Reports from Paris
Since drinking hurt her stitches, it was more out of habit than anything else she still went to the cafe every day at 2. It was the same with alcohol as coffee or tea but at least with that by the third round came the numbness of an internal winter.
The stitches did not effect her beauty as much as she thought but her self consciousness projected her unease outwards and so influenced how people saw her before they quickly looked away.
Anytime the tink-plink Basie notes of the bells hanging over the door announced someone coming in, she went to war with herself, not wanting anyone to join her but also hating that moment of rejection.
I sometimes liked a woman who looked sad or tired and to me, her injuries only enhanced her appeal.
2 o'clock. Children let out of school early for some reason and businessmen in town for a trade show monopolize most of the tables so that people must double down with strangers. I nod with my chin at the empty chair across from her, she shrugs her shoulders and paints the tips of her ears a bright red.
We talk, she likes hearing about how being an artist is nothing like how it is portrayed in the movies. It takes her mind off of her own problems and allows her to laugh softly to herself as she is sure it could not be that bad. The next day even though there are now open tables we sit together again. We dance around me doing her portrait, I am not shy to ask but to have motive misconstrued. We start meeting at my bar instead of the cafe. We set a day for me to do her portrait.
"Do you mind if I bring my boyfriend?"
I did not.
For some reason I always left first wherever we met , it was how she wanted it.
She turned on her stool towards me and squinted for a minute, then crinkled her nose and almost smiled. Her arms were over my shoulders as she went to kiss me goodbye. At the last moment she intentionally shifted so my lips brushed a stitch. I noticed it smelled faintly of ozone and the water in one of the meatier types of oysters as eaten on a warm day accompanied by a cool dry white.
It was not what the notes that she left me under the statue said that meant anything to me but the long cut she received on her shin while jumping the fence to do so that held currency. she would get that look in her eye and regardless of where we were, roll up the leg of her pants or dress, point to the scab-scar and say:
"Your signature. "
3. Tete de poisson: The Corsage
Walking the fish market w/Louise as they set up. A man originally from Sicily takes a clever to a large tuna. With the first Cleve, blood spurts onto the apron in the shape of one perfect red flower, it is as it has always been. It shows that like his ancestors he knows what he is doing and also a portent of good luck, well, for somebody.
"Will you buy me a flower?"
"I need some coffee."
"Not there, my cousin owns that place."
In one day and a three hour train ride it would be as if I were in a different country.
- Wayne H.W Wolfson 2016