One Night in Paris
I am sure you will forgive me when you find out where I've been. I didn't have a computer. A majestic evening sun was sinking over Lyon when I left, and when I arrived to Paris, I checked right into a place I know, with a spacious balcony and 10 minutes from the station. The neighborhood is nothing to be afraid of if you stay in the light and keep to yourself. The door locks and the room is clean, so I love this place, especially my own private terrace.
Sitting on the cane bottomed desk chair that I have brought outside, leaning against the wall, looking out from across the courtyard, I look for a long time at the Sacré Cœur. A train streams across, chopping the scene diagonally, shuttling people, stuttering ahead, and I remember enormous pylons of the rail bridge arching down into the cobblestone as if to continue underground. Streams of oil-like fluid smelling like clean guns ooze down the Paris grey painted pillars, but from where I am I cannot see or smell it. It looks pristine from here. There are people underneath. Strutting, eying, moving quickly or watching. You can see from this vantage point figures moving or pausing across a narrow field of light, in the mercury glow of a sign from the Metro. The hotel guests that don't have bathrooms take showers at the end of the hall and steam billows from the shower room window.
It is dinnertime and I am seated next to a woman with very red lips and the matte face made up like in a magazine. Her friend is dressed in black leather from head to toe. I have a rendezvous with a Mariner, whose inquisitive hawk eyes gaze light brown over a chiseled nose when I don't finish my lamb chops. He insists I don't like them, but I do. He insists to give me a free dessert, which I finally accept to turn the focus away. A birthday in the corner. The painted lady listens attentively to her companion. She looks like a good woman. The kitchen staff drift out and take a look at the floor. A couple by the window have a candle on the table. I think of the stories of the people.
The train in the morning will leave while the streets are still dark there. You mustn't dawdle or you'll miss it. The first trickle of hard skinned wage earners will have begun their daily journey then and you'll sit with them on the way, curious about their lives before everyone scatters at the station. There will be coffee on the train, and you will have to ask him to pull another shot into your cup to get it strong enough. You will stand facing the horizon traveling sideways through country and watch the sun rise with a steaming cup before you plunge into darkness. We can pay in pounds if we like.
Labels: Winter 07-08