Aug 30, 2016

Albert Camus --- This is heaven --- teaser (10)


Context: John is called to the police station, where Ray is held as in connection with the mysterious death of Neill Palmer. Inspector LaStrada from the homicide unit wants to "chat." And, there's a new addition to the offices of the police department, a goldfish bowl.



The detective points at a transparent folio-sized zip bag on the counter, holds it up, and dangles it in front of my eyes. It contains a used sheet of paper, crumpled and refolded several times, letter size, written upon in what appears to be an approximately legible hand. LaStrada flips the bag, and the reverse side of the sheet appears to be written-upon as well, in Alex’s hand, to be precise. This was Alex’s suicide letter, the outdated letter I handed to Neill Palmer on Saturday night when the drunken rice queen had asked for a sheet of paper as I met him in the street, I staggering home, defeated, while Alex, the survivor, was busy falling in love with Amy-Lou.

Let me interrupt myself and talk about James Bond again. It doesn’t matter which movie, so let’s talk about the last one, Skyfall. Daniel Craig introduces himself to Dr. No or one of No’s co-workers, like Bérénice Marlohe, say, and says “The name is Bond, James Bond.” And while any other person on the planet would now go, like, ‘Great,’ or ‘Can you give me an autograph,’ Bérénice has apparently never heard of the super-hero of popular culture, grimaces distantly, and shakes the stranger’s hand.

Albert Camus (1913 - 1960)

Analogies break down somewhere, and this one breaks down im-mediately, except that LaStrada has apparently no idea he’s dealing with one of the most outlandish documents ever featured in erotic writing. He flips the zip bag and reads: “‘Some people expend enormous energy merely to be normal’… Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it, Mr. Lee.”

“Albert Camus,” I say, “one of his famous lines.”

(Alex had used the line in his good-bye letter to explain his exhaustion, and desperation).

“So you know this?”
“Yes.”
“I thought you would.”

Marc Debauch: Boy with goldlfish

He takes a good look at me, then at the goldfish. “How come?” he asks.

(This is so silly.)

“How come,” he asks again.
“I teach French at SGC.”
“SGC?”
“Southern Georgia College.”
“Where you met Mr. Camoo?”
I snort.
“Why do you laugh?”
“I,” I say, “I would have to explain about SGC, to explain.”
“Explain your explanation. We have all the time in the world, please.”
“One would not meet people like Camus at SGC, believe me. One never does.”
“So you are trying to avoid Mr. Camoo? That’s why you teach there?”
________________ 
“Mr. Lee, this is not a funny matter, please. We are dealing with a potential homicide.” 
________________ 


I laugh again. “Mr. Lee, this is not a funny matter, please. We are dealing with a potential homicide.”

(How to get out of this?)

“I could not have met Camus at SGC, because he’s dead,” I say.
“He is deceased, too?”
“Yes.”
“Of natural causes?”
“No.”
“No?” LaStrada has another look at the sergeant, then at the goldfish.

“You know, Mr. Lee, as a detective with 20 years of experience under my belt, as a true-and-tried homicide inspector I can’t believe in coincidences.”

“Camus died in a car accident,” I say.
“He deceased in a car accident? A hit and run, by coincidence?” Another glance at the sergeant who’s getting increasingly interested in the goldfish. “We’ve had a couple of hit-and-runs in Georgia Beach lately, Mr. Lee, didn’t we?”

(Any cop in this office must have wondered about the coincidence of two hit-and-runs last week, first the hit on Benson’s ex-wife, then on Benson himself.)

“No, he hit a tree. In 1960,” I say.
“That’s a long time ago,” LaStrada says, “A long time ago. Perhaps too long ago, you would say. Wouldn’t you?” He flips his iPhone. He swipes for a while, perhaps twenty full goldfish turns, and studies the screen.

“There were no fatal car accidents in Georgia Beach in 1960, Mr. Lee,” he comes back.

“It happened in France,” I say.
“He went all the way to France to hit a tree? And you want me to believe that?”
“He was French.”
“He was French? French, you say?”

(I fall silent. Goldfish, reportedly, have memories like water; with each turn in the bowl they discover the world anew.)

“You said you were teaching French, Mr. Lee, didn’t you. You’re not French, by coincidence?”
“Half-French, my mother is French.”
“And you want me to believe in coincidences. I ask you, Mr. Lee, I ask you.”


Are you still there? Then you'll like the GREEN EYES. The first part is out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:


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Go here for the previous teaser of This is heaven, and here for a choice of chapters of the Green Eyes.

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