Hi, precious readers. *Waves.* This is my first attempt at fiction (publicly, at least). Isn’t this fun? Yes, fiction is fun – fiction is THE BEST. If you’re not into it, come back tomorrow for more of the usual crazy. I’m thinking I’ll set up a separate page for the fiction, but not at the moment because I’m tired and hungry from the mental agony of creation.
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Who could that be at this hour? Erin thought as she stumbled to the door of her hotel room. Her head still fuzzy with sleep, she at least had the forethought to ask before opening the door, “Who’st?”
“Rachid, from front desk.”
She cracked open the door just wide enough to see the bearded face of the hotel receptionist, pajama-clad and hair askew.
“Yes?” she asked.
“I apologize for late hour, mademoiselle, but you have telephone call downstairs. Le monsieur, how do you say, gentle-man say it is urgent?”
She mentally cursed the cheap little hotel that did not supply telephones in the rooms, although really, what did she expect from a place that only offered one communal bathroom per floor? Run by Moroccan immigrants, the building, while neat enough, definitely qualified as one-star accommodations – the only way struggling artists could afford to stay in Paris unless they knew someone who already lived there. Erin definitely didn’t know anyone.
Already leaning down under the bed to pull out her shoes, she asked, “Did the gentleman leave a name?”
“Bien sûr, he say Jean.”
“Okay,” she answered, pulling on her shoes while under her breath muttering “Dammit.”
“Ce n’est rien,” she replied. It was nothing.
She followed Rachid down the six flights of narrow stairs through the dimly lit fragment of a lobby, where he gestured to a lone telephone on the table wedged in the corner before walking back to his room.
Pausing a minute after picking up the receiver, she breathed deeply, then said “John?”
“Hey yourself. Do know what time it is here?”
“Oh, sorry. I forgot. I was just calling you back.”
Leaning an elbow heavily on the table, she rested her forehead on her palm. “I called you two days ago.”
“Yeah, well, it’s been busy. You know.”
“Yeah, I know.” No apology, of course. She guessed she knew.
“So,” he said, “How’s old Paris? You meet a studly Frenchman yet?”
“That’s not why I’m here. I don’t want to meet anyone,” she said too quickly, then cursed herself, that he’d caught her off-guard like that. Though no longer sleepy, her wits must have been dulled from the nocturnal wake-up call.
“Sure you do. All women do,” he said, laughing at his own cleverness. God, his laugh was thick and liquid, like oozing syrup. How she hated it. Loved it.
“Well, not this woman. I’m too busy. I barely have time to sight-see, let alone meet anyone,” she said. She gave a little laugh also, to disguise her bitterness. It sounded hollow in her ears, but of course he wouldn’t pick up on any kind of nuance.
“Oh, working a lot?” he asked.
“Yeah. Got a lot of great shots yesterday, the light was perfect. Today I have a ton of writing to do if I want to submit on time.”
“Well, don’t work too hard. Have you tried that cafe I told you about?”
“The one in the Marais? No, not yet.”
“Well, get on it, and make sure you try one of their pain au chocolat, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” His voice had taken on that tone, the one that implied he had places to go, people to see, but it was nice chatting with you, gotta go.
“I’ll try to squeeze it in,” she said.
“Alright, you do that. Try to have some fun!”
“Sure. Talk to you later.” As she hung up the phone, she wondered if she would hear from him again. Crossing her legs on the uncomfortable chair, she considered the past few months and their culmination with this trip to Paris, ostensibly to get her career on track. Perhaps she should just start a life here, find a flat, find a job.
Her gaze drifted up to the bulletin board hanging above the phone, which featured coupons for the hookah lounge around the corner and advertisements for local musicians. Her French was passable enough to identify a flyer for a local band called Colère Rouge playing in a cafe on Rue Clairaut. Plucking it off the board, she saw that the show was tomorrow night. Or tonight? What time was it? There was no clock in this corner of the lobby, only faded prints of Rousseau on the wall.