Fishing in Beirut

March 21, 2010

Part 6: Things As They Are (scene 1)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 6: Things As They Are — fishinginbeirut @ 14:21

Don’t let the swirl of desire be your master. Johnny knew this, but it was easy to forget. His longed for October light was upon him again, the years slipping like sediment, his hopes and fears still with him. He watched the students up in the Pompidou library, their busy forms moving back and forth, and he down below on the tile stones. Johnny with pigeons and chill.
He waved his arm and he was just with the chill, and some moments later with Michel. Within an hour he was alone again. He stood up and rubbed his stiff legs, and picked up the guitar, figuring that was enough for today. He went to a café for a beer.
The waitress was familiar to him from a cold night, and he’d known this would be so before entering. He purposely sat with his back to her. She approached and was shocked momentarily, but then recovered, and merely took his order in sadness. Her eyes were like pools built from loss.
Johnny drank with a listlessness, breathing heavier than he needed to. He knew he was holding her interest. He felt her attention on his back and the back of his head, a laser beam of embarrassment, and disappointment, and ruin. Another waitress with tear stains.
He left as the dark became resolute, walking down Boulevard de Sebastopol with the beer buzzing. Early evenings cloaked in blackness. He stopped into one of those DVD and toy places, and bought a magazine with the legs spread. Some blond probably distant from her father. On the street with it in his jacket pocket, he waited patiently at the lights till the colour changed, and crossed to go east on rue Reaumur. He sat down to observe at Republique.
People hurried cloaked in distractions, thinking of their lover or their kettle or their bills. Johnny stretched out like a feline. He watched some kids on a makeshift merry-go-round, two Arabs controlling the motor, and selling candyfloss as a sideline. Women watched children on horses.
There was one time in Paris when he got called a nigger, by an American bouncer outside a club. Soon after his arrival. It had not hurt or surprised him, but the sensation of powerlessness was strong. He could only walk away down the queue length.
He was reminded of this for no reason, or no reason he was able to detect. He was reminded, and forgot, and it was lost again.
Things are as they are, and Johnny couldn’t sit forever. He stood up and shook himself, meandering slowly back toward Chateau Rouge. Was this city a burden to him now? It was too familiar, too known to him, too mocking of his weakness and his exiled raging heart. He knew the dogshit stains.
He was on rue de Chabrol, and then rue la Fayette, crossing over onto rue du Faubourg Poissoniere. He bought another beer in a fruit shop.
Nothing could lift his despondency tonight. These streets were boring now, and useless. They were the hunter’s net of all his failures and insecurities, the recording apparatus of his conquest born from need. They were unmerciful. He heard a domestic argument from a window up above him, woman wailing husband drunk. He spat saliva mixed with Kronenbourg.
Rain would have spoken for his misery. There was none. Crashing, smashing fucked off rain would have given voice to his anger, have bellowed where he was mute, but nothing but a breeze lived, and it was cool and gentle.


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