Brendan In Paris
I wake with a pain in my lower back. I try to turn over and stretch out but my wife has taken over the bed. The radio is on. For how long I do not know. A woman is talking about the time Brendan Behan spent in France and wrote his book the Borstal Boy. Or at least he began it there. A few years earlier I had read about half of it. I lay on my back staring at the ceiling trying to remember exactly what it was about. I know I enjoyed it, but can’t quite recall why I never finished. It was a book to which I’d probably never return. I could hear the dog barking outside. He wanted to get out for a piss. Maybe if I pretended to go back to sleep my wife would wake up and go let him out. I closed my eyes. Now I had to piss.
The curtains were still closed but a sharp sliver of light made its way to my face. I pulled the blanket over my head. My wife stirred. I pulled the blanket over her head also. Her breath stank. But maybe it was my breath. Nothing is certain when two heads are so close under a thick duvet. The heat rose but still she didn't wake. She always looked so pretty in the morning. I couldn’t take it. I pulled the blanket back and gasped for cool air. She had won this round. I was not ready to rise. The room was bathed in that lovely warm yellow light that you only ever seem to get in the morning. The dog was still barking. Why can’t he learn to let himself out?
I turn on my side. My back still hurts. I begin to count the divots on the radiator. There are seven. Why always an uneven number. I close my eyes. The woman on the radio mentions something about a café Brendan often visited. I wonder is it still there. There is probably pictures of him on the wall writing in the café. For some reason this image comforts me greatly. Brendan sitting at a table, a steaming cup of black coffee in front of him. Would he have food? Probably something small. He’s a little shook looking from the night before, but less so than usual. He has a pen in his hand but is reading the paper. Maybe he is looking for inspiration before starting into a paragraph. Could he speak French? It doesn’t say.
I think of getting up but the thought of stretching my back holds me firm to the mattress. The woman mentions Beckett who had also spent most of his later life in Paris. What was the draw for these men? Was Paris such a wonderful and inspiring place to be for a writer or was Dublin so stifling that it needed to be escaped? There must be something to the place. Maybe it was simply the idea of being there that inspired them to write.
How many men and women have moved to Paris thinking they would find similar inspiration. Many? Very few? A number no one could possibly know. Few will admit to failure if they don’t have to. It would be a foolhardy person that would announce to the world they were moving to Paris to become the next Joyce, Beckett or Behan. You would simply say you are moving to Paris and no more. I turn over, my wife had gotten up and let the dog out. I had the bed to myself. I stretched my leg to the far corner for no other reason than I could. I was now a star fish. The dog was no longer barking. I closed my eyes.
The black and white image of Beckett sitting outside a Parisian cafe entered my mind. Did he ever see the photo? Was he okay with it? He had the face of an actor. Not handsome, but still a face that would look good on the screen. A stern face. Was he angry? Is that just how he looked. I know the image. But I know little of the man. Maybe tomorrow there would be a radio documentary about him.
My wife came into the room rustling through plastic bags. There is no sound more painful to a sleeping mind than that of a woman rustling through plastic. Luckily, I was awake. Did she know I was awake? She might begin to make breakfast if I keep my eyes shut. I was once again reminded by my bladder that it needed immediate evacuation. Maybe I should go back and read the rest of the Borstal Boy. I probably won't.
I hear my wife leave the room and close the door. I hear heavy panting. The dog had followed her into the room and can not escape. It spots me and jumps on the bed. “Little bastard”. I hide under the blanket. It fights bravely to pull the blanket off in an effort to get me to rub him down. He won’t win. There is only one breath under the blanket now. It stinks. Why don’t they make toothpaste that lasts all night? I’d say Brendan had awful breath in the morning. Little is ever said about the breath of writers. Maybe that could be next week's documentary. The door opens and my wife calls out the dog. I am alone once again. I close my eyes.
Post views: 569