Woke up to the sound of the One-Note Samba playing in my head. The brain was tilted toward music. Every external sound I heard triggered another bit of song or music – an owl, hooting in the garden, the swish of tires on wet pavement.
Three scenes left. Not happy with them. Some other order needed, some other missing element. Something to break the balance. Something that breaks the mold.
On my way to Sunday morning market. Two men in their Sunday best – pensioners with appropriate coverage. Based on appearances, I’d say they are retired civil servants. I don’t hear what comes before, or what comes after. As I walk by, one of the men says to the other : “Cher ami, je vais vous dire: c’est la fin d’une civilisation.” (Dear friend, I will tell you: this is the end of a civilization.) From the tone of voice, there could be no doubt as to where the two dear friends stood on the matter. They didn’t feel jaunty about it. My, my, my.
After the proffered glass of mint tea at one merchant’s stall, and the gift of two donuts at another. After the cheese “just ready, the way you like it”. After shopping intermingled with greetings, salutations, and exchanges of latest news, two children in foster care share my table at L’Atlas while the foster parents sit at the other. The boy explains his gift-acquisition strategy to me (both parents now remarried elsewhere, the gift stream stretches out to unimaginable magnitudes.) The girl listens and takes good note.
Behind me, one of the locals who once threatened to blow up my apartment (but he couldn’t decide if he wouldn’t prefer smashing my head into a wall, instead. His indecisiveness has had obvious advantages on my general health and life span). I turn around. We nod greetings. He picks up his Lament with another local: they‘re taking over the whole terrace, he says. Soon, we won’t have a chair to sit on. (They, in this case, meaning persons of European lineage with no identifiable genetic traits from Northern Africa, sharing/occupying table space with men who have Tunisian, Algerian or Moroccan relatives.)
Back to the market across the street. Bantering going on in front of the chicken man’s roasting spit. Political bantering – is there any other kind? One of the gentlemen keeps eyeing me, trying to determine which end of the discussion gets my vote. “Madame est neutre,” he says. “Tout, sauf neutre, Monsieur,” I answer. The man sighs. “Things were so much simpler before my son married. An Algerian girl. She’s a sweetheart. Now, I can’t vote FN anymore. And as for Sarkozy… the Socialists…” He takes the cloudy sky for his witness.
The sky stays mum.