Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oil & Hay - 11

On Monday I drove the thousand kilometres to Paris in the pouring rain. My hangover didn't lift until I reached Lyon, but when it did I was plunged into a honeyed realm of ecstasy and nearly cried. Still it rained.

When I pulled up in front of 48 Rue de Grenelle I half expected to find her waiting in her soaking pea coat, blond hair matted to her brow. But she wasn't.

Upstairs I mixed a gin and tonic and leafed through my little black book to the page of her ever-changing numbers. The only one not crossed out was for the Hotel Pierre in New York City.

"I'm sorry, sir. Miss Welles has checked out," said the clerk. "She did leave a message for you in the event that you called."


"And it reads as follows: Had to fly back to Los Angeles. Publicity for the record. Will call you in Paris."

"Is that all?"



"Her salutation, sir."



I hung up, walked out on the balcony, and lit a cigarette. I gazed out at the intersection, at Boulevard Raspail divided by its treed median. I thought about Mel. Her night terrors, her love of Calder. Her advocacy on behalf of prisoners of conscience. Her past lives. She believed she'd been an emperor's taster in an ancient Chinese court.

"Which emperor?" I had asked her then, chidingly.

"Xian, the last emperor of the Han dynasty. He didn't see the writing on the wall. Also, his diet was overly rich in salt. I adored him though."

Her certitude startled me.

"Were you his concubine as well?"

"I was a male eunuch, Mal."

I remembered another thing she said that night at the party in St. Moritz.

"There's a new world coming. Don't you know that?"

"What in heaven's name do you mean?"

"It's about to be born. Can you feel it?"

"Where is this new world you speak of?" I asked, a bit pompously I fear, as if to say: This world you see is all there is, my dear.

"Not where, what. And when."

"So what? When?"

"We're evolving. We're casting off the old ideas. Sure, it might be rough at first. A bloody revolution in the streets. But the time has come. Are your chakras in order?"

"Beg pardon?"

"Seven energy centers run along your spine."

"Do you know where you are in time and space?" she queried.

"Right here. Right now," I answered. A bit defensively.

"I'm unconvinced, darling. You seem a little fuzzy."

I rattled my ice in mild irritation and smiled a tense little smile. "But I'm not driving, you see. I'm all sorted when I drive."

"You don't have to go around in circles to find yourself."

It struck me that I did. But I kept the thought to myself.

"You should meditate. You should do yoga."

"Will it help me drive faster?"

"It will help you do anything."