happily married. I tell that to people too. Sometimes it's even true.I smiled at the middle-aged woman, as my memory shuffled through dead-end synapses to recover her identity. I was at the point of thinking that I had been mistaken, when she said my name.I turned with a blank facial expression partially masked by a waning hang-over."It's Mareka from Harris Lindsey. You send me all those stories about Ireland." She actually seemed pleased to have read my tales as opposed to my future editor, who the previous evening had complained about the never-ending onslaught of short stories."Right." She wasn't an ex-lover, but the gallery owner representing the future editor's art show. Her good-looking husband shook mine. I couldn't remember his name, but hers stood out like an iceberg in the Atlantic. She was Irish. "Mareka.""What are you doing in Paris?" She and I had met in London several weeks ago. I extended my hand. She came from Ballyconneely. I had called in a converted schoolhouse home in that desolate village for an autumn in 1997. We were almost cousins."Just finishing a holiday in La Rochelle." Her husband said with pleasure. Mid-November was a good time to get away from England before the grim gray of winter hugged the island on the other side of the Channel."I'e never been there, but my father and I had a great vacation touring the Loire and Normandy. My favorite town was St. Malo." We had stayed at a small hotel under the walls of the ancient corsair fortress. "Oysters and cider."Her husband and I exchanged fond memories. His were of holidays and mine were of vacations. The difference was strictly in our dialects. I told them about walking with my future editor from St. Michel to a purgatorial quartier by the Canal St. Martin. "We ping-ponged from bars to houses to bars. Drink was involved for medicinal purposes.""I know that feeling." The man wore the aura of well-being. There is nothing like a few days by the sea to sweep the cobwebs from your soul."Shall we have a coffee?""Sorry, but..." Mareka pointed to her watch. "We have a lunch date.""And I have to check out of my hotel. I'm heading back to Luxembourg." I expected that it was shrouded by fog and Luxembourg was the kind of city made for gloom."See you in London." Mareka waved a good-bye."If not somewhere else.""And start writing that story about Ballyconneely.""I will." And my future editor would make it readable. He was very good at many things.We parted ways and I returned to my hotel. The doorman greeted me my name. The concierge saluted my entry. They were new fans of my website. To them I was a legend. Same as the city of Paris only not so old.

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