The Black Dog
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Big Man, Immovable Object

by Dian Bulfin Winder

November 5, 1969 - May 22, 1999

Ar Dheis Lámh Dé

 

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miss louise,
                  standing; a sailor all alone; minding a bridge place somewheres. love.


On ev ery bloody shore,
And ev ery desert sea;
Comes the Reaper
Every one in three.
 
 
On every hill-top cold,
And 'n evíry dungeon steep,
There is always death,
Honours and courage bold,
For men and boys.
 
 
May your officers lead you well,
No general spend you fickle,
Your weapon never jam
Or be taken from your hand,
May you die clean,
well.
Stay in the field
Until your war is done.
 

 


chapter 1JEAN

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
narrows her eyes in a most unladylike and not unintimidating manner before the little tigress is compelled to speak "Jean I do not know what your fuckin' problem is but.."

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. 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.
or would it?

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..

'Push Missus.'
push.

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,
And I know it's gonna be Another fuckin' lovely day!"' He does not sing well but it makes him happy.
and happiness is a very special commodity.

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.

 

 

 


You might even be able to distinguish some of the fine tracery of other fading marks on his body. Marks you suffer and Ow! and carry on. He swings a large hand to the floor and scoops up his strides. As coins jingle in his pockets many small lateral rolls of flesh form and disappear across his stomach - indicative of good musculature. With his broad brown back to the sun he pulls in. He feels dressed properly with the stiff denim wrapped around his bare buttocks and thighs. And naval. Jean never wears underwear unless he's wearing a short skirt. Where
nails and scrues and juts have ripped the material, his broken skin has mostly repaired but the tears have not. Is he waiting for some woman to come along and mend them? They'll be discarded soon for fresh ones. More like. But the old ones are friends, They'll fast a little longer. New things aren't his friends. A little nostalgic. I suppose. He cares for them. Familiar. But they are getting rather shabby.... Note! Jean walks into the kitchen to make his oodleiscousness of morning resusitous coffee. Whilst smoking another, between some rubbing and scratching, he casually ravages bits of food that are about the place. It is not for taste but for fuel. Even though he is French. Wolfing down his second cupo', he has his first unadulteratedly pleasant thought of the morning: unless he is grossly mistaken; there should be more than half a joint lying unattended in an ash tray, somewhere in the flat. As he turns his head to tick the kitchen clock, he has an EXCRUCiating pain in the muscles on the stretching side of his neck. Searing pain burns down from behind his ear to the tip of his shoulder.
one of jean's friends is also awake.

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.

Sex.
love.

?

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.
there are thieves everywhere.
and worse. one of whom is also awake.

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.


Not caring how things look on him is not some counter sexual statement learned from lesbians but merely Jean's essential pragmatism. Anyway, Jean likes to feel he can dominate conversation with his face, his eyes, his hands and powerful speaking voice even physique. And laugh. That and the fact that he knows things. Does things. Done things. Remembers things. Strolling over to the counter he's feeling good again after the pain has eased a bit and he's definitely more kindly disposed to the obviously attentive attendant. As he's trying to pay, she reaches up, and over the counter - to cut off the little tag which is dangling ridiculously down the bridge of his nose with her little pocket scissors. Ever so youthfully and sexily. He tries and fails badly not to look down the front of her silk blouse. I Love slim women who don't wear bra's Love them! He wants to say something nice to her for acting so cool when he came in. He smiles broadly at her instead. She understands - she dressed herself this morning with much pleasure. She stroked her naked chest before putting the chemise on, yearning for help and desire through rough alien hands. Even after donning the silk she stood for quite a long time in front of the mirror stroking the slippery material over her breasts. She even had to try and hide her erect nipples from her mother as she passed through the kitchen on her way to work late as usual. I wonder can he know how much I need a pair of calloused palms all over me? She rests her elbows on the counter and watches his butt going out the door. Jean can feel her. He wants her. He wishes it were the other way around him watching her ass walking down the aisle. But fair's fair.
sure after a certain point we are all naked. are we not.

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.
Strange. What possessed me to do that? He gives a tentative shrug of his shoulders almost dispelling the feeling, reminding himself once more how he has to be careful how he works his body today. This day. This day which will be searingly hot. Again.

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.
a strange sort of prostitution. peace for strained conscience with a kiss on haggard flesh.

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!

Gotcha!

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!
Where the bleedin' hell are they? This is not good. No it will not do. It is not good.
No - it will not do at all at all.


He waits. One small man - a squib in the innards of a giant. We could all do with the bonus if we finish on time. What ruddy messing - they were all out on a drunk last night - together obviously. Unless the bastards were struck down by the black death. Ha! Or a tunnel to the centre of the earth opened up and swallowed them all into its great jaws. But I would have heard about something like that. Wouldn't I? Or maybe I was stolen away in the middle of the night to a world exactly like the real one but filled with pod people - excepting my crew. Yeah there should be podstitutes of them too? But that chemist's chest didn't seem like the chest of a pod person. what does the chest of a pod person look like Jean? Irrelevant. Jean fumes clouds of smoke. He is Making himself annoyed. Tactics unintentional? If they were going to desert en masse, why couldn't they have let me know so I could have stayed in bed with Ann Marie? ( her name that I blocked out. Aha!, I remembered. Nice one.) Instead of having to drag myself down here. And for W'at? For nought. He sits glaring at space, picking the odd piece of tobacco from his lip. He doesn't want to abandon his dramatic pose by making a start because he wants to stare them out of it when they come in. If they come in? Sure that at least some of them will turn up he sits waiting to lay the guilt trip on his 'bad lads' as they arrive. It doesn't work, not because he can't sit and not because he can't glare, but because they have collectively gone A.W.O.L.. He recognises that it would be pointless for him to try and stay annoyed at them tomorrow for very long. He cares for them too much. And they know this. Sort of. So it's today for a proper bollocking or not at all. They probably made a pact as the sun was coming up outside some club somewhere, to do a bunk as one man. This does not cheer Jean any however, that his men are such a team. His feelings are hurt. He wishes he could be with them, if not at work - then where-ever. And a spare day can be a long day if your on your own when everyone has disappeared or is at work; Ha!
Especially if you've expected your time to be filled by the job. He is pissed off. He's kept them all in a job collectively for over four years now - and well paid too! They've prospered together and there is an intense feeling of resentment at being left high and dry by all of them. On his own. Jean is a minder and a worrier. He feels so insignificant to the building around him and dwarfed by the work to be done. The job is 'a few weeks' from completion - at least until the decorators take over. He wouldn't be having his money-no-object holiday in the cool of the mountains for a couple of years or more, if he was to go on on his own. This is not a serious prospect but it is how he feels. Theoretically, he could hire, if they were to desert indefinitely - the very thought of which makes him nauseous, as he remembers the hell he went though to employ men who'd do what he considers a day's in the heat.

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 the immortals.

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.

Suti.

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 complex.

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.


When the foreman reaches the house of his No.I, the dull ache of his working jaws edges the unpleasant verbal salvo he's carefully loaded, but in vain. Phillipe is not at home to callers. There is a hiatus during which, the possibility that he might smash his fist as hard as he can against the door of the house might have crossed his mind in the past. Jean is just going through the motions. He knows that Philip has no intention of turning up for work today. Phillipe has done this kind of thing before. But not with they Entire work force. No, this is something special... big. Maybe. If my instincts have not gotten too rusty. Phillipe gave Jean a spare key but it wouldn't be fair to use it just to spy on him. In case of emergency he'd said, or in the very unlikely circumstance that he should lose his. The left curtain covers a third of its side of the window quite exactly. A tentative unfurling flag. Did he leave in a hurry this morning or was that yesterday? Or is it... a tell. So. What for next? Jean climbs part way up the drainpipe.
he looks for the other man higher up. who is not there.

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.
She is attainable and lovely. And unattainable. She is not so dark skinned as most Spaniards and she rarely goes out in the sun without one of her chique little hats. Chique big hats. Chique, big-brimmed hats. Superficially she is the kind of woman who is approved of by Spanish mothers. She is cautious and polite and proper - initially. But then there is her smile. Her smile, which gives away her mischievousness in learning and her knowledge of what is to be in people. Particularly men. Or so it would seem. Her paleness is off set against the long
raven's hair and intelligent, strict, straight black brows. He met women and girls vaguely like her in some of the French universities - the daughters of northern business and Old families. Jean privately rejected the claim that they were generally saving themselves for marriage, because he personally believed that they were searching for some kind or sort of answer or knowledge - just like everyone else. intellectuals are often the most irrationally dismissive of any potential competition. In those days there were more people searching some kind of enlightenment or reason or pattern, rather than purely means to endliness.

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 cash.

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.


'Undesirables' - whether supported by national governments or whether anarchical to capitalist ideals or seeking separatism; in France, as with much of the world over, had excused, by the type of positive action they had to employ or had chosen to employ, in order to highlight their claims excused - a quasi-global summary justice system that never went to a vote. The line between policing and out-and-out military factions and their actions had become thin. This greatly relieved and pleased French defence. The army has and had to have something to do.

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.


Leonora: she is a rarity in the south - a paler version of Spanish. Not blonder paler. Standing at ease outside her house he waits to be admitted, partially apprehensive at meeting the changeable Leonora again. Snatches of their earlier encounters come back to him. Conversations. Glances. pauses. Nervous, half liking smiles. They make him feel like laughing. And yet there is the taint of delineated yearning. Touch no touch. It will be hard to be angry with Phillipe now, especially in front of her - Not! in front of her. no. The pretence would be too absurd. A woman opens a window on the first floor; catch in one hand, the bottom of the lapels of her untied dressing gown in the other, a huge length of jet hair failing. She Is gorgeous. Healthy. Young. Edible. Delicious and delectable.


The Lady was obviously asleep, observing, or working in the nude. Or maybe she was exploring her own body. or maybe someone else was. May be. She leans out and looks down on his upturned face. She pauses. The bottom of her belly is just exposed from above her belly button. It looks nice. Is that some hair. - A hint. Looking up - Jean's mind cannot help but be filled with the view between her cleavage and the swell of her firm breasts. A moment longer. Does she gauge him? Is she asking a question? Making a statement? I am a woman. You are a man. I am attractive. I hold sway? She leaves the window. He waits. If she wants to turn him on - put him on edge she could hardly have done a better job. The taint of sloppiness, in this, her appearance makes her seem that bit more attainable. Kempt she often is not. But on occasion when she dresses up or decides to look sexy she can be DEVastating. She opens the door wide. It is Leonora. Couldn't be over five feet. She beams at him - a huge artless grin. A grin which softens and begins once more the melting of the inside of Jean. Jean had forgotten how much smaller than he, she is. Once more. She is no more little than the average woman in Spain. Maybe the touch. But her character looms larger in memory than her physique does in life. Conceptually she is huge.
"WELL Jean Marsaud this IS unexpected surprise.
There you are now.
Won't you come in Monsieur."
"Hullo Leonora."
"Hello Jeanny. Come up. Do please. I'll be ready in a mo.

Lover.


At times Jean has allowed a niece - uncle tease propagate between them. It allows for the touch of sensuality and a physical familiarity that would not be possible if they stood on normal man - woman relations. It has been a familiarity with a woman he has desperately needed. He has not told her. His has been a need for feminine affection beyond will. A need for affection and the physical sexual presence of another, yet where a sexual gamble cannot be sustained. Yet it is a dry mental fuck that doesn't even get to the stage of holding hands. A desperation and a yearning for emotion beyond the common place; where even the humiliation of not owning to your manhood is acceptable. It can be acceptable because she has such life. Especially when he is particularly suffocated by being, finding himself grey. A tiny, very sporadic safe something, that is a lie. A bad secret. A muddling over a covetousness for a closeness within a friendship, tainted by Desire.

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'.


But today he must be stern. With her. It was not a free choice for Jean when it was made. This toying flirtation. He doubted himself. Doubts himself. Doubts whether she would be really be interested in anything other than a short intermezzo with him, because he only shows interest int' job andt' pint andt' mates.

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.


The striving to stay sane on the job: when once big ideas and then massive duties weighed upon Jean, is strife enough now. He has gone from feeling special, to needed, to necessary, to lost. Despondent. But alive. He is a Christian without God who still cannot forgive himself enough to relinquish his cross. Not quite. Yet. a man whose Maya has gone up with the smoke from the pipe. yes.

 

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 could almost....

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.

Perhaps.

 

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?

Take it.

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.

Touch it.

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 is entering someone else's sanctum. Temple. It has put him on the back foot.


It always does. Here. Here with Leonora and her curves. Here with Leonora's almost black eyes. He thinks to himself he is allowing Phillipe the opportunity to redeem himself by having the decency to appear dressed, or half dressed; if that is, he hasn't absconded after all. Here with li'tle Leo. Here with li'tle Leon. Here with little Leonora and politesse.

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 liar.
Let her lie for the three of them. And let not him have to do any further to himself.

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. closeted.

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 not.

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.
a couple of hooks is all it takes.

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?

No Thanks.

But do they in fact contain some tell about P.'s whereabouts? His doings.

- No.

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 a point.

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 Jean lives.

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.

Gone. Over.

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 her hips.

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.
Would she turn then and kiss him with her tongue; drive her fingers through his cropped hair, her nails across his scalp, pull and tear at his clothing, drag him down on top of her to make love on the floor? Or would she only turn partially; kissing; encouraging him with her lips and taste out of the side of her mouth, to take her from behind? Would it give her wry pleasure to feel the power of her sex over him through the pain of her skinned knees and the soreness of the heels of her palms?

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.


- Whilst he finds the woman almost unbearably attractive now, he makes it create the same mood as she'd swept the papers from the sweet wood without making a single sound. Art. He is still staring outside when she emerges again; dressed And in a little tiny, light summer dress all flowers and cleavage. Her body looks so sexy, bursting as it is through the delicate fabric. The thin cotton outlines her body. Jean has to do a double take of her before he can remember how to circulate his blood properly. His head does not move however. He will not allow his eyes flicker. Even then, it is difficult to look at her too directly or for very long. He looks but he won't see.

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 great need.

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 very much.

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".


"Do you think I'm brazen Jean"

Yes. Shameless, devious. Is it fair to make me out a prude so that I will say what You want? "No.

Why?

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 disbelief.

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.

So: "Jean.

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?

yes.

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 would
have I would not have needed you so..

(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 of battle.

"They're all grown men Jean and they're entitled to with hold their time if they wish.", Leonora.

Indeed.

 

....

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.
He did that all on his own.

- 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.

"Yes Leonora.
Please." Thanks lads. Peace. All is forgiven. Or actually pax.
But I'm fucked if I'll tell you that. I must accept so why not be sanguine. And thank you Phillipe for this time with your girlfriend whose time you shepherd so closely - and all night long. I - we can relax for a while now. But I hope for all your sakes that you turn up tomorrow! The fencing is over. I hope. Please let it be over. I just don't have the energy... I take her seriously... I know I shouldn't... but she's so pointed. She knows I'll never give away a flicker to any jibe... come to think of it, I'm not even here unless she decides.

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 predisposition.

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 this anyway.

Sitting at the coffee table with their hot cups, they relax. Having passed her the joint, Jean genially enquires: "So how goes the work?"
"Translating shite commercial literature and documents is like, to use a building analogy, pouring quantities of Thick,, Wet cement into your ear after someone's knocked a bung in the other with a mallet! It's bound to set one of these days. You will come and dig me out - won't you Jean? I mean GOD - German into Spanish Yuck. Yuck, Yuck. YUCK - puke on the men of order who formed that passover."

Passover?


....
Jean's heart jumps. Then his brain races. Was that a slip? A slip. It was. He decides. Listening to the conversation he furiously analyses with impunity another tiny piece of the very scattered jig saw. Leonora doesn't realise it. Doesn't know she said it. In fact. But Jean's coming has not been totally in vain.

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 bleeding stop.)

has she accepted my cast of me as 'the man from uncle?' are things that bad?

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?

 

...
"lo land the really big grades, that is. That's why my Politics lecturers have convinced themselves that I'm the right stuff because I can go directly to assembled texts and media collages - fishing for the fable myself and then present argument and proof that they may not have witnessed before. Only problem is, is that the researcher - and in particular the language junky in me, has jumped ahead to the content of my doctorate - distribution of wealth in post colonial North African states, the dispersal of foreign exchange and the expectation of the individual."

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?"

"Research."

"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 treacherous.

"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 history.

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 of her.

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.


"Now. I really must be going. No. Don't bother getting up I'll see myself out." Anyway Phillipe might call. "Tell him when you see him," the last thing he'll want to do is see me when he gets home `there are much worse things than having an understanding employer.` And he can go scrue himself - the insolent.. "Good bye Leon, with a bit of luck we'll see you soon."

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' chest.

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.
At all.
In any way.
Trying not to emit a bitter laugh Jean thinks: Annoyed?? Are you Serious. I am quite sure that 'Spa head' indicted you not to whisper a breeze of this, on pain, and you, in your cavalry manner, you went on ahead regardless. Or did you calculate that this area, previously of immense closeness between us, if skillfully wielded, might not prize a gap for you? Or are you like many intelligent people - give 'em a sharp object - or a blunt one and a chink in someone's armour.. Terriers all. A grey area, a non-commitancy - and sunk in go the inquisitional fangs. I'll bet half my face against half of yours, that in your little belly there is a sneaking fear the size of Mongolia that I might rat on you. Hmm? And as for not meaning any harm - with your brain, your failure to see it, could be nothing short of criminal negligence. Could you not have let alone the plaster work facade over my old life, so that my pretended wholeness in front of another should not have to crack.
what ever i may have done, Wat ever my sins: one way and another I Lived For Almost 20 YEARS in bone shattering, mind fucking crushing fear. Is this not penance enough: and having disavowed youths' work and effaced your identity, some child who can conceive of glory - even victory, can see no clearer than to poke the tender bits with a blunt edged sword.
Phillipe told you a tale of 'knights in white satin', I'm sure, so why couldn't you have left it there! "Leonora my sweet, what do you want me to say? I know you didn't wish harm," Ha! It is that I know things which tend to make me unhappy and this is one. It is like reading a book or watching a movie that is so powerful that it sits in the corner of your eye" forever "and depending on where you look, it distorts things - a little more - a little less." Right now I have a sty in my eye and you are it.
"We will forget this. I am sorry Leonora." I really am sorry. More than you can know. "Good bye. Don't worry." In these books too you may find your monster (or are you callous enough to ignore it?) and then perhaps you will have some difficulty looking me so defiantly in the face, for all your apology. And then I will Christen it, your Daemon: PERSISTENT ENQUIRY. And you will not hear a word of it from me but you will be a little abashed and I will know that you know I know. Depending on what wind blows. And depending on what payments you have to make. depending on what winds blow.
"Good luck Jean. Maybe I'll see you later in the bar."
No you won't. You'll have to get out of the habit of fibbing. There was a little girl who cried wolf but no one talks about her. "Yea sure Leo. In the bar maybe."
"Jean."
Oh God what now? This is getting so tiresome, Let Me Leave! "Yes Leonora."
"Thanks for talking about yourself like that. I know you don't normally like to speak about those things."
"I never like to.
Seemed like you needed to hear.
That is all ancient history to me." Dead. Buried.
I am a Spanish builder now, who likes to take a drink and a smoke, and to chase a nice bit of skirt every now and again when it doesn't make him seem too foolish." (But I can be other things if I am only confided in; if I am only asked. The outpouring of life that Phillipe has.been to me, is a debt that can never be repayed by one who has such potential to be bitter. You should know that my retreat doesn't count where friends are concerned. If they are in trouble. In too deep. I just won't initiate, because all I just want is peace.) I AM AN OLD MAN INSIDE. DON'T YOU SEE? DON'T ... WON'T YOU UNDERSTAND. It is Soh incredibly simple. l amunder a rock and unlike Atlas it is where I WANT to be. "Whatever about it being your time, I think you could do with a holiday from your studies."
"I have an exam coming up."
"DEFER."
"It's too important to miss."
That's what you think. "DEFER."
"Your health is far more important. Believe me, I've been there and your health is all you've got. You need no one to confirm your intellect. Genius Is or it isn't. But you're researching - that's different." I Suppose? "See you. Maybe you will turn up down Minolo's for a nice Relaxing drink later." If you have any sense!
"Thanks for lunch."
"If I don't, maybe you'll call back here?"
i might call close by but no, i won't call in. you have made me nervous. not for me. for you. "No.
The neighbours.
Since there's nothing doing on the job, I'll probably play pool with Minnie all night and get sloshed." Very. And ponce up to whatever chicks are feeling available, as planned and decided earlier.
"jean?" kiss me.
Jesus what now? I really..... I really can't take much more of this. I'm going to lose my temper I just know it. ...If she calls me back one more time I swear I'll ... I'll... I'll scream and scream and scream until I'm tsick! "yes leonora."
"Jean I... I..." I'm so scared. I need you. Stay with Me. - Hold my hand. I'll do Anything you want - just stay with me - Please, I'm only a little girl really. You think I'm hard and I'm just not - - and I'm terrified something is going to happen to P.. - At least you're a man - you can fight - me..., I just have to wait here on my own and wait for my man to come home and he doesn't call Me either.

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 totally unaware.
Was it himself coming down these stairs he sensed behind him this morning? he doesn't know for sure.
He doesn't know anymore.
or was it that silent, invisible someone else, who has been dogging him all day? fretting at the edges of his mind's resolve.
He is checking the sweat under his arm pit as he's about to yank the door to himself. At this moment he feels it would be a fine time to go down. No more Mr. Pretender.
For all sensation of anguish to be over.
Feeling himself only a great big shell, he knows the full inner dimensions of his emptiness. A wash of despair comes over him like the blow of heat from a furnace. The effort not to give away the edge of his emotion, the temptation to hysteria with Leonora, has drained completely the lie of his strength. Resting his forehead, then pushing it against the heavy wooden door ; a silent yell for salvation, before the tightening of the stomach muscles that will expel the pain inside. He hears her feet, bare, scamper over steps, close.
Christ!
So engrossed in the poignancy of the feeling, she has caught him. Had he held on he'd have been outside in neutral territory. he must be getting old. Safety in the presence of others. or the possibility of others. He turns slowly, resigned. The best he can do is not to quake too badly inside.
She's at Jean quickly, on tip toe, crossing angles of her forearms on his shoulders but not meeting; she stretches up, leans, and Leonora kisses him. He does not put his hands on her. Jean returns the kiss from her lips: - 'Yes. Certainly, Leo.' It is the assent of a boyfriend whose girl has won persuasion over him in a small matter; not an enjoinder to passion.
She leans back, thinks, slowly raises her lids; her eyes flick fron side searching the truth of how he feels, which she thinks she has already tasted with her mouth. He does not flinch, look away. She could be engulfed by eyes which portray seemingly finally inexhaustible patience and forbearance. The unsaid and the said of his career reminds her that this visage should be a deception. Does she detect the discipline in the benign mature face? Does she trace the origin of pain in the wry smile for her?
A moment longer - she feels the absorption of her. She realises that this apparently neutral gaze, which lights upon her - without it being detectable in the eyes, consumes. Before she has time to turn away or to think: - the first discernible expression in them themselves is unequivocal. 'Run'. You have your own brand of cowardice. Your own nature of things from which it is honourable, or at least necessary for your own balance of survival; to retreat from. Now you know the folly of thinking you could shoulder a small portion of the emotion I would be helpless to do anything other than swamp you with, once begun. You will wish to run before you have to say that there are certain things a girl just doesn't have to do; indeed she does turn.
Escape is not so easy though. He lashes powerful fingers around her following wrist. It is the lack of pressure in his fist which denotes its strength rather than the reverse. She is prevented. She knows. Detained; entreaty for release must await His convenience now. Resistance made spurious.
There is a price. not always. but this time: - yes.
She has learned a secret that should never have been told. She has forced a man into the disclosure of a truth, he would have with held. This case: Jean's - a handicap. She turns to him in question? She is supplicant though; former haughtiness's irrelevant. All those times, sure she had him on the move, now turned to a more complex avoidance than she presumed; designed not only to protect himself from infidelity, but for her; not to have to feel the weight of knowing how much more he would have to give her than she would want him to. Also she has forced him into the revelation of his massive, physically greater presence of will, endurance and assimilation of denial, a stillness and unswerving fixity of attention she has never experienced expressed. This by a mind which has not only survived; but which carries itself within the iron maiden of chaos and disphoria resulting from almost two full decades in an arena he Knows she has entered. She squares up to him to find out what it is that he wants. She is literally gripped by the old hand. What can she do? A weapon would be necessary.
"Which way?", he says.
?. He couldn't have changed his mind and he's actually asking me the way I like it. No. ...There is no mistaking....
"Which way?"
"I'm sorry I don't understand what 'which way?"'
"Yes you do Leonora."
"That's where you're wrong Jean, - you might just as well be saying 'how much?', or 'turn off the tele.' Which, funnily enough, - isn't in this hall."
"East, south, west?"
?
"Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't I just tell you there is no tele here."
"You pushed and pushed me into a corner - Yes?"
... "O.K.." You're not under age.
"I'm not asking you where."
....
"East, south, west?"

"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?"
"Christ Jean!"
"I'm being over fair Leo. They've gone abroad."
...
"I refuse to believe; with hindsight; that they knew very long before they went that they would."
...
"That is; - most of them. There's nothing out of the airport in the small hours. There's a couple who don't like flying. Paco wonít: period. I couldn't see Phillipe holding that lot together up there for very long anyhow. So, it's the ferry. Here's why I'm being good; two things: if it's a day trip no hassle, so long as there's 'a' muster tomorrow, - O.K.; you tell me just the heading when they landed and if they don't show tomorrow I'll call just one person on that heading. Give me a wild draw.
Can't say fairer than that.
Just one shot; tomorrow, only if necessary."
"Fuck you."
He releases her. "Good bye Leonora." Turns.
"Not even thank you."
"Why?"

"For trying to unmake some of those big girl's blouse rules you stiffle by."
thank you. "A tithe both we have told each other.
Things have changed. With you, me and Phillipe - things are a little fucked now I think.", and laughs a little snort out loud to himself.
"That does not have to be so, if you do not want it to be."
It does.
It is you who wish for a totality of satisfactory conclusions.
Although this tends toward making me more than a bit squeamish; the fact that you can still come to the seeding of a little human honesty bodes hope for Phillipe.
Still." Even though I will let you think that it is you who I think are lost, I know that it is I.


Sitting with her back to the locked door of her apartment, Leonora sits with her knees hugged as strongly to her chest as she can, the back of her skull pushed hard against the wood. Emotion drained from her face. The tilt of her head means her eyes have to look downwards as they stare unerringly across the room at the level. She is cheated. In the end she has relinquished something to Jean's will. She spoke when she should have zipped up. She'd had too much compassion. When he'd finally asked the question she should have stayed silent and looked at his hand on her wrist. With disdain.

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 trip.
Hadn't it.
The mistake had not been in the simplicity of attempting to pin this man, living somehow, one of his very latter lives at equilibrium in the centre of the merciless vortex inside himself. There is no reason why she should have understood, such an alien human state being outside of her experience. Of such blinding intensity anyway. She might have guessed. The torrid edge of his looking away.
But this time of all times: even if he Had looked away when she'd confronted him, could she have presumed that she held the edge? Might it not have expressed a master's distaste at the attempt to feel powerful by the forcing of another into submission. She thinks now.
She has seen something.
She knows she has. She also knows that as it disappears into the past, her faith that it was there, will also be eroded. to vanish.
Having apprehended his desire, and having sensed his reluctancy to meet her, had she not demanded a declaration of weakness. The forcing of another into the admission of a feeling, a truth; they'd really rather not. Had it been a sin?
For in Jean the strain of brotherhood with Phillipe runs strong like the running of the waters over the ground. Something born ancient, from huge, even terrible things.
But when she had begun, she intended only a little the lessening of her own anguish compared to the succour she would have given Jean's rawness. She had wished to anchor herself in the cement which occupies the space between the two men. Also. To have given love to the man And the wife in their relationship.
Her foolishness had been, that somehow whilst pitying his inability to take her when no one could know, to absorb from an unobscured glance - Devotion. For want of anything more explicit. And full face perhaps the tincture, to punish him.
'I have (in my sexiness) made an overture: See what you miss.'
Fool. those who bear the greatest gifts expect the greatest respect.
Yet instead of meeting a reflection of her own loveliness: freed by the final discard of his restraint, what she had found was not weakness it's opposite. Her qualities to evoke such a heightened emotion had suddenly become far less significant than the ability to experience it with such resolve.
She had felt an ache so strong then. She had felt the pull of the tide. Then.
- A moment knowing the yearning of how he could not have.
And she saw him then. A tremendous certainty beyond anything she had ever experienced. Far greater than anything she had come to learn could be expressed. Yet it was there. Such knowledge. Such knowledge that to quail or be possessed were the only options.
Or to fight.
To keep such might from her for so long - she knew now in him a dignity which could bend and bow and hide. Knowing fundamentally on contact with, the protocol of others. Placing no limits on it's own, yet conserving truth and action for those students and moments which would go the whole Way.
It was a look so tremendously attractive and benign, yet counting and tracking your thoughts as they go by. An attention and a stillness so fixed that you are asked to serve a lord or flee. And hope that his isn't the only God.
In a whole life from when you are young - there is plenty of time to hide from God. Surely there will be other moments to submit and accept His blessing?
'But Hey! This is the 20th century here.' We have things. We have sexual expression. We have science.
How strange then for Leonora: only at the moment of flux in Jean's eyes, to realise the ugliness of her incessant manipulations, struggles, power plays. Yet a fundamental refusal to attempt the experience of Jean's universal truth which he has found. Or which he has become. She always has to win. ...And if you always win you had better be very sure.
She has seen the marring of her own beauty. She has experienced fully, the treachery of her own face. She will remember to forget. But it will take time.
This is maybe not so much the end of the problem though. If it was only she who had experienced this mastery it would be easier to ignore, parcel and float off into the past ... consign to a curiosity. ...She begins slowly to pet herself by stroking repeatedly down her face with the flats of her hands. First softly, then harder. 'Come on Leonora: think it and get it over with.'
'Well I'm sure it's a load of shit... But! I'm not saying it's not: ... soldiering seems, on the face of it, to be straight forward enough. Here's this guy - college - cadet - officer - right. O.K. so far. But it's not. Phillipe's like dropping all these hints. Like privates keep finding Jean forward when he's not supposed. The noncommissioned officers don't Fuckin'want to know. And they do an excellent impression of Not knowing. Phillipe said that when Jean did that shit that the men around him Knew that it was the safest place to be because Nothing could happen to den Capitain. MarSud. Even the name: 'Because South'; what ever was happening or had to be done: the person of Jean was enough reason. All come.
Only now does she feel the sincerity of the remarks; also the imputation that each individual legionnaire must have felt that if in the end it did happen: they were all going. And in this one thing: there were Sure they were better going where ever you go, but close to Jean.
Immatures guided by a Moses - transmuted into a deadly motive of France. For the first time since her turning does she see them as something other than sadistic mercenary heirlings of one of the two most beautifully dressed up citadels of filth.
During the time that Leonora'd crossed over from the theoretical in terms of how cash rich societies would permanently pull all developing spheres off balance by creating a desire for relative comfort in which they would always lag; she'd begun unnecessarily debriefing Phillipe through his own experiences by trying to place their socioeconomic significance. Messy things Do happen in colonial withdrawals she'd said: in attempt somehow to ameliorate, if not absolve the things he'd done and been a part of. Infecting the attitude of incoming troops with the colonists social orientation towards the colonised, is a good start. Phillipe laughed at this concession to Leonora's penchant for political axioms.
It wasn't sarcastic. From a soldierís point of view. It was good for the lads, because they might as well begin on that foot, as they'd find out soon enough that the enemy could find cover almost anywhere. Was either ambushing you, about to ambush you or Planning to. You ended up in bases or APCs. (When you were lucky). Which were fine until somebody started supplying them with heavy(er) weapons.
Again there was a conclusion right up Leonora's street in this. It had been the communists who had made the greatest sacrifices in order to achieve the freedom of developing nations. And whilst communism hadn't always worked, she had been instrumental in the overthrow of numerous tyrannical and exploitative regimes. Phillipe had maintained that in the field you were more inclined to the belief, that they were Indeed trying to fuck you up, than they were in effecting the spread of a global communist ideal.
O.K.. It had been a retort she had negated at the time as something intrinsically related to the personal experience of soldiering. How much now she realises was it a quip, being very much the question. She had looked at him fully then, - and as though he'd said it, the word 'cripples' formed distinctly in her thought. Men who Couldn't make it with her, or were too scarred to be loved by one as gorgeous as she. And then she too, understood the mind wounds. Ones which were too nasty and uncomfortable and so became talk. Clinical expressions of horrific disfunctionalisms and pain. Terrrible rages which ripped up what these wounded, formulated in terms of shoddy relationships and careers, - with super-human exercise of will. Bottomless depressions ending in gun shot wounds or jails with blades chewed out of disposable razors embedded in their tooth brushes. Hangings. But had the pained look in Phillipe's eyes tripped the wrong switch? Was it her feeling of insecurity in this part of the business, which she had not got the personal experience of, which glanced her into an extremity. But the wrong one? She'd taken the esoteric nature of the remark, the look the wrong way perhaps; what if finding Jean forward and the non-commissioned officer's not fuckin' wanting to know got to do with an unstable was something other than an unpredictable, unstable mind.
She eeks from him that Jean's unit keeps growing - more than double company strength. Casualties very much more than being replaced, and by, to use Phillipe's terms: 'real soldiers'. Phillipe says sarcastically that they weren't going to promote Jean then until the group had reached practically battalion strength; which he also says was a long way from being an impossibility. The way things had been going.
Why?
No alteration in numerical and alphabetical assignation. The specific prohibition of the use of a familiar unit name. Despite this, a lot of guys went home with a red crucifix burning with white flame emblazoned on a blue shield. It had a black aura. Even the army was won't to touch this. Phillipe had one on his right shoulder.
One morning, feeling particularly euphoric after a bout of love with him, Leonora had begun to gently trace it's outlines with her finger tips. You know - being sexy with a man thing. He'd unceremoniously smacked off her hand, without even turning to her to explain. He'd been out with Jean the previous evening. Drinking. Jean hadn't been in town long then. She'd rolled up on top of Phillipe, knowing but unthinking how the halo of thrown hair would set off her young, good looking fine face.

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.
Whilst officially they weren't a 'special' force they'd gotten so many heavy combat details back to back: and unofficially, much of the time - No where Bloody near the sector the rest of the battalion was operating in. That this was a less than meaningless lack of distinction. All this Fine. She knew P. had meant a lot of killing.
..Thinking further, Leonora begins to gently chew at the second knuckle of her index finger on her right hand. ...But the peculiar thing - which had just been odd then, was in relation to the communist refutation of religion. She'd expected an ex-military man like Jean; the one time she Remotely broached the subject him, to site the reinstatement by the Soviets - of both their Orthodox religion And the armyís traditional uniform to its defenders during the siege of Leningrad by the Nazis. Jean had merely said that the Tibetan monks had 'held' Buddha. And left.
Leonora stops gnawing, she brushes the side of her hand across the tip of her nose.
Jean is walking around out there. And hooked up to some battery.

He is also heading away from here off down the road.
She closes her eyes:
We thought.
We knew our insept would come.
We comforted the others to stop their crying after we'd quelled or own.
We did as we were taught.
We ran the race into the barriers to win.
Now we Act!


The street is not busy as Jean alights, most people will be asleep after food. if there was, would they think he had just had an illicit rendezvous with his best mate's girlfriend? Possibly. There is certainly guilt here, if not in action then thought.
could have beens.
He finds his new shades and places them gladly over his eyes; the world seems a little less harsher than before, it is good that he has a prop so that in some small way he can effect some softening of it. It is strange how they have become a part of his armoury in the space of a morning. Things. He wanders apparently aimlessly around the quarter for some time. There is plenty of dense shadow in which to travel and his eye shields protect him from the intense glare of the sunny spots. It is already hot but he's long since given up being bothered by it. It is there and not there. After he's newly appraised himself of the architecture and the thoroughfares for long enough, he turns down to the water. Satisfied. Amongst other things of aspect.
Another dream slightly stepped on.
Another awkward shuffle of the relative weighting cards of life. It should make him laugh, however ironically; but it doesn't.
From the corner of Leonora's block a road runs for a quarter mile to the boulevard along the front and the sea. A little offset from it, on the beach is a tiny touristey restaurant. They also sell cold beer, water and cigarettes. Jean of course knows the owner who is sitting down to eat with his family when he arrives in, head unnecessarily dipped under the low roof. It's not that low. Maybe he doesn't want to catch anybody's eye. Jean gratefully waves off the kind offer to join them for lunch with a satiated gesture to his stomach. Juan rises from table and encircles his great friend about the waist. Juan is a kind, gentle man, lacking in artifice, who; Jean feels too poor at times like these, to deserve of his friendship. Jean seems a little troubled. Juan knows and offers to talk with him at the counter while he eats, in a very subtle way. Jean is having none of it but takes possession of a beer and a fresh pack of cigarettes. Juan is annoyed because the moment will have passed by the time the meal is over. Jean spends good money but he is respectful and funny - he fits in. Which is far more important to a man like Juan. His wife would love to marry Jean to someone. They live in a room behind the kitchen during the long summer. During which, they and their customers are their lives. Where they go the rest of the time is a pleasant mystery to Jean. He does not want to break it by asking. Maybe one year they'll invite him to visit their winter retreat. Jean leans over the end of the short bar and stands leaning forward with his bottom more than partially occluding the narrow channel. There are a few swimmers and sunbathers on the beach but most have fled this heat to the sanctuary of the indoors. The odd customer, especially young, scantily clad women, (scantily clad female bodies. Corr.) some of whom are beautiful, give him the eye but rather ironically because, although he's attractive enough, he's partially in the blistering sun, fully dressed and in shoes! Strange man. Strange handsome man. Strange handsome, Big man.
After finishing four or five beers he doesn't pay but indicates to his diving watch and saunters up to the International Hotel. He has tabs everywhere he likes to go. The concierge is most pleased to see him when he gets there - 'and in a jacket'.

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.
"Hi Blood.
JeM calling.
Listen work's bogged down here. Why not come down and play. You can stay with me.
If you want to bring a friend he can stay in the hotel. If he wants money it's no problem.
I have a girl for him.
If you hop a train tonight you can be here morning after tomorrow's.
Don't pretend you didn't get my message. I know that this thing of yours is infallible and will follow you anywhere.
Don't forget to bring your own toothbrushes.
Don't bother to confirm. I know you won't let me down.
P. has taken a trip God knows where. I hope he'll be back to meet you before you leave but this is the bone of contention.
I feel it.
Back in the high life, just like when the world and we were young.
See ya He." henri is homosexual. at least.
When the concierge sidles over to him after Jean has finished his call he asks if there is anything else. Jean addresses him by his Christian name.
"Yes there is. If I could reserve a room."
"That would be fine Sir. From?"
"Tonight."
"Under what name?"
"Anyone who asks for me I guess."

"Would a nice view of the front be nice?"
"No. I think a nice cool one in the back would be best."
"Certainly Sir, I will attend to it."
"Thank you Charles."
They conversed in French. As the attender moves away, he slips the discarded money which he noticed under the phone into his pocket and rewards the diplomacy of his trade with a little smile. And then a flitting glance around to see did any of the staff notice his gesture. He likes the nice gentlemonsieur He knows how to behave.
He is always happy to accommodate people who know how to behave. It is a good principle. Without men like Jean, he knows also there would have been small chance for a Free French Republic in their country. What's more he has decided that the good patron will have a drink on the house. Before he takes the chance to leave.
..After having his second drink, Jean makes sure to beam at the barmaid who is on duty. She is suitably noncommittal. He doesn't undress her with his eyes - he would, but bar staff are far too important factotems to Jean to risk an adverse reaction. She is the typical pretty, teenage spanish girl, by no means beautiful, but she is new. He does not recognise her, so maybe he will come back later and try and endear her to him. If there is one thing Jean is dead set against, it is having people around who could be friends. Yes, I think we will come to be friends little senorita. A tip or two in your glass and some nice chatty conversation and you will serve me nicely and we will get along fine. Half way through the lobby his eyes drift in front of him. the three thousand yard stare
Some people can see outside of it though. The door is opened for him. He doffs his head slightly in deprocation to the doorman who knows the book on smoothness. Jean thinks that there is much you could learn from a man like him.

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!
It is about time that he shook off Leonora's choking influence. The filter soothes the blow of light. It is just as well, he's feeling a little squeamish as the alcohol starts to enforce a presence. But everything is Blue and he's feeling kind of happy with himself. He feels younger now. And his old buddy will be here and they can have a laugh or a zillion. Perhaps this latest escapade of Phillipe's wasn't such a bad idea after all. Likely as not Jean's caution will be obsolete, so he and Henny can go on the rip - seeking different prey. Of course. Maybe I am getting too uptight. Henri always did say I was an old woman at heart. Just gotto take it easy Jean.
Taking a deliberately lazy pace along the shore to the cantina Jean admires the sun children who've come back out and who're slaking up the rays, all shiny and shimmering in oil. Radiant in lotion, lean, golden to deep brown, young, beached; they follow the most beautiful among them around with their dark eyes. And perspiration and breathing. When he reaches the outdoor bar the owner says they were starting to worry about him. Jean says no he wasn't and orders another beer. He turns to the beach and it's bathers and smiles a huge Cheshire smile. The weight of most any two of them, half a foot above the taller boys, he lowers away his beer in a single gulp and shakes his head slowly and knowingly at the difference between them. Having rejected the option of virtual nudity, in order not to appear the wally, for a few seconds he presents the whole swathe of beach with the unanswerable challenge in the area of strength of manhood. They know. Knew anyway. The emphasis is not wasted. They now know that whatever might appear he is aware. Of them. Yet he is not messing with them; in fact it is evident that their presence pleases him. Then he turns and stands where he did before, instantly and obviously lost in thought, nonchalantly sipping beer. The giant sized clown has returned, but he has told anyone who wants to know that what they see is only a representation of what he is.
which can be an important distinction. and proud. of course. you must know by now that whatever about suffering from nagging doubt syndrome jean believes in jean. quintessentially. but perhaps too much gun play or just constant exposure to them for a period can leave you jumpy. rightly or wrongly. jean wouldn't, steps down, but with phillipe playing hooky in such an incongruous manner... Yes guns.
He is building a part of their country. Their forefathers had !heir battles with the peoples of Mohammed also. Whether or not these things they do not know is not exactly important. As such. Jeans' knowledge of them settles him that little deeper into his hide.
Some of the later customers query this incongruous large man, who is leaning obstructively in their way, but they do it in silence. Others know that he is a thing and quietly respect him it. Even the more smart ass locals avoid this particular object of contention. Do not disturb. Jean ignores everyone except his host, as he often does when he's concentrating on drinking and on.... His slow, lazy roving eye is on duty. SURVEILLANCE MODE. The state he is in is not myopic as it might appear but meditative. Jean rises to greet a friend. He is building a part of her country. She wants their two countries to be as one. ...In a manner of speaking.
She has the small breasts, sumptuous flat stomach, lean thighs, tapered calves and thin arms of a woman who could never have been fat. Her hips have filled out a tiny bit and her bum a little. Nicely. She has excellent fine bone structure and a rich tan all over. She is Too smooth and graceful. The phrase "purring over on low revs" was invented for her. But what is most noticeable about her is not the beautiful body but her startling, aristocratic face and eyes which sparkle like jewels, apparently betraying several devious emotions at once. Or motivations. More correctly. In no way will Jean countenance unnecessary intrigue in his adopted home. Usually. She is 30. She is looking for a fuck. She has decided that Jean fills enough of her rigorous specifications. Jean has known her but she is indiscreet. She is indiscreet because she despises her husband. Ingrowing hatred. Her husband is a banker. He made an ill-educated decision when he married her. She was poor and lazy. and gorgeous. Too gorgeous for any but the rarest spouses. She happily married everything in her future except the good Senor. She has three children by God knows who. She loves them like a vixen. Is vixen. They all look Spanish enough - luckily for them. And her. And especially for him. Jean delicately and inexplicitely tries to persuade her that he didn't actually come looking for her. She accepts this off hand
men are always making mistakes.
She has learned to be patient, however caustically, even with the most blatantly stupid ones, when it suits her will. This can only be a temporary rebuff. She gets what she wants. She considers Jean's refusal: playing hard to get. Quite sweet really of him to consider her enough to heighten her desire. There will be another day. Days. She smells weakness and laps it up like blood. A shark swerves in it, drunkenly, intoxicated to meat, sure to find it and lock hard in time. Sure as evaporated water is bound to fall.
Whew! She picks up her bottle of water, raises her arm and slowly waves so long with her fingers, smiles both patiently and knowingly and breezes away. Jean cannot help but admire her as she moves out onto the roasting sand like she had a precious jar of water balanced on her head not dangling from a braceleted wrist. Practically every young man in the town would gladly slay themselves in return for just one night with her. They won't know it but it would be empty, for she doesn't care for her lovers. She does not seek anything outside of her quota of passion and would be quite rude if you offered it. Far be it to criticise sex for its sake but it can hurt if one participant yearns more. 'Obviously!' you say.
Those boys would step out and say: 'I would kill or die to make love to you.' if they had the guts. She might except one - you never know...
Quite a few of them stare at her now and Jean's desirability as an acquaintance goes off the end of the scale. They would like to be considered her equal. She knows how gorgeous she is. it is useful but not the end.
Jean thinks it's a good thing there isn't too many of those drifting about, as it would certainly make shipping Very hazardous indeed. Jean suppresses a laugh which it would be extremely inadvisable for her to over hear. A woman like that knows how to dig the knife in. She'd make you bleed over luncheon or in the night club, whether or not you were there. Almeria is after all a small place. Enough.
Time. Heat. BEER. Cigarettes. Smoke. Cold Delicious froth. Jean regrets rejecting 'shark woman'. He is horny today. Than usual. Some vestige of selfrespect or self worth prevented him. He has met a couple of untouchables and it has left him frustrated. Desperately he could use the embrace, the touch, the caress. But open, free. The initial sensation of penetration, maybe the wonder of fellatio and the wave of bliss after orgasm.
The owner comes out from behind the counter and lays a gentle hand on Jean's back, an ingenious twinkle in his eye, with the knowledge of what Jean has rejected. Jean apparently didn't notice that they were closing up for the day until now. He straightens up, gives a small perfunctory "hic!", lowers away the dregs of his beer and pops it down on the counter beside the money which had been hidden by his forearm. Then he engulfs in an embrace, his shorter, curly headed friend - feeling more worthy after the grog, and on releasing him, departs without a word.
drinking in the sun.
He crosses to the shoreside and relieves himself of his shades. He does so as he passes a strutting babe. At first she thinks it's a gesture of acknowledgement of her looks and being vain, she is unable to resist the temptation to give him a proud sweeping glance of feminine superiority but he is looking off into the distance in the direction of the marina. As she does so, she is surprised by the light the dying sun has made in his face. Nobody has eyes that colour! They look golden, shining like apricots. Anne wants to go back and catch him by the slieve and stare into his face again and check. Properly this time; but she can't. Was he looking at me? He looks foreign to her, interesting, different. She would do anything to be relieved of the common place for a while and a big stranger whoever or whatever he might be would do just Fine. She is sick and tired. In need of adventure desperately. Wayward in autro words.
Very wayward. But to the dangerous unrealised side.
Walking slowly home, the temperature's dropped and the orange light is rapidly deserting another perfect Mediterranean day. Jean gives a violent shiver at the thought of going back to the flat alone. He is in too good a mood now, so he decides against it and veers sharply into the hotel where he was earlier. The doorman, watchful as ever, smooths his entry and on noticing the gentleman's perspiratory state, offers to relieve him of his jacket. Jean casually shrugs off his kind attentions, unwillingly showing some technique, and in doing so, contrives to give him money. The receipt of a few shekels was not the door-keeps' specific purpose but it would be unthinkable to refuse the benediction of a guest. Unthinkable.
Jean cruises past the desk without escaping Charles's eye. Shortly after plonking himself at the bar in the salon, his poised lean delicate friend arrives purveying an assortment of delectables for him to munch. On the house - of course. He is strongly of the opinion that his patron should not be forced to continue his drinking on an empty stomach. For purely humanitarian reasons. of course. He is not of the opinion that Jean would allow himself to become an embarrassment or God forbid - a nuisance.
God forbid! But better to obviate the possibility of any discomfort to the guests. Secretly, Jean has shown him mysteries, told him blood curdling tales in moments of seclusion, even bent the world around them on dry hunts outside of work hours.
Needless to say Jean devours the food and is not long in summoning more with beer. There is an eight of caricature in the big man's effulgent behaviour. Destiny. To a lover of subtlety, of hand cuffed humour and the ever so slightly ridiculous, this is a good time to come across the Great MarSud. Jean, unbeknown's to himself, has slipped the collar of the hideous grind of life, for a moment. It has released a facet of the ever so carefully guarded centre of his self. He is generally a nice man and like most, very simple, when all the cards have been turned face up on the bar. No more need to hide, we're at home. He is all hands and eyes and barely disguised thoughts and postures, that are half hidden gestures. Charles loves him. He can only allow himself a sixteenth of caricature himself because he is working. He can think of half a lifetimes worth of scumbags, his business has had the audacity to call customers; who he'd like to sit down beside Jean now and watch them try and maintain their pompous, braggart self importance. to enjoy serving who is job, is rare enough pleasure.
Anne is in the sitting foyer occasionally casually observing Jean through the small forest of house plants over her magazine. What does she think? Well.. that Jean Is cute and that he seems quite to like beer. The rest is deeper and storage for recognition.
The bar tender eyes Jean carefully whilst highly polishing glasses over and over with perfect ring fingered hands. He has a bit of the creature in him now and she doesn't want any Grief. She is seeing the drink and picking up little of the nuance. Charles looks reproachfully, on noticing her attitude to her charge. She needs the work. In fact on becoming more amenable she does profit in a small way and at least it keeps the 'Stiff' out of her hair. Jean is neither forward, nor coarse as she had at first feared he might be in his state, to her great relief. In fact. he is funny in a Peculiar sort of way; she might have said charming hadn't he been drunk - but a tad endearing all the same. Jean has witnessed her guarded hostility turn to veiled condescension. It has niggled him, BUT he has strenuously avoided being rude in return. However, he has tired of this attempt to befriend her. In a VerY well balanced and dignified manner he stands away from his stool. Drawing himself up to his full height and squaring off his shoulders all dissembling and fooling aside, he passes her a look of undisguised hostility and slight returned. It has been easy to hold the partial animal in contempt but the whole - is a Little too much. He doesn't break eye contact and depart the statement made. She's not going anywhere. She is paid to stay. She is in the polished cage of her choice.
'Who are you? What's your story? You imagine I could not know what you've been thinking? Pretty little doll thing, all groomed and put out so much nicer than the pathetic drunken old slob - me? You think I am unable to feel your love of yourself, set so sweetly against the disdain for the lump of me? Handsome, brave bull fighter more your style? Don't worry, a half an hour after I'm gone, you'll have turned this into a blank challenge by a joe. But right this instant it is a slightly trickier assertion to make. Is it not?
And you will be more careful in the future Won't you!'
Forced to break eye contact to pour him another drink (a tell) - not now wanting him to leave, when she turns around his back is stalking quietly off towards the lobby. It is noisy in Jean's head now. He wanted to Kill her. That confrontation was unnecessary and not what I had intended at all. Take a firmer grip Jean. You Must have control. It is all Leonora's fault... not forgetting dear Phillipe. Sometimes that man is Completely IMPOSSIBLE! His brows contract, as by some instinct he notices Anne. By chance. ?
Anne Is surprised that he is this aware, considering the way he's been drinking. Well, well - a player. Another. She cannot follow. Not now that he's seen her.
As an isolated child until men started noticing her good looks and figure - pursuing, in secret, people, was one of her favoured occupations. It slackened off in adulthood as she became more used to enjoying being the quarry, but it was never forgotten. She is seldom if ever caught and it is pleasing to her in an ironic way to be spotted by the one she is interested in. A wry smile. No more the game of chasing the day. There will be another. There always is. Usually. She will have him. No question. And it will be sweet. She has Decided. women are always wright about these things.
Jean swings out of the International and turns east. Home. That girl.

'Who's that girl?
Tell me - who's that girl,
Runnin' in around my head?'

 

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 switch honey.
He noticed me even less than the last time. If that's possible?!: she thinks, after her heart gave a jump on recognising the silhouette. He musn't have noticed me in the hotel after all. Great.
Jean thinks: pretty. AND all over the place. !. He is heading towards the next town along which is more than an hour away, even for him. He will be surprised that he has arrived there when he does. Left alone in the evening Jean soon lapses into warm thoughts of his friend Phillipe.
When he met him first; initially they had not seen eye to eye at all. Phillipe had just been interested in women, parties and getting wasted. Alike in many ways to how Jean is now, except funnier and younger and more endearing and without Jean's work keynote. Jean had been serious, devoted to his studies and the importance with which people weighed his careful, sincere opinions. They only got on, after one night when Jean had spent a fruitless, soul destroying day and evening in the library. He was on the verge of tears of frustration and had fled to what he expected would be a typically dull college do; but some people, any people and drink might help him forget the day he'd just had. P. felt his anguish. Nobody else seemed to care and if they did, they didn't suspect that Jean had such intense, painful times of doubt. Jean looked so harum scarum that Phillipe took pity and contrived to introduce him the most lovely girl. In the short introductory conversation that ensued, he tried to bring out the things in Jean that he thought might have the desired effect. Phillipe fancied her - it was impossible not to, but he knew that whilst he might eventually tumble her into bed - it would be a hollow feast. He knew she wasn't into flippancy like she was doctors, lawyers and deep men like the great historian Marsaud. P. always reckoned that she wasn't playing a full deck but as for being winning... Whew HOTT! Phillipe had sort o' pimped for Jean that night, even though Jean had been disparaging and so dismissive of him during their few perfunctory meetings previously. Phillipe had understood the riddle of the possibility of mutually exclusive fields of adroitness. It was Phillipe who had catapulted Jean into the first love affair of his life. Why? Jean often questioned Phillipe about why he had behaved to him with such generosity. "Because you were there!" "Because I could!" "Because I wanted to be the author of the perfect couple!" "Because I felt like it!" "Because you needed her so badly you uptight freak!" "Because I was bored!" "Because I'm stupid!" "Because I'm crazy!" "Because I had nothing else better to do!" "Because I had nothing else better to do!" "Because I'm crazy!" "Because you were not invulnerable for once!" It was a sheer act of GOD!" Because I am weak and afraid and it makes me ashamed and you knew! Pretender that you are Phillipe, you would never say so but I knew you knew. And you always knew I knew you knew. But you would never say the truth because we love one another. And yet the greatest sadnesses of life I had to teach you because you were incapable of my morbidity or of feeling so intensely sorry. And when we left for Chad together you refused to pretend it was anything other than another great adventure. That's where it started. You knew I'd find out what a fool I'd been and that it would break my heart, which you had made in the first place, so you just had to come to pick up the pieces and hold my hand and to tell me everything was alright. But you see in the army broken hearted men are Allowed to fight. And i did long after mine was. The internal wound i'd suffered bled within me for a long time before i ever realised it. And whilst you welded the damage Phiffipe - i could never be quite whole again ever fully, let alone the invulnerable man my men thought of me as. The funniest thing of all, and I know you wished you'd been there was when I laughed when I got wounded. I know the men thought it was a sign of strength that I should spurn futurity, - death, but it actually showed greater weakness than if I'd cried because, and this is where the psych's got it right - I didn't give a flying fuck anymore. But with it I'd become someone who'd brave face anything. Someone who'd fulfil any order. Any questions I'd had after were purely for explanation not contradiction. Because I accepted that Ďií myself had become ridiculous. What stood to me however, was the fact that my possession by a part of the Terrible God had created a unit fighting honour which will outlive us all. For This, the military forgave me my moment of madness. And booted me up to the Premier'. And when I reviewed men after that... I'm sure the look on my face could have only reflected the bitterness in my heart, that they were flesh of my body, and we; were iron.

... 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.
That act of apparent spurious kindness Jean had received from Phillipe has ever after plagued the mean side of him. He has let it stay a debt so something could turn him. It was the hardened side which P. defeated in a moment of wit and ever present irony. Phillipe was not a cautious man, it was the reason that he was never more than perfunctorily commended in the army, after he enlisted with Jean, in whose care he remained. Phillipe had finished with the formal military before Jean won transfer to the Premier Regiment Infantry with one of his sergeant's Henri Moreau. The gratuity of P.'s openness and caustic frankness with command is one reason he remains an everlasting and undying friend to Jean without challenge.

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. Not enough.
He is not Me as I am not Him. He is not an inconsiderate man. And he is away again, telling me nothing. Did I prime him? Big talk. And Leonora. Big talk. And Leonora is afraid. She loves him but she is hard. Big talk. He betrayed my past to her and he is no boaster. He has the imagination to make up or make out enough interest, without having to give up confidences. He is no traitor. Has he primed her to come to me - so he is afraid. ?. God strike down all people who have too much in their heads. Leonora if you've filled him to bursting, I should throttle you but I cannot. You are Phillipe's common law wife. Wife. Uncommon. Phillipe have you set sail on some cataclysmic adventure, to prove to me that there is something worth fighting for still, other than survival: something Worth doing? Or have you also gone beyond trying to prove things to me?
Or was it you book worm? Do your actions have some order which supersedes the bonds of friendship now, in yours or someone else's mind? the cunt or the clasped hand.
Which? Both. Both are just as deadly when the leader, leads to folly. Did you learn nothing from me Phillipe my friend. Or did you learn too much? Perhaps it is nothing and My sick mind makes subterfuge where there is only private play. What way could you have possibly found to get yourself into trouble that would be worth it to the pair of You? Make sense, even allowing for Leo's cavalier attitude. What act of daring could she have unearthed that would make up for me being separated from you Phillipe?
She doesn't love you Jean. You are only not inconsequential to her in so far as you interfere in her relationship with Phillipe. And we know how she feels about that. It's written all over her face when she finds us sitting alone somewhere talking or fooling about or just staring into space. We Have 'touched souls'. She wants In. It is in her eyes when she meets us walking with our arms around each other.

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.
And Phillipe I am sure it is in her mood when you desert her bed in the morning, to come and have coffee with me before a day's. And I am sure she resents the hours we spend together trying to make some sense of the job. But Leonora is a fool P.! I know she is your woman but she thinks I have you and yet you have all but grown out of me. Or have you grown out of me? You call her when you can't make it. You don't call me when you go a wander. But is that just you protecting my retirement to be fair. You don't talk about it and I won't ask. But you talk with her. I know Phillipe. I have not fallen asleep. And I still think too much. She fears and resents Me but the person she should fear and censure is herself.
JEAN. HENRI CALLING. YOU ARE THE BIGGEST MOTHER OF THEM ALL.
Jean laughs loudly out to himself with his head back and chews up the ground. He will be in Roquetas soon. He will have plenty of things to occupy his mind there. A lady maybe? In a bachelors mind there is always at least a ghost of a chance of finding a woman and burying himself in any solace that he can find in her arms. The bevel of her breasts.
His eyes will rove. He will notice cars, clothes, moods, dispositions, foreigners, strangers. Beers. Scotchs. Girls. 'Lights', 'camera(s), 'action'(s). Wide open. In short. ENTER

Chapter two is now online

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