(Note: I'm in horse country in northern Georgia trying to be helpful to my daughter and her husband as they prepare for the arrival of their second son. I drive her to medical appointments, and keep son number one occupied and happy. I cook, I clean, I cajole, I get out of the way when appropriate. This morning the house is quiet and I have time to get back to our day dreaming story. To start at the beginning, scroll down to the next entry, Feb. 11th, and then come back up here, to this one.)
Paris: Our story is set here, near the Pont du Neuf, all moldy marble and gurgling, black water, hidden cafes, and old men sitting on benches.
(We must now think up a name for our louche American hero: Gabe? Yes, that's it.)
Gabe is alone in his flat. The phone rings, it's Catina, she is sobbing: "Dragos," she says, "is here."
"Where? In Paris?"
"Yes. He's here--with me."
"What the hell---what does he want?"
"Forgiveness--he says he wants forgiveness."
"Yes. Yes. For my brother. He says he can't live this way....That he still loves me."
There is a long moment of silence. Gabe can hear Catina's choked breathing. Finally he says, "What do you want me to do? Do you want me to come over?"
"I don't know. I don't know what to do. I just needed to....."
There is the loud clatter of the phone being dropped. Gabe hears Catina's voice, pleading, then the sound of a door slamming. He calls loudly into the phone but she doesn't answer. He hangs up and runs out the door of his flat. As he leaves, he sees his concierge watching him from her partially opened door.
The city is busy. It's late on a cold afternoon, the sky overcast, the river is flat, the color of lead. He makes his way from his building, through the alley, and then across the street, dodging traffic and people. He doesn't run, can't run.
He makes he way across the Pont du Neuf. The traffic is heavy, horns blare, somehow he manages to cling to the sidewalk. His mind is playing tricks on him, scattering his thoughts, refusing to allow concentration. It brings him memories of the Nazis here, in Paris, during the war, occupying, murdering, plotting to burn down the city, to blow up this very bridge as the Allies approached. The explosives had been set, ready to go off.....
Then thoughts of the Nazis yield to Catina and Dragos, the tragic children of that war and now survivors of the bland horror of the Communist regime that followed it in their own dark country. He steps off the end of the bridge, crosses the street. He can see her building now, where her flat is, see the door. He moves between the parked cars, back up onto the sidewalk and then he is going up the steps.
Catina is there, at the door. She pushes him away, back out into the light, into the street.
"What's going on?" he asks.
"He's up there. He has no where to go. I'm going to let him stay there."
"Stay here? In your flat? Good then. You can stay with me."
"Yes," she says. "Yes." She looks up at him. Her eyes are dry now. "I have to teach a class this afternoon."
"I'll go with you."
(Okay, here we are. The sketch is developing into something more than I'd anticipated. This is what happens if you're lucky as a writer and your characters begin to take over the plot, begin to write it for you. I now begin to see what our American is doing in Paris--he was here during the war, during the occupation. He was somehow involved with the Nazis? With the plot to burn Paris as Hitler was demanding? We'll see.)