The French series

COLLIOURE, LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON
LES BATTERIES
25TH VII 1998

Finally got rid of Sean and Seamus. Sean, my bartender friend from Six Arms but Seamus, some angry Canadian/Irish guy he picked up somewhere along the way in Europe, wears baseball caps with cut-off sweatpants, doesn’t talk much, just scowls. Not a happy drunk like me and Sean, goes stone-faced and glares. Think he might be a repressed gay and jealous of my friendship with Sean.

Several factors lead to the shunning of Sean and Seamus, starting with the horse meat Seamus buys at the butcher. We all agree eating horse seems wrong for reasons we can’t put our finger on, like why we don’t eat dogs, because horse are human companions, you don’t eat your friends. But Seamus comes home with a package of it and asks how we should cook it like I would know and I tell him I don’t want any part of it. So he puts it in a large pot and like the Irish, just boils the hell out of it. Boils it the whole afternoon it seems, until it’s a gray knotted mess with bits of grease pooling around the plate, tough as hell but Seamus takes pride in it in a way only a cook can.

Reading Castaneda, small lessons in life and spirituality. Seamus complains of some ants he ran into up the driveway in the condo complex, says it like I should know, like he’s filing a complaint. His normal mutter turns to a full-blown soliloquy, he’s really animated by the ants, how it’s some fucking natural wonder of the world where all these ants came from, even takes his baseball cap off and uses it to gesture, talking to the ground, swatting, reliving the ants. Had to just kill them all, stamp them out, he says. And I don’t know what I can say to get him to understand why that’s wrong, he’s beyond help.

I like Sean but have to lie to get them to leave. He’s fragile though, knows I’m lying, but it’s like we need the lie because the truth is too hard, to confront this bad idea that is Seamus, why I’m upset with Sean because I agreed he could stay here but not this douchebag Seamus whom Sean doesn’t even like, which makes Sean a douchebag by association.

Been sleeping on the sofa in the living room most of the summer since I first arrived and the tramontane had the condo humming for three days straight, knocked Chumley right over trying to walk him. They said it comes in threes, either three days, six days, and so on. Like the Mistral but runs a different route, gets started at the north of Europe and picks up speed by the time it hits us in the south. Drives people mad, to kill and plead insanity.

Something bad about the bedroom here, gave me disturbing dreams, some palpable presence. So I put Seamus in there to see if anything would happen to him but it hasn’t. Kept asking how he slept and if he had any dreams but he just shrugs and looks at me like why would I ask?

31st VII 1998

Just back from a three-day rock festival on the southern coast of Spain, Benicàssim, shaving for the first time in weeks when the intercom goes off and it’s Drew’s girlfriend Paige from the States outside with six of her friends, didn’t remember making plans with her but then I recall offering maybe she could stay if she was passing through, and forgot I gave her my address.

The drive to Benicàssim took longer than expected, Laurent 4 and his likely-lesbian friend Arnaude. Met so many Laurents here I’ve started numbering them to keep track, a popular name in 1970, Laurent. There’s the first Laurent who’s friends with my mom and John, then his childhood friend Laurent 2 who’s always depressed about some girl but they were teens when she broke it off and he can’t seem to get over it, Laurent 3, the Parisian ski bum who’ll watch the cats and stay here when I go to the UK next month, and Laurent 4, the legal student who’s into Philip Glass and rights for Catalans, wants to see the Super Furry Animals, pronounces it like Soup-hair Fur-ee An-i-mals.

Wind up sleeping with one of Paige’s friends on the sofa by the balcony overlooking the sea and have to pretend in the morning we don’t remember what happened but neither one of us are really pretending, it’s just awkward. Got stung by a jellyfish but one of them saw a Seinfeld episode where they used urine on the sting as an antidote so I tried that and it worked, just weird peeing in a cup and pouring it on myself.

Grateful for the cassettes I made in Seattle of the KCMU Reggae show, good rocksteady program with lots of cheap wine, dancing. Ten Francs for a 5L cube of Spanish Rosé that breaks down to about a dollar a bottle. Not sure what I’ve been eating here. Most meals at mom’s, just over the hillside to the adjacent village, Port Vendres. Mom found an old guy who hung himself up there walking Chumley last week, really affected her.

02 VIII 1998

Elene and Richard seem a bit bats. It’s really Elene: Richard’s family comes from good money, German roots. They’re Canadian, dripping rich. Buying old houses along the south of France, fixing them up, flipping them. Not much competition, seems the French aren’t really motivated entrepreneurs, even though they should be, it’s their word, entrepreneur.

My only real work since I’ve been here, working for Richard. No skills to speak of when it comes to construction or hard labor, but I hang around him and carry stuff, wear a dust mask. We break for long lunches and go through a few bottles of wine, decide to call it a day.

Elene’s into art, history, the crossroads between mysticism, the occult, ancient religions, the Cathars, a 12th-century Christian movement that took on the corruption of the Catholic church, with stories about the lost treasures of King Solomon, some priest up in the hills who’s rumored to be in cahoots with the Catholic church, like they bought him off so he wouldn’t reveal the truth about Christianity, they think he stumbled upon an ancient secret that would undermine the church or saw something he wasn’t supposed to.

Elene’s got a lazy eye and uses it to her advantage when she’s divining something, as if to lend more credibility when she precognates, predicts I’m a soul mate with this girl in Toulouse from the Paella party last weekend.

But the girl doesn’t speak any English, not a lick, and I have to script things out before I call her and when I do, it doesn’t come out right, she says something back that’s unexpected I don’t understand so I say ‘quoi?’ like I didn’t hear her right so I get a second chance, but it’s not going anywhere and I hang up. Elene’s future-prediction abilities are so bad we joke you should just do the opposite of what she says and that will probably be right.

She has an American friend who needs her house painted and offered to let me stay with her, could show me around the town where this priest lived, so we can go to the church, see the castle where the Cathars holed-up before they were slaughtered, and someone escaped with the treasure or the painting, whatever it is the Catholics were trying to capture. Everyone who tries to write books on the subject disappears — a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail written by three English authors who each go missing after it’s published.

Elene does my number charts, says something life changing will happen to me when I turn 45, because I’m a 3 person and that’s the culmination of a life-arc or major series. Accuses me of holding some latent violence, says it in a distrustful tone like it’s a curse, a hex, like she’s looking at X-rays and found something really bad in me she can’t put a name to.

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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6 Responses to The French series

  1. always playful and sincere……that s what i was missing….am glad am here

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  2. rossmurray1 says:

    Missed this. A fun-filled break in my morning of emails.

    Life-changing at 45? Reassess Elene!

    “…even though they should be, it’s their word, entrepreneur.” Funny. Not Seamus funny, but funny.

    A complete aside: in my manuscript, which is set in 1998, a character said “douchebag.” I removed it in later editing because I sensed that the word hadn’t yet entered general circulation at that time. So you were either incredibly hip or I was wrong.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I wasn’t hip and you weren’t wrong. Thanks for reading, man. I had a dream about you in the past couple weeks, amid the other weird dreams, and you were real, which was strange. And I just ran barefoot up the street in the rain on the cobblestones to try to catch the double rainbow with my camera and with every other time I’ve tried that, it didn’t work. I’m better sitting back with my pen.

      Liked by 1 person

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