Friday, 20 March 2009

Le Philosophe - Drageur

With the shutters firmly fastened closed, the philosophe drageur bends slightly to reach the lock of his small front door, and resplendent in his shiny black veste-en-cuir bought cheaply at the Thursday market, removes his brown stained hand rolled cigarette and coughs into his Ford Mondeo, starts the engine lets it warm before moving off and proceeds down the hill to his usual cotie of philosophical friends smoking and coughing over myriad empty cups stained by bitter black coffee.

They sit in the warm March early afternoon sunshine that has now peeked over the buildings opposite for the past two weeks. The air is still cold in the shade while around the small of the back remains cool but the sun is beginning its warming arc in earnest, and the vuarnets, the raybans, police and cheapo copies are being flicked open from the breast pockets and planted fully on the face, some even being allowed to slip easily from the slicked back dark hair where they have rested all winter.

He doesn't work. He collects his unemployment or odd jobs-noir when he has to, when the social cheques stop. His circle of older women, with the dried, stained, sagging skin of the chain smoker; not pretty but with needs, look after his; both liquide and physical. He is frugal. He distrusts. The business down the road past the traffic lights is a voleur! They charge lots to do what he can, but they train youngsters, they have premises to pay for and taxes and social charges to keep the less fortunate from being further unfortunate.

They will feed him, they will buy his coffee, and they will sleep with him because no one wants to sleep with them, and he has his uses. He can erect a table as well as himself, he can put up a shelf and mend their cars, and then for a short while he will mend their broken dreams and put an end to their own small sadnesses but continue his own...

Sometimes when the women are not at hand, he has a pretty young man call upon him, and often the shutters will close firmly and the house closes down, only for the young man to remove his foreign car away the following day.

He watched quietly as my young man son strode home in his homey gear one winter day, wrapped against the wind, heaving a pack of beer. In the dull dusky light of an end of January day, he did not see me standing in the doorway in the shadow of the overhanging roof. There was longing in his lined lustful face. Not all of which were filled by the tanned tone of the new men's range...

Down in the town the tactics change, the café on the flank shielded from attack by the winds from the north, provide the warm wall to laze against, and wonder when to start the interested interrogation of the pretty black bobbed girl; her sleeves drawn up to her shoulders to start her tanning early. All about are wrapped in coats and scarves, some are gloved and hatted against the cold wind whipping across the water of the lake below.

And later, much later, the sound of a motor car reversing back into the small parking bay below the balcony announces his return with a small plastic bag of groceries for one.

The philosphe-drageur returns to his loneliness. Until tomorrow...

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