Jun 20, 2016

Trump Trump

Here are a few lines from Frank Rich, our favorite we-told-you-so artiste, about Donald Trump, in a Q&A:

Donald Trump's renewed call for a ban on Muslim immigration after the Orlando shooting not only drew condemnation from President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but appears to have deepened the gap between Trump and Establishment Republicans: Paul Ryan responded with a statement of support for Muslims, while Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn have refused to talk about their party's candidate to the press. Will there be any fallout for Trump within the GOP?

No. We’ve just passed the first anniversary of Trump’s declaration of his presidential campaign, and the dynamic within the GOP has never changed. We know the drill: Trump says something outrageous or hateful. A few GOP leaders timidly say that what he’s said is racist, misogynistic, “not what the Party of Lincoln stands for,” whatever. Then those leaders fall back in line. The dynamic will not change now, and for a simple reason. The GOP elites are frightened of Trump and frightened of their own party’s voters, who overwhelmingly supported Trump in the GOP primary.

What Trump has been saying post-Orlando, it should be added, is not inconsistent with what many other Republican politicians have been saying for years. When he claims that Obama is secretly allied with terrorists, he is echoing Sarah Palin’s charge that Obama was “palling around with terrorists” when she was on the GOP ticket in 2008. When Trump purports that failing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” is tantamount to surrender, he is following a time-honored Republican script. (I would hope that when he trots it out in a debate Clinton will ask him whether “radical Christian terrorism” should be applied to the fringe Christians who have, among other acts of terrorism, murdered abortion doctors or bombed abortion clinics.) Trump’s hate campaign against all Muslims, smearing an entire religion for its fanatics, is also nothing new in the GOP. It’s of a piece with the 2010 Rudy Giuliani–Fox News–led campaign against the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” (which was, in fact,a proposed cultural center, and not at Ground Zero).

Even so, Trump doesn’t care that his Muslim ban wouldn’t have stopped Omar Mateen, an American citizen born in New York. Nor did it matter to him that his Mexican wall would not have thwarted the Indiana-born federal judge Gonzalo Curiel. Spewing bigotry is its own reward for Trump. We have to hope that the American electorate will end his political career in November. But surely, a year in, there’s no point in hoping that feckless Republican elites can or will do anything to stop him.

Continues here: Frank Rich

Jun 16, 2016

Back in Switzerland

(These are Chang's pictures, of course, all taken yesterday:)

Fragment, fragment: Well, we used it before, but here we go again; it's from our as yet unpublished short story Rilke's Ghost:

Years later. We’re now summering in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, in the chalet of a friend, our own house is rented to holiday makers. The village of Bürchen is wonderful, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera (the road up to Bürchen was finished in 1934—the preceding thousand years the villagers were left to their own devices). There is only one problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historic town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley, three klicks as the crow flies. We’ve given Raron a wide berth so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough of snow-topped mountains and Geranium-studded chalets, and the 24 hour cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire region already—natives of many cultures believe that you steal their image when you take their picture—along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais—from the Matterhorn via the James-Bond-historic-marker up on the Furka pass to the longest glaciers and highest vineyards of Europe—save Raron. 

Jun 13, 2016

Lets get into the act

Donald Trump claiming today that President Obama should resign because he failed to use the words "Radical Islam."

If you are listening, Donald: How about using the words "fraudulent bankruptcy."

NYC (4) --- Modern times

Jun 6, 2016

NYC (2)

(A walk through downtown, pictures by Chang:)

The 9/11 monument, partial view

Statue of Liberty, seen from the Battery Park

Cell phone use, skyline of Newark

The new World Trade Center 1

Jun 5, 2016

Great fun and well-writen --- New praise for the Green Eyes

Bycharleson May 28, 2016
I too was given a book by the author and thoroughly enjoyed this publication.. It is erotic with a twist, it's chocked full of wonderful gay fantasies well and uniquely written by a master story teller! His style of writing is short, to the point and I found truly refreshing and unusual in style. Its a welcome bit of 'froth'---although Im not saying the content is light but its great fun, never misses a trick, and is a real delight. A good read with an creative twist. Its shaken and not stirred and good for a most amusing time! Buy it.

Now a Lambda Literary Award finalist: 

Green Eyes

Jun 4, 2016

NYC (1) --- The Martian

Chang took this picture from the v. Wyck express way

So we fly to NY, NY for the Lammies, nominated as we are in the category Gay Erotic Fiction, and watch The Martian with Matt Damon directed by Ridley Scott (international flights are practically the only effective opportunity for us to watch movies). We’ve read a few rave reviews when the film came out last year, among others by Manohla Dargis, the NYT chief celluloid critic.

Well…(you don’t have to read further).

Damon is stuck on Mars but will be rescued, but not before an avalanche of complications has caused much nail biting hither and thither.

What we liked best were the potatoes---Damon cultivates potatoes in martian soil (he needs food)---although---although at one point his tarp-sheated indoor potato farm blows up (of course) (one of the complications).

Jun 2, 2016

Fragment, fragment --- or: the mystery of success

Okay, let's turn this around, and start with a fragment from the GREEN EYES, Chapter 44, "A surgical strike into semantic space," (Jack Horn talking to John):

He directs me to a large paper backdrop rolling off the wall, flips two Klieg lights, and points his Nikon D3x in my direction. He isn't even snapping, the thing is on speed repeat.
"In the past,” he says, “you would think first and then shoot. Now it's the other way round." Then he adds, as if bowing to conventions: "Give it to me, baby, give it to me." He's already done. “You no longer have to think at all, in fact, you dump the whole set on Tumblr and see which ones bounce back through re-blogging, those are the good pics. But the feedback takes weeks, we don’t have the time.”

We're sitting at a long desk that had to be cleared of the worst debris (think of Juras-sic Park, one of the best scenes, when Attenborough wipes the messy desk of the greedy programmer), and downloads the pictures from his Nikon. He flips through the pictures at high speed—he has me spinning like a dancer in a silent movie. "Hold on," he inter-rupts himself, "I forgot."

The screen changes to Google’s search window. "As outlined earlier, one should let somebody else do the thinking," he says. "Who’s going to make our life easier? The Windsors. That's it, the British dynasty." He googles for "Windsor porn pictures," and arrives on a page with royal obscenity involving all members of the dynasty, in particu-lar an elderly woman with petrified white hair. "How many have jerked off on Eliza-beth, you think," he asks as if expecting an answer. "I wonder whether the Queen realizes.”

And now what? Yes, the picture, or issue, or handle. Well, we posted a picture on Pinterest, and it's garnering 10 times the interest of other pictures we posted there ("likes," "repostings," "new followers," and the like). It's a good picture, sure, but still. You say:

Chang, sitting next to me on the king-sized bed of the Crown Plaza Hotel of Milan's Malpenza airport, turns his head, peeks at my screen, flabbergasted, and comments: "My God, this is really a sexy guy,"..."My God, this guy is really hot." 

Okay, so, case closed.

No-no, hold on. Scroll down.

Here's the next picture we posted on Pinterest, a picture taken by Chang tonight on our way back from a restaurant to the hotel. What do you think?


(Vote for it, vote for it!)

Jun 1, 2016

"If people blame Obama for anything 200 years down the road..."

Fragment, fragment, (very short) from a future part of the GREEN EYES, Alex and John talking:

John: "I voted for Obama, yes."
Alex: "If people blame Obama for anything, 200 years down the road, it'll be Donald Trump."

(We're off to NY, NY, for the red carpet event of Lambda Literary---cross fingers.)

May 24, 2016

"Let's find a hotel," I should have said...

We're still in Switzerland, up on the alm, at 1,600 meters, where the air is thin---as are the pretexts needed for posting yet another post. 

 Pretext no. 1...

 ...which is bound to inspire Pretext no. 2...a fragment from our recently finished short story Le Trayas Station. The narrator, a certain Michael, has unexpectedly happened upon a pretty youth, who's stepped off at the wrong train station and is now in need of a ride to the venue of an exam he's obliged to take. So Michael takes the pretty youth, Muhammed, to the venue, knowing already that they will arrive hopelessly late:

We arrived at the school short of 11 o’clock. I stopped at the main gate in the NO-NO-traffic-zone. He shouldered his satchel and dropped off and reappeared 10 minutes later, a wistful smile on his lips.

“Your career is in shambles now,” I said---which---I shouldn’t have said. I should have said: ‘Let’s find a hotel,’ or ‘let’s find a hotel now, you must be tired’---it would have worked, there and then. Anyhow, he climbed back onto the SUV and explained that he had to wait another year, although it wasn’t the end of the world. We entered a conversation about his future and his family until I had to ask where he lived. He studied marketing, what else. The father worked in Paris, hopefully, and his brother ran the show.

He lived in Nice, in the Ariane quarter, on the rue Darius Milhaud. “The composer?” I asked. He wouldn’t know. “Ariane?” I asked. It’s the neighborhood next to the power station, he explained, exit Nice-est on the A8: you can see it from the motorway when you are coming from the other side, from Monaco—yes, I remembered now.

I had never been inside an immigrant housing project---eight-story structures this one, mostly, although they looked better from the inside than coming-from-Monaco. And the narrow kitchen balconies where the aboriginals keep goats and hang their laundry, they weren’t so narrow and there were no goats. Wouldn’t be easy to find a parking space, Muhammed said. I parsed this briefly, inhaled, and replied: “I, just, drop you off.”

You're still there? Then you may like Michael's Lambda-Literary nominated book:

Night Owl Reviews

May 19, 2016

We've arrived in Switzerland

As every year, we rent our house to holidaymakers during the season and stay in the chalet of a friend in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, up on the alp at 1,600 meters. This is an evening view from our place, taken by Chang two days ago.

Anything GREEN EYES have to say about Bürchen, or Switzerland, or sunsets? Strangely enough, the answer is "no." But we have a short story set in the chalet, titled Rilke's Ghost, and as yet unpublished. So here's a fragment (Context: we already had a close encounter with the ghost of Rainer Maria Rilke once, in Duino, on the Adriatic coast, where the famous poet wrote his Duineser Elegien. And coincidence has it that his mortal remains are interred nearby; enjoy:) 

Years later. We’re now summering in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, in the chalet of a friend, our own house is rented to holiday makers. The village of Bürchen is wonderful, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera (the road up to Bürchen was finished in 1934---the preceding thousand years the villagers were left to their own devices). There is only one problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historic town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley, three klicks as the crow flies. We’ve given Raron a wide berth so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough of snow-topped mountains and Geranium-studded chalets, and the 24 hour cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire region already---natives of many cultures believe that you steal their image when you take their picture---along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais—from the Matterhorn via the James-Bond-historic-marker up on the Furka pass to the longest glaciers and highest vineyards of Europe---save Raron. 

May 15, 2016

Find a caption

(Hat tip: Andreas Hardinger)

Do we have anything to say about this? Yes, the picture shows, irrefutably, that our GREEN EYES are about everything, including the Sydney Opera House, and here's the proof...(from the final chapter, the happy ending is approaching, John and Alex in conversation, Alex laboring under a serious amnesia)...

We’re both watching the water tower. We could be brothers.
“The water tower,” I say to Alex. 
“Yes, I know,” he replies.
“You remember?”
“Us, talking about the water tower?”
“How do you know, then?”
“I know about the water tower, and Georgia Beach in general, just get confused about directions. Directions appear to be borderline. Amnesia-wise. Forgot everything about my personal life, remember a lot about everything else.”
“You like the water tower?”
“You like it?”
“I’m like the only person in the world who doesn’t like the Sydney opera house.”
“The Sydney opera house, right. Don’t remember whether I liked it or not. Let me think. Let me get it on my mind’s eye. Looks like a clam, right, several clams, clams playing domino, right?”
“Sort of.”
“You have a picture somewhere?”

He looks around. His eyes fall on the iPad on the kitchen table, the i-thing he gave to me the night before his suicide. “Let’s have a look,” he says, grabs it, hits the touch screen a few times. The internet isn’t willing though, Safari returns an error message.
“You’ve got no Wi-Fi?” he asks. 
“Yes,” I say, “but never had a chance to use your pad, it doesn’t know the WEP code for the Wi-Fi connection.”
“This is my pad?”
“Yes, you gave it to me, the day before your, uuhh, accident.”
“Right,” he says and hands it to me.

May 14, 2016

I dreamt of the GREEN EYES and woke up happy

Here's a new glowing review of our GREEN EYES which appeared today on the pages of Queer Voices---enjoy:

By Andreas Fragoso Jr.

I’ve have never actually told someone to leave me alone until I started reading Green Eyes: an erotic novel (sort of) by Michael Ampersant. I held it in my hands and read the first chapter when someone came up to me to ask me a question. I literally held my hand to his face and told him to stop talking, and that I was reading. He didn’t talk to me for a few days. He got over it and read the book. I tried to interrupt him and he stopped me. Karma.

Michal’s protagonist, John Lee, is narrating the story. He’s so funny that I really want to meet him. His descriptions, side notes, and remarks are so powerful. I’ve never met someone so funny, entertaining, and naive in some ways. Okay. I admit I’m naiver that he is. My point is that I love the character. If I met him I would ask, “How?”

The style of the book was new for me. I don’t particularly write in this style. Now that I have I admit I wouldn’t even know how to start. Michael’s style is unique, part description, part I’m telling you what happened, and he also shows you what’s going on. And there is a lot of things going on. He has this unique talent of introducing something traumatic in a very nonchalant way that when the shocker comes out I jump.

What I like the most of the book is that it took me to worlds where I’ve never been. I have never known men could do the things they did in this book. When I’m reading I feel what John is doing and seeing. A few times I cinched because I thought I was there. I can honestly say, I have yet to read another book like this. I’m an honored man for having read Michael’s book.

I dreamt of the Green Eyes and woke up happy. The reality is that I almost called 911 and to see what happens.

The back cover of the book holds no lies. There are a lot of things going on. I don’t know how John keeps it together. I for sure would seek professional help and go through therapy for years. But, John. He takes in like a man, he handles everything very well. I honest believed that the tow truck was dropping from the heavens.

Get your copy today. And stop reading whatever you’re doing because you’re not going to regret it.

Night Owl Reviews

May 11, 2016

Cannes Film Festival opens

We went to Cannes yesterday, because we're writing a story about terrorism, and the Festival's opening would be the ideal multiplier of terrorism's effect: one Brad Pitt is worth thousands, if not millions of other innocent victims, you'll agree. We're not sure we'll have an actual blast in the story, so here's one from the Pulitzer-winning last novel of Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch:

[hang on; under development]

The opening has always been on a Tuesday, because the festival has always lasted for 12 days, the festival competition always featured 22 films, two per day, with the last day, a Sunday, dedicated to the awards ceremony.

So it's Tuesday, May 10, and we leave the house at 15:30  to arrive at the red carpet event at 17:00. 

May 4, 2016

Reality beats fiction...

...as usual.

And here's just one line from Politico:

Cruz woke up on the morning of the Indiana primary to rain and the news that Trump was touting a National Enquirer story that claimed, without evidence, that his father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

May 2, 2016

This morning

Chang took this picture yesterday; we learned from our neighbor Dirk, who's a retired airline pilot, how this works: pilots call this phenomenon a "drop,"---a drop, if you will, of cold air that descends from the mountains and then drops through warmer air onto the warmer sea where it can trigger a middling thunderstorm, which this one did.

May 1, 2016

May 1

Alessio Slonimsky

At last (Glenn)

This is beautifully scripted, especially the final scene:

And our fragment? From the last chapter of the GREEN EYES, of course, we're a few hundred words short of the ending. Hint: John, the narrator, is in love with Alex.

We’re still walking down the beach. The alpha-dog picks up a pebble, sends it off with a flip of his hand across the water, where it obliges, naturally, re-bouncing, travel-ing along the ocean surface till it reaches the end of the world.

“So, John, let’s reset. You wouldn’t want me to love you because Alice told me to do so?”
“And you wouldn’t want me to love you because it would hurt you too much if I don’t?”
“Let’s simplify. Would you love somebody because he loves you?”
“Possibly not.”
“Would you love somebody because he brought you back from the dead?”
“Amy-Lou brought you back from the dead.”
“She said you did.”
“She did. She performed the CPR.”
“She said it was your kiss. You kissed me back to life.”
“I didn’t kiss you back to life. I planted a kiss on your forehead to say goodbye. You were dead then.”
“So, I’m right then.”
“You didn’t kiss me back to life, Amy-Lou didn’t bring me back from the dead. Q-E-D. I’m in heaven. Everything is heaven. Even you are heaven, not cheating on me de-spite the challenging circumstances of an out-call.”
“And so are Amy-Lou, and Alice. According to your logic.” 
“Who didn’t cheat on me either.” 
“You know what I mean. Why should you love me?”
“Because, John, you are unique among us angels. You are the only angel who needs my love. Who wants it. Why shouldn’t I love you back? We’re in heaven together. Wishes are fulfilled in here.” 
“I didn’t know.”
“Now you do,” he says and rolls his head again. 

He halts his steps. No, he stops. It’s in between. We’ve arrived at the gay beach.  He turns sideways, we're facing each other. He touches my cheeks, plays with my tousled hair. He squeezes my nose. He touches my absent love handles, just to make sure (I guess). He slips a finger down my tummy, almost reaching an erogenous zone. He looks at me, from top to bottom. His eyes drift out to the sea, return. He stares at me with his new, unbalanced eyes. He embraces my cheeks again, squeezes his lips onto my lips for a kiss. "I love you," he says. He embraces me fully now, his arms around my body, his tongue traveling deep into gay territory, he kisses, touches, embraces my mouth, my selfishness, my cynicism, my innocence, my stupidity, my soul...

Apr 28, 2016

Guess who...

Lucifer in the flesh --- that's how John Boehner, former Speaker of the American House of Representatives, a staunch Republican, called him during an event at Stanford University yesterday.

And Boehner continued: I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

Apr 25, 2016

Applause, applause: Piotr Urbaniak and the GREEN EYES

The first chapter of the Green Eyes, the chapter Michael didn't dare to include in his book because he feared it would "discomfort or even harm" some readers, will now appear in the German yearbook Mein Schwules Auge---the Germans supposedly being a hardier race when it comes to graphic sex. 

Anyhow: Piotr Urbaniak, the eponymous Polish-German artist, has just released eight illustrations to this chapter, and here is one of them: 

Beautiful, isn't it? Stay tuned!

Fragment, fragment? Okay:

A shadow enters my periphery of vision. Anybody who cares? Yes, a lank, blond, crew-cut guy. Perhaps he’s heard my screams and got interested. He’s shocked. No, he isn’t, he’s just curious. A tumescence builds in his trunks and develops its own life, the penis shaft seeking the path of lowest resistance. It’s pushing upward and outward like a trapped rodent until a solid erection has created an obscene-looking bulge. Crew-cut appears somewhat out-plussed by his private parts, he’s waiting until the erection is complete and then sheds his trunks. He has experience. His dick means serious business...   

Apr 22, 2016

Find a caption

Well, us regulars would expect this to be a cloud of debris pushed out by an exploding supernova. But, no-no, this bubble was/is generated by the solar wind of a still-regular star at its center (only ten times the size of our own sun), and the whole thing is known as NGC 7635, what else. It's (only) 8,000 light years away:

Apr 2, 2016

And...yet another GREEN EYES review:

Grab it, and plan to read it cover to cover immediately!, April 1, 2016

By Winthrop Smith

Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Green Eyes: an erotic novel (sort-of) (Kindle Edition)

I won't retell the plot, which earlier readers have already done so well, or introduce the characters. You know them: they are the gay men, and gay women you either have as friends, or wish you did. Fully articulated, never cardboard, caught up in a plot which the reader can't wait to follow to its conclusion. The hook of the writing immediately pulls the reader into the story, but the author brilliantly throws cultural references, quotations, Manhunt, sex, (hot, twenty-something, go for it, from the back, front, side, doggy style, grunting, panting...you get the idea) into the mix, not from a marketing suggestion, but, as with the entire book, because it is how life is lived. The reader smiles, laughs, leaks without being able to pause, unless the characters are taking a nap, or eating a meal themselves. If you loved Tales Of the City, you will love 'Green Eyes.'

Night Owl Reviews

Mar 29, 2016

A new GREEN EYES review

A new review of the Green Eyes is out, on GAY GUY READING, and it is FIVE STARS, yes, but that's not the appropriate way to label it. Here are two paragraphs:

"Wow! That was first reaction to reading this book, my second reaction was plain and simple holy shit! It is hard to find words to describe this book and make it justice because THIS BOOK IS HONESTLY LIKE NOTHING I'VE EVER READ BEFORE."


"Green Eyes isn’t the light Sunday read it is the type of book you can read over and over again in time and discover new things each time. It is dark humor mixed with seriousness. IT HAS A COMPLEXITY TO IT THAT I DON'T THINK I EVER EXPERIENCED FROM AN AUTHOR OF TODAY!"

And here are a few more paragraphs:

"The language is very different, because you are right there inside John Lee’s mind every step of the way, and even though you are there quite a lot learning about John and his speculations about people, what is going on and why it is written in a way that it appears like an inner monologue and conversation. Which is quite impressive.

"In the beginning of the book you get the impression that the book is about a gay man slightly bit of a loner at the same time as he might be a tad depressed, odd ball who feels awkward around people and simply don’t get them. The longer and more you read and the more people John meet, and by the end there are quite a few people involved in this book, it more and more becomes a crime story with thriller feel. John is awkward, and I love him awkward.

"This book isn’t a book for the one who wants an easy read, this book took me quite some time to read and I had to read it in portions and read other things in between so I could ponder and think. This is a very different type of book, a book that has a lot of depth to it, touches about many different subjects---such as right and wrong in different aspect of life, what is love, depression, rape, abuse of power, sex, self-discovery and so on and so forth."

This is us, folks, us, the GREEN EYES! We are so happy!

Night Owl Reviews

Mar 27, 2016

A brief note on self-publishing

"I'm not a tourist!"

The self-publishing trend is usually linked to the internet. Along various causal chains, the internet is supposed to facilitate self-publishing, while simultaneously complicating the life of traditional publishing venues.

Yes, sure.

But when you walk through the ultimate tourist trap of Mougin, that historic town north of Cannes, you discover that the self-trend is more pervasive. At least, it includes visual art as well, at least in Mougin it does, even though the internet cannot be the culprit.

Rue du Docteur Buissard, Mougin

A few years ago, Mougin, like every tourist trap---and in particular the ones in Southern France---was packed with galleries of tourist-trap art: garish colors, palette-knife work (faster), sunsets, harlequins, clowns, harlequins, sailing boats, aggressively abstract (faster), Picasso imitations, and so on. That hasn't changed, the galleries are still there, but, in the meantime, in the space of a few years, whole colonies of live artists have entered the mix, exhibiting their own work in one-man/woman shops, outnumbering the galleries 10 to 1. Ten times as many garish colors, sunsets, clowns, aggressively-abstract, Picasso-style, the vieux village of Mougin has turned into an artist colony, literally.

Food for thought. Think this through: the internet cannot have anything to do with this...

Mar 26, 2016

Come to think of it

Chang drags us to Mougin, north of Cannes, where Picasso lived (and developed a major depression), and at the entrance to the main downtown (more correctly: uphill) section of the vieux village they've installed this statue:

"I am the Trojan Horse of contemporary art,"---it says.

Fragment, fragment...we were returning from Nice, from the quartier Ariane, where we did a little research for Michael's latest short story, fragment...(and true-true, except that Michael doesn't take the guy to Grasse)...fragment:

The story starts at Le Trayas Station. I live in Le Trayas, on the French Riviera, a settlement of 200 houses perched on the foothills of the Estérel range between Cannes and St. Raphael on the Mediterranean. Each morning I go for a walk, always the same, climbing down the hill, unlocking a pedestrian gate with code C 638 A, turning right on the Rue Charles Hechter (family of the French designer, rumor has it), walking past a gazeebo-style belvedère above the tracks littered with abandoned prophylactics, one more turn, and the view unfolds onto the western Cote d’Or, the train station smack in the middle and a white villa further down, pied-dans-l’eau, once belonging to Greta Garbo, rumor has it (everything is rumor here and they are always false). If God---who doesn’t exist---we have proof now---if God would exist---and if he were to create a Train Station with a View, it would be this one.

Although it has its own web site, the station doesn’t do much. Six local trains stop by per day, each delivering one passenger. The main structure is abandoned, including the ticket booth. An auxiliary building is also abandoned, and the outdoor restroom is occupied by an Arab, Muhammed.

Muhammed and I have a difficult relationship. We were on greeting terms initially, but I snubbed his various attempts to relate---I’m not peddling excuses but I could never get over the fact that somebody is living in a restroom---so he stopped addressing me and now averts his eyes. The situation is so awkward, I’m no longer making it all the way down to the station but turn around before I reach the level crossing at the tracks, where I would be in full view of this restroom and its occupant. 

Le Trayas Station

This particular morning, a train had just arrived, and the one passenger coming up the road was a young man, perhaps eighteen years old. He was apparently lost. Batting his eye lashes he asked whether he could ask a question, and then asked how he could get to Grasse---that’s an old town to the north of Cannes, seat of the vice-prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes and self-appointed World Capital of Fragrances. He would have to take an exam there, at 10 o’clock. Where he could find a bus station, perhaps. 

I shook my head. You have fifty minutes left, I said with a look at my watch. Getting to the bus station would take fifteen minutes, the bus is once per hour, you’d have to change buses, and so on. There’s no train for the next five hours. “How did you end up here?” I asked. He replied with a sheepish grin. 

I had a better look at him. He was pretty---regular features, good profile, full lips, deep, brown eyes, thick, tousled hair, and a sleepy seductiveness that was apparently irresistible.  

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll take you to Grasse.”

“Would you do that for me?” he replied. 

It's downhill from here, since this guy, it turns our, has a terrorist brother...