Treacle and Ink

April 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 5:35 pm

Jacques has been behaving very oddly the past few days, I must say. I put it down to my continuing devotion to my new novel. (Seven chapters now! And a Russian ambassador assassinated by the evil Maltravers! And the greatest sapphire in the world has been stolen!) But he came clean today during a quiet period in the shop. It started when he noticed that the display case door had been forced.

“But,” he said, “who ‘as done zis? ‘Ave we ‘ad a burglar?”
“No,” I said, “I had a lot of enquiries about one of the books in the case – Mythological Objects – so I forced the lock. But it wasn’t even the right book in the end.”
He turned on me and started shouting:
“Why, why must you constantly meddle in zat which does not concern you?! Why are you always sneaking and poking and making ze trouble! You ‘ave broken Mr Ayre’s case! ‘e will be so angry when ‘e returns and ‘ere, ze key is just ‘ere under the counter!”
He reached under the counter where, indeed, the key to the display case was hanging from a small concealed hook. I did feel quite embarrassed.
“I didn’t know, alright? You didn’t show me, how was I supposed to know?”
“You could ‘ave asked me,” he pouted. “But no, now you ‘ave no time for Jacques.”
He looked so unhappy, I almost felt sorry for him.
“Honestly Jacques,” I said, “you must have other friends.”
“Mais oui,” he said, “but…”
And to my horror he started to cry. He’s so volatile.
“It is my girlfriend,” he sobbed, “my darling, she ‘as, ‘ow do you say, dumped me. We ‘ave been together for two years, all ze people I know in England are ‘er friends and I…” he burst into tears again, pulled a tissue out of his pocket and blew his nose noisily. I noticed that as he did, a business card with the words ‘The Doctor’ fluttered to the floor. He quickly grabbed it and thrust it back into his pocket. Don’t think I didn’t have a number of interesting questions to ask about this, but a crying Frenchman isn’t the easiest person to interrogate.

Instead, I patted his hand while he told me the story, of how his darling Bella – with whom he imagined spending his life – had broken up with him because he didn’t tell her he loved her enough, or something like that, of how he was trying to start again without her, but that she was the woman he’d come to England for, she was the reason he enrolled in drama school here, his whole life, apparently, is built around her. I began to see why he’s insisted on spending every night here with me, not with his friends.

We’re planning to get drunk together tonight. I’ll tell him sad stories of my love life too, in the hope this’ll make him feel a little better. No mirror for me tonight, much as I want to carry on writing my story. I must confess, I feel a bit irritated to have to spend even a night away from it. Still, I notice that Jacques’ done a nice thing for me: there’s new stationery in the shop reading “Marsh-Ayre Books, Alice Klein proprietor”. Clearly Jacques is trying to make me feel more at home. He deserves some consideration from me too. Perhaps together we can work out how to make this silly girl take him back!

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