‘Paris Times Short Stories: ‘Repunzal and A Heat Wave in Paris by matt carlson

20150702_082137As he sat on the john, the artwork of the disembodied head hovered before Gelledge on the back of the bathroom door where it was pinned. It was from Patches who still went to art class on tuesdays. The image seemed to be alive somehow and Gelledge having had a past of mystic sensibilities tried to will the picture to communicate with him.

“Yea, I know what that picture means,” he thought aloud  and then considered Patches &  the feelings of dismembered from her own body that she certainly had, while Muscular Sclerosis took choices and abilities away; little by little each day. But he was not Patches: he could walk and run, still do everything he wanted. And yet, he wasn’t. Something was gnawing on his inner soul. Some of the eternal questions of life and what that all meant.

Having just returned from a long over due visit to see his family in the states, he was so very happy to have reunited with so many.  The coming back to Paris, though pleasing, left him with unsure footing. Once again. Twenty six years had passed since coming to Europe with Sergio, his lover at that time. They had lived in Paris and had finaly returned to live near Aix, buying a house there in the country. When Gelledge had learned about being HIV positive, the fairy tale (no pun intended ;)) collapsed.

Now years later, a similar tale, with yet another house in the same village (a strange coincidence) with O. and his madman antics, demanding to keep all they had shared for ten years. Gelledge now found himself on the parisien island known as Isle de France – and there wasn’t even an ocean anywhere nearby, only rivers threading here and there.

His small room on the top floor of the castle was pleasant enough, plus there was a landing leading to a large alcove. Lots of light and for parisiens anyway, a goldmine in housing. That is to say, it could have been if it hadn’t been for Patches’ health worries and the need to have everything ‘medicalized’. It was at times like a hospital – constant comings and goings during the day with life assistants (Patches was in a wheelchair), physical therapists, the traiteur for her meals, the maid, the administrative people; one fired after the next as no one could deal with Patches for long.

Yesterday as the unusual heat wave bared down upon the city, birds sat down on the sidewalks, a few not withstanding the high temperatures. The heat burned in Patches’ head along with the frequent glitches in her brain circuitry. She screamed at François, a tall balding 30ish man with a beard.

“Shit, shit, shit!” and then “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” She didn’t like this frenchman speaking down at her. She couldn’t get the words out quick enough and he strangled her with his. Choke, choke, choke, she felt light headed one moment and then the burning came. It felt like light bulbs spitting out sparks, then lay there dying at her dead feet. She could barely move any part of her body. Her body was forming into the capital letter of “C” so twisted was she. “Give me a “C!” Gelledge would shout out like a cheerleader. There was nothing else to do sometimes – just laugh. What else could one do? This wasn’t going anywhere else but down, right? Patches would always laugh. It was easy to make her do so.

Only Patches’ right hand saved her. She could still use it to straighten her glasses, even put them on and off, though not gracefully. And she could still feed herself too with a big soup spoon, play with her IPhone, watch tv on it, play card games….Little things that kept the monster of reality at bay while she slowly disapated into a non-moving C shaped shell.

Gelledge couldn’t get it. Patches had very little possibilies, but he had many. Why was he so stuck in his own life? What was keeping him from moving on? He thought of his little brother and his family. Being with them was like being home again. He loved his little brother deeply and now that he had met them, well it wasn’t easy leaving them. He wanted to part of their lives, but how could he do that? Return to Fresno? He had always pretty much hated that town and what it represented: blinded conservative & homophobic religious attitudes, rascism, the car culture in all its of its glory. He had seen how people lived in suburbia: arriving home in their big cars, their windows shut with air conditioning blasting, taking out their remote controls to open garage doors automatically… Then they would drive in, park and the doors would close. After that you saw no one. No one walked on the streets in Fresno. It had only been Gelledge, a few homeless, once a guy with his dog and he had seen two teenage girls actually cross the street to visit one of their friends houses….

People did congregate of course, but at the shopping malls, their work places, restaurants, sporting events and of course, at the churches. Gelledge pondered all of this. Here he was living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. How was he going to work things out?

He thought of that disembodied head again. Well, he certainly didn’t want that head of his coming off, he wanted to live his life, be with people that he loved, follow those inner intentions, create, share with others….be…..He took a deep breath, he had to go the toilet. He would use the upstairs one this time, then make some more coffee.

This day wasn’t over yet.


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