Monday, February 20, 2006

Paris, in the moonlight

"Would you like to have a coffee mademoiselle?" he asked in French, this tiny, dried-up old man, a friendly satyr, leering at her.

She stepped around him and continued walking, taking in the bubble of voices, the fairy lights, the cafe chairs facing outwards as the Parisians people-watched thoughtfully. He followed her and repeated the question. This time, she turned, shrugged and said slowly:

"I'm sorry, I don't speak French."

"Oh English," he seemed even happier. "Would you like to have a coffee?"

He looked repellent - small and huddled and so old. There was a wise, cunning air about him - someone it was better not to mess with. Is this what happened to you in Paris? Did old men come up to you when you're walking along the Champs Elysee and offer to buy you coffee? Maybe. Maybe this was part of the French experience she had been promising herself. Anyway, what could she lose - having coffee in one of these excruciating cafes, the smell of the beans, the taste of pink on her tongue.

She smiled and nodded. "Where shall we go?"

"Oh wonderful madam. Are you new to Paris? Then we should go to St Germain du Pres. The Champs Elysee is for tourists."

Well, if you're going in for new experiences...his tiny car was parked nearby. They got in, belted up and he kept up a lively chatter. It was almost like the jitterbug, except that he did not need answers - he was content to dance alone.

"There, that cafe, that's where Sartre and De Beauvoir used to go. You see that restaurant? That was where Picasso dined when he was a poor artist. He paid for his meals in art. Can you imagine?"

Stories, stories, rolled off his tongue like caramel. She felt herself relaxing. He was so very genteel, well-informed, courteous - that was the difference between the French and the rest of the world, this old world charm. He was at home here on the cobbled pavements and he smelled of Paris - that elusive scent she had been trying to capture - like a rose-scented wine.

They settled on a 14th century cafe. He told her that this is where Napoleon used to come. He led her in and they had a Chardonnay while waiting for a table.

He glints, this fascinating man, winking in and out of the picture. He seems to grow - but maybe that's just the wine. They are seated. They order fish. His voice continues to trickle - like champagne - light, effervescent, bubbly - and still he seems to be growing, elongating. His skin, so smooth, so shiny. His tongue flickering in that red, red mouth.

He reaches over the table and touches her hand. She inhales. His skin is so cold, so bright, so smooth. His scales are so beautiful. He slithers across the table and covers her mouth. She finds him coiled around her body and still that voice trickles on as his tongue flickers in her ear. She is starting to fall. She lets go and keeps on falling. The cobra dances in circles on the black marble floor, waiting to catch her - its bright unblinking eyes, devouring her honey-coloured flesh. She smiles lazily. This feels so good.

I can't wait to get that snake inside me.

4 comments:

goldennib said...

This is very interesting. It reminds me of how we might talk ourselves into finding someone attractive when we normally find them repellent, for companionship or some other internal need. This was spooky.

~Lil Nance ;> said...

I agree with goldennib... It seems that when we need something, or someone... even if we have to get it from a "snake"... we can convince ourselves it's ok.

Makes me think of lots of past situations...

Hope all is well with you!!

Berlinbound said...

That was terrific!

Jenn said...

goldennib: It was the heady mix of wine and conversation, I think. Some people just become attractive to you. That is why I'm convinced that when it comes down to it, looks don't count. It's more an ego thing.

Nancy: I agree... lotta snakes out there and I have seen my fair share of them. But I find them interesting....they have stories to tell, and I'm a sucker for a good story.

Berlinbound: Thanks. I appreciate it.