Note from the author: The following is a Chapter from my unpublished and unfinished novel. It may be altered, it may be suppressed, it may be extended.
I had been walking along the Seine for a while, my eyes fixed on the cobble stones beneath my feet, when, my stomach growling, I decided to lift my head in search of a restaurant and realized that I was no longer in Paris, properly speaking. In Suresnes, I found a small bakery where I bought an overpriced sandwich and I made my way across the bridge to tour the Hippodrome de Longchamp. The empty stands were filled with sound of races past and some workers clad in orange looked at me with bewilderment as they joylessly cleaned the place of all traces that thousands of men and women had been there days before, cheering on a horse on which they had bet more than they had to lose for the sole reason that they liked its ridiculous name. Candycorn lost them a fortune and so did Silverfloat, which was supposed to recover the money already lost. These weren’t refined gentlemen, calmly puffing on a cigar while sipping on their bourbon and discussing affairs with their business partners from the upper ranks, these were ordinary people under the impression that they could somehow alter their social status by attending the races and make a fortune out of their meager income. They left of course, disillusioned and drunk, went home and yelled at their wives which were to blame for none of it. I headed back to the Bois de Boulogne and watched as a family of ducks crossed the walkway, in no hurry to get out of the way of an approaching Arab mother listlessly pushing her stroller in front of her while gesturing frantically at a person that could, alas, only hear her shrill voice at the other end of the line. At an exhibition of a private Swiss collection, I reentered civilized territory and had a tea at one of the adjacent cafés. My earphones providing me with the Caruso rendition of Mal reggendo all’aspro assalto, I sat outside, sipping on my Ceylon tea and watching as some municipal worker was carrying out the absurd task of blowing fallen leaves from one place to another. Not quite certain on how to let the second half of the day pass by, I ordered a bottle of Romanée-Conti, hell bent on leaving this world neither sober nor rich. After the third glass, I remembered that I had an interview scheduled for that evening. I got the job. I would later be fired “out of compassion and for your own good”. “You work too hard, Andrew. You have too many activities on the side. Why don’t you focus on something different for a while?”, my boss told me one cold, but sunny November afternoon. Even if this was well-intentioned, which I am sure it was, it hit me hard. I doubted whether I had ever been seen as a part of the work force there, whether the law firm would miss me or whether I was just a footnote no one really bothers to read, an erratum to be corrected once the second edition would come out. I finished the bottle of wine exhausted by the prospect of having to portray myself as a worthy young lawyer and slightly disappointed that, in stark contrast to what I had fantasized when I ordered the bottle, I had to finish it alone. How many of those bottles I have had in life… How many headaches the next morning, how many times the banal realization that the annihilation of the self promised by alcohol and sleep was but temporary… It started to rain and I got into the Métro to make my way home. I was about to agree to yet another obligation. The structure in which I moved was about to become more rigid still. Poetry in prose and funeral marches as the background music to my life.