Fishing in Beirut

February 24, 2010

Part 4: Causality (scene 6)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 4 : Causality — fishinginbeirut @ 10:23

Johnny felt the lessons were going well. Michel had made significant advances, and he was now attempting to teach him the conditional.
“It’s all about possibility,” he kept shouting. “If I found some money, I would keep it.”
“It’s all about possibility,” said Michel. “If I found some money, I would keep it.”
“Exactly,” said Johnny. “The possibility of ‘if.’”
It was sunny by the Centre Pompidou. Johnny broke off the lesson momentarily to rattle out a bloodcurdling folk song of anger and death. An elderly couple vacated the area.
“Wishes and maybes,” said Johnny, putting down the guitar. “All the wishes and maybes, of the world.”
“What might happen,” ventured Michel, timidly.
“Ouais,” said Johnny, leaping up, “c’est ca. What might happen. It’s the same thing.”
Michel scribbled something in his notebook.
“You can just translate,” Johnny explained, sitting back down and snorting. “If I would I could. You know?”
They let this knowledge permeate. Johnny’s teaching fire was going out for today, and he leaned back and reached for a smoke. Michel did the same. The familiarity of this scene was comforting. The people were different, but everyday it was basically just the same. The international throng, taking a break from their lives. Johnny in his leather, the guitar so old and worn.
“So do you think I am learning well?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
“I think I am doing OK.”
“Then there’s no need to ask me.”
“No, not really. There is not.”
“I think that’s OK for today.”
Johnny scanned the piazza, establishing who was where. There was that Chinese busker doing U2 songs – his competition, his nemesis. One love, not the same, got to cally each other, cally each other…The guy was hopeless, but passionate.
Johnny stood up to stretch again, and his phone rang as his body loosened, the beeping signal cutting short his cat-like extensions. He snapped it from his pocket, and listened.
“Je ne peux pas,” he said, and hung up. He sat back down, clicking his fingers.
For the rest of the day he sang songs and drank. Michel left and others arrived, and it was always like this in the springtime. There were jokes and stories, and strange little moments that caught him unawares. Once a child came over and hugged him. A juggler performed to his left, with bowling pins and then with fire. Johnny sat and watched, a tiredness now descending.


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