Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Fitzpatrick Excerpts: The Last Installment!
Hello, folks. How quickly 2012 has gotten away from us! The last couple of weeks went by so fast that I never had the time to post the last blog entry of the year. So without further ado, I present to you the final installment of quai-side excerpts from Mark Fitzpatrick's Paris novel, Very Few to Love. And also, an end-of-the-year photo of the setting by yours truly. Thanks again to Mark, for taking the time to specially select these passages for the blog. If you missed any of the episodes, you can always check back through the previous entries to get caught up! As usual, at the bottom of the page, you will find links to connect with Mark and more info about his work. Stay tuned in 2013 for more artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians sharing their visions of the Parisian riverbanks with us. I wish you all a warm, happy, and healthy new year!
Down on the quai de Montebello, we decided to splash out and buy coffee and croissants, and ten Gauloises. I went up to the café to get them. When I returned, Ludwig had appeared, as if he had smelled breakfast from his dark hiding place under one of the bridges. I had bought enough for him, somehow suspecting that he might turn up, or that someone might. We’d bring enough to share, so that the next time we were without, we would not be lacking in favours owed to us.
The morning passed with rushing clouds alternating light and shadow over us. A skinny Australian girl with blond dreadlocks and a ring through her lower lip bought three of the small paintings. We didn’t even lie to her. She looked through the paintings with a dreamy, serious look on her face, paid me for them, then turned and said ‘Thank you’ quietly to Viktor. She left holding them to her belly in their paper bag, head bowed as if she had just received a sacrament. Viktor pushed his hat back and smoothed his hair under it.
“You see? There are some people and these paintings make sense, for them. With her, I do not need to persuade her to buy them. I want to give them. But you, my good business manager, you will not let me, eh? Now go and get more coffees!”
A little later, a Frenchman in a white jacket stopped to look at the paintings. He talked a little to Viktor, asking where he was from, where his work had been exhibited. He chose one of the larger paintings, one with a riverside bouquiniste lurking beside a stall that, instead of books, was filled with hourglasses of different sizes. Browsing through them was a pale, plump naked woman all in sepia, like one of the nineteenth century pornographic postcards come to life. The man paid Viktor, nodding to himself, and strode off to important matters. Delighted with the sale, Viktor decided to leave me to it for a while, and play some games of dice in one of the cafés above. Ludwig loped past and saluted me, and I was left to my thoughts.
I managed to sell two more of the small paintings, to some young English girls that stopped to look. They spoke to me in halting French, and I said little in reply, letting them go on thinking I couldn’t speak English. When they asked where I was from, I said Romania. On the next bench along, Gilles sketched a little girl with blond curls while her parents looked on. He held his sketchboard on his lap, wavering his charcoal over the paper, adjusting his position before each touch, working it into smudges with his thumb. I wandered over and took a brief glance over his shoulder, but quickly moved off as he hesitated and flicked his eyes sideways at me. The woman selling the beads smiled at me, and called “Ça va?” as I passed. The young Italian couple offered me some cherries from a box, and then went back to sketching the two fat Germans who were sitting back-to-back on their bench. I thought about nothing at all, just looked at everything, wondering how I could describe it. Words tumbled through my head. For everything I saw, there were perfect words, if only they could be found. I thought of my empty book, and of words spilling across its pages. Each breath I took seemed to fill my chest further, and quicken my heart for a moment.
Jill took a breath, and stepped forward quickly and kissed me on the cheek. She moved away and looked at me a moment longer, then slowly went round the other side of the taxi and got into the back with Lucy. The engine started. Lucy turned slightly, touched her fingers to the window, and as she saw me, her eyes widened in faint alarm. I could see her lips move as the taxi pulled away. It turned the corner and was gone.
I stood alone in the square, the fountain trickling behind me.
I walked slowly then, drifting along, drained and light and thinking of nothing. I went down the narrow streets, past closed restaurants and dark shop windows. The sky was low and heavy, and when I reached the river, mist still hung between the islands, beyond the bridges. Notre Dame’s blackened, jagged mass loomed ahead of me. Viktor would already be gone when I got back. Jill was gone, Lucy was gone. I would go to the narrow, dusty room in the crumbling hotel, and sleep, and then I would have nothing left to do but wait. They might come looking for me, someday, but who would know where to look, or who to look for? It wouldn’t matter; I was already gone. I could feel myself fading, into silence, into nothing. I went down the steps, one more time, to sit and feel the cold seep up through me from the stone bench, to sit as yellow leaves dropped wet down from the trees, to sit and try to hear the dark green water lapping below, on the quai de Montebello.
Mark Fitzpatrick is an Irish novelist living and working in Paris, France.
For more of Very Few to Love, or just to send your regards, you can connect with Mark directly at:
You can also follow his new fantasy adventure novel as it unfolds on his blog at:
Photo of Mark Fitzpatrick by Leslie McAllister: