Park In Toulouse, 1957, Early Summer, 5 A.M.

It's so quiet here in this misty park. It's 5 AM and she slept on your tuxedo jacket, her hair arrayed about her face, Venus on a muslin shell. You danced for hours on the roof of the Grand Hotel and you kissed in that night club off the Champs de Espagne. It seems like years since you've spoken English; you don't even think in it any more. You don't think at all anymore, really. You don't think about anything but the next five minutes and the five before.

And why would you? Are the next 60 years going to be like this? They won't be, you know. Colette won't feel this way in a year or a month. That doesn't happen when you're sixteen. No, she'll go to Prague on that exchange thing in a year and meet that American idiot and you'll have to sit in that topiary in Lyon with that letter and cry like a child. And it'll be five in the morning like this and early summer and it'll be misty like this and you'll have no one to sleep on your jacket.

And if you think that train ride to Milan and the night with the beautiful whore and the good wine and the cocaine is going to take the slightest edge off of this you're wrong. Nothing will, not for years. Not a thousand nights on a thousand hotel balconies in Ceuta or Tunis or Cairo will blur the memory. And the opium might help for a while but it never stops with the black tar and the headrest. You'll have to Climb The Ladder and you'll end up like Lucien if you're not careful; white and still in a bad garret with cruel little marks between your toes. It's like the old Mandarin said; you can Chase The Dragon in smoke but only in your veins can you catch him.

And you won't have the stomach or the heart to punish the next woman or the one after that by calling her the wrong name or searching her face for features that recall that sleeping girl in the park.

All that money and those nights in Nice and St. Petersburg and Baleares, those earnest German girls, the ruins of the Drachenfels at dusk, Hyde Park on Christmas Eve, none of it will matter without the sleeping girl and the scent she left on your jacket and you didn't have the heart to return it to the leasing shop and you offered a weak excuse and lost your deposit.

And there it hangs in your wardrobe all those years later and it still smells of that morning. And maybe if you had the courage to burn it or give it to the charity maybe then you could start to live again.

But you can't and you never will. And many, many years from now you'll ask that kind and dear friend that you married to bury you in it "because it belonged to your father".

And that'll be that. But that's all so far away, isn't it?

Did you just hear her stir? The birds are starting to sing.

What on earth will you tell her parents?


Anonymous mrs. packer said...

Wow. Heartbreaking without sentimentality.

And not a single cocksucka to be found.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...aka, achingly BewTeeFull.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Employee of the Month said...

Why I Want to be Bryan Ferry When I Grow Up, reason #3 -
The Mamouna Tour was sponsored by Johnny Walker Black Label

6:37 PM  

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