L’ Esprit D’Escalier: Part Twenty-Seven. Return to Paris.

by | Jan 2, 2024 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

The sleek TGV INOUI pulled into Morlaix and Lucien climbed aboard.

Andre squeezed the dead air out of Lucien’s lungs; the tiny volume of air which was necessary to allow them to reinflate. The doctor froze, unable to inhale, his head began to swim with oxygen deprivation as his chest tried to lift a heavy load. At first, Andre smiled at Lucien’s bemused expression. Then it sank in and he dealt the doctor a firm blow between the shoulder blades, causing him to gasp involuntarily.

“I’m sorry Lucien, sometimes I don’t know my own strength,” he boomed, laughing nervously.

“It’s alright,” Lucien whispered, hardly able to get the words out. “You’re a very affectionate and tactile man.” An understatement indeed, from the breathless medic. 

“Be sure to return soon. I feel someone will be missing you,” Andre replied, rubbing Lucien’s back vigorously. The doctor felt the blush rise up his neck, to his cheeks and nose, in a warm tide of embarrassment.

“I will Andre,” He failed to rise to the other man’s provocation.

“Seriously, Lucien. I have failed to see a pair hit it off the way you two do, in all of my adult life.” His tone reflected the first word of the sentence and he attempted another bear hug, only to withdraw at the last minute. He grabbed Lucien by the shoulders, kissed him brusquely on both cheeks and left the platform. The sleek TGV INOUI pulled into Morlaix and Lucien climbed aboard.

On the journey to Paris, he couldn’t get the image of Patrice out of his mind. She had subtly replaced the position on the pedestal, previously occupied by that other woman. As the Breton countryside was replaced by the semi-urban landscape of the suburbs, the following evening took over his thoughts. He had enough ammunition to sink all three of his companions and the love he had for Patrice was the weapon he’d use to give him the belief to fire the bullets. His confidence was sky high and nothing could stand in his way.

Paris had lost its allure, its attraction. All it represented now, was a noisy, confined space, full of selfish people, all after the same impossible dream. From the people he had dealt with on a daily basis, escaping trauma and tragedy for a life of subservient stability; to the elite, such as Marielle who thrived on the shoulders of those below her.  He craved the peace, tranquillity and integrity of his new home in the west.

Lucien ascended the steps to the apartment building, retracting the handle of his case and picking it up. He let himself into the foyer to be greeted by Raimund.

“So, the wanderer returns, after leaving his flock unattended,” the old man croaked, with a cynical toothless grin. The doctor carefully placed his case on the ceramic tiles beneath his feet.

“You, Monsieur Cournoir, are a bitter, obnoxious old man and it’s time someone told you so.” His face was almost touching that of the old crone. He could smell the tobacco on his breath and see the embryonic opaqueness of cataracts in both eyes. Lucien made a mental not of his patient’s impending ailment, then promptly tore it up and binned it. “You have spent most of you life grieving for a woman who had been dead for years. A death you had no control over. Soon you’ll be in a position to regret that. For now, I suggest you start living what life you have left.” Raimund’s smile inverted and a drop of saliva collected in the corner of his lip. Something seemed to click in Raimund’s head. If regret had an expression, that was it.

“Well! Who’s rattled your cage?” A slimy white substance coated his thin lips, collecting in the other corner as he spoke.

Lucien ignored the old man and mounted the stairs, all of his anxieties returning with each step. He closed his eyes and thought of Patrice. Her exquisite features washed away his angst.

His next encounter was with Caaisho, who seemed to be waiting for him, arms folded across her ample chest.

“Doctor Lucien! I am so pleased for you. When will you return? Before Boubou comes, I hope.” Her greeting shocked the doctor, until he recalled her connection to Christine. The warm Breton glow ran through him and he placed a hand on the big woman’s shoulder.

“Very soon Caaisho, and I am forever in your debt,” he replied. Caaisho frowned.

“The debt is mine. Cheik is at peace, thanks to your generosity.” Her big round features softening. Tears formed somewhere in her deep set eyes, erupting onto her shiny black cheeks. Lucien returned the smile and continued along the first hallway.

The door opened at the other end and mother and daughter de Marisy greeted Lucien with equal affection.

“Welcome back. I hear fate has finally blessed you. Not before time!” Anna stood behind her daughter, arms around her grinning.

“News travels fast. Thank you Anna. Emily.” He nodded at the teen and was rewarded with a radiant smile. The beautiful young woman she would become, shone through.

Finally, he arrived at his own front door, breathless but happy. He entered, dropped his case, and took in every square inch of his surroundings. Lucien boiled some water and made a pot of Earl Grey. The familiar floral aroma took him north to the love of his life. Settling onto the chaise longue, he picked up the phone.

The first number he selected was Marielle’s. Lucien took a deep breath and waited for the other party to answer.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Waiting in anticipation.

    Reply

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