Big Man, Immovable Object
by Dian Bulfin Winder
November 5, 1969 - May 22, 1999
Ar Dheis Lámh Dé
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standing; a sailor all alone; minding a bridge place somewheres. love.
Jean rolls over in his sleep. He is dreaming Once again. It is an intense,
Wild, viv id dream. "Wild" because of its Realness and clarity,
and because it is an escapee from one of the deep closets of memory past:
-He is sitting in a warm coffee shop opposite a great Lust.. from The
past. SoHhh !!! REAL it could B L 0 W your fuckin' 'ead off. There is
a cozy,familiar atmosphere. Her looks are so good and fulsome that she
seems, All-most edible. A frigid winter Lies outside. Intuitively he has
to know this because, as each customer enters or leaves cold air licks
the back of his neck and the almost bald back of his head. -Meanwhile,back
in his apartment, his hand lolls onto the floor, locking the elbow. -The
woman holds a tipped cigarette affectedly in her long, slender - even
majestic fingers. She looks Perfect He moves to service her with a light
leaden . They've obviously been having some convoluted discussion,about
what - God only knows!? He can tell because of the gnawing exhausted feeling
in his brain and the hoard of crumpled fag ends in the ash tray. Jean
stares for what seems like an age at her white filters smothered in rouge.
He has always found this particular combination disgusting but he cannot
control this perverse fascination in the midst of a paranormal silver
glow. He reaches forward for his coffee in an attempt to break free from
the terrible ash tray. -Yet his hand seems So far away. Unconnected at
all to his brain. So he stares at It instead; not in terror this time
but in awe. It takes a super human effort of will to tear his eyes away
from this distant member to her face. He wants to share this supernatural
experience with another human being - and My what a BE UUTiful one! Jean
has already forgiven her the torment of the ashtray - having also, the
effective intelligence of a middling to backward garden vole. However,
just to confuse things, he has the memory of a forty four year old man
who, when he is awake and sober, is not at all dim. A bit maudlin betimes
but not no; not at all dim. An iron will and caustic, ironic humour shores
him up. He has the body of a thirty year old because latterly he has worked
with it up to 70 hours a week. On managing to raise his eyes up to her
face, all he is able to do is to give a quiet grunt of devotion. Ogling
her, he admires her long, pink painted nails - he thinks: where could
this GODDess have come from?? my God what a beauty! - As he laboriously
forms these huge building blocks of thought - she fixes him with her ferocious
look and says: I know you fancy me Jean but for Chis'sakes please don't
STARE at me like a Bloody MONGOL." There is a passing moment, when
Jean thinks he might actually reply to this unwarranted ... and obviously
misguided attack by his queen. This faint hope is misguided. In reality
all he manages is to force his mouth open, whereupon it stay wide - in
the feeding position. The contrast between the pink varnish and her pale
skin and blond hair is Just! Too much. The sumptuous doll
Fortunately; Jean wakes at this auspicious moment; the abusive diatribe
his imagination was about to lash him with was the final straw.
He lies quite still. The memory of the girl is still strongly present. Yeah, even the very taste of her. His arm, empty, searches the vacant bedspace for the missing lover bedfellow for whom there is great yearning but who he, despite himself, knows is not there. Her smell. Jean distinctly remembers her perfume - a slight noxious burning on his palate, all-be-it for a moment, as it fades. He recognises it but there is a block. The ache for her is almost too much to bear. What was her name anywhere? It is an important name - maddening in its nearness. Why won't I let myself remember? Better to relax. It will come. I remember she wasn't the kind of girl to shuffle through life on hard work and brainpower alone! I wonder did she find her millionaire with a personality? At least she let me into her bed... maybe she wasn't such a bad girl, after all. A beauty buxom who puts out can never be viewed (totally) as a bad thing. Clearly, he remembers how his attempts to communicate some of the great intangibles of life to her had failed. Some people feel the need to share; particularly when they fear themselves falling in love with the wrong person. And then he says: "ICE MAIDEN": the sounds are pleasing to his tongue. 'Vengeance is mine sayith the Lord' but a little is no harm, as God inhabits us all. In a small way.
In the small way.
It makes him smile to have his little go at her but there is discomfort
also... gone. His dreams of her have Ieft him with a painful hard on.
His balls ache; he must have been having horny teasing little dreamlets
for hours. Nothing like the real thing. The bed is empty beside him. And
cold. His wife is not there, nor is his girlfriend, and what about that
cheeky little one night stand with the nice bum.... No. Ne personne. None
present and none correct. Ze ro. A big fat one.
He falls into a dreamless slumber this time thankfully. He has another
soul destroying day of toil ahead of him - a little undisturbed rest is
fair. Not too much to ask - please? It is the life he has chosen because
he saw himself growing fat and opulent and opinionated behind a desk somewhere
in France - his home country.
He is awake again. He knows the alarm will go off soon. He flinches before the terrible sound to come. His eyes open wide and stare at the ceiling, without the aid of which his hand fishes for the smokes alongside the bed. He grapples for them awkwardly, too lazy to lean over the edge and look. ...He has them in his hand and eventually, the slippery metalness of the lighter also. He smiles a grim smile one of many imaginary victories he will punctuate his progress through another work-a-day with. It is his Way.
the way for an intelligent man on a manual job.
As he's smoking, enjoying the rasp of the greyness - the first of the
morning - he thinks of nothing. Vacant. He reaches over and turns the
beep off lest it sound. The horrible thing. Watching arcs of smoke drift
through the quiet air he thinks of nothing. Stares at nothing. Void. Pulling
the cover to his chin he squeezes his eyes tightly shut, and stretches
in a covetous good-bye to the last moments of sleep. Of rest. Of relaxation
- but it is soiled with the waking knowledge of what must be done soon.
Soon. All too soon. He opens his eyes wide now and flings back the sheet
from his naked prone body. There are big whorls of dark hair around his
nipples, belly, groin. He has often felt grateful that he hasn't grown
the apish covering that plague some dark men however. He remembers clearly,
how, as a boy he felt uneasy when his sisters and their friends would
let out loud groans of disgust on sight of a truly Hairy man without a
shirt on. Indeed - turning into a gorilla at puberty was one of many puzzles
his charming, teasing sisters set for him. But he always knew he'd grow
up to be a big and strong man like his father one day and all their teasing
wouldn't do them fuck all good then! Would it? Peculiarly his father rather
loved his daughters. They dragged Jean up with their skirt tails and nails.
They are married now. Middle-aged. Children. Husbands. Security. Children.
Yet little jean is Big Jean now, all that is long over, and it is time
for all good builders to arise and do construction. Worming into the centre
of the large bed he lies perfectly still, dispelling rather than collecting
his thoughts. Once more. Sub self- hypnosis. He doesn't want to think
of the soul destroying work to come. He is summoning his insurmountable
mechanical man once more. Clockwork, tinman, indomitable Jean. Over and
again. He is preparing to go and bravely do what many men have done before.
Not now will he be troubled by the intrusion of memories of what has passed.
No - it is time for discipline and order and effort. Stretching his heavy
slumberous arms above his head there is a pleasurable crack from his sternum.
His arms still extended, toes pointed and with his heels above the mattress,
he wracks himself until he feels giddy enough to faint. Hands by his sides,
breathing shallow and even, Jean's day, has begun. Once again. Over again.
Once again. And again. And again. I think i'll go mad. ...But that would
be..... That would be delicious. No that would be..... That would be.....
That would be... - too easy.
Swinging his shanks over the edge of the bed, he sits with his chest
flush against his thighs. It feels good. The solidity of his own muscles
makes him feel secure. Tensing pecks and quads to bursting he feels the
iron of coil. He is a man. He still has strength. Power. It is O.K..
The final act of meditation over, he unravels himself and stands to attention
by the side of his bed. Literally. Flapping his wrists rapidly, he feels
just a little less stiff. It will do. It will have to. If I was some chick
- I'd be spread eagled on the floor right now, doing my aerobics to some
stiff boobs ont' tele'. The mirth has zero effect; his early morning humour
has not yet won conviction, however, it is an item of faith.
But it WILL! Win conviction.
When it fails he will be dead inside and life will be over. Believe it
or believe it not. It is Who he is largely. Or who he has become. Who
he has had to become. 'What' he has become in order to survive mill-drink-smoke-stand-crash.
Exposing the long expanse of glass, live spears of light fill the room.
The room vibrates - zinging with yellow energy. He turns his face and
then his body away from the penetrating, low flying light of another sickeningly
beautiful day. He feels like a bird in an aviary just after the blanket
has been removed and starts to sing:
"And the Sunlight hurts my eyes,
Only the mice can hear so he sings bravely, tunelessly to himself and
mumbles and talks and cheeps. Am I sane? Who cares!
If you were down on the street and you were looking up you might see
a deep purple scar from an old puncture in his belly. And surgery.
Aaaaaaaagh aaaaaaagh aaa God FUCK That! As he bends over cradling his
spasmodic neck, he sends a stream of foul curses down the cosmic telegraph
to the driver of the car who left him with this after whiplash gift. He
was rammed. One of Jean's little contretemps. Wincing and mad, he gets
himself half erect. His mind is disturbed by the severity of the attack.
He hasn't been bothered by the injury in years. He stomps, staggering
carefully into the living room. The curtains open, half bent over, he
can see the handful of people wandering about on the avenue below - in
deep shadow; the sun will slip down the buildings quickly, making it a
hot place. It will be at street level Soon. He tenses the muscles of his
upper body his chest swells, his biceps and triceps inflate. Yes I am
still strong. He turns away. His eyes close. Ten hours of heat and dust
and work and THIS. Despondent. But we'll have that bit of an aul' joint
first - eh Jeanny old boy. Shouldn't be smoking before work but just this
little.... Cautiously, carefully he puts on a t shirt, socks, boots. What
did I do to deserve THAT? Oh my neck. Bastaad! What a pain in the... I
was going to say 'neck'. He takes the spliff from the ash tray, sticks
it in his mouth and flops deep and soft into his favourite armchair like
a God. Carefully. Better. He lights up and pulls the hems of his jeans
down to the feet of his boots with a snap, keeping one eye closed - careful
not to get smoke in it. He sits back and laughs. Yeah, we can do the business
just one more time. But boy! What a start. I could kill... really. Turns
the radio on, almost forgetting the pain and stiffness in his neck and
shoulder, he thinks of that little French girl in her ivory skin. She
had the softest most beautiful skin he ever came across. So incredible...
like a substance from another universe. Golden fleece or Skin? God bless'er.
He's gently hurting himself by biting his lower lip.
The blood is flowing heavily, slumbrously through his body. He feels
sensual. Very sensual. Too sensual. He is stoned. Which exacerbates the
problem. He rubs his hands roughly up and down his thighs almost scraping
the backs of them and burning the palms. It does nothing to relieve this
horny feeling. A presently unsatisfiable, annoying, horny feeling. The
next few days will see him try and rectify this. He knows. Women. Gorgeous,
sexy... wet. women. But he tries and puts it to the back of his mind.
The memory of the girl is in fact extremely painful, bound up as it is
in the past of choice. He stands up and tries to rid himself of the ache
in his neck by rolling his big, heavy head and shoulders - having some
success. Some relief. The memory of her and the ache seem to get bound
together in the hash. He knows he will not be rid of the pain this day
or the memories of a youth that actually Was once. Or the next or... probably.
Have to try and forget.... He stops moving with his arms low and relaxed,
his chin dipped to his chest, he breathes deeply, opens his eyes, raises
his head and walks out scooping up his things off the coffee table. Minimalism.
He gives a slight dip of the head as he passes under the lintel - remembering
the monkey work on the scaffle to come. Jean double locks the door.
He has an unexpected elated rush, so he helter skelters, booming down
the wooden stairs. The pain in the back of his upper body feels almost
good as he moves his thick frame at speed. Strangely enough. Today, amongst
the echoes, in the darkness, he is eager to be out on the street. - In
the warm sunlight. On reaching the end of the stairwell as his hand reaches
for the latch; peculiarly, - he still has his large lock knife in it.
The weight feels good. He looks behind him and up. you are not there.
He opens the outside door and goes through. Stepping heavily down onto the pavement, his knee locked, as his head snaps back looking for his pursuer, all the shock of his clumsy weight goes straight up to his stiff neck. Feeling like a steel rod has been rammed into the base of his skull, he staggers then wanders across the concrete, blinking the water out of his eyes, at the same time as trying to find his bearings. Jesus what a morning! Things can only get better. ?. At this time, his side of the street is just in the strong sunlight. The other side is cool and in shadow where he prefers to walk to work or where ever in the morning. He doesn't like the low sun in his peculiar amber eyes. In certain light they can appear very beautiful those eyes. He has excellent vision at night but he feels like a torched owl if he gets exposed full face to the Mediterranean Sun unless they've have had lots of time to adjust. And his brain. Today he crosses opposite an early pharmacy. There is the ubiquitous glance of pleasant surprise from the nubile assistant at the unusual foreigner. My aren't you goood looking - big fella! And coming this way. My way. Good. Goood. Once inside, Jean goes for a pair of wraps. He doesn't bother to look in the little mirror on the stand which is far too short for him anyway. Or at the price. They're built of completely transparent plastic, filtering the light to a very soothing hue. Jean doesn't buy clothes because of how they look on him normally but because they fit.
He thinks of the high lines of her panties pure white, and thinks of
stroking her firm young box and smiles. She'll be bored off her tits for
another ten minutes until the next customer comes in for their sunscreen
or their condoms. He is very pleased with his purchase. It is like it
was new to him to buy things. Child-like Time is passing very intensely
today... maybe it's the dope..? He doesn't normally have with sun glasses
- they tend to irritate the bridge of his broken nose.
Again and again.
Jean heads out onto pavement replete in his new eye-wear. His blue visor
down; he crosses over to the sunny side again feeling unusually chill.
There is a boy in Jean somewhere. Somewhere underneath it all. Underneath
all the years. Things known. Things done. The sun warms his throat and
chest and face. And yet the feeling does not, totally go away. A breeze
is getting up over jean's graves. The question is will it die away in
dissolution or is a gale immanent; or even is there a storm - black, brooding
and heading his way from over the horizon. Heads up; he paces between
the radiating facades of the buildings and the shade of small trees that
line the roadway. He thinks of the senoritas, of the cold beer, of the
crack and the dark sky that can be found here when he doesn't have to
play at soldiers. Jean finds his beggar outside her bank. She is an early
riser. She's wearing her black shawl again, couldn't be over six and a
half stone. Sitting composed with her fingers interlaced and her hands
folded in their lap, leaning slightly to one side. She sits with an almost
quizzical attitude. Taking off the glasses he sits down softly beside
his mother and waits. After a pause she turns to him She calls him by
name. Her eyes have a thick film over them and have many cataracts. He
has never believed that she could see him but she knows who he is. It
is her job.
She even turns her head in his direction but not her shoulders which
stay parallel to the path and the street. Her eyes must have been azure
as these shades once - he is ashamed. Shame on you Jean for seeing her
old. He finds her eyes the most beautiful he has ever seen - after a momentís
embarrassment, he remembers to see the 20-year-old eyes. She puts her
hand on his arm and smiles faintly, only to turn to face the same section
of street once more. Mama what keeps us here - us with the pale eyes?
She turns her body slowly in line with his.
She will speak: "Why don't you marry, settle down and have children?"
Good God I wasn't expecting THAT! In the years I have known this old
crone she has hardly ever said more than two words at a go and now this?
FUCK SAKES! I think I'll go home and go to bed again before disaster strikes.
Must I answer? Am I supposed to? It could just as easy been my Mother
saying that. But I have run away from that home long ago.
She speaks again in a cracked, husky old whisper not wishing to embarrass
him by her words being overheard by no one: "Sometimes I notice you
looking up when I hear women's feet go by. But.... Did you have a bad
experience?... or did you not have love with your mother? Did she die
when you were very young? Were you brought up only amongst men?"
What can I say??
"You're not getting any younger... you should find a young woman
and make a home. My young man died in the war... I never loved another...
but you ... ?'
I died... no,no,no Jean not the old self pity again. I thought we had
left that all.... Jean rises unsurely to his feet with a tight pain in
his chest and blinks rapidly to be sure the stinging in his eyes does
not turn into tears - he couldn't abide that. He tells himself it's just
the shock of it coming from her but his loneliness and isolation assail
him like vertigo. He has learned the way of temporary solutions but a
wife ... ? He feels sick and desperate and afraid. He wants to run. To
run far away. Fast. He slips a note into her gnarled old claw. Kisses
the cheek she raises for him after all he has paid for it.
They look at one another - still friends - the awkward money business
over with, except that Jean must swallow hard, so that he doesn't choke
on a sob and his voice break in good-bye. She makes sounds that mean a
blessing on my Patron and fare-you-well. Jean walks down the path feeling
empty but still, after another interview with fate. How could I be so
immature that I let an old bag get to me like that? Old bag? She's one
of your best confidantes. What does she know anyway? She's not my mother
or my aunt. Jean has told this crone many things. What filthy alcove does
she inhabit when she isn't taxing conscientious objectors to commerce?
Jean has told her of the running battles and casualties that were his
life. How does she move? Used to be life. Are her customers her only living
relatives? He goes back to his thoughts of gullet and skirt - it is safer
country on a full stomach. But with less relish. Less relish. More longing.
More longing wandering aimlessly around hopeless realms of desire and
alcohol softened edges of non-possibility.
All of a sudden! he is at the job. His heart sinks. His heart sinks so
deeply he feels as though he is treading on it underfoot, in his boots.
He walks under the scaffolding, the tight, green mesh of the netting,
tunnelling him off from the outside. His nostrils sniff at the dust. They
flare at it. The door is locked, so he produces his keys and lets himself
in, giving a small snort though his nose at his men's tardiness. He kicks
the door open - no standing on ceremony around here! This is business.
Jean is the foreman, He whacks the kettle on and checks his watch. Beginning
early, he is still early. He isn't late for work. Ever. Never not there.
Always bushy tailed for his men, whether or not he feels it. He wonders
at himself being annoyed at his men for not being early! Why am I such
a crab? If I was too cool wouldn't they take advantage. Generally speaking,
he doesn't like to toke in front of the lads because when they smoke they
get lazy and stupid. They don't call it dope for nothing! Seriously though
- it can be a dangerous job. Being too stoned on the buildings can be
a warrant for intensive care. Or the graveyard. But there is no one else
around... and what the heck - just one as it's a special occasion - that
dream, some anaesthetic for my neck and her... and all those... Jesus
I used to think it was all a game. So. Why not? I'm in charge. I'm the
boss. I can do what I like. - Let's us have a J and a cupo'. Turn the
radio on and take a load off. There'll be plenty of time for graft...
later. Take it easy. Relaax. Chill! Delving in his pockets for the tools
of the rolling trade, he's glad the men haven't come yet. He has fallen
into a reverie about home now. He rarely allows himself the luxury of
questioning wherefore he has come. Perhaps it is easier to take not being
able to have everything when you've left home because you have given away
so much when you board your train or boat or bicycle that you're filling
in, not adding up. Remembering that girl does not upset him because he
has lost her or because he has lost his country; it makes him morose because
it reminds him that he has accepted and accepts, gaps in his life which
make him distant because he cannot face the small print. And perhaps he's
wondering if he'll ever have another one like her... I'm not getting any
younger. The old crone was right about that. for sure. As he's getting
his number together he hears a noise outside and thinks it must be one
of the men coming in. Furtive. Damn!
But it is not. He is relieved because he'd prefer not to set the timbre
of the day by being caught seated on his arse with a big spliff in his
gob. It shouldn't matter but it was such a keynote in his officer training
during his service that they should lead by example, that he has used
it in his capacity as an overseer to help distance himself from, where
necessary, and instruct men. Jean went around again (more than once became
a career soldier) - because he thought he was needed. What a fuckin' joke!
a bad joke. It almost killed him - in more ways than one. He was perfectly
primed for it, having idolised his father and desperately seeking after
his loss, the reliance of other people on him and the repeated confirmation
of his own manhood. He's finished his coffee and smoke. He doesn't look
at his watch. He doesn't have to - they're late. Shit! Disaster. They
are ALL late. All of them!
Sitting in the dust of the vacuous foyer, Jean broods. Right up to his late teens Jean rarely attempted to voice the paradoxes that fed within him. Perhaps because his best friend and role model - diseased; melted slowly, disgustingly away in the house where Jean grew up. His decay was leprosy to Jean's soul. His sisters were old enough to catapult themselves into the arms of immature lovers but Jean just became as unobtrusive as the furniture would allow. like someone else.
Horrified by the death throes of someone who was supposed to be one of
Jean's mother was not of the classic stoic mould inside and was simply
awestruck by the acid rain which fell on her men. Helpless. Winded. wounded
equally as much as little jean. distraught. freaked. She survived by allowing
herself to be preyed upon by any affectionate man who had the decency
not to ask too many questions. A very unfortunate option, but only which
meant survival. She remained unpalatably beautiful to Jean's eyes into
her fifties. When he would sit on the train from university he prayed
that she would have become wrinkled and old. She always thought he begrudged
her escape into the second class happiness of her affairs. How could she
see that he could only truly feel love for her again when she was in pain,
ill, dying or in the grave - where she belonged. They were a couple. They
were supposed to share everything together.
Jean didn't hate her for her flight into snatches of freedom but despised her her health. For her very Life.
And then a wonderful thing happens: Jean Decides that he really Is angry!
Or in other words - he lets his go. He closes his eyes tightly and lets
a massive shout out "YAAAaaaaa!", sticks a cigarette between
his tight lips and rushes out of the building, almost snapping his finger
off in the lock. An old friend - wandering the other way on the other
side of the street, sees him tear up the road and thinks that the object
of this man's upset had better hope they are a long way off for their
sake. Jean doesn't notice him. He has decided that he will call to Phillipe's.
Phillipe is also French. He speaks the native language as well as Jean
and he's been here longer; not that Jean is afraid to give out to them,
but he has decided that Phillipe will give the Spanish the bollocking
for not turning up. Under orders. Phillipe is his second. The ganger man.
The thought of this has brought a wide ingenious grin to his face. He
lights his fag with great amusement and drags with relish. There is no
way everyone decided not to come into work without Phillipe's complicity
if he'd said 'no fuckin way am I not turning up for work and neither are
You!', there would have been 'a' turn out, if only P.. So it is fitting
that that spic lovin' cunt should be made to look the real Wally. Ha!
In fact I'm going to make him pretend that I called into him on my way
to work, as I sometimes do, and that I'm ignorant of his part in the rebellion.
Innocent. That should make them indignant towards him. They might even
suspect him of bugging out at the last, turning coats and siding for the
French, and with the boss. Nice One! Perhaps this could turn out to be
a fun lark after all! But what if he says no? Fire him? We both know I
cannot do that. Maybe I can bluff him? Na. We'll see - I can be pretty
convincing when I've got a head of steam up.
Phillipe's place is not the nearest of the men's (he knows them all,
of course) to the job but Jean now has a Plan. Just as he's about to pass
the chemist where he bought the shades - he remembers the girl who sold
them to him again. Her sallow speckled skin in the white blouse is a cool
thought in the warm sunny morning. And yes - there she is behind her little
counter. Did she just notice me there? Should I give her a little celeb'
wave? He is damp - he has been moving quickly. He stops to brush the sweat
off his forehead and to squeeze the moisture out of his eyebrows between
his knuckles. Walking into the chemist he almost stumbles over the shadow.
When he reaches the counter - she's waiting for him - she's got her abdomen
pressed against it, her small bosom leans over the glass where her hands
are left casually interwoven. Jean sees her lick her lips. Which she does
not do. Mind time. A severe looking Spanish woman appears from the neon
lit storeroom where the very accessible battery of drugs is kept. Jean
ignores her and says in a little voice - whilst looking straight at the
girl: "the glasses you sold me this morning are Great thank you for
Suggesting them". Or: I would like to scrue you.
She smiles. "My pleasure sir". Or: would you? It's a pity then for us that my wicked old grandmother caught you. Jean gives the senior woman a wry smile and beats best his retreat by bidding her good day in his best formal Spanish. As he's leaving the shop he's about to break his shite laughing. Was I going to say something to her? She's just a kid? With flesh I could just lick off her bones. And yes - he thinks of the newness to her of him penetrating her, and kissing her opened mouth. Delicious. He careers on off up the street anyway, thinking: are you getting a young woman fetish again? Some people would consider her only a babe-in- arms. She might be glad to have someone treat her like an adult. Though. To cross her ribcage with open palms, rolling the flesh under them. Skin and bone to muscle. Though! Like you, you know better don't you Jean! He is aware that people politely but quizzically take note of his passage - as he moves much quicker during the day than people do commonly. Where it gets truly Hot. - people use a gear that can be maintained without too much effort. There is a medium sized square up ahead off the avenue. There are small trees which provide some welcome, diffuse shade. On this plaza there is a bar which will stay open all night and all morning if there is a good crowd drinking. The owner is a nice madman. He is not a native either. He is very Italian, even though he has been living in Spain well beyond accurate memory. He loves foreigners - being an expatriot himself. Rumours say the Mafia moved him on - he did come with a wodge though, but he has never spoken of it to Jean and Jean would certainly Never ask. Never. Jean is anything but indiscreet. Perhaps this is because there are questions which he would avoid himself. In a place like this the quarry could be lodged Pissed. Stupid. What use would they be now except tantrum fodder? It's always the same... the day after payday. Not always. That is a lie. As it is on the way... Jean decides to take a shufdie. And an ice cold beer! The owner looks very well and offers a great welcome for his big French friend whom he likes nothing better than to consort with. Hence, he is a bit disappointed when he cops that Jean is just hunting his crew.
"- No. I have not seen any of them since they had the good sense
to stop by for a beer at about two in the morning."
"Yes they were very drunk.
- And truly had put one foot over the edge of oblivion together."
- Yes, Mister Philip was with them."
- Indeed, he did seem to be in exultant good form. - Fairly whipping
up the party I'd say. Putting on a real show. One of his best. And you
know Mister Phillipe."
He would not hold out on Jean if he knew where they were because he likes
him. And because Jean can get unpleasant when really upset. Really unpleasant.
it is hard always to know when this will be so. He is a difficult man
to read. People are always posing up to him being smart, as people will
to obelisks who infrequently voice ground. He hit one guy who was being
too familiar one night. It is undoubted that he deserved a punch but it
is dubious whether Jean should have hit him as Hard as he did. Was this
exemplary? Real brutality is quite rare in truly affable men. He remembers
also, the competitive drinking that had gone on when Jean'd come to town
first. He remembers the army of young bucks who tried to prove themselves
by out drinking Jean and ended up under the table. Good business.
Very good booziness.
It was kind of sad in a way though for him to see people extend the arm
of competition when Jean'd easily have preferred a more retiring an and
laid back introduction to town. He's won respect though. Hombre.
Marco's professional hospitality is gratefully soothed when Jean expresses his desire to have a beer. There is also a choice of a dozen delicious snacks to go with it - complimentary. Jean strolls outside and sits down under a tree with the neck of the bottle hooked by his forefinger, slowly managing a fishy, tomatoey-type delight. It is a perfectionist's beauty spot on a searingly beautiful morning. This is why he is here. Really. Relax the head - if no one wants to work today there's nothing I can do about it. Don't want to be a party pooper! either. Not really.
Things have been going well. But when you're on a roll.... Perhaps if
I sit here drinking beers until midday that Cute girl from the pharmacia
will come by. In her proper, tight skirt; sexy in her little outfit. 50-50
split - she didn't seem the sandwich type to me. And even if she is, what
batter spot to be eaten... what datter spot to be eaten in... what better
spot to eat them in. Jesus! Whew! I'm glad we managed to split that one
out! Jean you old dog..., you old perve you! ... And whilst she tries
to explore my soul through our eyes I could explore her personality with
my fingers. YEAH. But no. Allowing his mind to stumble about in reverie
he remembers something Marco'd said earlier. Something about Phillipe
whipping up the party. And he's seemed so nervy and uptight the last few
days. He is an observant man, Marco. Jean fosters relationships with observant
people. There is a name for it and it rhymes with gents. The trick is
to enquire generally; never to be too obviously interested in any Particular
part during a conversation but to remember it all verbatim and let all
the relevant bits sort Themselves out, at their own convenience. Never
question or attempt to confirm anything you Know. Sounds easy. Difficult?
All you have to have is a particular type of memory and the courage of
the most dubious convictions. Jean is suspicious. Yet he casually but
discreetly rolls himself a one skinner. In a doorway on the square a crowd
of young people are gathered. Their Jesus, and his girlfriend 'Magda'
at the top of the steps are dispersing heroin through their kisses. It
is an extraordinary performance Bizarre and dexterous. It would be subtle
if their children were not so hungry. Greedy. HUNGER. Jesus's wife is
very good looking - I wouldn't mind French kissing her myself. But one
thing I don't need is a girlfriend with a serious Smack habit. I mean
casually indulging in such things but.... And then, quid pro quo Jean
remembers something he had forgotten, something he is without. Something
he couldn't have remembered unless it is based on certain assumptions
he has just made. He is annoyed with himself even still. Even though he
is second guessing himself - back dated. Confused? Some things are a little
Slowly finishing his smoke and his beer, temporarily enervated, he takes off in the direction of the final leg, to the oh so sweet guiltifying of Phillipe; but he doubles back and goes via the flat and dons a jacket and thing. Then turns north west. There was a small long moment though in the familiar flat when he felt that he would not go. To remain laid back, ignorant and cool. He moves now uphill, onto the deepening rubble that swathes the middle-distanced Sierra's feet. He takes long purposeful strides. Jean shrugs his left shoulder, like a bra strap that is carrying a heavy chest is biting into it. Shit. In his head run furious passages of dialogue, and scenes between himself and the reprobate, guilty foe. Jean is rarely described as eloquent when he has to play the disciplinarian. Be the disciplinarian. Generally in such situations he chooses silence as a weapon and action as a media. However, he can speak and he has a mind. When he does decide to share what he thinks, people who don't always choose what and when they are speaking, often find themselves idiotic. Small. He has the voice of command. You may be forgiven for not knowing what exactly this means. If you were instructed to do something you might think: 'I'd better do this'. But if you are told to do something: you do it and think 'I'm glad I didn't fuck-up' afterwards. See. So if someone yelled at you unexpectedly, you would think 'why arn I being yelled at?' If someone Shouted at you, expected or otherwise, you'd virtually jump out of your knickers and think: 'Good God what have I done?'. or not done. For Jean. Understand. Now LOUDER. or quieter.
It's well secured. He wasn't sure by the look of it. He is a building
worker after all! Or has become one. Or has adopted it. By the time his
sturdy boots have hit the ground Jean has already mapped what he reckons
to be the quickest route to Phillipe's girlfriend's place. Not that he
hasn't travelled it before. Most of his stage anger's worn off, leaving
him disgruntled and a little ragged about the edges. playing the game.
through. Playing the role. Turning back toward town and west again, Jean
thinks of his mate's lovely, unpredictable woman. She is not dramatically
beautiful at first but this allows time to look into her face without
shyness. And then her thoughts come out to meet you. Jean remembers the
heat of inquisition he felt within an hour of their first greeting. Phillipe
must have understood very well Jean's predicament because he passed him
a couple of knowing glances and tipped his tumbler to him when Leonora
was not looking.
A brutal blow to Jean but one which he'd taken between his teeth, had
been the mechanicalness of it all. Life. At university there were also
smart ones - like Leonora, who sought the weapons, not the conclusions
of academia to control malegos, attack problems, challenges and war. It
was with one such, that he'd first learned some Spanish language and customs.
Because he'd never officially studied when he left for the southern coast
of Spain, few people realised that he left with anything other than his
kit, the obligatory maps and a thick envelope. Builders always prefer
No civilians knew that when he was contacted in, or contacted from Bordeaux,
that most of his time was spent watching and worming in the Pyrenees and
their western surrounds on both sides of their border. The Spanish anti-terrorist
police had requested and received permission to ask for assistance of
the French government, France being so close to the problem Basque region.
It could have been viewed as a specifically Spanish problem but the French
considered that successful operations by E.T.A. might encourage the agitation
of their own Gallic nationalist claimants.
Having had her empire, her Franco-German wars, and having suffered as much as anyone under the red threat, however imagined, France's security overlords had won much prize. Not only, for example - would most regular armies falter against the French riot 'police' battalions in a straight infantry battle, but if the Nazis had taught French defence anything - apart from the importance of fire power which led inexorably to the tenaciously guarded independent nuclear threat; it learned from them the almost total ineffectuality and infighting of the resistance. They learned that effective intelligence networks do not happen just as, and when, and because they are wanted. Since the war, cross pollination between the police and military elements had become wholescale.
Jean has more cash now. For what, - who knows. What eventuality? And Jean is no miser he fosters many broke friends and acquaintances, much to the choler of certain others. No, Jean doesn't think of it as savings, but a stake. Force of habit.
A tiny more than nothing that can never be anything.
It is easy to become desperate; - when dreams have turned out empty fantasy,
purposes mired in a multiplicity of truths; when despite yourself you've
let yourself admit the scale of the world in which you want to effect
a change; and when the point to service is lost, so that it seems service
for service sake.
Jean's interim solution has been to strive fiercely; on a day to day basis,,, whilst achieving what quotient of dignity a builder can. Respectability even. Although he'd laugh and wouldn't own to it. However, the interim has been going on for a very long time. Interims can last a fierce long time. A fierce And bitter long time. People die in interims. Regularly. To borrow a phrase: during interims it is easy to 'become old and cold and settled in your ways'.
One in which he'd be sure to end up on the wrong end of it. But this is the surface. Underneath. It is the underneath that drives. It is underneath that mroils with the wants of the self, which ceasingly demand that I deserve something that will make me feel... I Wish these wants would go away. I wish this want would Fucking go away! But without this want right now would my blood ever accelerate, my head ever rise, because putting in the days has gotten so dreary.
He Tries not to take too much notice of her small bum as they're ascending
the steps. It is impossible.
There is the almost imperceptible side to side motion of her behind and
as it fills Jean's mind. Guilt invades. Half looking down, shyly wasting
the fullness of the experience; - half looking fully hunger up - Jean
It is impossible.
... He could reach forward with his good forearm and encircle her waist,
take her off her upper step and bring her into his midriff. Would there
be resistance? He would hold her for a second after retiring her motion.
Feel her assent, as her body moulds into his. And then feeling her hand
on his arm, stride up the stairs with her just like that.
She would say his name: this you do man.
I don't know why I bother? Why shouldn't I stare at Leonora's bottom
moving, ... gyrating around in front of me! So close you could almost....
I don't think she would mind. In fact she encourages it in her own way.
Bloody right she does! So close you could almost ... ? It is impossible.
Do I feel awkward like this because of Phillipe? Even though when he
doesn't turn up for days at a time I pay him just the same and pretend
he was never absent; when he returns. And he is darker. The nimbus of
an operation weighs over him.
And she is... she is... so close you could almost..... what Jean?
And now it appears he's gone on holiday and taken my entire workforce
with him. And he can't even allow himself phone because he's so busy.
And you, Leonora, probably knew I'd be here, before I did. I hope it
is just a holiday. Nobody ever tells me anything 'cause I'm the big bad
boss man. I hand out the dosh and take all the hassle.
You get more pay.
And when anyone gets into trouble I'm the stooge has to front it up.
You have greater control.
'Yes. This man (slash reprobate) 'is of good character' (and would you
please accept this grateful donation to the police fun fund). Please.
And has Phillipe been building a unit? I know. And I don't know.
You have more control.
And I'm supposed to take myself seriously?! He follows her into the apartment
a few paces behind as though he is expecting that there may lie in wait,
someone he doesn't know. an enemy perhaps?
You Need more control.
He always thinks of Phillipe as being young; a young man; but in reality
he is only few years Jean's junior. He's really occupied by instinctive
thoughts of the woman, where; and how she lives. As he remembers - he
simultaneously re experiences her capacious living room. It is large and
tall, two entire walls - floor to ceiling devoted to book shelves. Phillipe
put them in. There is a ladder. Wood. She has draped two enormous, avant
gardely dyed pieces of silk in front of the books which are held secure
with hooks and eyes at top and bottom. Someone has dyed magic in those
silks for Leonora. The books, they half show themselves through the partially
transparent colours but the titles are obscured. It is a practical arrangement
to keep the Sirocco borne dust off her treasure. Only special students
are allowed under her sheets. Jean in his cautious way has never enquired
where he fails. But perhaps he doesn't want to know.
He Doesn't want to know.
Perhaps also, the ignorance he has given Phillipe might be compromised
by knowing too exactly, what it is that Leonora is actually, and in fact;
researching. An experienced soldier would always be an added bonus. Another.
When up against strong factions those experienced in confrontation are
often sought. He knows she is a liar. But... But there is a tremendous
weakness for her also. A deep weakness, even deeper than the man's belly.
And Jean's got a good gut.
But no; she makes fun of him. With him. She can be girlish. Not old.
But she sins. She runs a game. She can be silly sometimes, enough that
even when it intends to embarrass it makes him grin. He knows she is a
Let her make smooth house. Let her take the duty of not flinching face,
when there is friction in a house of war. And let him tell the ignorance
lie. This is how it must be. Between them. He has retired from the intrigues
he was involved in after his overt service. Tired from them. Counter insurgency
man. The states' man. As was.
Now, the last thing he wants is to start accidentally-on-purpose seeking
clues in Leonora's library for what she and Phillipe are up to. Involved
in. She moles. It is sufficient.
Leonora's sheets will not be folded back. Her wardrobe will remain closed.
He knows, that if once he started looking; seeking, he couldn't help
but become involved all-be-it in the fin as avant provocateur. For every
move that officers make there are multiples of multiples that they do
Many nights they are not at home to friends. Ringing is normally expected.
Jean knows she is near. This canter of theirs. Across the water to the
homelands of the blacks. Some place. Where Jean and Phillipe were born,
battling love cemented comrades can become. Became. Brothers of blood.
Brothers of feeling for over long periods that you are surrounded generally
by people who don't wish you to be there. Alive.
Jean will not know of Phillipe and Leonora's struggle. No. No! NO! He
doesn't want it to happen. It shall not. It Bloody shall not! Jean has
had his imperial mistress. Or rather she's had him. All his juices used
up. Sanguine now to be a player without a play.
He can't abide the thought of knowing another enemy; empathise with another cause. No; it must not happen. He will NOT allow it. You have to hate interminably when it cannot be felt by the enemy and whip up fervour all around. You have to be an automaton to survive. Not human. Both things which require belief.
In the centre of the room is a long table - her work space . He can smell
the cedar. Pungent. Unmistakable. He is a man forced by economics to work
with materials he dislikes. He has good hands. He knows the shelves are
teak. Amongst the papers, manuscripts and dictionaries on the table, are
two, tall matching, sparingly painted vases full of fresh cut flowers.
They are not seen much at the end of such summers. The vases themselves
are so pale and elegant and slim and delicate, it leans to the thinking
that there must be great works pored out and extracted on the perfect
surface below. It creates the strongest sensation that those who circle
this pristine centre, do so on matters of import. Appearance and reality.
The most luscious flowers are imported especially to wilt over her work,
to fall on her pages of cipher. Should he peruse them?
But do they in fact contain some tell about P.'s whereabouts? His doings.
He will not look. No - sorry, hard cuboodle, - no.
He refuses and Will Not be drawn. He knows that the two of them have
gone politico. Has heard them vilify the march of moneterism and the consequences
of its commerce - capitalism today. Where the first hand out is the one
in the biggest boots. This is enough. It is too much for his piece of
mind; - the kind of people who they could be going up against are serious.
Too much so for this couple alone. Do they have like minded allies? If
so: who? And where to they intend to stick the enemy. There has to be
By her window is a lovely walnut coffee table a very good scale down
from the other. Good chairs fit the tables - no crap! Half a dozen ethereal
watercolours surmount the window in an artistically matched block. A giant
old master's epic demands from the ceiling where it is invisibly but securely
fixed. It came from her home - her father 'said' he thought it ugly. The
last wall with the door she uses as a blackboard, a screen and for her
expressionist escapes from her texts.
He has seen her: barely sensible, dancing in front of a projector; him
trying to keep his eyes on that wall and her shadow. Lust entered his
heart then. Badly. But long ago. Uncommonly restrained lust.
Occasionally lapsing and studying her real body, her face; coveting an
abandon, he has never truly known, and only seldom had the courage to
observe when he has come upon it. And when he has come upon it. There
have been moments. There have been many times in Jean's life when the
most woman and he in a place have taken one look at each other and without
either having to take the risk of a first move, they have melted, French
kissing into each other often almost on the spot. (Or not always almost.)
Increasingly these moments have become consigned to the past.
Beauuutiful girls have partied up to him, flirtations have been met,
assignations made; and fulfilled, but Jean latterly has shied away from
what they required in relationships. So much action that they perceived
in Jean had to be geometry. So much emotive experience that should; would;
could have been shared - beached; as Jean's inner self contemplated the
next brown hill. He and his spiritual unit would have to bring to, and
cross over; in his mind's eye. Too many times what they saw in his stance;
his look; his way; was a construction.
Jean had been inducted into the almost sacredness of army chain of command.
And didn't he do it well. Jean's desire to comprehend the world had been
changed; metamorphosed into singularity of attention to duty and unyielding
obeyance of the tenets, the orders of that same chain of command. The
doubts, the questions fell into a well. Time as a unit commander had taught
him to suppress his own emotions: especially his fears and previously
great desire for open discussion, and to only consider the psyche, mood
and readiness of his men. Having a shut mind helped whilst penetrating
terrorist cells. Released from from overt command and that responsibility,
but also co commitally from the symbiosis of being followed; looked to;
needed even, he can often find conversation difficult, not because he
cannot verbalise but simply what is there to say. He's just him. Big him.
He feels like an emotional retard when compared to Her sometimes. And
a little sad for the walls he has built around himself.
More than a little.
The restraint and respectability of middle age can be as invidious a
trap as any other. It reminds him of the young girl in the whorehouse
of Kerouac, who none of the customers will touch, - including Dean; because
they are too shy of her young beauty and who is consequently tormented
by the other pro's because she doesn't have any business. Untouchable.
No not untouchable. Untouched. Yet is it what she really wants? Is it
what He really wants?? Untouched.
Leonora is also forbidden fruit. It doesn't matter. Phillipe would give
her to him if he asked. If such things can be given? Which in this case
they could. Or loaned. Phillipe might ignore a liaison between the two
for a while, during one of Jean's particularly painful periods of loneliness.
But would not the next period of loneliness not become the more severe
and unbearable without.
The feeling equation. Tasting something gorgeous that you cannot or are
not allowed to consume. It is the argument of the beaten, the defeated,
the retreating: why slog up the next hill, we will be caught - let us
turn here. It is the quandary of unsustainability. The quandary which
Don't get it wrong - Jean is not an unattractive guy, he is just one of those people who are permanently unable to find a long term partner. Perhaps there is just too much going on inside of him, of too great weight, to be borne by another. perhaps it is jean's preoccupation with what he should be, as for most intense of purposes he is finished doing. Perhaps it is Jean's unwillingness to burden a woman in a life with him, when he perceives 'lightness' in others which he can barely remember onetime or sometime having. Should not a woman find it in the end 'unbearable'.
Phillipe would give him anything. And that is why Jean is intensely guilt
ridden and secretive about his desire for Leonora. Phillipe well knows
from having been around Jean so much that he likes her, but not how Big
a bite he would like to take out of her when she comes near on sometimes.
Jean rarely admits it in open thoughts even to himself, but it is there
despite the exercise of his will; - a whispering gremlin gnawing, taunting,
gn-awing away. For all the taste and beauty and affluence in her apartment,
and he loves beautiful things, he cares for a blank wall most. It is the
only part of the apartment with which he can fix his want for her; without
also, feeling straightened. It is strange, for he has created and hated
so many - so many walls - physically and spiritually and in inteligence,
- that here, amongst such luxury, he finds a plain wall comfort and friend
and secret memory. Friends can be hard to find, but the undulled memory
of upwelling unguarded femaleness is an enough that can fast the desertified
a big swathe. And now, shyly at his own childish emotional set he begins
a crooked, more than a little, wry smile. It is an expression which satirises
Jean's own reserve. The bitter more than the sweet of the way the world
is arranged. But also to be fair to him - without doing any harm or anyone
noticing that it was missing, he has stolen, and cloistered away, a little
piece of loveliness and a little piece of life. by the way her people
do not spend sleepless nights over lost shillings. or had we guessed?
Perhaps you think he should rob some of her underwear and have some of that keep him company, but his want for her, has many hatches battened between it, and doing anything so demonstrative.
Jean, on quietly entering the room stands with his hand laid on the firm
table at his side. He turns his head slowly to look where he heard Leonora
go. Bedroom adjoining. She is quite far away from him - across two large
rooms. She has her back to him. He looks at her and has the same feeling
he has had about viewing the whole ensemble. The woman - The table. He
has contrived to feel this way. It is a construction. Another lie.
The lie of: I do not feel this.
The lie of: it does not hurt.
Even the lie of: even though you matter to me, it does not matter to
me that i do not matter to you. Which he does. It is a clever man who
can make himself feel the way he wants. Under duress. Or a stupid one.
Jean has had to adopt this technique to survive. When her robe starts
to slip towards the floor in a silence, he does not have the courage or
the abandon to take of her what she will let him have. Approach.
But it would be a long walk. A walk once made that would take away the
last vestige of what keeps Jean just at bearable peace with the world.
His honour. some men once having accepted a sabre or a hand are debarred
from grabbing certain other chances that are offered, just the same as
true believers are.
The secret hypnotic moment of staring at something you cannot; will not
have, he finds the window compelling. He compares the vistas from the
two apartments. Hers' and his own.
- Just add the cap and Jean is staring out over a river valley with a
loose knot of sergeants and lieutenants Phillipe and Kurtzer toting automatic
rifles in a broken arc around him.
Only now that he has turned his face away does he view with thought;
- the fine lines of her buttocks - just; the gap between her toned thighs
and smooth tapering legs - just; the shallow panels of muscle flanking
and dipping into the elegant valley of her spine; the crazy curves of
It must be 'just'. Can Only be; - just. Too much and it will be real.
Contemplating, he prefers his own vista, - the town is older there and
he likes his elevation. He especially adores the yellow ochres which cover
the ancient plaster works and the red - brown tiles on the buildings of
the back streets behind where he lives.
He has woken many times in the relative cool of his back stairwell; a
half finished, now warm beer propped between his feet, after spending
a tired evening slugging and watching the shadows grow and the sun die
on the part of town that he adores. Evenings when he couldn't summon the
bluster to be with his bar buddies or to be honest when a fatigued old
soldier prefers to be alone with his memories. Christmas past.
He looking away. - In another life he approaches her bare back. Her lithe,
vulnerable, virtually irresistible female nakedness. Touches gently the
skin of her shoulder. The lightness of the touch belieing the unceasing
magnitude of his physical Need for her. - Buries his mouth in the hair
at the crook of her neck. SMELLing her. Wanting Her. Envelopes her breasts
in one, two hard hands.
But it is not to be in this one. This real life. The life where Jean
could have a well Full of succour from making love to that body, knowing
that it is Leonora.
And he wants to. He wants to say: 'I Am worthy (of you) and (I) am strong.
This man would be good for you.
This man would be good to you.
Please make some sign that it is O.K. for me to.. (love). You. And hold
off because if you taught me to want you any more it could destroy me.
My... my invulnerability which I've had to build is employed because of
It is a fact that the greater the strength the greater the brittality
even of, especially of steel..
And oh how brittle I am.
How could I live with only a little slice(s) of you; when I have a bleeding
crying yearning all the time. Being close to you - one that i cannot have,
beyond a certain point only pulls the sutures and drives my inability
for you, wicked, narrow arrow point, that is my want, deeper.
'Did you watch me undress Jean'
'Of course not.' How could I help but for a moment? and what a moment.
What today, would in a moment not I have promised to be another man here
with you, and you not minding being approached by him today.
I don't like this game. What did you expect? what do you expect. Is this
your game again today Leo? It's not fair. It is Not fair. How about a
nice game of strangle the cat? Eh.
You want me to tell you how I feel about you so you can stick a finger in my eye and say 'Ha! I knew it all along.' No dice Bitch. You do not belong to me. I may be lonely for love and pathetic with it; but that doesn't mean you have to go and pick on me. I know I'm pathetic. What is more, you do aswell. So what is it that you seek to learn? Or are you a torturer? You Are a torturer.
in the small way.
I've seen you wander up to me at parties and we weren't That drunk and
you would look up into my eyes all silly like and implore me to say or
do something that would amaze you. And some part of your attire would
be falling maybe and you'd be so fuckin' sexy. And your young laughter
even though mixed with endearments, would seem directed at the fact that
I was impotent to find the words to engage your flitting greedy attention.
and i never have. how could i?
Even though I have directed many men, many times, and in my own right
been the centre, or first orbit many others; to do that thing talk to
you I never have been able.
What you don't know fully, and it is the thing I will hide from you at
all costs, is how sick and sorry I feel that i never have. I have never
even begun to try properly. Because i have always known that if I ever
did, it would instantly declare myself. And I simply will not allow that
to happen. You would crucify me with the open knowledge that not only
do I want you, but that you can make me do tricks for you aswell. - 'Sit!'
'Beg!' I have done enough of that for the deputies on earth. Thank You
What do you seek to learn? Or are you sounding you're potential hold over me? Would it amuse you to know for sure that I fancied you? How can you not know? It is so obvious the way I avoid you. i remember one moment, when, because we were left alone and everyone else was busy, we came close physically. Neither of us made waves of distress, we both Knew. Just a simple common sensation - passing is all. Once afterwards when I came close, you looked away, I said to you 'Is it that you don't want to talk to me.' You said 'Yes'. - I will tell you nothing. I do not like this coyness. Why should I declare myself, if you have rejected me off hand already. It is possible that you believe you haven't, but you have. So why should I let you investigate me? Interrogate me. I Will Not become one of your little games. A toy for you to scratch and maul and bite. A "Thing".
Yes. Shameless, devious. Is it fair to make me out a prude so that I
will say what You want? "No.
Should I?" Is it necessary that I should feel so weak so that you
can feel strong? This is your home, you are entitled to do in it whatever
you please. Anyhow, I am not by nature, a shy person." (Lie - I am
worse than shy, i'm afraid.) Unless of course there is some advantage
in it. Like if by not being shy someone takes the opportunity to embarrass
and mortify the shite out of me further. Not of course meaning to suggest
that you would stoop so low - cow.
"That is not an answer. I said: 'Do you think I am brazen?"'
As Leonora says this she sticks her head a little forward on her elegant
neck. Is she trying to provoke Jean into a rash word or act. It certainly
makes him want to punch her quite hard in the face. You see, sometimes
Jean jumps ahead of her in the queue with Phillipe and she hates it. And
I mean REALLY doesn't like it. There is a love there, no woman can touch.
Laughs when they were youths and captured a joke of carefreeness and swayed
back with arms taking full weight of each others' over their shoulders.
And also then a tremendous sense of shared responsibility.
Vive La France!
Do calculating and manipulative come under the heading of 'brazen'? What
do you expect me to say? For fuck sakes this is ridiculous! I should get
up and leave but that would be rude, even though there seems to be an
interrogation going on here. Again. I cannot let it be taken as said that
there has been some insult flying about. When Phillipe gets back he would
know straight away and might consider that my being here is probing and
crosses the line between business and relationship. Certainly might. Letting
Phillipe off taking a holiday with the lads that easy. God forbid that
I should have approached her. And you have obviously figured out that
my equanimity in relations with you is absolute propriety - SLUT. I'm
sorry did 'moi' say SLUT? Please excuse me I really can't say what came
over me. It must be the company.
"If you really want to know, what it all boils down to is intent.
Life, relationships, perception nudity it's all the one"
"So it is not important whether or not I take my clothes off in
front of you Jean but why I do it and how you view it.
- So, if you look away, you either find the sight repulsive or you question
my motives or your feelings?"
Clever Girl. You win a prize! Go directly to the top of the class, pass
go, collect £200. No one ever said you were stupid Leonora. No one
ever said THAT! "Yes."
"Which is it then?"
"Which two of them."
Swine. You tricked me into telling you what you wanted to know, as you
always do, because you know I would not give you the satisfaction of making
me lie. You see too clearly, you'd probably only guess anyway. And IT
not give you the satisfaction. No rules in love and head fucking boyfriend's
best buddies. None what So Ever! No. However stupider than you you make
me feel, I don't think Iíd have it any other way. Your behaviour gives
validity to a reason other than weakness for not making a pass at you.
Which would be fateful. I suppose. Anyway you intersect only a tiny part
of my world, which bugs you I know. You don't know where I have confidence
in strength. Loath though I am to believe it, I think you believe it to
be deeper than yours. It is the wonderful thing about sleuths they are
always looking for that extra clue and are always prepared to believe
that there is something they may have missed. There may be no more to
me than the clothes I stand up in and the bars I drink in, but you cannot
leave it at that, because that doesn't adequately explain P.'s devotion
to me and if it does, - where does that leave you? I don't believe in
clues - I merely try and cover as many bases as possible and wait. We
are different. I know a variety of stoicism. Perhaps. I will always have
what really I want because I employ an infinite timescale.
Yeah, even if that timescale runs into the time during which I am dead.
You are so impatient that you might actually overlook, what behind it
all you really wanted, or actually misplace it having found it. Your world
is so plastic, so dynamic, that you cannot admit of lasting satisfaction.
My fascination at the shear enormity of the fact of my calmness and persistence
in the face of my knowledge, is of such magnitude, that it dwarfs your
I must say though you'd make a fine exhibition in an anatomical museum.
Did you ever think of offering yourself up to science? But what would
we call the exhibit? Something simple STRATEGIST, genus: female.
"Jean do you like my back?" I wanted to see how you would react
to my nudity. Or: how attractive do you think I am. I wanted to see how
it would make you FEEL. I want to use the restriction you place in relations
with me to make you squirm. That aura of yours which is six feet across;
even though I'm sure you wouldn't admit it to yourself, you assault me
with because I am in cahoots with Phillipe. You punish me constantly.
Because you've given up fighting for having lost Your sense of purpose,
you have disdain for those who still struggle. particularly me.
He doesn't reply. Ignores. Acts as though the question was not aired.
Do you Like my back"
Incredibly. Very much. I think it's beautiful. Ah come on. No fair. What's the story? That's like me saying 'hypothetically speaking, what would you think about a nice scrue?' OBJECTION the solicitor is badgering my client. SUSTAINED.
What does she want?
I would do things to your back that even you wouldn't believe.
But that's where it starts.
You would know the depth of my desire, that it was not just a lay and
that would be bad.
"O.K. Leonora you win, I question my feelings." I may question
my feelings but I don't Trust yours.
I AM a man and you taunt me like I am a child; I could take, ruin or
crush you, and your only defence is that the last thing I have learned
to want to do is to destroy blossoms - however poisonous. That is for
other men to decide. Now.
"Have you seen that Boyfriend of yours - Phillipe. You know - French
bloke - comes around, watches you dress, undress, that kind of thingT'
Fucks you up the ass. You know - Him.
"No. Not since yesterday morning anyway." And - yes Jean, he
did a real good job on me. You should have been here, you would have been
proud of him.
"...Why, didn't he turn up for work today?"
Ah poor Jeanny. Did Phillipe not come out to play today? And what is
Jean to do without his favourite playmate? Her voice contains it all.
The conceit and the triumph. But she's not a bad girl. It's just Jean
makes her this way. His stalworth facade she does not believe. Any time
she meets him, she chips away at it - trying to tap the anger, the reaction
that she believes must lie within the man. He doesn't though, as a point
of stance. Get shirty. Angered. And yet despite herself there is a shy
liking for his patience, forbearance, even his equivocal honesty.
You're seriously asking fucking me if he turned up today!
Liar. DO you think ]'d come around here if he had come in and proceed
to ask you such an inane question? Do you? "Didn't mention taking
off somewhere, did 'e?" There could only be one reason that I would
come around here if Phillipe was in work, in which case, I'd hardly bring
him up in the conversation, now would I.
And I would have approached you when you were prone.
o god i would love to have approached you. 20 years ago i would ... i
(but juliet, it grows cold.. what is it this life that i have drunk..
spent ... spent so foolishly.. these walls.. these terrible fortifications
which the fear of your family made me build; i am surrounded by myself
and cannot now remember the way out.)
This stupid conversation would never have taken place if I had approached
you and many other questions would have had their long awaited and indeed,
overdue answers., IF i had approached you.
"No Jean he didn't mention anything like that. He never tells me
what he's up to. You know what Phillipe's like!"
Liar. Liar. Liar. He practically lives with you!
"Off with some other woman maybe. Sornewhere?"
"May be." What do you think?
Liar. "You see no one else decided to appear either. It would add
up if Lover boy took them globe trotting wouldn't it?"
I'm pissed off Leon. Real pissed. "So if he does break silence you
WILL let me know.", as Jean says this, the tone of the meeting changes.
In a room full of people you wouldn't notice but with just the two of
them looking at each other in the bright light, the unspoken is obvious.
Bright light. Undeniable. He has played her little game - straight, and
he is insulted because she is holding out. If she accidentally-on-purpose
let something slip, it could lead him to be able to continue with his
life again, finish the job and escape. Escape. Escape. Escape. Escape.
escape. the figure 6.
She will not tell him anything. He knows. This is theoretical grounds
for grievance but they both have their reasons for not saying certain
things. Until this moment, when he has met a physical obstruction to his
progress he hasn't realised how the role he plays irks him. He's angry
and off his cake. He actually feels violent. Frustrated. He wants to tear
HER work up, force her and say 'How do you like that?' Same difference.
She would foil him though by not letting it be rape. Jean couldn't force
Leonora. And that would be the most frustrating joke of all. Jean will
be a passionate man under duress. But such thoughts are a sham. He feels
tired. Redundant. He will have to wait until his sheep come home, flapping
their ears behind them. Only thing to do now is put on as good a face
as possible and kill time. Time. Time. Time. A freezing, gushing stream
waits - high up in the hills for him to find. It gurgles and gushes and
fails and splashes - a cascade in his mind, his ears driving him almost
over the brink of the insane. Just now Jean realises he is still stoned.
He will fish the stream maybe. Or just to sit up against a dwarf tree
besides and blow some smoke and whilst listening to it, let it fill his
mind and rush away all the thoughts that clog up his brain. It will be
O.K. for him to be cowardly - afraid of his life then, with no one around
to see all the things on his face that yearn away inside him forever and
interminably, and which would take over completely, if everyone (anybody)
knew; in reality how weak and small he is. But it is far away. Far, far
away. Today further away than an unremembered dream. And even his dreams
are Far from being a solace to him. The dreams of a soldier in and out
"They're all grown men Jean and they're entitled to with hold their
time if they wish.", Leonora.
It's gettin' late man. Didn't get to bed 'fil late last night.
And in answer to your question, I wasn't out carousing with P. either.
- If you care to know, I spent the whole evening working here on my own
Monsieur Inspecteur." She almost turns away as she speaks the words
to him in a deadly calm voice. You have had invitation to join us before
this. Not now. You will wish only to fuck things up. Scuttle the op.
... "Can I cook for us?" Propriety. Shift. Break. Welcome
break. Accepted by both.
A hollow consolation for a lover, an escapist, a striver. But a consolation
all the same. The company of an attractive woman. Tonight maybe something
the Gods will put in my path. Tonight. Please. She has made me feel this
way. I have no Leonora. I rarely ever do have any.... When I do ... ?
Is my wife out there somewhere? It's not that way perhaps. Is there one
out there for me? yes there is but i am not what you expect. also fate
can be wound up with the capricious god of love.
It would be nice if... to think... oh God! STOP Jean just stop turning
all that shit around your..
He turns his head and looks at her. She feels twice naked. Jean has come to her out of some deep seated need not to feel useless. It is not intended as an insult. He would come and visit her under other circumstances when Phillipe wasnít around except for his shy sense of propriety. She created it when she chose to chip away at his apparently invulnerable friendship with her lover. She wanted to expose some great flaw in Jean, but all sheís succeeded in doing is to repeatedly hurt and embarrass him. It makes her feel kind of small and a little jaded, like Jean. But this doesn't last long as she's soon quick to go back to blaming his uncommunicative nature and his blocky intransigence. Jean would never say or do anything to alert Phillipe, but the apparently insensate brute holds deep reserve about her willingness to adopt rather menial measures to have her way. She rather resents this knowledge but she knows it is not unfair, on the rare occasions she accedes to her thinking of it. People don't. Jean is still warm and friendly most times and a little vulnerable, which is a gateway to friendship; if she could only Stop herself from trying to provoke him. She is still searching, by trial and error, to find the point of greatest resistance in him. And when she does she will flop on top of him and say'Now I know you too Jean Marsaud! Now we can be friends aswell. Bestest friends.' This is a delicate process. She has made many mistakes and there is the chance he will eventually retreat from her completely and irrevocably. This is always a possibility but she has no patience. If Phillipe ever... he is the one thing.... But she must have power over him first - the power of knowledge - before she will accept him for what he is and his relationship with Phillipe. There will be no more female caprice. (Or so she thinks.) Let's just try and be normal people for a while. He takes a cigarette from her antique silver box and a French one from his trousers pocket. It's a bit crushed. Must have got stood on or something. The contrast suits him. Incongruous. It makes him smile. Seeing him smile, though she isn't sure why, it makes her feel easier and she smiles quietly too to herself whilst cooking. His deliberate silences make her uneasy after a while sometimes. She has even less idea where he goes than she thinks. At her university they think her a bit of a swat as she senses they did him. But that umbilical has been severed away from him so long in terms of the intellect, that she has little clue where he may have drifted in fantasy - in logic. But that's a crock of shit anyway! He gives her lighted cigarillo to her and smiles - at her. Kissing on the mouth crosses his mind. Hello! Taking glasses from a special cupboard and vino from the fridge, he opens the bottle. Jean knew there would be some. She drinks. He's seen her. He has observed her translate in multiple foreign languages whilst quaffing back glass after glass of strong wine, during a decent sized riot which raged in her flat. It helped that her wander lustful, aristocratic parents carted her around Europe - in search of something... extraordinary. Not the way they wanted, she was infected. She is but young still, the changes within herself merge with those she wishes to effect. Handing her an elegant glass he grins. Watching the potent liquid fall - it fascinates him. It always has; simple things like that do. Fills his glass, raises it to his dry lips: "Here's to the work ethic and all who drown in her", and slowly tilts, it empties the cold tasty liquid past the back of his throat and down, down. It will be nice to have lunch with someone who can converse in his native tongue apart from P. for a change.
unfortunately, it easy to call a casual lay, casual, only if it is, casual.
Thinking of Phillipe again Jean has a twinge - is he sitting down to
lunch with the woman who is getting ... has gotten? P. into deep shit
trouble? Is Jean wearing a jacket to hide something ... in this heat because
he is a paranoid freak? He thinks not. No Leonora, by virtue of her influence
is a dangerous lady. Jean is wright to be ready and willing to be suspicious
of Her. Prickle. Jean knows too, having been in the business, that seek
and you will find. Not necessarily what you want but some. There's pots
of juicy trouble to be found - if you want it. Bad enough.
Once again Jean has the sentiment that it's funny to think that Leonora
is pursuing post graduate studies, in the same university, as that first
girl who introduced him to Spain, exchanged from long ago.
I've often thought of asking could Leonora have known her. Chance in
a million. Or two. It is like being on a boat, there are many lines to
follow but not an infinite number. But it's better not to mention other
women if there's any touche of attraction flying around. Women will be
insatiably and illogically jealous - if you give them a chance. And it's
not always possible to know which ones they will be or with certainty
whether or not they fancy you. And even if you're absolutely certain they're
not into you, they may decide that they are, as a matter of territoriality,
if nothing else. Like female 'friends' soon get piqued, even if you've
mutually decided to share the secrets of your lives, especially if you're
at all promiscuous or highly sexed. Jean is. Highly sexed. or had we guessed?
and if you're not having it off regularly - it can be a very tiresome
Jean has directly challenged her loyalties. He has made the issue of
Phillipe's absenteeism a personal matter between them, because his tolerance
and laxity in the past has directly benefited her private life and now;
Phillipe has taken what Jean rightly considers a Diabolical liberty. So
he is calling in Phillipe's marker which extended to Leonora. But it is
not the facilitation of their private life that Jean is concerned about
now, but what exact type of investigative journalism or (industrial?)
sabotagelespionage that they have gotten Phillipe involved in. Something
which he has strenuously tried to ignore in the past. Something he has
learned to regret - more than partially. But he has played things this
way ...his way. He has made his bed and will lie in it. How so ever uncomfortably.
it is easy to regret. and useless. largely.
She is trying to rebuild the balance of their relationship with some propemess. Lunch. If he suspects that she has betrayed his honest and fair appeal, he will treat her like a wet fish when they meet again and for a long time probably. (Or not. Diplomatic ignorance/memory loss is quite common amongst people who think a lot... Especially in them.) Whether or not she feels there was anything she could do about it he may play the distance shuffle. She knows this, but what can she do Phillipe is her lover. Leonora knows that he'd go spa, if he copped that she'd ratted his whereabouts or intentions to Jean. If she knew them? Yet they need him. He is generally so accommodating and deliberately blind. I hope he doesn't think that we're taking him as a chump. Phillipe has left her to pacify their best friend and ally without infringing on their own tense relationship. Delicately does it. But will it wash with Jean? How can it? The fucker's a mind reader when he's not playing Little Big Stone Wall Face! Maybe going on holiday with the whole family was asking too much patience of friendship? Perhaps he needed cover for some reason? Phillipe must do these things. It is his style. He has his reasons. Jean has very little style, it's all technique with him. I mean wearing a jacket on a day like today; what's he looking for - a funeral? I can't strip off into a bikini as I'd usually, in case he thinks I'm being sexy. Again. I have been. (it's 35 Centigrade outside now and will probably hit 40 in an hour or two). Well fuck this tact shit: if he's gonna pressurise me, I'll have to turn the tables on him and see how he likes it! It is very hot inside Leonora's thin little dress. And getting hotter. And hotter in her head. She is bursting to get out of it. She may be going to do or say something rash. Jean thinks: crazy. I admire her. Always have. And now I'm pressurising her. She will be angry she will not understand. They never do. (They?' Who they?)
the future has come to pass.
Leonora is preparing to throw a brick through the proverbial shop window.
She ain't going to tell me nothing! Jean thinks: after all it's only money
and My holiday! I'll be a slob to them for a while. Maybe a row is all.
I can't fire Phillipe and Leonora knows it, even though she doesn't. I'd
miss the Pain the job would be no fun without the messer. Anyway, men
work harder and longer and complain less with a good comedian or two in
the crew. Everybody knows that! But there's still Paco. I wouldn't swap
Phillipe for all the brick layers in China - to be true! Leonora saw straight
through P.'s fool-act - straight off. It took me longer but I smile when
I think how sweet it was to discover the man behind the joke. I was harsh
with him because it wasn't always necessary - his nihilism. Or was I jealous
of his freedom? Phillipe is Very smart and as sure as.... he'll have his
mistake. I won't be around to pick him up after an adrenaline trip sours.
Will she be strong enough? He doesn't take me with him, I'd only cramp
his style now... after all these recent years of the outfield. The park.
But I have Chosen I have given all that up. How could I take the same
risks he does, as I am now - I've been used to making decisions for groups
of people for so long again. Anyway, how could he take me with him, the
way the board has been arranged? She is so relaxed, most lovers would
go nuts if their partner pretended to be an air hostess when they're supposed
to be a builder who works down the road!
that is why she knows. she does. and i must forgive her her complicity
as i forgive him.. it is hard but.... i don't want to forgive her as it
helps me distance My desire for her. but that is not fair. Necessary but
no, not fair.
She valiantly tries to keep the timbre friendly and he praises her cuisine
in the middle of promptly dispatching it. There is a moment after Jean
pushes his dish away and leans satisfactorily back against his chair,
when unintentionally, they end up looking straight at each other over
long. They have no choice but to look down and away as they both know.
Leonora thinks how bizarre it is that because there is a taboo or two
between them that it completely stifles any real chance of conversation.
We are intelligent people! You are the kind of man that some people narrow
their eyes at behind your back - simply because you're a prototype of
the stand-up guy. But in your silence and your separateness where do you
hide? I know, women who say that you are emotional and waylayed. I know
men who say that you will be devious and hard if you choose. Phillipe
says that when you were in the army - senior officers were disturbed by
you because you were too close to your men. But he believes that they
feared the orders that they might give you. You were never involved in
an unnecessary military blood bath but he says that you were the kind
of soldier who might easily decide to step into one, even though you knew
what it was and also a way 'round. Is that true? Did you court death?
Are you wanton? Deep, deep down inside. Brutal? A killer? Immortal? Invulnerable?
In love with me. Could we ... ? Could I ... ? Could I hold you both? Down.
Would you break my heart because you wouldn't always be failing over yourself
to put your woman first?
Is that why he loves you more than me - because you're not playing like
he is, or is it just because I'm not a man? You sit their like a huge
baby and yet earlier on you gave me an order. Which you know I must disobey
if ĎIí am to survive inside. And yet you did it anyway. Just so that you
can lump me in with the enemy when it suits your will; even if we became
lovers after fooling Phillipe was dead or gone it would be the same. You
would look for fault in me and and when you made sure you found it, it
would be betrayal to you. The same naive idealism and consequent nihilism
you find so amusing and endearing in P., you'd find absurd in me and you'd
hate me for being so ridiculous. Hate me, and all I want is for you to
Like me. Respect me. Trust me. Confide in me. If he finally disappeared
you couldn't leave the wife/girlfriend of one of your men unseen to though.
Could you? You think you make an impression but all you do is answer equations
from a little circuit board welded to the inside of your thick skull!
You have a clever little working definition of who I am and ignore the
masses of things which contradict it or which might infract the thousands
of little rules and axioms you crash around in in your daily life. And
I'm not sure I couldn't love you as much if not more than I do P., but
you can't know me because all you see are reasons why Phillipe is into
me and a set of characteristics, that you can pin down, so that you can
predict how I will behave in a given situation, so you can be there ahead
of me, apparently without the expenditure of a drop of sweat or the ruffling
of a slick feather. And you sit there contemptuously and not a word out
of you! What I'd really like would be to throw a plate of food in you're
smug face. Jean laughs loud and hard and for an indecently long time in
his head. In their modesty, they've avoided each other's gaze for a long
time. They ate in silence broken by the chatter of two like birds.
Jean caressingly rolls the after lunch spliff, revelling in the Doing
of something. There was a time in school, sure he knew more about a topic
than his teachers, Jean would make arsenals of things out of paper. They
let him; not wanting to be embarrassed by the question he had readied
and kept on the tip of his tongue in case he was disturbed. Marsaud knows
Sitting at the coffee table with their hot cups, they relax. Having passed
her the joint, Jean genially enquires: "So how goes the work?"
I'll dig you. "As someone once said: 'I'll chiver you out like an
old stoat.' I'm not sure that it quite fits in this case but you know
what I mean."
"If I did get stuck you would get me out... I mean we'd disappear
into the mountains... and Phillipe could come and we could find a fairy
princess for you and we could forget about papers and rubble. I feel like
I'm going out of my tiny little mind here sometimes - at least you have
company on the site. I just talk to myself in various incidental languages.
Sometimes I catch myself singing to myself in this little voice and realise
I've been doing.it for Ages without realising it!"
i feel like that at home all the time.
"I don't often know which nationality I am anymore.
Sometimes. You know."
Hold on a minute here - what's all this? I don't have Any nationality
anymore. I know some. I think so, yes. This might sound a little facetious
but this doesn't seem like the usual u talking.
- You love books and languages. After the three of us have put in a hard
day, you're the one who sends us off ahead to the bar so you can do some
more scribbling and translating. That's why you do most of your socialising
and drinking here - so you can work aswell. Is everything K.O. here Leo?
You know how loath I am to commit myself or make blanket statements but
you know that if there ever Was anything wrong; that all you'd have to
do would be to TELL me about it.
Is there something wrong with you and P.? If you're worried about him
- he'll come back smiling and fine as the day." Pause. Or will he?
"Or is there something else? - Maybe it's just the dope.
Perhaps we could go for a stroll outside and you could tell S.ilent U.ncle
S.am all about it - eh, would you fancy that? You could even cry on my
shoulder if it was appropriate."
"NO Uncle Jean I'm fine where I am." Regretting her show of
weakness Leonora tries putting him off; "Maybe it's just my time
coming - feels like it's going to be a Big one. It's probably going to
put me out of action for a few days. The great thing about bleeding is
that it feels great when you stop!"
(I've seen people bleeding Very freaked knowing they Wouldn't see the
has she accepted my cast of me as 'the man from uncle?' are things that
He begins by deprecating to women's problems but what comes out is: "I'm
sure I"m glad that I don't have to deal with that, on top of my No.I
and the Destructive Desperados disappearing under a magic hat of no fixed
address." YOU DONíT KNOW WHERE THAT HAT MIGHT BE FOUND DO YOU? -
perchance Leonora of the lights.
I wish you'd just SHUT UP about them. You 're starting to annoy me. It's
boring when you are being so diligent all the fucken time. They'll turn
up or they won't! They're entitled to withhold their work if they want.
Did I say that earlier on. You are an intelligent person Jean; so why
do you become pathological so easily? I hate it when you do that! We've
just had a nice meal and there you go again - BANG!" She strikes
herself quite hard on the chin frontally with the heel of her hand. In
my face. Subtly making out that I'm lying to you. And you won't just admit
that whether or not P. did encourage them to break off, they went because
your idea of a working fortnight is thirteen days! And this a Catholic
country AND unnecessarily hot! Don't you see Jean that you are a bloody
Madman and that people just don't want to keep up with you indefinitely?
Not no matter how much you pay them or encourage them or badger them.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND" I do.
I'm sorry I didn't mean to be a menace. But seriously Leonora why not
come for a short stroll with me?" Jean has hooked into something,
smelled something and doesn't want to let go. It's a beautiful day outside.
And then we could have a nice quiet beer somewhere.
You like beer. You'd be doing an old man's street cred' a favour. Haven't
been seen with a Dazzling woman on my arm in this grubby town during daylight
hours for a long time. Would you please?"
"I'm sorry Jean but what if the all knowing, all knowing neighbours
were to I.D. us - they'd report me to Prince P. immediately and forth
with on his return. Bound to. And him gone just One day. Anyway the way
I feel, if I walked out on your arm now, you'd just have a splotch of
ice cream on the slieve of your Nice Jacket within seconds.
Thank you though. You know I don't take much to the sun, and anyway I
have a pile of work I wanted to get through this afternoon!"
You always were the bees' - baby-cakes at the lingo but just don't it leave too late. I mean if thou shalt compare thyself to a block of ice cream, thou might understand the meaning of the phrase - she hath only a short half life to spend - multi-lingually or otherwise. Anyway enough of this rot. "When I asked about your work earlier on, I meant your studies not your out work." And your diggings.
"Oh. That's all going fine. I've a good enough spread on the perpetuation of totalitarian type government in the indebted side, whose partners employ aggressive export led, neo-mercantilist trade policies, to be able to make up some good stuff. Don't think I'll get caught fudging, but what you really need is some juicy ground sourced material"
some Juicy ground sourced material?
north Afro economics and government ... and the military?
"I See." ?. Fuck'n 'ell! "You really have got the bug bad haven't you."
"Yes. You had it once too didn't you. What were you - history wasn't it."
Yes. Líhistoire. "Something like that. Yes."
"You specialised on the history of warfare didn't you?"
Military history. "Sort of.
Yes." Personae, tactics, strategies, disposition, training, practice, outcome, readiness and civil desire; hence militarist politics, economics, logistics.
"Why did you stop?"
"What do you mean 'Research'?"
"Just the same as you I guess. I got ahead of myself."
I don't un'er.."
"Yes you do. You've been talking to Phillipe." It's that obvious.
Although what you hope to gain? He knows my feelings. I quit. There can
be only one reason. You don't believe him. Well that's understandable
with Your ego. Question is do I bother trying to convince you or not.
"I served." It means I was going to be conscriped after I finished
in the university so I thought - what the heck! All that theory and no
meat. I wanted to go to my first disco but I didn't want to go on my own.
So I persuaded P. and we enlisted in the Army Officer Corps before I'd
completed my masters and P. had taken his degree. Don't know how he got
through instruction - must have copied me most of the time. A lie - Phillipe's
sphere of influence just held a smaller number of men but was in no way
less strong. He finished his course after we got back. I helped him, it
was the least I could do! He stuck with me too long. How can you teach
a man when it is a good time to disengage when you haven't learned it
yourself? I had become - what is the word? - disaffected. Classic. I took
up cynicism but I made sure P. had his pocket money. In actual fact he
had the best. Treated him like my husband. I sent him all my pay - even
gave up smoking - sold my cigarette ration. "Thought it was funny
at the time." and when i was sent home after i was wounded, when
i'd healed and P. said he wanted to go on studying - i went to work for
to support him. That is when the secret people took me. it was perfect
for them because of how i'd genuinely railed about the army and the government.
some genius of an analyst obviously surmised that my former zeal coupled
with my rebellion, once turned could make me both vehement and really
"Why did you think it was funny to serveT'
I thought that I could learn what all the words and theories meant."
Behind it all, I had the simpletons desire to find the key to millions
of lives and trillions of pieces of information. Yes. Perhaps even in
one neat, little hyper-educated sentence. Or at least to be able to anal-ise
the reasons for military calamities and successes even though I already
knew that the only significant fact is that it can all be put down to
religious, racial, territorial and economic meanness of varying intensity.
And the want.
"Phillipe says you were wounded and decorated."
"Would you like to see the scar, is that it? I ordered my men to
advance. It was a diabolical situation. And out of stupid blind loyalty
they did." What else did he say? One of our guys knifed me. Daft
bugger couldn't even do a proper job like he was trained. "Everyone
was terrified" I didn't stop laughing over the pain until they evac'd
me. Freaked everyone out. S'pposed to be a serious business. And I got
my deputy sheriffs badge. For being a target, or a fool, I cannot, to
this day work out which.
"It cost you much pain?"
Not anything so grand. "it had it's embarrassing side."
"I don't understand?"
Don't you. Not yet maybe. "I was supposed to be telling everyone
what to do and there I am tying on my back with a crowd around me."
Worried, panic stricken faces hunched over me, barely visible in the pitch
dark. How are we going to explain This? ... especially if he dies; at
the back of everybodies mind. "There was a hiatus. There was the
possibility that the maintenance orders might be" exceeded "broken."
Even though we'd been ambushed, the volume of fire they were able to create
was not that great. I knew the lads were good and my wounding would only
make them madder as they'd try to obliterate one man's action by real
soldiering. The Legion was hate that tour. I thought some of their guys
would end up surrendering, it wasn't a Jihad then, but I sensed there
was the possibility illegal killing might have gotten done. That scared
Me. I was amused however - I mean I represented the guy who stabbed me's
death - I could see the logic - strike as high up on the chain as you
can, what matter which half. I would still have been held responsible."
I held control - physically, of my second. And laughed into his face.
I wasn't worried unnecessarily. They didn't need me That much. Like my
men now. Far more independent than I like to imagine." Yet do they
know when they are being manipulated? And why? Who should understand better
than me. The officer, the foreman. You'll understand that too. I'm sure.
You've been manipulating things... people, for a long time this is certain.
I know. You twist my guts around like a toy top. ...But I resist. Would
I though, if I was your man? That's a good question. Would it be me out
there in the field now - retirement or no? Probably would. And loving
it, loving you. You go too far Jean. Would you really turn back for want
Jean thinks: You never give up do you.
"You are very tacitum. He says they all loved you and any of them
would drop everything and come to follow you if you called, even still."
Phillipe says a lot. It was their business to 'love?' me. "That
is a gross exaggeration." But I do feel sometimes like a school prefect
in exile. This is true!
"He also says he'd be dead if it wasn't for you."
You think that heroism can be contained in a single act? Why did you
tell her such foolish things you ASSHOLE?!! ah phillipe why did you have
to tell her? could you not have excluded me from that part of your past
as i begged you. Begged of you. but you had your wounds to explain I guess.
Did you think she'd like me more because I killed for you. Did you try and describe the pitch he achieved when I caught him? i bet you didn't. Were you desperately trying to explain our feelings for each other by giving her biased scepticism a reason to accept me? I'd beat the living shit out of you if I thought you might win. PHILLIPE WHERE ARE YOU, YOU SONOFABITCH? "if it wasn't for me he would not have been in the position in the first place, so that cancels that out." Does not. It is not fair of Phillipe to say such things - he knows how it makes me cringe." Nor do I understand why you had to bring it up now. "I hope we shall not have to broach this ground again." Unless he only told you yesterday? I consider this part of my life Private." AND SO I TRUST SHALL YOU.
Threats! "I had to ask Jean, when P. talked about it it seemed so
important to him. I'm sorry if I upset you. I know how much you mean to
him and how close you two are. For Christ's sake Jean don't look at me
like that. I Am his girlfriend after all!" You treat me like a pig
with your eyes and yet hardly a drop of that venom you feel towards me
escapes your mouth. Why don't you spit it out? Get it off your 'Manley'
You should have thought about how you might upset me before you started.
It's not about Phillipe at all is it? It's because you are a jealous ALL
BUT wife. Isn't it? That and your perverse need to know. I just hope in
your intelligence gathering that it doesn't endanger Phillipe's little
piece of an ass. If you want to be his bride all you have to do is Ask
him. He is that much of a fool in love with you. By a New York mile. Not
me. no Way. BEWARE LEONORA. I'm going to back out of this little situation
as gracefully as possible and you are going to let me. "There is
nothing" lover "that you or your" idiot "boyfriend
could possibly do" by a factor of ten "to upset me."
"Ah Jean please don't be annoyed at me. I honestly didn't mean any
harm." Christ Jean I want you too! Don't you know? Can't you see?
I undressed in front of you hoping against hope of sparking you into an
indiscretion. Just once. And it could have been a Beautiful indiscretion.
That's all I would have needed. To prove ... to make you see me as a woman
instead of as an n m e or a competitor. It was not just a perverse tease.
I could give you something. So much. You need Me ... you intransigent
bastard. Christ Jean why won't you lighten up on me.
Jean walks slowly down the stairs after closing the apartment door quietly
behind him. His face is blank and his head slightly tilted toward the
floor. Perhaps he is sad. He would never give away such total devotion
to thought if there were others around. Absent mindedness - yes, but never
"East, south, west?; what? Jean."
"Don't fuck with me now."
... "Are you sure you're feeling alright Jean? - I can't even understand what you're talking about... let alone why you think Iím"
Jean delivers the wall nearest Leonora's head a tremendous blow. The practised hand crumpling on impact. It's plasticity protecting it from being destroyed by the precise direction of force channelled through the angle of wrist, elbow, shoulder. It is hooked out and withdrawn with such speed; and is so unexpected that Leonora is conscious only of a blurred motion and a faint wind across her face. - Following the focus of the sound of the impact rather than the motion of the arm, she is attracted by the crack through the breeze block. It is revealed by the removal of a perfect oblong of plaster which has instantaneously apparently turned to some fragments, and a puff of dust.
'DONT make fun of me."
The realisation that her face could just as easily have been torn apart discomfits Leo. She gets a hit of the jitters. Superficially, not only is the woman supposed to abhor damage to the look, but the blow to the wall is symbolic of the great unspeakable co-committant of Phillipe's life as an agent. This object which has often come to spoil what Should have been between them during their time together. The payment for his making a mistake snooping, recruiting, bribing has lent an edge of coercion to their relaxation and panic to their love making. Jean does not know this. She can't say. Won't. The relationship that Jean has chosen to see has excluded it's overture of Leonora's terror and Phillipe's exhaustive pretence to make it imaginary. That it is why it is unfair. Not only can Jean use the convenient apprehension of an illusion to coil and twist him into venom; but she is fundamentally not equipped to fight. Instead of assessing the reality of the possibility that Jean might strike her, she just wants to get away. The ache of worry for her lover Phillipe debilitates her from being able to deal with anger.
It is no longer connected to Jean's complexity, the situation; or now,
with any individual for that matter, but an emotive visitation of enemy.
She tries to withdraw her arm from him, but foolishly moves her body first
to counterbalance the tug. Simultaneously, with a slight increase in the
pressure of his grip; Jean begins a bemused smile and tilts his head to
the side to look at Leonora almost doubling in plea, more than she is
effecting much of an effective effort to be free. "East, south, west?"
"For trying to unmake some of those big girl's blouse rules you
At the moment of revelation of the depth of his want for her in refrain,
she had committed an error. The type a woman should avoid. She had attempted
to commune, through eye contact, and draw out an exposition of his feeling
for her which he was at pains to try and avoid. He'd just wanted to get
away. She'd made his care something which must be examined. Some little
things we keep, pine in the light. Things which cannot be. Little harboured
loves which cannot exist, yet when crushed; can hurt people who do. Had
not Jean's regimentation in dealing with her proved it. His stiffness.
His avoidances. It was she who had begun the trial of exercising will.
Foolishly. It had been an accident though. Hadn't it. The kind of thing
you do in a moment and regret. It had been exploratative - not a power
Since taking Phillipe as a lover she'd begun not only to feel but to
emanate great beauty. She'd worn a mischievous smile which said: 'Ah com'
on I just wanted to feel it.í He'd turned his face away and when she had
taken his chin in her hand to make him look at her: in his glance she'd
seen herself looked at from a great distance. My eyes will not tell. She'd
held him like that, on the assumption that because of their growing intimacy
he was bound to communicate what ever it was into words. It had taken
a moment for her to understand that the look which had become frozen in
his eye was not that of one man, this man, her lover. But of hundreds.
Many of whom were dead. And now she has seen the centre of he who had
communed for them. Also now, the awe with which Phillipe had imbued his
words when he'd described finding Jean years after he'd gone bushey -
just standing on that fateful street corner in Avignon. 'Like this monk
figure with the grey film over his eyes was expecting transportation into
space.' Or a delivery.
He is also heading away from here off down the road.
One thing Jean learned to accept is uniform and hair cut. It stuck. Jean
has a drink and a telephone brought to him. Seated comfortably, privately
he dials a stretch number. He reaches an electronic answering machine.
"Would a nice view of the front be nice?"
And in his turn the doorman senses Jean's quiet respect and thinks that
there is no woman or man it would surprise him to see Jean in cahoots
with. Jean virtually skips down the steps and entertains a very warm thought
of the girl who sold him the glasses. In fact he thinks back to the pharmacia
and this time he reaches forward to grip her firm box, directing his hand
into the soft bit between her legs. It makes him smile. Wickedly. And
slightly, salivaginate. Her again. Jean, in a lot of ways is a simple
fellow - the same few topics being touched base regularly. He even allows
himself another, this time - little wistful smile. Not done. Could be
done. And then laughs. Laughs his head off - yea, like a bloody loon.
The interview with Leonora had turned his mood from frustrated to dour.
But now basic Sex has re-established a better balance. Corrr!
The cadence of falling water is very soothing. Breaking
away from the impudent girl in the hotel bar - he has gone from being
angry to just plain disappointed - in a matter of seconds. Half way home
he stops in his tracks. Instinct. Idea. He turns back. If he is followed
it will show in their face(s). A short distance past the hotel he passes
Anne again, strolling with her current, eager boyfriend. That was a quick
... Come and hold my hand Phillipe... please Phillipe... I've got a bad
feeling.... I'm glad you slept with her after we'd split. It was only
right and proper. I only had her by default anyhow. How could I stay with
her anyway, when she could only understand me I% of what you have always,
without even trying. I'm so sorry you felt guilty about it. But I'm so
glad that you knew her Skin and a share of her beauty. It would have been
such a pity to waste that! opportunity. I had to let you carry that one
on your own because I still held secrets from You. I'm sorry. I should
never let you feel that you'd been sly. You thought that the new lover
you had created in me couldn't hide his emotions like the old stiff could.
You were wrong. You were wrong because you were naive. I couldn't say
anything, I didn't want to insult you. you were always a little too honest
to be covert. Then.
There is a side of Jean that suspects him of a greater understanding
and intelligence than his own. It disturbs him, because if he could hide
it, except for occasional flashes, what could it be? what could it want?
Of all things to have Leonora making out that I was something, when it
was Phillipe who saved me then - and after. When I come home feeling more
sorry for myself than usual, having virtually expended myself in my duties
and nothing much left - spookin' and rotting in France and the border
region with Spain; apparently drinking and workin' and sweet fuck all
else; he brought me here and made me better. And He works for Me. Why
should I explain it to Her? He learned from me. How much I do not know.
Holding hands invisibly like children. It is in her voice when she catches
me carrying you to her when you've had too much again.