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| | mercredi, juin 30, 2004

I watched her struggle with it from a distance. She was chocking, I couldn't help. Paralysed. Arms holding me back, anxious to catch me. And she took it in, gulps of it, big chunks of love. Of live bait.

"The inadequacy of not being able to show love immobilizes me" I told her. I carry stones in my chest. How can I run? How can I swim? How can I fly?

How can I give you what you want?

Break the mirror and walk through

| | mardi, juin 22, 2004

We walk into the lobby, a big room bathing in red velvet, mirrors curly gold frames and lots of glittering crystal. Thick carpets cover the parquetted floors, the astracan wool moving under my footsteps as if it is alive and ready to engulf the whole room. Three strategically positioned chandeliers illuminate the bloodcoloured half moon shapes of antique seats. The walls are covered with paintings darkenend by smoke and dust.
"Sit down, please" says the voice from the darkest end of the room. "I'm sure you would like to know why you are here." I can see smoke curling up form behind a velvet chair,its back turned towards me.
Virginie moves to what seems to be bar. An exquisite art nouveau counter ornamented with big lillies finely shaped in wood and colored glass. Behind it rows of strangely shaped bottles and decanters.
"What was all the hocus pocus up there in the hallway?" I ask, a little bit vexed. "And you seem to know all about me? Well then, what do you want? A handreading, fortunetelling, hashish, an oriental massage?" I'm starting to lose my temper.
"Please let me explain," she answers calmly. "These precautions are absolutely necessary. I need a favour. Listen to the story.
My daughter has got a few health problems. She has probably told you.
Virginie is successful in life. She has a good job and earns lots of money. She's a consultant in the city centre. Her opinion is well valued everywhere. She lives in a nice house, wears stylish clothes, has good taste. And she tells me she has a really nice relationship going on too. No children though." She pauses. "I think it must be a married man, because I've never been introduced to this lover of her. She might as well make it all up." The chair moves a bit with agitation, but still doesn't turn around.
"Mother please!" Virginie looks up from behind the counter where she is fixing a drink.
"Allright, allright," the chair mutters, releasing cicles of aromatic smoke and continues: "What I want to say that she's a successful businesswoman. She takes cabs instead of the metro, needs to decline invites for parties, has seen more of the world than Marco Polo. She's supposed to be happy, to feel accomplished. But she has problems. Poor Virginie suffers from an extremely rare hereditary disease. It's been in the family for ages, maybe centuries."

| | lundi, juin 14, 2004

I glance to my right and distinguish a faint light, about 10 steps from where I'm standing.
"Go on," my guide urges me. Two very strange-looking ligthbulbs throw long shadows and bizarre shapes onto the walls and corner. I can see a shadow emerging from the dark corner: an ancient wooden cabinet decorated with more encarvings.
My feet are heavy, tired, hesitating. Instinctively my hand touches the heavy cold watch in my left pocket. Smooth silver, oval shaped and fitting precisely into my palm. As I run my fingertips slowly over the engraved initials on the back, suddenly the cabinet comes into focus. In a spilt second I can see every detail: the structure of the wood, the leathery, parchment walls behind it covered with drawings of human shapes, the wood carvings consisting entirely of human an animal bodies, turning, whriting, torsing, entagled. I can see thousands of different creatures. It' s horrifying, I have to avert my eyes. Quickly I open a drawer of the cabinet, intending to place the watch in it and leave at once. But when I look closely I notice that the drawer is completely filled with watches looking exactly like mine. I keep pulling at the drawer, stepping back into the corridor. It doesn't seem to stop. Until I bump into something soft, warm. I jump. It's the guide, Virginie. She is still standing in the corridor, watching me.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
"Well, I tried to open the drawer of the cabinet right there." I point into the darkness. "But it's terribly long."
"What?" She looks at me with disbelieve." Are you mad? Look at your hands. Nothing there but air."
She is right. I look down and see nothing. No drawer, not even the tips of my worn out shoes. Only blackness and night.
"Come on, let's go in." Virginie says, moving forward.
I put my hand in my pocket. The watch has gone. My hands are freezing.

| | mercredi, juin 09, 2004

Her mother? I am baffled. I think I can barely distinguish a slender shape moving towards me. Or maybe it is what is left of my failing intuition that leads me to believe she is a tall and elegant woman.
"Enchantée" she says. It feels as if a cloud passes through the hallway. Obscuring every shade, movement or colour. Her voice is breathy, soft but supple, like a singer’s.
Instinctively I put out my hand and feel a soft palm and slender fingers pressing mine. She is wearing silk gloves.
"I’m sorry," she continues, "but I have a problem with light."
She has a peculiar Parisian accent not resembling any I know and speaks slowly, stressing every syllable.
"Let us move forward into the lobby." she pauses, breathes, but then decisively continues."But first I must ask you to leave your watch at the hallstand at your right."
I am seized by a feeling of general uneasiness. My watch is not a common article of use you find in the shops. I use it to calculating the position of the stars. Without it I am lost.
"This watch is the sole object of value I posses." I reply "I have been carrying it around for centuries. It’s worth is priceless to me."
"I know," She answers reassuringly, "but in this house it is a dangerous instrument."
I hesitate. Should I fulfill her request or not? Of course I am curious about what is going on here, but Parisian con artists are known for their skills of delusion and false pretence. I have heard stories of robbery and theft bordering on the fantastical.
As if she can read my mind she tells me. "Don’t worry, no one finds this place without being invited and few leave through the same door. However,the purpose of your visit is a different one. This will all become clear when I tell you my story."
Her voice fades and the thump-click noise starts again. She has turned away from me and is slowly retreating into the corridor. Meaning I have to make up my mind now.

| | vendredi, juin 04, 2004

Here I am in a dark house I never imagined to exist. I have to admit I miscalculated. This lady wasn't talking about an ordinary disappearing act. She isn't interested in a tarot reading or a symbolic tale to help her believe in the significance of her life, after life or love relationship.
I look at her and feel a slight tension building up. What if she's really older than me. But masked and mastering secrets of life I haven't found out about yet. I see her face in profile. She's very beautiful, ancient. Her ears are covered with silver earrings and milk white moonstones. Her pitch-black hair is held together by a very old ebony comb decorated with strange undistinguishable signs.
Maybe I have been still for too long, not to have seen this coming.
A sound is approaching. Rhythmic. A hollow thump followed by sharp clicks.
It must be the gatekeeper. No one on earth would keep a door like this unguarded.
"C'est toi, Virginie?" a sharp, breathy voice asks. "Is that you?"
"Yes, mother," my guide replies. "I've brought the clairvoyant, like you asked."
I peer into the dark corridor, trying to catch a glimpse of the creature approaching us. Thump, click click, thump. A smell of rain and another sharp odor related to gunpowder.
My guide clears her throat.
"Edith, I want you to meet my mother. She officially went missing 52 years ago."

| | mercredi, juin 02, 2004

She takes me through an endless maze of little streets. We pass art deco signs of trades and crafts long extinct: silversmiths, a doll maker, manufacturers of enammel chamber pots, a freak show, a hat maker, rosary manufacturers, a bailiff's office consisting entirely of mirrors. And suddenly the sweet scent of tobacco in my nostrills when we pass a wholesale cigar seller. I'm never really lost in the city. My orientation is usually very precise. I rely on my instincts. But this time, all I feel is her hand pressing into my arm, pulling me ahead, further and further away from anything recognizable.
Merde. There's no one on the street here. Not one car. In the distance I seem to hear the faint sound of horse hooves on cobble stones. It will probably be the absynth pulling a joke on my imagination.
She walks fast, way too fast for a lady with varicose veins and a heart that's reluctantly pulsing an exaggerated amount of blood around.
"Nearly there" she says, focussing on the street ahead. I wonder how she can find her way in this unbelievable maze. We almost trip over what I think is a fat blind cat. How can it be possible that in 5 centuries I have not seen or heard of this place. How can it have been hidden for so long?
We arrive at a big wooden door. It's old and decorated with carved out figures. In the dark I can make out a scene with a man and a woman holding eachother in a forrest. And fish in a lake and animals with giant claws, rather fanstastical, dragonlike.
The door is open. I think she knew this in advace. She enters without hesitation, pulling me along.
We enter a dark corridor, full of noises. From gaps in doors further down the hallway I can see light piercing through, illuminating the dancing dust set in motion by our footsteps and long skirts.

| | mardi, juin 01, 2004

Maybe she's been reading too much Paul Auster lately, I wonder.
"Listen," I say looking at her firmly "people go missing because they're dead, murdered or in an accident or they fall off a cliff. Just be realistic. It's a question of coincidence. You disappear because you've misspelled a streetname and get lost and run into the wrong person, or trip over a treebranch near a dangerous river."
Then she moves, getting up from her chair.
"Rubbish" she says, she spits it at me like a cat with a bad temper.
"I thought you would be able to think beyond the daily pattern. I hoped you would use your imagination to teach me something. But ... you're just like the rest of them."
She's up and going, grabbing her coat, ready to turn her back at me.
"Wait,"I say, "Excuse me. I'm not what you think. I don't have the key to the next dimension. I'm bad with places and humans. Smells and sounds is really my thing. But if you could explain what you mean. I'll try to help you."
She looks at me disdainfully. "Will you?" and walks out.
On the street she comes up to me and as if suddenly she's made up her mind about something, she grabs hold of my arm and says angrily: "I'll show you where they are. The missing persons. Come with me." I can feel her warm garlic breath against my cheek. "You really don't know anything, do you." The words slither into my ears.
"Come on, let's go." She grabs my arm tighter, as if I would try to run away and we walk into the dark street.

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