He walked alone down the Paris Rue’s not realizing where he was going nor caring much. The rambling aisles of Baron Housmann were merely walls to contain his resolve to move ever foreword. This was the root of the mystery tht he claimed for his own. A total fiction from some demented tourist’s mind fashioned by a Hollywood fable. The dirty doorways stained and aged with anonymous urine surrounded by ancient plaster never leaving any physical evidence of its failure. The rot of indifference spreading its imperceptible odor everywhere. An aphrodisiac that absentmindedly filled his nostrils. The moist comfort of the wrap of an aging ‘salope’s’ underarm that he had encountered. Thin covers moving one to push tighter against the birdcage of her emaciated ribs. Too much smoke suggesting a legacy of cancer come home to soon end things. Living on the edge. A wine glass of vin rouge the next day distant kilometers away cross town and one of her bleached white hair falling from his coat into his drink. The melancholy of memory expunged with a sweep of the back of a hand. That being indicative of the frailty of a single anonymous forgettable human life.
The valise he had brought with him with the items extraneous to his wandering no longer existed. Left somewhere months back in a small hotel room with a mansard view over smoke and steam and rail tracks. The ravaged pockets of his old gray cashmere coat his home now. The temporary solace provided only for the white knuckles forming two tightened fists doing battles with the cold relentless Autumn wind. The sense of ‘me’ and the clue to identity upon that the case held below the handle in two initials the only key to the mystery of his persistent presence. It being now impossible to draw any conclusions as to the relation of one to the other. The tight curve of streets and long avenues an impenetrable barrier to recovering the past. There was only the mystery of somber narrow streets some of which had not much changed since their discovery upon the photographic plates and paper of Atget. What he was searching for was indecipherable to the passersby who ignored him. Perhaps at the occasional cafe the nod of a waiter followed up by the brief benediction of a chit of paper for the second or third Pernod. The sank between them terminated before it had officially been anticipated. The sparse bank notes left in lieu of a verbal apology for taking an unexpected leave.
Time had run out to retrieve any return to the past. The remaining impulse being to continue on and on to some place strange that he knew he had never known and could never understand. The small sojourns in alleyways eventually coming to rest in the confused styles of untended habitation in outlying ‘banlieue’s’. The place where the fiction of all things reminding one of the official past met the social emptiness of stateless volumes of concrete that formed the anonymous highway interchanges cutting arcs through despoiled federal grass. Any desire to continue soon faded into a small static service job that required little knowledge of the language or any great application of dedicated force. The very place that he had unknowingly been seeking all along being fully contemporary to the times in a lack of identity and vague purpose that only the less than extravagant limbo of modernity could bring. All mental affectation faded from any means of expression and time stood still at last. He became merely an unnamed fixture tossed haphazardly along a roadway hidden in the weeds. No different than any other unseen artifact beside a nameless roadside. A convenience that could have been discovered anywhere in the most innocuous corners on earth as a discarded candy wrapper or empty cigarette pack. Such was the fate that had been long deserved.