Fishing in Beirut

February 7, 2010

Part 3: Blue, July – Sept 2002 (scene 7)

Filed under: Character : Karen, Part 3 : Blue — fishinginbeirut @ 11:25

Karen dressed in silence. Her body registered the covering of clothes. She had awoken in plenty of time, did not feel pressed or pressurised, and dressed with deliberation, the day all fresh and new.
She ate the muesli, drank the fruit juice. The washing of the breakfast implements took maybe two minutes, and she placed them back in their drawers and shelves and presses. She wiped down the surface. Her mother leapt into her mind, and there began a conversation therein that came increasingly to resemble an argument. She wiped the surface and did battle with her mental mother, but then cut loose and suppressed these thoughts, for there is no greater stressor than internal conversation. She put the cloth down in the sink.
The morning feel was soothing, imbuing her with a sense of calm, wise, melancholy. If our lives are free from evil, well is this just the best that we can do? She brushed her hair and teeth, combated wrinkles and dryness, and applied lipstick and perfume.
She was ready to leave the flat. The lift hummed in old familiar compliance, and she reached the bottom and the street. A bus or something roared by. She swept the ground with her stick, advancing easily, mounting and dismounting kerbs and steps. So Karen, in her time, reached the St. Sulpice metro.
She was never at her most comfortable on these trains. Of course, they were fine, nothing had ever gone wrong, not really anyway, but they were firmly classed under ‘necessary evil’, and she took a bus, or buses, if time or route would allow.
She sat there amidst the rattle and the din. The human noise of coming, going, shifting, talking was everywhere. She had thirteen stops, heading north, before she got to Chateau Rouge. She was on an errand for Michel.
She had met this man before. Once, at Christmastime. She had touched his weary face, had heard his rumbling voice. Had listened to the rasp while he murmured in his phone. He would be here now, at the Chateau Rouge metro station, because he had stuff for Michel, and Michel was in Bordeaux.
The call had come the night before. Michel, sweet, pleading, on the phone from his parents house, with his please, it would mean a lot. Collect some stuff from this guy, you remember him, cause I can’t make it back, and he says he can’t wait. Karen had wondered why, where was the urgency in this, but Michel said I don’t know, and he’d sounded so sincere.
So here she was on the train. Friday morning. They got off, they got on, they shuffled here and there, finding seats and excusing themselves. She was sure some eyes were on her. This was the tenth stop she counted, so this was Gare de l’Est, with three more to go. She thought of the El back in Chicago, those childhood trips downtown with her mother, and then later with friends, or alone. The strangeness of her first drink. She remembered just how cold, just how to the bone freezing, that city got, and however bad Paris was, ice and snow in Chicago made for nightmares without end. Temperatures of death, and streets of crystal traps.
The train reached the stop. She moved through the exit door, and people pushed past, surging, the many who don’t pay and evade the dumb control. She heard others jumping over the barriers.
Coming up the stairs and into the day, the sound of markets – fish, carpets, fruit – was everywhere. Her left hand gripped the rail. There was the feel of other bodies, other human beings, clambering about. The heat of breathing souls. As she reached the final step, she heard a sudden cough, and turned to face this man, knowing who it was.

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