Translated from French by Béatrice Djerroud
May 17, 2018
I woke up around 9:30 a.m. to the chirping of a magpie drinking rainwater out of a salad bowl I had carelessly left on my balcony, and headed to the microwave to warm my soothing mask up. I have been suffering from ocular dryness for more than a year now and have been practising this ritual ever since. I opened the microwave’s door after 20 seconds and got straight back to bed, ensuring my eyes were both fully covered by the plastic piece filled with blue beads. I know nothing about the material they are made of.
After the usual shower, I put on a pair of jeans slightly torn at the crotch and a plaid shirt. On one of the socks I had randomly picked from a large plastic bag, I noticed a bit of red dried-out paint firmly encrusted in the fabric, the souvenir of an old dominatrix friend who was painting the walls of her new dungeon at the time.
Out in my street, I bumped into Huguette, an old and probably disabled lady with an arched back who was particularly fond of me. She greeted me with a “Hey, Cutie pie!” which I pretended not to understand. She then proceeded to complain about how she found the temperature too hot to her taste. As usual, my reply was absurd, and in that case I advised her to wear a scarf in order to feel better. As usual, she joyfully laughed and shrank a little more.
I walked along the river and crossed the bridge leading to the main police station to get to my girlfriend’s house, which was vacant because she had gone touring for a week. I went there to have breakfast. I prepared some “Passion Bio” coffee and had slices of bread, spread with butter, the salt of which comes from the same island as I do. The peacefulness of her tiny house’s wooden interior enabled me to gain a positive frame of mind. I felt calm and invigorated.
In the late morning, I caught the nearest bus to the city centre in order to look after my best friend’s black cats. She was spending a few days at the home of her partner’s mother to flee from the noise pollution generated by her close neighbours, some heavy-partying, bullying, and disrespectful students, whom the casual police raids never calmed down. Because I live off social benefits, I often accept odd jobs which require little time or effort, and I do enjoy running errands for others. As soon as I opened the door, I heard the continuous and hoarse meowing of Dario, the fatter of the two cats. He is always looking for some kind of attention or affection. My friend took him in after a Belgian brothel, where she worked for a while and where the cat was a regular, closed down.
Valmont is thinner and the sick one. He got diagnosed with an infection, which has weakened him a lot. One of my missions consisted in giving him 15 “hair ball” treats in order for him to regain his appetite. Once more, he was hiding under an old cinema seat, like feral chewing gum. He did not react when I placed the food right in front of him, hence I had to throw it at him so that he would quickly eat the bits one by one.
After spending some time petting Dario, I took the tram to a high school where I waited for an eco-friendly rap singer to whom I was introduced two days before by the man who was hiring us. In the meantime, I had listened to some of his compositions, which I rather enjoyed, though I am not normally into hip-hop music.
We sat down in a nearby Asian restaurant, and I started explaining the schedule of the oral-interpreting and poem-delivering workshop we would be running together. We left when the time had come and we had drunk our coffees and paid the bill. As the owner’s dog wanted to follow us, the lady ordered him to stay, in Italian, which I found amusing.
In the Catholic school’s teachers’ room, there were not a lot of icons and no cross whatsoever. We met the English teacher who was in charge of the project rather quickly. He was wearing a T-shirt with a picture and a text from the Civil Rights Movement on it; he was a casual and rather left-wing thirtysomething. Once the students were all set, a good atmosphere arose. Nobody was reluctant to take part in the different warming-up drills such as saying tongue twisters in various languages or getting their body ready for stage action. Before delivering her poem a young lady, who had written a text in a crude way on her being bullied by boys, asked for my opinion about her piece. I just told her that because we were working on a school project, she should use a less familiar vocabulary. I also told her that she should proudly stand by her statement and deliver her message loud and clear.
After the session was over, the teacher, my colleague, and I crossed a room where two girls were doing their homework. Our host walked closer to one of them, whom he seemed to be familiar with, and asked her whether she was in detention. As she replied yes, he mockingly and harshly threw right in her face “Shame on you! You suck!” Under the influence of caffeine and puzzled by the incongruity of the situation, especially in a religious school, I started to laugh nervously.
After so many peregrinations in such a short day, I walked back to my small flat and went to bed quite quickly to continue reading my great-uncle’s autobiography about his life in the merchant navy and pursuing my virtual RPG quests.
By finding out about the mysteries of my family’s history and keeping in touch with the positive assets of my roots, I carry on threading my own life with creativity and fantasy to take me away from a far more tragic and sterile perception of events and existence.