Fishing in Beirut

May 5, 2010

Part 8: Te Quiero (scene 9)

Filed under: Character : Johnny, Part 8 : Te Quiero — fishinginbeirut @ 07:47

Johnny was back at Beaubourg. The sun was shining, lending everything a faintly promising light. He took out a cigarette and smoked between songs.
“Hey Mister,” said someone. “Hey Mister. Why aren’t ya playin’ somethin’?” Was that an Irish accent or what? He looked up to see a small red-haired boy of eight or nine squinting at him quizzically. He was chewing gum, and the flavour was red on his tongue.
“I’m tired,” said Johnny. “Where is your mother or father?”
“None o’ your business,” said the boy, and ran off.
Buskers gathered over the far side, two young bucks in plaid shirts. A singer and a guitarist, the singer with a tambourine. They launched into some woeful Eagle’s tune, typical shit about lovers and cars. Johnny picked at his nails freeing dirt from the underside.
“Come on baby, don’t say maybe…”
“…I’ve got to know if your sweet love is going to save me!” shouted Johnny. A few people looked, and he stood up, beaming.
He hadn’t seen Michel in quite a while. A month or so, infinity by Michel standards. People pushed gently along across the square, a hit parade of flip-flops and cameras. Paris in the springtime, and the burden of the romantic myth.
Johnny contented himself with watching the throng and listening to The Eagles dudes. All the ‘classics’ leaped out, one after another in the sun. Tequila Sunrise, Hotel California.
Pigeons scampered about in search of bread left in wrapping. Discarded panini, or crepes residue. The pigeons, the buskers, the tourists, the drunks. The piazza Beaubourg was the world in a manageable size.
The sound of a saxophone was audible and then not. Johnny swivelled his head, trying to make out where it was coming from. The breeze and the chatter were revealing and then concealing the notes, lending it an extra-plaintive air. Then he sourced it, a guy in a beret hidden under the library façade.
Now he could see the guy the music was constant. His senses were working in tandem, sight aiding sound. All he had to do was keep looking, ignoring the occasional obstructions of tourist heads. This was some jazz cat who’d stepped out of a novel by Burroughs.
The Eagles effigies had abated. One of those weird moments happened, where suddenly the square cleared. It was Johnny and the jazz artist, frozen, and then there were people everywhere again, posing for pictures and feasting on crepes. The dude kept on playing, squeezing juice through the tube.
Johnny lit up a cigarette, letting all the other sounds encroach on him again – children, a siren. A pigeon landed on his shoe and then flapped away in fright, its internal radar vaguely faulty or askew.
“Welcome to the Hotel California,” said Johnny. “Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.” Then he sang it, keeping his voice gentle and low.

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