There they were the cynic and the lover, sitting on that ridiculous little bench in the park, that silly green bench near the brown water of the pond.
His black bowler's hat was tipped to one side as his gloved hands slid up and down the fret board, his fingers, exposed to the cold morning air, blue and burning. She sat next to him, beating on a little hand drum, her dreadlocks hanging over her eyes. Tonight she would wash it and straighten it out again, but for now she wanted to be the girl with the dreadlocks. Today was dreadlock day.
She wasn't really a drummer, though it would appear so, for the passion was clearly there, no, she wasn't a drummer, nor was he truly a guitarist, although a proficient and seemingly professional player, it wasn't his instrument.
By night, when the faade of life faded away and the mouth-breathers were all asleep, they would plunge into the heart-beat of the city, retreating into the womb of the beast where poets, musicians and artists all plied their individual yet united trade. By morning they were two seemingly lost, unemployed (rather hobo-chic) musicians, but by night they were the pulse of the underground, an infamous duo, the combination and culmination of years of practice, passion and ferocity pumped into the Frankenstein's Monster they called their music.
She was a Jazz trombonist and classical pianist, and he was a prodigious violin-virtuoso. His poetic genius was complimented only by her own raconteur abilities. Together they had taken the French underground by storm, and now resided somewhere in America, having grown too popular in France.
If only life was easy We'd be as two pod-people in a pea I'd kiss you in the shadow of the moon And hold you in my arms But a dollar only goes so far'
The day was done, and they were in their favorite booth in the small coffee shop. It reminded them of the home they left behind, that small flat in Paris, one strangely reminiscent of scenes from Les Misrable'.
Their instruments rested in the corner, in their old worn out cases. Another show done well. Though a small crowd, that's how they preferred it. Hype is for the hypocrites.
J'aimerais commander une tasse de caf, merci. Leyla loves the French. That was another reason they liked coming here, the waiters were mostly from France, mostly actors and actresses, as the clich would have it. J'ai faim J'ai besoin de nourriture! Quelle viande servez-vous? Avez-vous le Canard? J'aimerais commander le Canard, et une tasse de caf.
With an awkward smile the only non-French waitress at Le Chteau de Sable', nodded and hurried off to find someone who could read, understand and translate what she'd just written down.
Half an hour later, after much consternation in the kitchen, the small, wispy thing came out again with their order. Two cups of steaming black, and a duck, roasted in a batter of various herbs and spices.
The morning they had fed the ducks, tonight a duck was feeding him. Ironic.
Last night was a good night. He said, as he shaved off the last remnants of his weekend's laziness. She sat on the bed, watching him as only a lover can. Indeed, quite a good night, the pay could've been better though. We're almost out of bread.
We'll get some more later. He put the razor down and put on a creased shirt. The winter was surely approaching, it was getting cold. He sat next to her on the bed. You better get dressed if we're gonna go feed the ducks, my love.
She raised herself up, and started the search for clean socks. He started pulling on his sneakers, the oldest pair he owned. Old, but not decrepit.
Together they faced the wind and rain, and got on the old blue bus that took them to and fro on a daily basis. One day they would own a Lamborghini, a red one. But then she thinks again. He doesn't like fancy cars; they tend to be too mainstream for him. He'd rather be run over by one than drive one, and rather be flattened by a cart pulled by an old, lame donkey, instead of being run over in style.
Today was crazy hat day. She liked making up holidays. One day, she dreamt, she would be the world's holiday-maker, and sit around all day thinking up holidays such as but not limited to Peg Leg Day, International Talk Like a Scotsman Day, and of course Appreciate a Midget Monday.
That would be the life!
Finally, after what felt like forever, they got off the bus, his old, battered Japanese acoustic asleep on his back like an African baby on the back of its mother. They were off to see the ducks, they were, to entertain the egg-laying feather-bags and dog-walking hags in the park, with its green grass and promises of a nap under an old apple tree.
Underneath the Apple tree There was not one, nor two, nor three But four little boys huddled together In the hollow of the dog's bark, in the fool's shadow In the shade of the tree, their unknowing shelter'
She broke bread and ate with the ducks, sharing her breakfast, most of it anyway (the coffee she kept for herself, allowing only Dylan to take a sip every now and again). Dylan however is lost in thought, his head resting on her lap as he lays stretched out on the old green, wrought-iron and wooden bench.
He remembers the day he met her. He's known her for years, since they were children in fact. They both grew up in a rather dodgy part of London. He met her in the fall; he remembers the trees falling apart as if their collective heart had been ripped out by a would-be lover.
His mother, bless her soul, was walking him to school, the cigarette hanging limply from her blue lips.
Your nicotine smile haunts me mother The smoke gets in my eyes mother Clouding the memories I have of you It feels so long ago
They met one morning, during that long, cold walk, when he stuck some bubblegum in her hair, being a boy of six and doing what naughty little boys do at that age.
Bubblegum memories One so similar to three Mass produced by a city Rotting to the core Repetitive disasters Books of lost friends There was another incident
After that they became the best of friends. Tears always seem to bring people together and together they were, for what now seems like forever. Together they collected bugs as children, and ditched school as teenagers, leaving the world of books and pens behind for that of the bohemian underworld.
There was an old gypsy who owned a pawn shop near there school, and its there that they discovered the same trombone and that very violin that binds them as glue. They ran away from home a few years later, working as dishwashers and waiters and working on their music in their spare time. This all has led up to this.
A cop wakes them up quite a few hours later, where they're both asleep on the bench. This actually happens quite a lot. Hey, you bums, get up, this ain't no hotel, you hear? He says in his obvious working class accent.
Dylan rose slowly, waking Leyla in the process, and after taking a sip of cold coffee smiled at the officer. You know, one of those, I'm gonna mess your [obscenity/verb] up' smiles. Bonjour monsieur!
I said get up and go, you can't sleep here, don't be smiling at me! Obviously not a part of the intellectual life of this fair city, he gripped his baton all the more fiercely as if to subliminally message them. Je ne comprends pas.
This however was not the way to talk to an officer of the law, especially not a patriotic one. You're one of them there frogs, aren't you? He raised his baton and held it against Dylan's cheek; it was cold against his skin. I don't like foreigners, whether you're white or not. You don't understand the talk, now why would you come here if you don't understand the divine language? You damn frog, if it was up to me I'd shoot you, but I don't want to make no mess for the decent people who live here.
Dylan spat at the cop, hitting his target in the eye. He also managed to throw a few French obscenities at him, but had to stop because of the blow aimed at his head. Spitting out teeth and spewing hatred towards the cop.
The pig was lifting his baton for the second time when Leyla interceded, No, don't hit him! She got up quickly, her hands outstretched as if to catch it when he swings again. She screamed in him in her distinctly European accent (Although from London, one picks up certain inflections, so to speak, when traveling), He doesn't understand, he's French, we're leaving, just let us go!
Well now, look at little miss Gandhi, playing the little peacemaker! My, my, aren't you a cute one. His gaze disgusted her. If she had had a knife at that moment she would've stabbed him in the face. He reached out to grab her, and that's when she lost her cool. Swinging at him she slapped him across the face, and for a moment he just stood there staring at her
Then all hell broke loose. [Deleted scene of graphic violence, but believe me it was terrible!]
Running away she spared but one last look at the cop, laying face down in the pond, blood streaming from his pores, and that's when she realized that this all couldn't be real. He had a pair of scissors protruding from his skull, for crying out loud man!
She stopped to pinch herself, but was tugged away from the scene by Dylan who led them off the grass straight into an old, decrepit and I have to add burning building! There they fell down a rabbit hole, into the world of a little hunchback called Alice, and it was there that she realized fully that she didn't exist, and thus all the philosophers of the world mocked her, laughing at her tardiness. How could she have thought herself an intellectual, when her wit and mental prowess hadn't allowed her to understand this before? The Matrix had nothing on her Aristotle laughed at all the fun as Plato wagged his tail.
Are you all there, love? He asked, a rather concerned look on his face. Huh?
There she was, on the silly green bench, a piece of bread resting in her small, smooth hands, squeezed into a small ball by slender fingers. Dylan was sitting next to her now, his arm around her shoulder, Are you okay? He asked again. Sorry, my thoughts ran away with me.
The trail is dark And the dog is long dead The children are filled and in bed The cow sings no more, caged by his own complacency No milk for you Ba-ba black sheep, your wool is red Dyed in the blood of babies and slaves of communism Your sweatshop vibe has no appeal The signal is low No calls in the night Put your gloves on and fight, fight, fight This is your shot, this is your chance Just don't forget to put squirrels in your pants
And there they were, in the park, on the absurdly green bench made of iron and wood, just as they are, every day, feeding the ducks.
In the distance though, in a decrepit, burning building, geese are screaming as small children, funny hats upon their heads, roses hanging limply from their blue lips, the thorns piercing their flesh. Plato wags his tail as Marx jumps over the moon.
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Copyright: Andre Darius Labuschagne (09 June 2009)