Young Americans in Paris Part VI
Young Americans in Paris Part VI
I slept in a towel that night and I still couldn’t figure out what that word meant Bidet. I didn’t remember it from my French friends in America nor did I remember it ever written in Vogue. I was woken by hearing the key turn. It was the woman manager of the hotel letting herself in my room. She had my continental breakfast and a cup of coffee for me. The continental breakfast was a staple for those Americans not use to foreign foods. How could you go wrong with a croissant and coffee?
I stayed under the covers as the she put down my breakfast and felt a bit invaded as she had just let herself in the room. She went back out of the room and quickly returned with my clothes and the stolen clothes and put them on the bed. She spoke to me.
“This is Paris and we see everything.”
I answered, “Obviously.” referring to my naked body under the covers.
She continued. “But a young American girl locked away in a hotel room for several days in Paris is not something we see. You have your clothes. They are a bit manly, no?”
They were because they were the gentlemen’s next door but I had a quick reply. “Milan fashion, it is all the rage.”. I said without hesitation.
She gave me a queer look. “You were washing your clothes in the bidet which is what Americans would consider a toilet.” She knew I wasn’t too bright in that moment. “You know this is Paris and you are either eaten by it or you feast. The choice is yours you know. And I will see your friend soon?”
And I answered her in French, “Yes, Madame.”
She left the room and I knew I had to get Carol back. The hotel manager was not only suspicious of my masculine choice in clothes but also of my missing friend. And she might call the police on me if I seemed like I was in trouble or knew something. I got up, dressed, and had a sip of coffee. Everything I needed was within me to get Carol back. I just had to figure out how.
And I thought Stephan must be completely frustrated sending Carol to hotels all over town, if in fact she was still alive. But I didn’t want Stephan to be able to dump her off. I wanted him to learn a lesson about taking my drunken friend from me. And as for Carol, I thought she needed a lesson on just how dangerous freedom can really be.
I decided to call Stephan that afternoon. He spoke to me in perfect American. And he was quite exasperated. He had told me that there were many Britannique hotels in Paris which I already knew and was counting on. He again asked me for the address and again I told him my French was not so good. It is amazing how pretending not to be able to speak a language works as effectively as pretending not to understand someone speaking the same very language. I told him to meet me at the Louvre in front of the Mona Lisa at 3pm and I would take Carol off his hands. He agreed and we hung up.
And I thought to myself, “Eat or be eaten in Paris? I’m ravenous.”
I tried on the men’s clothes and while the waist was way too big. I made do with the belt. I found a coat check billet in the pocket of the pants. It was a bit tattered from the washing but I could see it was from the restaurant across the street. I finished dressing and went across the street to the restaurant. I handed the billet to the hostess and she returned with an over coat, hat and a brief case. I tipped her and left. I returned to my hotel and as I walked up to my room I saw a pair of gentlemen’s shoes outside his door waiting to be picked up to be shined. I quickly tossed those in the brief case.
And then I ran to my room closing the door behind me. I put the hat on and the over coat on and then I opened the brief case to get my shoes. As I took the shoes out I saw hunreds of thousand francs in the brief case. And I thought the field of play has been leveled financially. Well not really but I had the element of having surprise finances which Stephan would not be expecting. And it would be impossible to track me because I would be off traveler’s checks and using French Francs. So I stuffed my pockets full of the money and left for the Louvre. I wanted to get there early so I could scope out a spot where I could see if Carol was in fact with Stephan.
I doubted Stephan could have made me I was dressed as a man. But I wanted to be certain so I kept my distance.
I hesitated for one last minute and I picked up the card to the US Embassy. I considered calling one last time but then I thought they would simply laugh at me, “No internationally incidence over more fish in the sea.” Besides as Americans in the 1980(s) we were taught if you get caught no one ever comes for you. And I wasn’t certain the US Embassy would help or turn me in. After all I had stolen clothes and now money from the gentlemen staying next door.
So I started out for the Louvre in what inextricably was not the way I had ever imagined seeing the Louvre. Somehow I had a much more glamorous ideation about seeing the Mona Lisa. I wanted to spend hours and hours just marveling at Da Vinci’s work. But such is life in Paris so my trip to the Louvre was to see if Carol was still actually with Stephan.
I took the metro to the Louvre. I avoided cabs. For some reason I always believed they were keeping track of me. I took the metro and I was really quite impressed with it. I arrived an hour early at the Louvre and managed to find a perfect spot to spy when Carol and Stephan showed up. And they were there 15 minutes early. They had very sober looks on their faces as if they expected the French police to show up. And they looked as if they had been fighting. Carol had been crying but she was no worse for the wear. But she was still in the same clothes. I watched them from a far and they waited and waited and waited. I considered following Stephan back to his flat but in circumstances like that it is more then likely Stephan was staying in a friends flat. And besides I was a women and I couldn’t take him physically. It was now 3:30pm and I decided it was best that I leave the Louvre first. I left with a great deal of sadness as it was not as I had imagined my first time being at the Louvre would have ended but such is life.
On the way home I stopped at a local Bistro and had a lovely lunch. I sipped my wine at an outside café’. I now knew Carol was alive and I would soon have to make the exchange. I only had one day left to get her back before I left for Nice and Canes. And every angel had to be considered. Should I call the Embassy? No. Should I call the police? No, Carol had went with this fellow on her own. None of us were without sin and Carol was not harmed. And after all we were all American and we don’t turn each other in. But the hotel manager was suspicious and it was dangerous for me to return there more than one more time. After all the gentlemen next door would discover his missing clothes anytime now. And he was probably already in a frenzy over his billet for his brief case full of money. I decided to pack what few things we had and put them at the Metro station. We were all on Euro rail passes back in those days. I studied the Franc coins in my hands and they were so pretty. The French have so many pretty things I thought even their money was pretty, well especially their money was pretty. And as I drank the last of my wine I made my way back to the hotel for one last time.
When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly changed back into the same clothes I had been wearing when I had flown in. I took off the gentlemen’s clothes and bribed a maid to return them to him and I also sent the shoes out to be cleaned and returned. The brief case I kept. And then I paid the hotel bill and left for the Euro-rail station.
I knew I looked so American and I vowed to buy myself French clothes when I arrived in Nice. I purchased new tickets for tomorrow which meant I had one day to get Carol back.
I called Stephan one last time. He picked up the telephone and was very firm. “Where were you?”
I retorted, “I got lost. I told you my French is not so good.”
“Do you want to speak to Carol?” he asked.
And I knew if I answered "yes" the game would continue. I had to make him believe he would be stuck with her for life if he didn’t strike a deal with me. “No, not really.” I answered. “I’m leaving tomorrow.” I explained.
Stephan was beyond, “What?”.
I tried not to laugh but it was hard. “I am leaving. Carol is all yours. I just called to congratulate you on your win.”
Now Stephan started cursing in French. “What am I to do with her? She doesn’t even have a passport.”.
“Not my problem.”. I answered him. “But I would have thought about that before I took her. Besides my entire trip to Paris has been ruined, I didn’t get to do any of the sight seeing I wanted. You took me to this unsavory club for which I will never recover. I just wanted to enjoy the Parisian life for a bit. So I will bid you farewell.”
“Wait!!” Stephan yelled into telephone. “Let me make it up to you. Let’s have one last night in Paris. I promise I will make it a great one.”.
“Oh Stephan I would need a gesture, a good faith measure in order to even consider that.” I replied.
“Anything.” Stephan said with desperation.
“You and Carol meet me at Café De Flore on St. Germaine.”.
Stephan quickly asked, “How do I know you will not have the cops waiting for me?”
I answered, “You don’t. And that is what makes it so much more interesting.”
“8pm?” Stephan asked.
“10pm is better for me.” I answered. And so we hung up.
I had one last thing to do before meeting him and then my time in Paris would be over.
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