L’Esprit D’Escalier: Part Twenty-Seven. Love and Fries.

by | Dec 31, 2023 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Finally, to huge fanfare and silence from the band, came two massive steaming bowls of triple cooked French fries.

Lucien Muersac prepared himself for the evening with an anticipation never felt before. He recalled the searing apprehension of the visits to his so-called friends. Here, miles away, in the Breton countryside, he had discovered the real meaning of friendship, and something more.

The feelings he had for the young Sierra Leonean woman and her unborn baby, surpassed anything he’d experienced previously. It bridged age, culture and distance, demoting the affection he’d felt for Marielle, for almost a lifetime, to mere infatuation.

He left his little haven and walked over to the Manor house. The music now playing was Roxanne, by the same band. He realised it was being performed live. The house was surrounded by a crescent of light in the evening dusk so that it appeared a black silhouette. The source of the brightness seemed to be the garden at the rear. As Lucien entered the back gate, he was taken aback by the sight before him. A stage had been erected on the patio which was occupied by what seemed to be a rock band.

The troupe consisted of a man of around Lucien’s age with long hair, in loose ringlets. He was clad head to toe in denim and sporting tan cowboy boots and thrashing the life out of an electric guitar. The man was accompanied, either side, by two stunning young women in black leather and identical long black braided hair. Lucien imagined them to be sisters, such was their resemblance. One accompanied the guitarist, keeping perfect beat, Sting-like, on the bass guitar. The doctor had to double-take the fourth band member, also on guitar – it was Andre!

He was welcomed into the ensemble by Patrice, who was radiant in traditional West African dress.  It was ankle length, black silk with beige and white diagonal markings which resembled mother of pearl.. She wore it off one delicate shoulder, with a thin strap visible.  On her head was a large turban-like headdress typical of the region, in the same material. She resembled a beautifully wrapped gift – his gift. Her subtle makeup enhanced her natural beauty. Lucien was enchanted.

As well as Christine and the twins, there were two other females. An attractive blond in her forties and a young asian woman in her late teens. Patrice made the introductions, naming the two women and three band members all of which he instantly forgot. It was then that he noticed the spread on the large table, which dominated the other part of the patio. The most mouth-watering array of fruits of the sea, from prawns the size of a man’s hand, to bowls piled high with shellfish of numerous varieties. The centrepiece was a huge skinned fish, decorated with vegetables. Two Plates of oysters, surrounded by crushed ice and garnished with half lemons, topped and tailed the table. Finally, to huge fanfare and silence from the band, came two massive steaming bowls of triple cooked French fries.

The musicians abandoned their instruments and jumped down to join the others. With orderly efficiency, the guests systematically rendered each plate empty, save for shells, prawn heads and tails and three fries. This consumption was accompanied by stimulating conversation and joviality. During this time, Lucien learned that the lead of the band, Jean-Michelle, was Andre’s brother; the two singers were his daughters. The blond turned out to be his wife but not the mother of the daughters and the young Asian woman was Cambodian and had been adopted by the pair.

This foursome of unbelievable benevolence, and their multi cultural benefactors, blew Lucien’s mind. After the dishes were cleared and washed, the band recommenced, this time playing traditional French folk music. Lucien settled down next to Patrice and they talked, while listening to the band.

“I feel so privileged and at home amongst this community,” Patrice said, tapping both hands on her thighs in rhythm to the music.

“I’m sure they feel the same about you,” Lucien replied. “ I know I do.”

“That’s so kind of you.” She leaned over and casually kissed him tenderly on the cheek. There was no reaction from the fellow revellers, as if it was a perfectly natural act. The food and wine the doctor had consumed, gave off a warm glow in his stomach, enhanced by the young woman’s show of affection.

“I used to think I knew what love was” Lucien said, turning to Patrice. “In fact, what I thought was love, occupied my every waking hour.” He tried to picture Marielle but his mind was a blank page.

“Your such a loving man, Lucien. You have so much love in you. I can feel it,” Patrice responded, taking one of her hands from her thigh and placing it on the doctor’s. Another natural act of adoration.

“Yes, I’ve always had that capacity for people and.” He stopped short of mentioning her name. “I felt as if it was all for nothing. Now, in the space of a few days, it feels fulfilled.”

Patrice looked up at the older man, her eyes brimming with tears. She blinked and two glistening diamonds fell onto her lap.

“I love you doctor Lucien.” In the space of a few seconds, this beautiful, exotic young creature had given meaning to Lucien’s existence.

“I love you Patrice.” The simple expression, pure in it’s meaning and intention, left Lucien’s lips for the first time in his life. He placed his hand on hers and she turned it over. He noticed how whit her palm was in comparison to her ebony skin.

“What does the future hold for my favourite doctor?” Patrice uttered suddenly, her fingers enclosing his.

“I will return to Paris to attend to some business. Then I will make some decisions about that very subject,” Lucien replied, responding to her grip. “When Boubou is born, I want to ask you something.”

Patrice didn’t reply. She simply smiled demurely and lay her head on Lucien’s shoulder. The band played on.


  1. Kenneth Childs

    Wonderfully imaginative, descriptive and intriguing.

    • Brian Forster

      Thanks Ken. Final part after New Year!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive an email notification for new posts