Fishing in Beirut

April 1, 2010

Part 6: Things As They Are (scene 11)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 6: Things As They Are — fishinginbeirut @ 10:26

It was the 15th of November. Soon another year would end, 2004 would usher in, and he would still be here, dissatisfied. The exile alone on the square.
He spat on the ground and a wing flapped. Pigeons could be eaten if boiled. He thought of this for a second, boiling all the pigeons in the streets. They were bothersome and utterly without merit. He swiped his arm angrily to disperse them, a movement which he felt defined his life. Another week and he’d retire till the springtime.
Johnny was not conscious of how much he missed his homeland. Sometimes, at two or three in the morning, he became so. But that was different. That was half-awake, murmuring, maybe in someone else’s bed. It was unreal and forgotten by daybreak.
The night before he had dreamt of Michel’s girlfriend. Of following her down the street and watching her undress. Was this unwholesome owing to her blindness? He was more concerned by this than the fact she was with Michel, and he thought it funny he should think of her when he’d only seen her twice. Not for a year or more either.
He stood up and the years echoed. The history of his endless routine. He stretched, yawned, scratched at the back of his neck. He would grow old performing these functions.
The wind started blowing, carrying flecks of rain. He ran/walked to shelter under the bowels of the building, huddling near two security guards who sentried the Pompidou elevator. One of them nodded hello. Johnny took out some cigarettes and made a half-hearted gesture to offer them. Both men declined. He lit up, shielding out the wind, and dragged passionately. There was very little else he could do.
A Dior bag blew across the emptying piazza. A well heeled woman clattered after it. Her shoes clopped like a horse’s hooves , her skirt riding up her leg. Johnny watched ambivalently, aware the guards did also.
She recovered the bag with her hair all aflutter. Her highlights needed to be redone. Johnny dropped the cigarette and spat onto the tile. He was disgusted by his callousness in watching her. A part of him had delighted in her predicament, her exposure and mishap, and he wondered why this could be, why it was his attitude. The guards started talking about her legs.
He left the square and went to the movies. He paid in an abundance of change. Five and ten cent pieces, lining the pockets of his jacket, were handed over for entry. The ticket girl rolled her eyes. It was a film by Michael Mann. Heat starring Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, all alive with the mystery and beauty of the world. A heavyweight meditation, masquerading as criminals and cops. It was profound, breath-taking, cool and neon blue, a soundtrack like a soul humming. Destined to be revered for generations.
Johnny watched in solitude, aching from the images. Loneliness and the drive to be lonely. He rubbed at his eyes and pretended he was nowhere, a floating being unburdened, left in aesthetic contemplation. Would his body let him continue feeling this way?
Afterwards he departed gingerly. His psyche had been breached or brought to life. He drifted down the streets feeling different and much younger, a part of him quite certain that the future wasn’t dead. It just needed gentle coaxing.

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