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...

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