L’Esprit D’Escalier: Part Twenty-Five. Seafood and God.

by | Dec 29, 2023 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

He stabbed the spade into the turf, cutting out a neat square.

The next visit from Patrice brought an invitation from the Manor house and a very special conversation. A conversation which would confirm his decision to be the right one. His heart jumped at the soft tap on the door, her signature.

Lucien showed the young woman in and watched her waddle down the hallway. Her sandaled feet were turned slightly outwards enhancing her duck like appearance. All that was missing was the line of ducklings in her wake.

“How’s my favourite doctor?” Her words were a salve on the rash of his consciousness.

“Well, if you mean me, I’m all the better for seeing you.” A typical mixture of self depreciation and compliment from Lucien.

“That’s what I love about you. You’re so modest,” Patrice replied, easing herself gingerly into the armchair.

“Love? What’s love got to do with it?” He was taken aback by her use of the word. The woman’s face lit up like a fresh blooming Iris at his unintended pun. Immediately, Lucien cottoned on and his smile joined hers. A warmth filled the room.

“Before I forget – baby brain – I have an invitation from Andre and Christine. They have guests and would like you to join them. Apparently there is seafood and music.” Her accent, West African with a strong French overtone, was intoxicating.

“How could I possibly refuse. Seafood and music; in Brittany? I am honoured. Please take my acceptance with you.” Lucien filled the kettle and prepared their usual pot of Earl Grey. Patrice was fascinated with the scented brew and the English Aristocrat responsible for its invention. Her thirst for knowledge was limitless.

Tea made, the pair settled down to the usual rich exchange of stories, views and opinions. Eventually the inevitable topic was brought up.

“Have you decided yet?” Lucien asked, nodding at the bump.

“Yes, if he hasn’t arrived in a week, I will go in to be inducted,” Patrice replied, her look serious. Lucien couldn’t stifle the grin.

“You mean induced.” He chuckled, closing his eyes waiting for the storm.

“Yes, that too,” Patrice smiled back, totally dismantling Lucien’s mirth. For a woman who had endured so much, her demeanour was horizontal. Nothing seemed to upset this lovely specimen of humanity. She contained a charm he’d never witnessed in over six decades.

“I’ll pray for you both,” he said, attempting to diffuse a non-existent situation.

“Pray? You don’t believe!” Her smile became almost mocking.

“I’ll give it my best. They say God loves a stranger.” He anticipated a long one and he was right. However, he didn’t predict the profound outcome.

“You’re not a stranger,” she said, the smile fading.

“Really? Do you think he notices me?” He tried to hide the cynicism in his response.

“Notices?” Patrice’s face took on a novel look of anger. “So he wouldn’t notice someone that he has created?”

“I’m sorry. When you put it that way,” Lucien shuffled uncomfortably in his chair.

“He’s been looking after you all of these years and you think he doesn’t notice you?” Her frown deepened.

“Well, I suppose someone has been.” This was new ground for the doctor, a confirmed atheist. He attempted to diffuse the situation. “May I ask you something?”

“Please do,” she snapped.

“Two things, actually. Do they have angels in Islam, and, if so, are you one?” Lucien held his breath.

“We do but I’m not one.” Her face returned to its former glory. Attempting to lean forward over the bulk that was Boubou, she commenced a sermon which would save three lives and guarantee the happiness of three more.

“When I was younger, I used to believe that God doesn’t love me. Otherwise, why is he giving me a hard time?

Then, I discovered two important things.

Most of the hardships I was facing were because I didn’t love me, and because I was hurt by other people, not God.

Secondly, he was the only one who truly loved me and if I said otherwise, I was being very cruel to him.

He was being very loving and generous and I was accusing him of horrible things. Things that man was responsible for.

Did I have the right to judge him without getting close and trying to know him better?

Is it fair that I want him to notice me, when I ignore him? Definitely not!” Patrice leaned back in the chair, lowered her head and stared at the doctor, over an imaginary pair of glasses.

“You’ve just described my life, without the God bit!” Lucien replied. A feeling of astonishment enveloping him.

“Exactly, you ignored him and expected him to notice you!” Her eyes opened wide, doubling her allure. “If you look deep enough, you’ll find that he was there with you, even in the darkest times.” Lucien reflected over the many such occasions. “It’s OK if you don’t believe me. I won’t judge.”

The doctor’s eyes filled with tears. Tears of joy and regret. He composed himself and attempted a response to the homily the young woman had just delivered.

“Patrice, it’s not about whether I believe you or not. Something is happening which I can’t explain, to me, whom I thought was the most open minded person.” He wiped the tears with the heels of his hands.

“Don’t try to explain it. Just feel it. I know you are a good person. You have a loving nature and like to help others.” She made to get up from the chair. “Think on it doctor Lucien. I have to go now and help with the preparations. See you later.”

Lucien followed her to the door anticipating the closeness of the farewell peck on the cheek. As her lips brushed his face, he planned his next move. He closed the door and entered the bedroom. Taking the plastic bag from the back of the drawer, he headed for the outbuilding to find a spade. The cool Breton evening was joined by a cover version of Don’t Stand so Close to Me, by the Police. He stabbed the spade into the turf, cutting out a neat square.

Dropping the package into the deep hole, he backfilled it. While he shovelled the earth, he confirmed in his mind that he wouldn’t kill his three friends. He’d let them kill each other.

2 Comments

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Definitely a page turner.

    Reply
    • brian

      Thanks Ken. Not many pages left!

      Reply

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