Fishing in Beirut

January 27, 2010

Part 2: Aria (scene 3)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 2 : Aria — fishinginbeirut @ 08:36

“C’est vraiment degueulasse ca,” said someone, as Frank pissed between two parked cars. It was very hot today, and he was very drunk. The offended girl swivelled onwards, talking rapidly to a colleague. Frank eyed their departing posteriors, pincered in the impotent rage of drink.
The heat shimmered in the air. There was dust and fumes. He walked purposeless, the can sloshing in his pocket, foaming. There was a tightness now within him, but he couldn’t pinpoint where.
On he went to nowhere, hot and ill at ease. The sound and presence of other people caused disgust and irritation. Solitude brought mindless rage, and uncomprehending terror. He hurt most of the time. He hurt, and jittered. He walked the streets in agony, propelled forward by a hostile distant body. There was no wholeness or unity, because something had been breached.
Jackhammers ripped pavements, and dust and noise were constant. He was on rue Beaubourg, and up ahead was the enormous Centre Georges Pompidou. A jutting piece of Notre Dame lay further, across the river, scaffold-covered. He spat, and coughed, and spat again. Reached into his pocket and gulped messily. He took a right after Hotel de Ville, and walked riverside to Pont des Arts. Descended to the quai and pissed again, thirsty, sweaty, and hot.
Maybe Frank could cure his own disease. Maybe nights in Buddhist temples, and the endless peace of a vast Aboriginal desert. Maybe this is needed. But this is all external, as distant as falling leaves, or perfect lovers. As untakeable as time. Frank’s problem lies within. It isn’t even really a disease.
The sun burned, next to Pont des Arts. He was directly in its glare. Two girls asked him for a light, and he was rude and didn’t know why. The cruisers hummed past, and the water rolled like heaven. Homeless men climbed down from the beams that were their homes, and went to forage. You could see their sleeping bags and cardboard – makeshift domesticity, sentried by ravenous dogs.
Frank lay down, and tried to be still. There were people sunning themselves all along the right bank quai, and he eyed them gingerly. They didn’t seem nearly as hassled by this glorious weather as he was. They didn’t seem hassled at all. He stretched, and shifted. He knew that whatever was wrong was getting worse. Some days he felt so excited he just babbled randomly at strangers, but most days were so rotten he could lash out at a post-box. He stared skyward, and sighed.
He half-heard someone laughing, and his heartbeat suddenly quickened. He sat up abruptly, some memory reflex triggered, with it the damp feeling of nerves on a sunlit dental Tuesday. He probed his pocket for a tissue, and instead came out with a map of the Berlin U-Bahn. It was crumpled, and frayed. It had parted from a lover, and he’d kept it ever since. Monica, from Italy. The stop names were familiar, but eerie too and foreign. Bismarck Strasse, Friedenau, Markisches Museum, Neukolln.
He looked at it carefully, following train lines, blinking in remembrance. The U7, the U6, the connection between the two at Mehringdamm. The Innenraum. Frank was hot and uncomfortable, but nostalgia was granting merciful relief.
He sighed and cried a little. Days before this torture, and awareness of futility. He blinked and sniffed, and attempted to relax his facial muscles, his shoulders moving up and down as he fought to align his breathing. He saw a seagull on the water. All the vacant dreams he had, and the dead weight of knowing they’d stay in his head. The U7 gets you from Neukolln to Blisse Strasse, and he’d made that journey one time, with flowers in his hand.


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