Paris, September 2011
It was the morning after the gig. Marianne and Mick were in a hotel room in the 18th. Mick was begging her to stay. “Please, don’t go. Come to Cologne! Stay!”. Marianne was wildly overexcited, as much as someone who is young and in love and in Paris can be.
“But how will I get back to London? I can’t change my ticket.”
“I’ll buy you a bus ticket. Come on, stay”
It was that easy, apparently. So they went to get breakfast and collect the tour van. They got on the metro.
This you should know:
Last summer, Marianne ran away because she fell in love with Mick. She took the night train from Parma to Paris, lying still like a stone statue, atop her catacomb, in the sleeper carriage. She travelled like an arrow, straight into the heart of love. That’s what it felt like, falling in love, it was like writing a story…She lay, like a chaste vampire, her arms folded.
It was the last day of summer…
This pilgrimage to Mick, for an afternoon in the Luxembourg Gardens and the long trip home full of regret on a ferry was romantic. Even though Mick had other girls and she’d been promised to someone else these past four years, it felt significant. Marianne had gone to a strict school. You had to suffer for everything, for all the pleasures in this life, you had to suffer…to be alive. Misbehaving was exciting. She’d become a terrible cheat.
As they went across town on the metro, she thought very hard about this business, about last summer and what she did and she thought about the guy she’d lost and she felt sad. He was a nice man.
He’d held her in the Munich station beneath a large extinguished neon. “Coca- Cola” it read, against the leaden sky.
“But summer skies when grey that way, they’re always full of thunder…”
…she’d thought this, she’d sung it in a strange way in her brain, naive as a child and lost in the strange moment of pathetic, callous fallacy… where he’d felt like her own flesh, like a brother: the dearest and warmest thing.
Mick looked at Marianne across the Metro carriage and started mouthing the names of the stations along with the woman on the intercom. From behind his sunglasses, he was wooden, like Warhol. She smiled and joined in: “Barbès – Rochechouart” she mouthed, camply, accentuating the vowels with her mouth, light and fragile, like Karina.
On the train back to Italy, she’d cried all the way across the Alps, she was inconsolable. The mountains rose up and the clouds dispersed, Everything seemed bright and crystalline. Hyperreal. A woman sitting opposite had stared in astonishment, as though she’d never seen anyone feel something so completely. Over her glasses and book she looked conflicted as to whether she ought to say something.
Don’t say anything…
…Oh god, she was going to cheat on him….she was going to run away. There was nothing she could do about it now.
In Gare du Nord, the never-ending announcing jingle trilled every three minutes. She knew it well from last year’s escapade: “Duh, duh, duuh, duh” it went. “E – A – B – G”…those were the notes, for after all, were they not musicians?
She sat in the foyer of the car hire office, drinking an Orangina, feeling it’s fine fur sitting on her teeth and all that was wrong with it. She licked her teeth but it was too late, the sugar was going deeper and deeper into her gums, her bloodstream. Marianne got lost in the idea of her teeth, of the white peaks, the tiny cavities, the pulp beneath their hard shell. Like Baked Alaska, she thought.
She was tired and full of inane thoughts. She’d become inanimate as a plastic plant, sitting in the corner like that, the rough, executive furniture prickling her fishnets and the homogenous smells of polished floors, of magazine paper leaflets…She focused her eyes in on the counter. This was taking forever. It seemed Mick was having some trouble.. She got up and trotted towards them.
“What do you mean you won’t give me the vehicule?” Mick said, looking frighteningly tense, like the kind of man who could really lose it…the kind of guy who’d do something daft like hurl a branded biro stand into a smiling cut-out.
The clerk was kind of blinking in a pleasant way, explaining in a very even tone, what the problem was.
“I’m sorry but you have to have to pay an 800 euro deposit. It is our policy. We cannot give you the van unless you pay this.”
It occurred to Marianne that possibly he’d planned this. She had, after all paid for dinner the night before…he’d gotten vague when the cheque came. He’d searched for his wallet before asking her to pay. In fact, in all her feminine giving, she’d paid for everything these past two days. At first she thought it was simply because she was the first to rise. She’d buy breakfast, bring him coffee and pastries in bed. She liked spoiling people. It was a weakness. And, she remarked to herself, she’d already shown herself to be generous for she’d leant his housemate 10 quid. Poor guy had no money, was over from Romania on a language course. She’d felt bad he couldn’t buy food.
That was a mistake.
Suddenly she snapped to. Had he bought her here because he knew she had savings and maybe she’d pay his way? Was that too cynical…but what was all this “Stay! business? He’d rented vans hundreds of times, surely he knew about this?
“What happens if you don’t rent the van? Can you borrow a vehicle…”
“I have to cancel the shows.” he said brusquely before bouncing lightly on his heels in an agitated way and looking over towards the counter. His eyes wouldn’t meet hers.
This was a card-carrying disaster. And the card, of course was hers.