This has not been like me.
I always, when I see something that touches me, rush to the keyboard and see what the Ouija inspires me to say.
But this time has been different.
This time there has been an uncharacteristic delay.
But finally I am reverting to type.
Here and now I am asking the Ouija to help me through this.
It has been more than a week. Maybe it has been two weeks. It feels to have been a lifetime.
The backdrop for the difference in my speed of delivering the news is the croissant fairy guy.
He has become a person of special interest for me.
Mysti and I were walking back in a late November early evening from what had become during her altogether too brief sojourn with me here, our daily late afternoon meeting at Le Départ for wine and frittes. As we broached Quai Conti and rue Nevers we saw the croissant ferry guy asleep in a brand new place. He was halfway into the arch that is the portal to rue Nevers. He was neither fully covered by the arch from the rain nor fully exposed.
He was just a lump of humanity that had apparently given up, asleep – or dead I wondered – on the sidewalks of Paris.
“ I don’t think that guy can last too much longer” I said.
“What do you mean?” Mysti said.
Of course she knew what I meant but, somehow her response was of the mandatory sort that I would have been disappointed if it had not been forthcoming.
“I think he almost surely will die before the real cold of Paris December sets in” I said.
Mysti didn’t reply.
A few days later I was on the last leg of a really long walk – I was going down Rue d’Opera toward rue des Pyramides where I could cut over to les Tuilerries and to les Quais and to Pont Neuf and to home.
I was ready to be home. I was wearing the new shoes that Mysti had bought me for my birthday. They were really comfortable, but they were really new. A five hour walk had stress tested that relationship.
I was moving at a Paris-resident sort of speed, not a Paris-tourist sort of speed. The difference in those speeds is that the former is employed by someone who actually wants to get somewhere, the latter is employed by someone who hasn’t a clue where he or she is going and needs to stop and block the narrow Paris walkways as he or she looks hopelessly around, hoping to find some sort of direction to be found, and never finding it.
So, at the speed of a Paris pedestrian I could well have missed what I saw.
But I didn’t miss it.
I saw it.
I saw it much too starkly.
As I came abreast of a group of people blocking most of the rather small sidewalk – a not uncommon occurrence here (tourists tend to flock) – I swerved, at Paris speed, and was just about beyond the little cluster when I saw something.
What I saw was several people kneeling on the sidewalk around another person. That person was flat on the ground. That person was massively convulsing – he was twitching - twitching in a significantly massive manner.
There were a number of other people standing and watching.
I briefly became one of them.
But I was almost immediately overcome with a sort of self-disgust. It flowed over me and caused me to move on.
As I did so I saw some of what had been the outer-outer ring of watchers. They were three young women – Parisians, it was obvious, by their short skirts, long legs and black stockings.
But for me they served a tremendously important purpose.
Because they were looking at something.
It was something back against the wall that housed the windows of a shop close to where the twitching body lay.
They gestured at it.
If I were able to understand more than the minimal amount of French that I can understand and that keeps me alive here –“un verre de vin rouge s’il vous plait; je suis desole” for example – I probably would have known what they were saying.
But I didn’t know what they were saying.
I didn’t know.
But, really, I did know.
In the direction of their gestures was a classical street person residence.
There was a cardboard box upon which to sit, and it had the convex evidence of someone having recently sat there; there was a cup with coins in it on the pavement in front of the box and there was a roller bag – the new trademark of the people of Paris with no place to go and no place to be, but who have a few things that they want to keep, a few things that, peut être, make them continue to feel like human beings.
There was a tall can of some sort of ale or beer sitting next to the cup. That is also a new trademark of the hopeless on the streets of Paris: large cans of fortified malt liquor.
I looked back at the person for whom this – if I had interpreted the young women correctly – was home; this was the residence of the person on the sidewalk with a few samairitanes surrounding him.
He was very still.
As I turned onto rue des Pyramides I heard the siren.
A meat wagon was going toward the place from which I had come on Rue d’Opera.