Paris Times Chapter One by Matthew Carlson

Paris Times Chapter One by Matthew Carlson20140929_184728

At first I didn’t get it. Everybody was standing around in that crowded kitchen (small by my standards but big for Parisiens) and looking at a printed out menu of some kind.
“1PV and 2PE….” the black girl with the easy smile rolled her eyes and stuck her head in the fridge which was half full of small plastic containers of food. She moved them around and took them out examining the numbers scotched on the lids. Rosetta, the faithful Romanian who worked there two full days a week leaned against the stove smiling.
“Hmmmm Patches, there are two of these 2PE’s in here; which one do you want?”
Patches Phukett garbbled something then “Fuck!” exploded from her lips as yet another grape fell to the floor, a seemingly endless battlefield of greens and purples taking strategic positions at her dead feet. I wondered how many she actually got INSIDE her mouth.
Then in a quieter voice, “One is from last week. I’m on a diet.” Her words were stacato and brusque, it took enormous concentration to say anything these days. Her mouth felt as if it too were doing battle: tongue and lips slapping each other, saliva refusing to swallow, words betraying her purpose. Either everything began moving at the same time and in total confusion, or nothing at all. A bit like lifing heavy weights in your mouth.
“So which one you want?” The girl asked again. Her French words lilted in an accent that was typical of the southern suburbs where she had always lived. She had a lot of patience, but Patches could really get under her skin with constant “do this, do that, no not that way, like this, no i don’t like that, change it, no put it on the other way, no, take it off from the other side, no, no, and no, put it there, no not there over there, turn it over, around, back, forward…. (then) FUCK!”
She wondered silently if Patches ever did (fuck that is) as that would certainly take away some of her chronic stress.
“So Gelledge,” she turned to me as she placed the contents of the 2PE in a bowl and began nuking it in the microwave. “What brings you to Paris?”
I was a bit startled by her directness, so NOT typical with French people.
“Well, I’m just here for a couple of months. I needed a place to stay and Rob needed someone to look after Patches in the evenings so…”
Patches looked up at me, her eyes crystal clear, sitting a bit crooked in her chair with wheels and fluffy cushions.
“He’s taking over from Brandon, while Brandon’s visiting his family in the states.” No hesitation there. “He’s gonna help me go out and get back in too in the afternoons.”
“Yea, he’s taking over from Brandon,” added Rosetta as she arrranged a cupboard at the same time.
I climbed down the short stairwell that led into the kitchen, while Maxine, the young black ‘life assistant’ set out a fork, knife and a big soup spoon, along with the dish of now steaming vegetables.
“No, not like that!” Groaned Patches with bird like, gnarled hands. “Put the spoon IN the bowl!” Then “grnhsyb snaprit blah gluo rut plop” Absolutely nothing was coherent this time. Then “FUCK”, she screamed again as her soup spoon landed among the battelfield of green and purple, like an ancient catapult. The war raged on.

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