Fishing in Beirut

January 17, 2010

Part 1: Getting There (scene 1)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 1: Getting There — fishinginbeirut @ 11:18

And so that’s a blind girl at the bus stop. It’s windy, busy on the street, and the bus comes along and she doesn’t put out her hand, and the bus doesn’t stop, and her name is Karen. It’s rue de Vaugirard, outside Jardin du Luxembourg, at three o’clock in the afternoon. Her brown hair is blown and whipped, but she has only been told it’s brown, and that doesn’t mean a thing.
Her mother told her age two her hair was brown, and told her many times after. My name is Karen and my hair is brown and my eyes are blue, and I cannot see. But it doesn’t matter.
Karen thinks she hears the bus engine approach and puts out her hand, but it’s a truck, and it’s busy on the street, and it does not stop, because it’s a truck. She is confused and thinks the bus is passing, and calls out stop, holding aloft her white stick. She doesn’t know what’s happening, and people must be looking now. She senses attention, is sure of it in fact, directed at her, but what difference does it make? She pushes back her hair, and moves to the wall.
How many people noticed this? She sighs and coughs, and she’s pissed that bus didn’t stop. Now her boyfriend will be waiting, and he’ll grow anxious, and she’ll grow anxious on his behalf. Everybody tells her to buy a cell phone. Probably she should. She’s twenty-six, and they tell her she’s gorgeous. They told her in Chicago, and everyone tells her here.
Michel is gorgeous. She knows that for sure. The way he feels, the way his breath feels, the way it quickens when they… the way it’s not his skin that’s warm, but more his body underneath. He’s waiting for her now, north of the river, and he’s probably getting worried. She exhales slowly, with shoulders rising falling.
Someone else has arrived beside her. There is the rustle of a jacket, a face being scratched, male, and almost imperceptible breathing. Suddenly a heavy intake and exhalation, nasally, which sounds like a thunderclap as she listens carefully.
The man coughs, sniffs, scratches his face again. Forties? A cougher past his youth certainly. A man with an affliction, an affliction or a prop, born of sinuses, or habit, or tar settled snugly on the lungs. A faint and commonplace prelude of death, and a nag to go along with his having to wait for a bus. Karen rubbed her hands, and waited silently.


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