The rash attempt at lovemaking soon petered out after some initial cloying embraces. Harry’s more animal inclinations having been summoned from within now politely warded off defaulting to an uneasy alliance defeating any attempt at sleep. “What did this woman really want?“, he wondered having been abruptly jarred out of his baser inclinations. It was all very understandable considering the circumstances that physical intimacy though mutually desired would be so awkward on demand from a stranger. They lay back to back like a Midterm married couple, a few inches separating them perched precariously upon opposite edges of the mattress. Harry had attempted to rise up as considerately as he could to make a diplomatic departure. But each time a small hand tightly caught his wrist and pulled him back to a prone position beside her. He continued to lay beside her now sleepless weighing his immediate options.
The wounds received had not damaged anything permanent. His job back at home was still waiting for him though he had been told that while under the influence of heavy medication, he had received someone from the United States foreign service who desired a meeting in order to debrief him. They had left a card but he was undecided as to whether to get himself needlessly embroiled in any further situations of of terror or espionage. He was after all simply another inconsequential ‘nobody’ who had the bad luck to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. “It was funny?“, he thought to himself silently, “How governments used people without any regard to the subsequent damage caused by the continuation of their trauma?” The last thing that he wanted to do was keep raking the coals! This woman beside him seemed to be of the opposite opinion in forcing the occasion to the point of obsession? “Why?” He had been encapsulated into someone else’s universe and for the life of him could not figure out the “règles du jeu.” A passing ambulance siren passing down in the street brought a stirring movement from his host. He lay still and cat-like, trying not to evidence any sign of movement. What was the point of this sidetrack? Would he want to continue with the unraveling of this charade?
The gray reflections of approaching dawn incrementally beginning to illuminate different features of the room. His bed mate rose unceremoniously from her perch padding quietly off in the direction of what was surmised to be the toilet. Harry alighted from his end of same gathering up his shirt and trousers and trailing them into the small lounge to the divan. His unbound emotions suddenly released in the rustle of fabric as he quickly donned each. He struggled about in corners as noiselessly as possible hunting for two errant socks and one of his untied shoes. The animal within was building its argument for immediate flight format his place. The combination of desire for his company entombed in sparsely worded silence was unnerving. The other more saintly shoulder to his left querying, “Was it just a case of nerves on his part?” He recalled an old saying that he had picked up earlier a decade back on a previous trip to France. “Une femme française est suffisante!” Certainly this had been his private topic of mental discourse the previous evening on their way over from the train station? No doubt more a wish hoped for on his part? But he had too willingly handed himself over to the unknown an had found that he was not Narcissistic enough to be oblivious! Then there was the “Dr. Freud” analysis of his inability to function properly in terms of appropriate decision making due to his recent trauma?
Sandrine entered once again the semblance of her nakedness solidly enrobed returned with a tay bearing coffee. Harry took the cup without comment watching her carefully to see what sort of narrative her next humor might bring. “I had a dream last night.”, she began, “un cauchemar!” Harry leaned back holding the loop-less coffee bowl in both hands while keeping his eyes attentive to her. “We were little children again, Jacques and I.” “There was a vast beautiful garden.” “The ‘Hauts de Belleville’, stood before us and we strode into it without a second thought.” “A stone lion appeared before me from out of nowhere on a crag just above and I looked straight at him at his eyes.” “Then I look down at his claws and they were now those of a rooster. They was squeezing my brother’s disembodied head like a rubber ball” Sandrine turned away precisely at the best dramatic moment and shielded any view of her tears with both hands. Harry set down the cup and put his left arm around her feeling the seismic quake of their effect through his chest. “A French woman was sufficient indeed!“, he thought. Sufficient to confuse and conflict one’s unresolved inner conflicts with the promise of the solace of affection and love but not the attainment of same.
The moment seemed to calm after a while and Sandrine sat up and returned to her enigmatic default of a Sphinx-like calm. “Sandrine“, Harry began, “How did you find me, how did you know who I was?” “At the hospital.“, she replied with an amazing calm. Almost as if she had merely turned the page to the next chapter in a novel or a script. “They brought both you and Jacques there in the same ambulance.“, she continued after a moment. “Did you see him?”, he asked. “No . . .“, she said in a near whisper, “They had me come back to identify him later that night.” “So how did you get my name, who I was?“, Harry turned towards her looking intently into her eyes. “It wasn’t too hard, as they gave me what they thought was Jacques coat but was yours!“, she muttered staring back with a quiet but equal intensity. Harry turned away rebuffed. What ever logic to this escaped him. Here he was spoiling the mood with unnecessary questions as if there was any point to the jumble of confused feelings that both of them were both feeling. Who in the Hell did he have in the world beyond this stranger who seemed determined to reach out to him in some way? What was the sense of ‘mucking things up’? There was no real reason that made sense! He gathered her in his arms and quietly rocked with her on the divan listening to the distant traffic coming alive in the street just below, hoping to for a short time exorcise their mutual demons.