Monday, July 26, 2004

Selling Out: Summer 2003

               Facing the possibility of being sick, I tried to look the other way, unfortunately there had been no hope disguising my emotions to the dim implied knowledge the “citizen ordinaries” had entrapped me within; I was but an amateur in the art of complete deception.  My neighbours had learnt more adeptly to exact brevity when modulating conversations, especially lately since the criminal tribunal had stepped up its plans to snoop around the country for what they cited in sentiment as the “lost sheep”.
              I confess that I was one of those titular criminals so eagerly sought, totally displaced within the currency of persistence, reserve, borrowed courage and chaos – typical characteristics of the regime’s inviolable malice.  A more distinct sense of openness had been abducted from every community and made to fade obliquely from where they were allowed to manifest previously.       
              Without wishing to judge my friends - at no point could there be corporate understanding - so many who had eluded prosecution, scattered in calmative packs of wishful émigrés, countless victims leaving France to seek external redress.  I therefore held them in distain and claimed them as traitors to my breeding and ancestry for their lack of common loyalty.
.              One of these oppressive brutes sat facing me now; he had been responsible for a fair quota of sorrow inside my provincial lands throughout Rennes.  He quashed the remaining resistance callously just by thumping his fist a few times in a fit of temper without administering any healing allay; even the radicals were rattled as he recklessly chewed his way into their cages from a distance; divided family unions of years existence from up high; counteracted the wealthy land owners by entrusted deputies and severed a few limbs in passing from his office chair.  His job was to tolerate such extreme actions for his authority. 
              It was the end of a calamitous month for me in the “Corps de Rennes”, my own little monastic pressure group.  Not only had we been the victims from a heinous spies but also from jealous twits on our own side of the fence, landing us in a generous flurry of sure trouble.  Our ranks contained gutter rubbish that plagued our group and worked through the sinews around our courageous advocacy.  Mighty was the ensuing quarrel, it was sufficed to break a compelling bond funded with communal interest, also every single thing we had created to protect ourselves from the Paris fiends was discovered and vanquished ad libitum; for they had splintered our own into a distrustful conclave.  Word spread about our venturesome dreams to the governing bodies, apparently waiting to commit atrocities all over the land.  Newly spawned judicial thugs stepped in to depress the fleur-de-lis, a symbol declaring what was known and true before the trouble began - in turn it became a shock unrepressed.  And so it was in their sordid pleasure that the hardy tricolour flag remained for their painstaking pleasure in a long-term haul situated within distasteful foreign rule.    
              My confessor looked up at last to speak candidly, “Citizen, I saw you with that disgusting whore yesterday before the noon”, he seemed to be mouthing this from his crab like jaws in the form of a guarded threat, “she was biding here yesterday trying to palm me some cast iron lies, so I just locked her up for the time being, so that she could think and decide her confession before I deign to reason with her again – the little slut.  On my life, she hasn’t got very long to live if she carries herself in this manner - I loose patience with her – it is a shame is to be in her company - that moustachioed bourbon and that suspicious dark skin openly hanging from her skirts all the time – which filthy pit do they arise from then”?  He gently smiled to let me know that he hated them all and that most of all he hated me.  I expect it would not take a little time before he locked me up also for committing myself to the simple perjury, earthly habitation.
              “Anything more to be said,” I cheekily inquired?  
              I was outstandingly guarded in my chain of response, as I had known this woman well during a glorious period in my life.  I relied on her to be emotive surrounding her deliberations and now she had landed squarely within this man’s lock up, within the very house a party to revolutionary indoctrination that all royalists would sensibly avoid:  A culmination of deferred indiscretions, that had finally sliced her dynamism into little chopped pieces, likewise forcing her dear self to divulge inaccuracies flaming her felonious company.  She was now rewarded with little hope for liberty.  Somehow it fell to me to save her from the fate reserved by this oafish settler.
              This girl had always been my close favourite from the first as surely as anyone could amuse me in any way.  Though felicitously rich on her own contrivance, it was for far more than wealth she had developed an eye for political cultural intrigue.  Intermingled with her paradise world flavoured with villas, summer homes and seaside mansions, governed by monetary superiority and comfort, was a universal woman, a melodious doppelganger masking psychological nature who developed many shapes and inordinate disguises to whomsoever was vulnerable enough to be taken in by such artifice; it was hard to set her true being apart from the single frame she had most want to flaunt in a single go.
              Pamela, being her true name, was the first one who persuaded me that it was time to succumb to my grief close after many sessions of basking in woe, haggling constantly with contravening emotions all the way from reflective desire to cold emotive pride.  Though my family had been deposited in winding sheets, swiped from this earth by a recalcitrant satanic conundrum that had ceased power when the first shock waves threw our beloved France into revolutionary turmoil, I was the sole survivor of this purge; it was hopeless for the famous aristocracy to continue as they had been soundly culled in the heat of unholy pressures.  I was the only survivor and fled from the marauding crowds as they attacked and settled, wisely landing in this safe haven in which I currently earn my keep, thankfully still alive but more importantly still inside France’s countryside palisades.
              What motivated Pamela’s diligence was to outsmart proper opponents, delineating their qualities with a clever uprightness, making them perceive truths within themselves that might vex their hidden tempestuous designs, though would not betray her own far-reaching affiliations to the ancien-regime.  Once she dallied with a hawker’s son, a political doctrinaire and a republican high flyer, partial to copious amounts of alcoholic beverages to ink the old copy book; he became the beguiled party after playing ‘Corsair’, a made up game of trumps popular in the region at this moment in time.  It was she that secretly permitted him to steal all her cards and plump for ‘le bateau’, a winning suite that he off loaded onto the table with an arbitrary smile just for luck, without knowledge that she had meddled with the pack on her own free will.
              “Are you open to false pride my fallen swallow?” he sniffed up his nasal cavity in a haughty colliery to the game, “you have overcome my misery as before today my debts were overwhelmingly heavy”.  It was singularly a defining rapport for a young man already looking over the edge and into the counter revolutionary arena, being swept along by a laughing chit who had turned his fortunes around from destitute madness, over the brim towards overconfidence and overbearing pride.
              “Oh fine, you can take it away,” she followed.  She didn’t care, money was no importance to her, and he obviously cared for it far more, the hypocrite.  She subsequently forced him to follow his despotic greed, an ignited lust for the grip of courtly power, all from a slightest stipend issue in a game of chance. 
              In future, the man became less obstructive but gained a mercenary bent towards our will to restore the monarch wholesale for the ‘corps’. 
              It was little frequencies such as this that enabled her to change portions along civil life for the better from merely a suggestion, a wink, a look, or a flirtatious nuance from under her blackened locks - she managed it all.  For it was not the last time she would buy undesirables off with fortune’s discretion.  On considering the facts, Pamela was a polite seamstress working around people’s silent motivations, an emotional practice stirrer, a guardian of the psychological sureties and a subtle manipulator by the back way, straight through to the front – it ensured that her enemies would not stray too far from her propelling intrigue.
              Quite the other day for instance, she forwarded a note to a known military shyster, who roamed the streets in a bad frame of mind, picking up potential royalists with his own opine from a crazy looking hunting cart that chased the very day away into night.
              “I hate those crown bleeders”, he infrequently mused, as he forced his mules cantering around ‘les yeux de le foret’ for the seventh time in the dusky night, which had now milked the moon full from its reflective glow. 
              Stubble had bolted down his facial contours set from a golden-based oar, against golden radiance that had been sent heavenwards by the lamplight around every doorway clear.  Out he bounded on time, and in accord with his usual ways, sneaking around the taverns, infiltrating the ingratiating talk from the various characters who wanted a piece of him, sifting out new information from other stray pieces of information about the movements throughout the upper classes movement, tracking them down with his oratory weapons and curses, always inquiring after their health and only embarking on their downfall after so learning their most personal cares.
              On most days he would preach from his upper foyer, out from the open front window to all and sundry who might be listening along the street, a man fixed to talk to himself into a personal chaos unheeded.  He was bent on the place’s glory to make his mark on the great libertine cause but very nearly always, as with very nearly all of his type, he became drunk, and the day he received a single written communication from Pamela, no exception could be made in accordance with this vein criticism.  Once more, he played the fool at his own window stead, calling out to anyone who would listen with the intonation of a hooting battering ram the following verse:

              “The king is dead, the king is dead and good for his head,
              As the bells do chime, as the bells do chime,
              It’s the time for more wine,
              It’s the time for more singing,
              It’s the time for more dreaming,
              And most of all it’s the time for freedoms of happiness and joy,
              The king is dead; the king is dead and good for his head.”         

              Apart from this crude song, there was no sign that he knew any subtler tricks to bolster the singular repertoire surrounding the hopeless providence beleaguering the poor old king.  It was thus widely understood throughout the area that his outpourings were partly a malady through bigoted hatred and distrust that had blown bitter smog over the French populace during ‘The Terror’; though in his case, the words issued in a mouthed madness were affected by bad liquor, rather then a statesman like hit on prosperity.
              Next, he pulled his head back in a lurching action from the outside void.  Because the winds were ungracious in their turn, he found that his voice was being fractured on its outpour, not a great sign of heavenly virtue, and so he twisted his mind to the strange envelope he had just received quite unexpectedly from a random boyish carrier.  As he pulled open the package, papers fluttered to the floor like circling doves, all founded upon Pamela’s terrible scrawl that he had the chance to encounter many times previously – the ink was characteristically sunk into the paper in what looked like a globule of black gel.
              One read on examination, “Dear monsiour, please let me know if you are in any way related to the royal family for you can be of great service to our cause”?  Another line was inscribed, “In exchange for your distress I donate my sixty golden coins”.  Still another translated, “Underneath the gatehouse statue lies a fortune, go now and you may retrieve your future bounty” and then “…to shut your mouth”.  Practically engraved on the last line were the words, “Pamela de Rheims”.
              From past recourse he had never paid much attention to the written word, due to deficiencies in reading skills, but these actual words were cultivated especially for him from a little individual twist, with underlying coded lettering implanted onto the page fabric, growing out in helter-skelter spirally stains of ebony.
              A little later he received the gold hidden in environs about the plinth belonging to a hideous stone caricature, as in accordance with the instructions delivered from Pamela.  But, because of the hiatus it had cause his moral qualities - for this was a substantial amount of money - he accepted it on condition to developing strategies covering up the bewildering development in his fortune.  Suffice to say, he lost heart for political fervour and he never appeared at his window again to address even as much as a local tramp else the chance turnip seller, for want of a better life with the money and gainful employment with Pamela – this type of thing was widely known throughout the province as the corrupted bargain, but for me she had just cured him of barmy megalomania that his neighbours meticulously blamed alcoholic poisoning.
              Another story goes that on the road she waved off a dishevelled couple walking out with an ugly disfigured looking beast of a dog - they were clearly recognised as conscientious objectors to the monarchist sentiment, the sort of people who would initiate trouble if called upon to do so by the highest of authorities.   Unfortunately, the owners had tremendously mistreated their hound on more than one occasion; it looked depressingly gaunt and openly under pressure to walk under the restraints of large gashes, massive open wounds and tumultuous bruises on the sides and behind its toting head.  It opened its aching maw so that one could view the gulf full with straining gnashers and straight past the main orifice, down the sinewy tissue lining its inner rump, descending into a deeper chasm filled with darkness.
              “Is that disgusting mutt for sale,” her voice sang out mockingly, as if she was not that serious about her suggestion in the slightest way.
              “Why,” said one half of the couple, “are you offering to buy it”.
              “I’m openly suggesting I take that dirty carcass away for you in exchange for a large sum of money”, but she was laughing profusely with exaggerated tolls of dubious giggling and facial dimples, a bravado regarded with immense suspicion by the walking couple.
              “Well you are not very kindly towards your poor animal.  I think I shall have it for myself”, she added.
              At that point she lent forward to take the leash from the startled owners but it was snatched away almost immediately, accompanied by a lowly grumbling from within the stomach of the dog.
              “I should think this poor dog is badly maltreated.  Give it to me and I will allow it a better life”, she was hoping that the irony of it would not be lost on them, despite their belief in all things existing equally.
              Extortionate amounts of money changed hands and the dog became safe but Pamela had to watch herself, since for her interest, the couple became aware that her excessive directional behaviour was up above their likes – a suspected lover of thrones became her solitary label.
              In the long year that I had known Pamela, she was definitely part of the bon vivant in my favour, but nevertheless had a taste for picking out the ripe insincerities off from our bourgeois neighbours without alerting them to their crime.  She was a clever impresser, a rough diamond and for that she had heartily deserved my respect – a gift I have not had the want to give likely.  My defiant means were more a crude nature: blades and stealthy violence - I did not have her eloquent behavioural order.  In that vein I had no choice but to save her from Satan’s calamities rooted by her infrequencies with the opposing rabble.
              Back to the present, Pamela had afforded herself the pressure of being locked up by this man I feared and firmly despised.  In fact, the door had been bolted securely for the time being against her recruitment schemes, and I felt coerced to drink to her jailor rapturously.  He threatened a summary court appearance if I did not lay bare to be sufficiently touched by his propensity for allowing her to be left untainted for the duration of the night.  After which, he snatched the lapels of my jacket for a word in hushed tones directly down to the functioning end of my inner ear.
              “I have something I need to square with you”, he proceeded to indicate Pamela’s prison room; “this one flies with the geese you know”.
              He told me that he was going to hatch her out at dawn and that one of his men would drag her out for questioning.  I was required to stay and watch lest I join her as part of a pragmatic investigation.
              “If she displeases me in any way, I’ll feel obliged to feed her to ‘Madame Guillotine’.  I do hope you grasp the way of my words”, he whispered.
              These words were as harsh as his banal concessions towards humour, designed to regulate my possible delinquent intentions at certain opportune moments.  I hope that he would not feel obliged to transact his threats, as so far I had avoided the worst cruelties universally associated with the regime.
              Pamela was indeed later produced under curious circumstances, soon after the echoing illumination of the sun induced the horizon, for it basked in its shining tangents both east and west, then soon after, all round the spreading panorama view. Inside it was dark, and densely so.  I now determined the irksome jailor to be truly mystifying, he had ensured I should be present for this act of interrogation, and I guessed that the presence of soldiers along to chaperone my morning journey would attract full cooperation and sure acquiescence.  Regarding what I thought I was about to hear and see, they resumed solely as expecting shadows, for nothing that had been promised from such a captive’s malicious heart, turned out in effect true to life – I sensed no doubt, a shady conclusion to this inharmonious episode.
              For on re-entering the building, I found myself admitted to a different room, more isolated than the first, more regular, more isometric and thirstier for an intrinsic discourse than as the one I had been previously forced into last night.  It was larger but far gloomier, several candles were all that stood to colour in the scene by any effect.
              At the back, the jailor hung from a few rope hooks on the back wall like a carefully positioned collage, daggling in a requisitioned star shape across ways; he had been tightly fixed without lock or reinforced restraint so that he could leave at any time, if he so had a mind.  I had no idea who had put him up there, or if he had done this for himself, or for what motive could have called upon such actions, but I surely recognised my enemies face staring at me across the empty chamber thunderously bewitched. 
              Pamela stood a little further to his front; her head began to loll upwards with a confident swagger, marking an appearance dislodged with a strange aloofness bent to avoid my inquisitive countenance, but in the next instant she looked forwards at me again.  Her disposition was secretive but I hoped that she was rational enough to avoid intentionally any physical malign.  The penalty for harming a revolutionary spirit was most certainly an appointment with death – always an outstanding engagement for all of us on earth.
              Not counting in my very own steps into the room there had been no detectable sounds so far, but now the man’s legs began to rap lightly against the kiln bricks that had made up the room’s unhealthy quarter.
              “Seek the solace of quiet”, she gently hissed at his face, “as you will presently need it”.  The jailor was barely conscious to be at will to understand the command and continued the kicking gestures set to avail himself from his bonds at ankle level.
              The faint candles became momentarily obscured in some way and then two jaded eyes strained at me below, through the melted blackness that had swiftly moulded itself to stifle the only light source available.  I did not know if the eyes belonged to the man or the woman or something else that was absent besides on my first appraisal of the room.
              “I’ve been feeding him something special”, this quiet remark from Pamela dropped quite incidentally into the silent pool, having the cause to awake me from the brief reverie that seemed more like divine sleep, but of course I must have been too awake from the shock of seeing Pamela free, when I expected her to be tidied away into some back room somewhere.  Her actions had been so far, foggy, inconclusive, not a kind I would have attributed to her before this morning and in actual fact, I felt that I now did not know anything about her rumbling fancies.  I made a cursory judgment that she had fed herself and the man some kind of potent medicine, procuring the man to have climbed upwards on his own accord but I could not be totally sure what roles they had both played before my part had been taken in this tableau.
              My nervousness was of a breathless kind; I could not determine what was in store and furthermore, I now recognised the poorly dog she had lately acquired, it yawned pitifully up at me from its knotted throat, not to be taken as a friendly gesture but as a warning to the foolish not to accept anything from the female again.  And so the dog’s frantic noise was unrelenting, first as a yell, then as a squeal, and then tailing off as a threadbare whimper.
              I was not to risk delusional haste and thought about releasing the man from his shackles unharmed but this actual call was not up to me to fathom, as she had now jammed my own way forward by brandishing the sword away what I took to be of her victim’s possession.  My own situation had a weaker vocabulary as my weapons had been confiscated on the way up along the dungeon keep.
              She made an attempt to speculate on my intentions.
              “I don’t want you untying my prisoner”, she yelled shrilly, “stay clear.  I haven’t finished with him yet.  I simply cannot let you mess things up”.
              She was clearly out of contention with the sword hilt, and wanting to vent some hatred onto the defenceless soul who was now wriggling free from his bonds – he was gaining strength, having an assurance that his torture would have no apparel. 
              “I will fence you if you move anyway towards him”, she was now shouting above the din, also above the dog that was still gurgling in abject pain - I was shouting too.
              “Upon the heads of the saints, there is no glory in this retribution, he is not one of us”, I rasped, “Get out of here while you can”. 
              But it was too late, the fires in his eyes were burning silver ash, his feet now steadied on the ground.  The sword was lashed out of her careless hands while she meant to lunge forward in a tempestuous full turn.  She ended facing her tyrant in her imagination, who after disarming her completely, wrestled her down for what she had stored up in her pockets, tearing out the hems to recover what he thought were hidden mysteries within.  The contents directly exploded and distributed evenly, rattling over the stone flags, drifting about the immediate area and rolling steadily even as far as my feet.  On surveying these objects well, I may have be forgiven for thinking that they resembled small colourful pebbles, although the issue from her pockets had now become an interest for the terse dog.  For it sniffed and pawed around and around the mess in transit across the floor’s length, forming an apotheosis imitating a beleaguered tarantella with its bandy legs. 
              “Its time to disappear, a jamais”, I strongly spoke my articulated words so that she would understand my eventual meaningful drift.
               It was imperative that I got her out before the belligerent captain had his revenge for her unkindly tricks.  On the other hand, Pamela was still reeling from the effects of whatever she had given him and her during that night’s quarrel.  Because she had reacted in a corpulent state, I felt it would be very hard to drag her out of danger by myself and so I decided that she must be left to embrace his malice on her own.  Her behaviour had heralded this evasive action I felt I needed to take immediately, callously abandoning her in case I should be decorated with unsightly gashes made by a – it was the only way to survive.
                I was concerned that Pamela still had not awoken from her apathetic state; she needed urgent medical expertise to rendezvous with her more conscious self.  Her torso flailed erratically within the arms of the bearded creep until she halted all her movements with the jingly brightly coloured braided tassels, falling through the air into their dazzling hundreds and thousands, down onto the concrete surface that made up the square bit of ground that set witness to the scene’s purpose. 
              Making the quick decision not to tarry much longer and witness a possible assassination, I decided my welfare was too much for my own keeping.  Outside I was personally met by the full blaze that my eyes fought to adjust to in relation. 

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