To read Fool’s Odyssey from the beginning, click here.
Chapter Three: My Life of Decadent Sensualism in Paris (Continued)
Previously: Disappointed with materialism, the Fool turned to a life of sensuality.
The girl on the train looked like a preview of Paris.
When it got late we pulled down the thing you pull down so the light won’t come in.
The other people in the cabin went to sleep.
She leaned her milky cheek against the jiggling, green, streaky glass window.
She slipped off her shoes.
She wanted to put her feet up.
I was sure she did.
She wanted to put her feet up, and the only place to put them up
was right across the cabin.
Right there by me
was where someone who was right there where she was–
who wanted to put their feet up
could just put ‘em up
if they wanted to.
She did want to, I was sure she did.
So I moved over just enough to leave a cozy little spot
where two feet could go.
I knew she knew.
“What do you want from me, a formal invitation?
Stop toying with my emotions.
I didn’t ask to fall in love with you.
Is this ‘the French way?'”
And then–I can’t believe I actually did this–
I patted the seat and said something like,
“(Cough, cough), un seat, Mademoiselle?”
(I couldn’t remember which meant married, “madam” or “mademoiselle.”)
She said, “Merci!”
If you pronounce it the way it looks, you get what I got:
Merci! Merci! She had “merci” on me! Ho, ho!
And so it came to pass
that she put her feet up on the seat.
But it wasn’t enough.
I wanted them on my lap.
I wanted them tucked inside my jacket.
I wanted to rub her neat nylon feet while she drifted between two worlds:
“What should I do?” she would think (only in French).
“It is a forwardness, I know,
but I like his hands so much.
I like his gentle, crazy, sensitive, foolish face!”
And then she would dream of taking me home to her little skylit flat
over some bistro on the Champs d’Elysee
(except it was me who was dreaming it, really),
where the espresso machines thunder and steam
and the barges can be seen sluggishly tugging their way down the Seine,
where the room is lit–now dark–now lit–now dark–
and the ever-resounding crash of cymbal-light
from the orchestra of marquees outside says,
“Yes!–but, no!–but, yes!–but, no!–but, yes!”
Despite the brooding, gothic-arched eyebrows of the cathedral across the river,
we wouldn’t care.
We’d live in sin till the roof caved in!
I became pregnant with my precious, prating fantasy–
the train went into contractions.
The idea was big enough now that it didn’t need her anymore.
My fantasy was sexy enough, was strong enough,
to handle being an unwed mother.
If she wasn’t the one, I’d find someone else,
and we’d live in sin till the roof caved in!
I’d grow stubble on my chin
and cut my hair with garden tins.
We’d sit in the darkling red-black-red-black-red-black
and breath steam in each other’s faces and have hot coffee for blood.
We’d feed each other croissants and cheese and live
like slippery, naked little children in the closet
under the woolen coats, playing house, with the smell of moth flakes in our hair. We’d–
Morning had come, and with it,
To read Fool’s Odyssey 12, click here.