Speak Softy My Love
By the time they got out of there, it was late afternoon.
“Whew. So that’s really our boy.”
“Sure looks that way.” They still had to go back to the hotel.
They hadn’t had any dinner, and there was a quick stop at the Lyon police station. Without a doubt no one would have heard of them and their benefactor, the redoubtable Sergeant Roche, would have already gone off duty. It would all take too long, eating into their valuable time off.
“So.” Tailler had a way of cutting to the chase scene. “What now?”
“Dinner, a drink and a show—assuming there is such a thing in this town.”
Lyon wasn’t that bad, although being in a strange place had its disadvantages. It might also have some advantages. They were young and life was good. The thing to do was accept it, let go, and let the current take them.
Hubert had wanted to call home, as the lady friend would be expecting to hear from him. Tailler had endured the fellow lying flat on his back, on Tailler’s bed no less, and engaging in one of the mushiest, and most endearing conversations he’d ever shameless eavesdropped on. And now this.
Every coin had two sides, in his observation.
As for Tailler, other than his frail and elderly mother, there really wasn’t much going on in his little life at all. Before leaving, he’d made a quick call and his sister had promised to check on mother around bedtime. In his mother’s case, that meant seven o’clock in the evening these days.
It really was good to get away.
“All right. One thing at a time. I’m hungry. And we really ought to go see Roche. It can’t take more than five minutes. It’s the least we could do for the guy.”
“Yes, it is.”
Tailler was nothing if not a growing boy and that impressive frame must be fed.
“Oh, my God.” Emile Tailler couldn’t tear his eyes away.
Etienne, otherwise known as Detective Hubert, belched softly and eyed up the tall but rapidly diminishing pitcher of the house draft.
Holy was right, thought Hubert. It was like the guy had never seen a naked girl before, and for all he knew that might be true. His head was showing signs of stiffness, perhaps tightness in behind the eyes was a better description. There was a very good chance that Hubert would have a headache if not an outright hangover in the morning.
He was prepared to take that risk.
Grinning at his thoughts, he eyed his friend. Surely he could call him that. Tailler was working out pretty well and there was every indication that he would be there in another six months or so.
Each having drawn a hundred francs in expense money, it was like suddenly they were flush with cash, and in between paydays and everything.
It was about time the guy loosened up. It was a co-conspiracy after all.
The club was small, intimate, and minimalist. The floors were bare boards painted dark brown, and the narrow black cracks hinted at damp cellars and dirt floors down below. The interior walls were a warm sort of ruddy multi-toned brick. They had been sandblasted back into a kind of glowing cleanliness which nevertheless hinted at the age of the building. There were skylights three floors up.
It was a tall, vast and narrow space, really quite beautiful, and one had to wonder what the neighbouring buildings looked like inside. Probably nothing like this.
“I have to admit, I’m impressed.”
|She had strong Gypsy features.|
Hubert burst out laughing.
“That’s what I like about you.”
Mona, a lithe and acrobatic young dancer with strong Gypsy features, had finally gotten down on all fours. She went into her act on a tiger skin that must have been eleven feet long. Hubert assumed it was real, and he’d read one or two stories where tigers figured prominently.
Hubert looked away and sipped at his glass. He was hoping that Tailler could take a hint, but the boy was apparently away from home for the very first time, and overnight in a strange city at that. He didn’t seem all that good at holding his liquor. Tailler probably thought he’d had enough, but if so he was wrong.
The girl looked impishly at them, first over one shoulder and then the other. She was down on all fours and presenting a pretty fine ass in their general direction. The show, of course, would take in all available points of the compass. Tables surrounded the small stage on three sides. There was what would be called Perv’s Row, bench seating right up against the stage. Based on past experience, Hubert must assume that the boys down there could literally smell her in all her glory. Tailler, having come in the door ahead of him, had grabbed the first table he’d seen in a kind of defense mechanism.
They were at a table more or less in the darkest corner.
Emile engaged him with a look and a nod, eyes slightly glazed as if he couldn’t quite believe his luck.
There was something of the look of a three or four year-old child on Christmas morning—just when they come to that age when they can truly comprehend. They become aware of the larger world around them, and can finally detect something other than their own stomach, their own bowels, their own little world of toys and play and crying all the time. They could almost hold their own shit in at that point.
There was just the hint of white around Tailler’s eyes, like he’d walked into a candy store and the owner had died of a heart attack—you’re nine years old and you can see all the infinite possibilities inherent in the situation.
Tailler’s head bobbed and a serious look crossed that pleasantly-ugly mug.
“What about…?” He was wondering what she might think of all this…
“Emmanuelle?” Hubert shrugged.
Tailler looked away. The girl was staring deeply into his eyes as she rolled around, going from side to side on her back, lifting her legs wide open in a V and sliding her hands up and down her inner thighs.
Emile licked his lips, totally unconscious of the picture presented.
“Oh, boy.” Hubert heaved a sigh. “What she doesn’t know can’t hurt me.”
Tailler chuckled dutifully. On balance, Hubert could have done without the reminder, but in his opinion no real harm would come of it. As for the drinking, it would be interesting to see how that progressed. He and Emmanuelle were engaged, and he was saving up for a really good ring.
Until then, there were mutual intentions and promises made. That didn’t necessarily mean he was enslaved to the girl. He certainly hadn’t gone blind or anything like that.
That’s not to say he wouldn’t have done it in a heartbeat, because he would have. It wasn’t just their present entertainment, either. It wasn’t just dancers, or Emmanuelle herself. But they were safely out of town, no one had the slightest clue of where they were or what they were up to.
It only made sense to have a good time, after all.
He’d been putting some thought into how they best might exploit the situation.
In all honesty, he really didn’t have any big ideas and this was probably going to be it. For all intents and purposes.
Just watching Tailler, was revealing. The guy was probably thinking...he would be thinking of his mother and the Monsignor. He would suddenly realize, thought Hubert with a wicked smile; that he would be going straight to hell. If he hadn’t already thought of it. This was almost enough of a reward. You took amusement in all things, and sooner or later you had to die.
As for the music, it was predictable enough in its own way—the girls always had to have something danceable in their illusory little world. Like fucking who cared. He could take it or leave it.
The song ended and the girl got up abruptly. She moved like a deer or something, going over to where the gramophone was set up in a little alcove off to one side.
|"What is that, anyways?"|
She changed recordings quickly, skipping back to centre stage. Hubert looked around. They were the most likely prospects in the place. There were only about ten or twelve guys in there, none of whom he would ever want to talk to. The poor girls did it all the time. They drank soda water and hoarded their tips, giving it all to some opium-eater of a poet who wasn’t worth a crock of shit.
She really was staring at him. He always liked the way his heart skipped at moments like that, although it was meaningless enough. It’s not like they had any real money…
The scratches were blotted out, the music started up and the girl began to move.
Hubert’s mouth opened. It really was mesmerizing. Undeniable, really.
Tailler leaned over.
“What in the hell is that?”
“It’s a girl, Tailler—”
Didn’t your father tell you anything?
“I know that. What the hell’s the name of that song?”
That was it.
There was no hope for the boy whatsoever. Hubert rolled his eyes in the general direction of some imaginary audience.
“You know what?”
Tailler, senses on high alert, looked over.
“It’s your turn to buy.”
That pitcher wasn’t going to refill itself.