The concept of liberty had been troubling him for a while. Was it even a concept? What and how? Liberty. Was it just another fad, an ephemeral reactionary glaze? A star burning out at the speed of light? If so, what took its place, and when? Was it just market forces? Greed? Ignorance? A myth of progress? Or was someone sitting there suntanned on a balcony over the cliff laughing out at the waves as he pondered his grandfather’s psychopathic innovation? There can only be liberty in your mind Jean. Don’t be afraid, it’s only a dream anyway.
His watch told him it had just gone midday, it was two degrees celsius. He had been getting sick of winter lately. You get used to seasons, begin to expect more than they can provide. Through the window, waiters attended tables, children played out dreams while adults played out superficiality en masse: tips, platinum cards, the master and the servant, power trips. And they tell me these are the things to enjoy? But they are them Jean, you are you, maybe they even like it that way, humans are strange but predictable Jean. Hell, what does that mean anyway?… I shouldn’t have cancelled the trip, shouldn’t have lied to her, got to be less selfish. I will be less selfish in future. Look at me. Ipod and everything. Saturday was picking up pace. Life had kicked in and there was a lust for leisure written boldly across the passing faces. When he awoke there was so little sound that he questioned whether it was actually Sunday. But what did that change? People had earned their lie-in anyhow and by thinking he wouldn’t judge them for it he was in actual fact doing exactly the opposite. People were paralyzed.
The shop was empty but for the sales clerk, the interior drenched in multi-coloured packets and products.
‘How are you today?’ he asked with a genuine sanguinity. She looked momentarily stunned.
‘I’m… fine… How are you?’
‘Good thank you.’
She relaxed, he wasn’t a threat, just a nice boy. Handsome nice boy. Foreign.
‘That’s 12.96 love.’
‘Oh, I’ll have a scratch card too. Any one. I’m feeling lucky.’
‘’Lucky Seven’ then… 13.96 dear.’
‘Have a good day.’
‘You too love.’
He took off his gloves and pulled a coin from his pocket. Match 3 to win, ok – 40, 7777, 1, 1… Some things you have to appreciate because they don’t last forever, like Typhaine I guess. She had to go her own way, do her own thing. And it’s because of that I remember her for her laughter, that time in Kerala when we got stoned and couldn’t stop laughing for half an hour. The Spanish couple across from us burst into laughter too and nobody knew what it was about. The sun light shining in against her cheeks, the mezzanine glow, she was maybe the only girl I’ve seen who could wear that tattoo and not look cheap. Yeah. She’s prettier because she didn’t last forever Jean. Things which last forever only fall apart, get broken down, disillusioned, bitchy and helpless. 40, 7777, 5, 5, 7777. He stopped walking. Car engines burnt gasoline, a gleeful child dressed as a Red Indian held his father’s hand across the street. Saturday. He checked the numbers, once, twice, three times. Oh my God! And without so much as blinking he tore it down the middle, then the two pieces into four, then six, before throwing the pieces of card up into the air, not even concerned that someone may be watching. Ha! This star isn’t burnt out just yet. Now don’t you dare tell anyone about this Jean.
A phone buzzed against his upper thigh and his left hand stretched down into his pocket automatically. The code was familiar, his childhood flooded in and fizzed straight back out – summer of ’88, mezzanine, mezzanine glow, why mezzanine Jean?
‘Jean Philippe… O’ Jean… Ta mère est morte.’