Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shakespeare & Co. - This Way To Jim

1989, Paris. 

They're celebrating; it's the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution and absolutely everything is bleu, blanc, rouge.  It's three o'clock in the morning, trois heure; a red, white and blue laser shines through the Arc du Triomphe and the fog.  Ellen and I push our way through what's left of the crowd and sit on the curb of Le Place de la Concord.  This is where they axed Marie Antoinette. The atmosphere runs heavy in 18th century air.  Suddenly it’s 1789, the Committee of Public Safety has put the monarchy on display and heads are rolling.  Such a pleasant little euphemism: The Committee of Public Safety.  I think of 1984:  The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one.

We sit on the curb and I've had many far too many bieres to see straight, let alone interpret Ellen's psyche. We've smoked something a stranger shoved at us, something called Special K. I've been seeing T-shirts around the city of that big red K from Kellogg's and misinterpreting it as an odd French homage to fiber. As it turns out, it's merely some kind of speed, baked like the French do garlic, to accelerate the rush. And indeed at this moment my thoughts are half-baked and accelerated. Everything is bleu, blanc, rouge, and wriggling to and fro. 

I hear two hundred year old French voices in my head. "Sire, they're slaughtering each other in Paris." I feel the splash of blood as guillotines fall. The masquerade unfolds around me as Ellen sings "La Marseillaise" in impeccable French. Who is this girl? This new improved Ellen would suck my cock in the windows of Galleries Lafayette, but this is something I hadn't planned on. I sit here now and contemplate blood and change and revolution, and the names of the months themselves transform to Thermidore and Brumaire and Floreal. Yes, I've had too much to drink (or too much fiber).  Hats fly into the air as Marie Antoinette steps on the foot of her executioner. "Pardon, Monsieur," she says. "I did not do it on purpose." The drunken crowd chants, "We shall eat her heart and liver," and the executioner releases the blade. The queen's head rolls into a basket. A ghostly little man holds it up by a tuft of powdered blue hair and the masses applaud. 

We wander the Tuilleries, and Ellen has her way with me behind the Jeu de Paume.  She takes me in her mouth.  I’m into it, don’t get me wrong; nervous, I'll grant you, but into it. The dark Paris sky slams down amidst the splendor of Sun King statuary, and, yes, there's nothing like that white-hot burn of    Yes, Ellen.  Yes   I love it.  Ellen, who just couldn't lose control. Ellen, whom one never fucked. Ellen, who at times was so wooden she could've easily been mistaken for a tree.  Yes, Ellen, 


An odd billboard in English asks, ARE YOU IN THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT? but I can't address that at the moment.  We're holding hands.  At the moment, it's romantic. I feel better. I'm not in the dark. If only the sidewalk would stop slipping out from under my feet.

"You’re drunk," she says.

"Yes, I am.  And who are you?"

Morning comes and I have but one remaining brain cell bouncing about in my head like a brittle rubber ball. Ellen instead feels fine. Suddenly her only desire is to visit Père Lachaise, the cemetery of French gods and Jim Morrison; a Who's Who of the dead in Paris.  But I have this headache, this severe brain damage. She hands me a glass of fizzy French aspirin and says, "You'll live."

We walk amongst the dead.  We see Balzac, and bow our heads in awe at the Wall of the Communards.  "In 1871," she says, "20,000 workers were executed by the army.  This is their memorial." She knows things. I like that. Faded hands and faces reach out to grab us from the eroding wall. The Communards are withering but are far too stubborn to wither away. These are the faded faces and hands of the people. I think of all the people: the Communards, the revolutionaries, the condemned, and I'm ashamed of myself at times for being so affected by my silly little problems. How insignificant they seem in retrospect. I should get bigger problems, or at least keep them to myself. Who was it that said, Those are lucky people who can forget the world because something smaller is more intense? Just call me Mr. Lucky.

There's spray-paint on the macadam: "This way to Jim." Any other grave in the world might command respect. Morrison's instead has been covered in etchings and Marks-a-lot, pieces of granite have been chipped away as souvenirs.  There's a bust of Mr. Mojo looking stately and more a statesman than a rock and roll star, except someone has drilled a hole into his forehead. Jim is public domain. Anything goes. I sit on his grave and Ellen sits on no-one-in-particular's. I carve my initials into the stone with a Swiss army knife.                     - From the Novel Shakespeare & Co. by RJSomeone