Like most people, I have always thought that I had a novel in me. But I never was able to figure out what it might be about.
That was true until the first time I went to France.
From the first moment I encountered Paris I felt stories shrieking at me to be told.
Every nook, cranny, alley, downspout, petite Place, grande Place, every Passage, monument, church, bridge, bistro and bar screamed “take me; make me part of your story”. Or “make me your story”. Or “listen to me: I have your story.”
But it was an odd chance encounter with a non-human fellow creature that served as the inspiration for this – my first - novel.
That encounter occurred early one evening when I had returned to the apartment my wife and had rented on Rue Guissard.
It was about 1700. It was dark. I was tired. For reasons I have never been able to ascertain, I didn’t turn on the lights in the apartment when I entered. Maybe it was because there was ample, blinking low watt, multi-colored illumination coming in from the restaurant sign outside the casements on Rue Guissard, to make the place pleasantly, colorfully, blinkingly dim.
So I left the light off.
I sat down in a chair and dropped off to sleep.
After an indeterminate time I awoke. It hadn’t been long. The sign was blinking. The room alternated between being drenched in semi darkness and being dimly, colorfully lit.
I was giving serious thought to a glass of wine.
Then I heard something.
I have reasonably acute hearing for some things; I am virtually deaf to others. The things that I always seem to hear have something to do with animals; frequently those sounds are the sounds of small animals. Such was the case on this occasion.
What I had heard was a mouse. It was sitting not far from me bathed in the oscillating multi-colored light and was eating crumbs from the breakfast baguette and croissants.
I was entranced.
He or she sat there and finished the meal. When it finished I swear I thought it nodded its head in my direction as if acknowledging my presence. Then it went back to some place from which it had come.
I sat there happily.
I have always liked mice.
Although most of the places, and a few of the occurrences, in this book are substantially real everything else is imagined.