by Paul Kavanagh
The Professor of French Literature, Henri Le Blanc, died while reading Barbara Cartland. The manner of his death did not cause an upheaval, but the fact that he had been caught reading a novel by Barbara Cartland did. The Professor had championed many now great, but at the time, laughed at, mock, jeered, even attacked, writers. His exegesis of the hardboiled novel, Jim Thompson et al, the great American writers that came with the Marshall Plan influenced a whole generation of French writers, but this was all washed away when the picture of Henri Le Blanc in a pool of blood, lying next to a spine broken copy of Jig-Saw hit the newsstands, and was shown on the television program, Apostrophes. That Jig-Saw had been banned on it release in Great Britain held no sway with the French Public. Barbara Cartland was Barbara Cartland.
Had Henri Le Blanc passed away on the latrine things might have been different. What one takes to the restroom is given a pass, but Henri Le Blanc had not been on the latrine, he was found in his study. The career he had built up dissipated in a headline. Kids mocked him in libraries, at poetry readings, while sat on the Left Bank drinking strong coffee and smoking Gitanes. Â Henri Le Blanc was reduced to a punchline.
The talk dwindled over time. The gossip moved on. That Henri Le Blanc had had his throat cut was never discussed. The police were baffled, stagnant, and finally stifled. The case would stay open. The crime was inevitably superseded by the crimes of the serial killer, Andrew â€œthe Pigâ€ Schutt. The famous stage actor had dismembered chorus girls he had picked up from small theaters around Paris. Back at his chÃ¢teau in the Vignes de Montmartre area, he had reassembled the parts of the dead chorus girls, mixing up the components, creating new models, creating new chorus girls. It is reported that he rearranged more than thirty young women. The families of the young women said they hardly recognized their love ones. Â Andrew â€œthe Pigâ€ Schutt was hanged on a Tuesday at 9:00 A.M at his request. His last meal was a cheeseburger, fries, and Pepsi.
What the French police and Public do not know, but I do, was that Henri Le Blanc was not reading the Barbara Cartland novel Jig-Saw. It had been dropped after the crime had been committed. It had fallen out of a fashionable pocket, apart of a very chic coat, that was superfluous and without benefit. At the time of his death, Henri Le Blanc had been finishing his first and last short story, Tuer est facile, trouver la victime est difficile. This short story, if the French police and Public had taken the time to read would have
Mayberry and Alice were still in love, but Mayberry decided that he could not sleep without the aid of a cigarette; this upset Alice because Alice liked to read in bed before sleep. The smoke made it impossible for Alice to read before sleep and so Mayberry moved into the extra bedroom where he could smoke before sleep and Alice could read without her eyes being tortured by the smoke.
Both bought double beds.
Mayberryâ€™s room was bare.
Alice decorated her bedroom and over spent. Mayberry and Alice liked to spend money. Mayberry liked fast cars. Alice liked everything else.
It didnâ€™t take long for Alice to fill the space left by Mayberry and Mayberry too found it very hard to sleep alone. Mayberry and Alice came to an understanding. They would not divorce. They were still the best of friends and more importantly husband and wife. Both attended church and received the holy sacraments.
â€œAre you up?â€ asked Alice.
Mayberry was in the kitchen making breakfast. He always made Alice breakfast. He could not break the ritual. It was as important to him as attending church, as smoking in bed.
â€œStiff,â€ said Mayberry.
Alice having just jumped out of the shower hurried into the kitchen, breakfast for her was the most important meal of the day and today was a very special day, a day that any writer would cherish to chronicle. She almost slipped and broke her neck.
â€œMayberry look whatâ€™s on the floor,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry followed the croaked finger.
â€œDonâ€™t cry over spilt milk,â€ said Mayberry.
Mayberry cleaned up the split milk that had almost caused Alice to slip and break her neck.
Alice sat at the breakfast nook and poured herself a cup of coffee. The coffee was black.
â€œDo you think I could use Occam’s razor?â€ asked Mayberry.
It was a very important day.
â€œI donâ€™t see why not,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry liked to eat breakfast before showering and shaving. He hated the feeling of hurrying his shower and shave so that he could have his breakfast. If he had the breakfast first then he was in no hurry and he could enjoy his shower and shave.
Mayberry swept past Alice. He didnâ€™t want Alice to slip and break her neck. After sweeping up Mayberry mopped the floor. He really didnâ€™t want Alice to slip on some object and break her neck. They were still the best of friends and more importantly husband and wife.
Mayberry need Alice and Alice needed Mayberry.
â€œDonâ€™t kick that bucket,â€ said Mayberry.
â€œI wonâ€™t,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry sat next to Alice and poured himself a cup of coffee. The coffee was white.
â€œWe must hit the road soon,â€ said Mayberry.
He sipped noisily from the cup.
â€œDonâ€™t be cruel,â€ said Alice.
â€œWhat?â€ said Mayberry.
â€œYou know what,â€ said Alice.
â€œKnow I donâ€™t,â€ said Mayberry. â€œBut I know of Watt.â€
Mayberry buttered the toast while Alice scattered salt and pepper over the eggs. Mayberry placed a plate before Alice while Alice broke up the bacon. The bacon had been in the oven and the eggs were sunny side up the way Mayberry and Alice liked the eggs. They liked to smear the yoke over the toast and cover the yoke with bits of bacon.
â€œI hope Occam doesnâ€™t mind me using his razor,â€ said Mayberry.
Occam and Fanny were not permitted to join Mayberry and Alice for breakfast. They had to wait until Mayberry and Alice had left the apartment before venturing out of their bedrooms and having breakfast. It was a rule of the apartment, not set in stone, but still visible to Occam and Fanny.
â€œDo you still have the Ace up your sleeve?â€ asked Alice. She bit greedily into her toast.
â€œPlease letâ€™s not fight over that card game last night,â€ said Mayberry.
â€œYou took Occam to the cleaners,â€ said Alice.
â€œI thought I could smell something nice in the air,â€ said Mayberry.
â€œIâ€™m serious. You stripped him of everything he had,â€ said Alice.
â€œHis naked did excited Fanny,â€ said Mayberry.
â€œIs that why she was so wet,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry always cheated at cards, but Alice knew this, Mayberry was a bad apple. Aliceâ€™s own mother had told her not to marry into the Apple clan. They were the talk of the town, but love is stronger than common sense, and so Alice married Mayberry and she forgave him his proclivity to rob and steal and murder, at the end of the day an apple doesnâ€™t fall far from the tree, and the Apple clan were mostly locked up for misdemeanors and crimes and the penitentiary was only a few blocks away.
Mayberry and Alice smeared yoke over the toast and scattered bits of bacon on top of the membrane of yoke. Alice lifted the toast to her mouth and smeared her face with egg yoke. Mayberry being a loving husband used a paper towel to remove the egg off Aliceâ€™s face. He still loved her and she still loved him and even though they had their loves she was the apple in his eye and he was the apple in her eye.
â€œTomorrow you will be able to visit that optician,â€ said Mayberry, removing an apple out of Aliceâ€™s eye. It was bright red apple. He bit into the apple. It was very sweet.
Mayberry touched Alice lovingly.
â€œYes and you will have more money than sense,â€ said Alice.
They finished their meal in silence.
Mayberry jumped into the shower, while Alice dressed.
Fanny was dead to the world on the unmade bed and Occam was out of sight out of mind.
Alice put on her black underwear, silky, shiny, and tight, with the art of the burlesque dancer.
Alice would wear her black Channel dress and her Versace black high heels. As with Mayberry, Alice had a completely black wardrobe.
They were going to attend a funeral.
Mayberry unable to use the razor correctly nicked himself under the chin. The blood mixed with the hot water and cascaded over his body. Not waiting for the ink to dry he washed himself down thoroughly and held a thumb to the nick. He managed to stop the flow of blood and finish the shave.
After drying himself, Mayberry dressed.
Mayberry met Alice in the kitchen. Alice was attaching her earrings to her ears. Mayberry was fixing his tie.
â€œThe old man wonâ€™t know what hit him,â€ said Mayberry straightening the tie. Â He suited a tie.
â€œAnd to think he worked his fingers to the bone for me and mother,â€ said Alice. She applied lipstick to her lips.
â€œThat must have hurt,â€ said Mayberry.
Alice sprayed perfume over her body.
â€œHe has more money than sense,â€ said Alice.
â€œHe has money up the wazoo,â€ said Mayberry.
Alice tucked a silk hankie into Mayberryâ€™s jacket breast pocket.
â€œYou can go up there but I refuse he is my father after all and I am the love of his life,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry lit two cigarettes. Alice usually didnâ€™t smoke, but this morning she smoked. She was going to attend a funeral after all and her nerves were bad, they were very bad; they had vandalized her face, and removed the nails off her fingertips. She hoped that the smoke would settle her stomach now that it was in the act of revolution.
â€œYou have to stop swallowing Mikhail Bakunin,â€ said Mayberry.
Alice was a greedy reader. Mayberry never read.
â€œHeâ€™s so juicy,â€ said Alice.
Mayberry found the car keys. Alice sat at the breakfast nook and tried to smoke, but she found the smoke thicker than tar.
Mayberry put on the radio. The radio looked good on Mayberryâ€™s head.
â€œMen no longer wear hats, itâ€™s a shame,â€ said Alice.
The radio played the same old song so Mayberry took off the radio.
â€œHats are so yesterday,â€ said Mayberry.
He sat next to Alice at the breakfast nook. He held her hand. The hand was cold. He leaned over and kissed her. They were still the best of friends and more importantly husband and wife.
â€œI should use Occam’s razor on the old man,â€ said Mayberry.
Alice smiled. She wanted the money, she needed the money, and she knew that Mayberry wanted the money, that Mayberry needed the money.
â€œYou are cool as a cucumber,â€ said Alice lovingly.
â€œWe are killers,â€ said Mayberry.
â€œThat would be a killer line to finish on if we were in a short story,â€ said Alice.