Sunday, August 7, 2011

From Storyteller

Welcome listeners to another edition of Nighthawk Talk.  I've had my eagle-eye on Abby for a while. For one thing, if I don't watch out, she might rob me blind.

Abby, what brought you to Paris?

One summer we drove to a farm outside a small town in Manitoba to visit my great aunt Abigail and celebrate her birthday, August eight, the same day as mine.

She was one hundred. Nineteen years and a dozen lifetimes later and I still can't imagine being so old. Her face wrinkled like tissue paper when she smiled, but her hair was so incredibly long. She let me help her comb it before she rolled it up with what must have been a million bobby pins. Her white hair flowed past her ass and nearly touched the floor.

Sorry. Can I say ass?

Anyway, she was so glamourous, you know, even with the wrinkles and the teeth she kept in a jar. She gave me a few beauty tips I've never forgotten. Always use moisturizer. Always go to bed thankful. Always laugh.

When we piled into the car to drive home, she reached into the back seat where I was squished between my sisters and gave me a little blue bottle of perfume. Evening in Paris. I was the only one she gave a present to, but then, it was my birthday, too. I refused to use the perfume. Instead I would sit at the window for hours, twisting the bottle this way and that, and watch as sunlight reflected through the blue glass to dance on my walls, my floor, the fair skin on my forearms. I would daydream about evenings in Paris, far away from the noise and chaos of my family. Far away from where I was teased for being the youngest and the smallest. I hated being teased, and I knew no one in Paris would tease me.

Years went by and the perfume evaporated. Such a waste. I still have the bottle, a reminder to cherish everything I'm given.

Wow. I never told anyone that story before. What did you put in my drink?

Tell us a bit about your Paris. What areas do you "work"? What place do you retreat to when you need time away from your "job".

For practical reasons, I like to stay close to the metro. It's a fast and easy way to get to work, fits my budget, and the ridership provides camouflage if anyone notices too quickly that their watch, their pocketbook or their jewellery is missing. There is safety in numbers: safety from identification. I can dissolve into the crowd any time I choose, like a ghost, or the disappearing vapour of Evening in Paris.

Plenty of ripe marks spill out of the metro in droves, ready to be plucked, a stream as steady and reliable as the Metro's schedule. Over four million passengers a day. Can you imagine?

My favourite station is Gare de Chatelet-Les Halles. It is a great hub of connecting trains--and passengers, of course. The station is below the Forum des Halles, an underground shopping district. Tempting as it is, with everyone crushed together like the sardines in the fish markets of Rue Montorgueil, I never conduct business on the trains. For one thing, I am trapped. For another, too many cameras.

And I adore strolling down Rue Montorgueil. To me, it is the essence of Paris. You can have your Eiffel Tower and your Champs-Elysees, your Louvre. I'll take la Rue M. Cheese shops, wine shops, flower shops. Quaint cafes. The people that frequent my road come with good taste and rolls of cash. I take their money, indulge my tastes. It's a win-win. For me.

But do you have a place where you leave business behind and just be yourself - no role playing, no manipulation?

Seriously?You're playing me, right? Here is my philosophy, so listen up: Life is a role. Life is a game. I'm a little better at it than everyone else. And I'm always working, always onstage. But if you mean my downtime, where I like to go when I need to be alone, I have a room--not an apartment but a room, and no, I can't tell you where--but it's big and boxy, like a warehouse. I have a purple velvet chair in a corner, tucked under a corner window so there is light coming in from two sides. The chair is round and big enough for me to curl up in. I look out the window and daydream, I paint my toenails, I read books. Lots of books. Its a great place to watch people, watch the sky, watch the rain. It's a good place to write down ideas, or letters I'll never send.

It's also a good place to nap.

Oh, and any sidewalk cafe, or in winter, a cafe with a window seat. I could live off cappuccino. Light sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Yum.

Do you see yourself retiring from you current employment, or leaving Paris? If so, what next?

Hm. That is a very good question, Nighthawk, and I'm so glad you asked. I can't do this forever. Can I?

There is more to my story. I have commissioned the author to expand to novel length but her schedule is tight so I can't be sure when, or if, it will ever get to print. There is rumour of a romance, romance with a man whose wit and passion and desire could match or surpass my own. As if. Imagine me, tamed and tempered by love? Jamais! Never!

Whoever my lover is, I do hope he will always bring me flowers.

Flowers? Now there is an idea. Perhaps I could wear a little white apron, carry trimming shears in my pocket, and buy one of those little flower shops I love so much. And if a couple happens by my little shop, the woman smells the bouquets but her escort does not buy the lilies or roses she so desires, who am I not to relieve the cheapskate of his wallet?

If he bought the flowers, he'd have the flowers, the girl, and his money. C'est la vie.

Thank you, Abby. Let's finish off with a plug for your author, Sherry Isaac in hopes that people drop by her website, by the book with your story, and nag her to continue your tale.


  1. Abby, you sound so like me. Well, I don't pick pockets -- but I VERY much admire creative sneakiness. And, yes, I occasionally run across Sherry Isaac at the website where she hangs out ( I think you will make a wonderful TAMING OF THE SHREWD protagonist when she completes final edits on her MAGGIE finalist winning (!) HOMECOMING. Until then...I'm a poor, struggling artist. You would find no more than a worn Starbucks card and pistachio shells in my pocket.

  2. Taming of the Shrewd? Gloria, (my good friend and fellow MAGGIE finalist) I love it!