Donna’s Men

by Michael E. Lloyd

Table of Contents
Synopses
Book I: Windmills Everywhere

Chapter 5: Dazing Ape Harry

part 1 of 3


‘You’re early!’

‘Yeah.’

‘And you took a taxi!’

‘Yeah, I had just enough euros ...’

Huh!

‘Great. So, all sorted, then?’

‘Yeah ...’

Wonderful conversationalist. And what about a little kiss? No, I don’t think that’s coming either.

‘Right. Well, sit down, then! What do you want to drink?’

‘Whatever you’re having. And you look lovely in that dress, Donna.’

Aahhhh.

’Monsieur!’


‘You’re looking very smart too, Shaun ...’

‘My other set of nice clothes. Remember?’

‘Oh yes, of course. So, you need some cash, right?’

‘Please.’

‘Will this be enough for the train fares ... and that taxi?’

‘Afraid not. I had to get a last minute ticket. Very pricey.’

‘Oh. This much, then?’

‘That looks about right.’

‘OK. And you’re going to need some pocket money. Here ...’

‘Thanks, Donna. You’re really kind.’

I certainly am.

‘No, you’re doing this all for me, Shaun. I’m the one who should be grateful. Ah, here come the drinks ...’


‘So how’s it gone today? Since you phoned, I mean.’

‘Well, I’ve just about covered the Centre-ville. Didn’t spot any other swaps, thank god. My legs are aching now!’

‘Poor baby.’

Aahhhh.

‘And what have you been doing since Wednesday afternoon? That was three whole days ago!’

‘Bit of this, bit of that, some of the other. Not a lot, really.’

‘Found any work?’

‘Nah. It’s a desert out there, Donna.’

‘I’m sorry. Well, you’re here now, and we’re having a little working holiday!’

‘And I intend to enjoy it, believe me — starting with a nice meal.’

I’ll bet he does.

‘I thought you’d say that. So I booked a table in the hotel restaurant. I know it’s very special.’

‘Great. But have we got time for a little stroll down to the Madeleine first, so I can confirm the swap for you?’

‘That’s just what I was hoping you’d suggest, Shaunie! And dinner’s not till eight! Time for another Ricard first!’

* * *

‘Now steel yourself, Donna. Try not to over-react this time. You’ve seen it once already, remember.’

‘I know. But I’m still not looking forward to it.’

‘Well, hold me tight, then, and I’ll turn round first.’

‘OK.’

‘Oh dear. You’re quite right. It is the Fitzwilliam now.’

‘Aaaarrgh! And you seem so unhappy too! Oh, I can’t face seeing it again!’

‘Fair enough. I can understand that. Just don’t look.’

I’m so lucky to have found him!

‘Thank you.’

‘So, let’s just carry on walking down Rue Royale ...’

‘Wait, Shaun. Don’t you think we really ought to inform the authorities now? Try and get someone to believe us and take action against these people ...?’

‘No, Donna, I don’t. That’s probably just what the devils want! If we do that, we’ll reveal ourselves — and then they’ll be forced to deal with us. It could get nasty.’

‘But they already know I’m here, Shaun! I told you about what happened in the Métro, and the mobile phones, and the birds ...’

‘Yes, I know, I know — but you can’t be absolutely sure of any of those suspicions, can you?’

Absolutely again!

‘Well ... no, I suppose not ... but we still don’t have any idea why they’re doing it, do we?’

‘Exactly! So we must bide our time, and watch and listen — and if we spot someone else who can also see an exchange, or we happen to overhear anybody talking about it, then we’ll have a quiet word with them, and we’ll take it from there. OK?’

‘Well ... I’m still not sure. But I don’t want to ruin this lovely evening for us!’

‘And nor do I. So, let’s plan to have a good look at as many of these wonderful buildings as we can over the next few days, and try to enjoy ourselves while we’re doing it! You only live once, after all!’

‘Oh, Shaun, I really don’t know ...’

‘Come here, Donna ...’

Oh, what a wonderful hug! And now a kiss! Wheeee!!

‘Yes, you are quite right, of course. Thank god you’re here, Shaunie!’

* * *

‘Well, that was not at all bad.’

‘You’re a master of understatement, Shaun Pesaner. I think it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten! And certainly the most expensive!’

‘You get what you pay for in this world, Donna.’

‘And in this case, we got our jus desserts.’

‘Huh?’

‘Never mind.’

‘I did understand it really, Donna. Ch’parle français moi aussi, t’sais.

‘Oh, you are wicked, Shaun!’

‘24-carat enfant terrible, I’d say. So, fancy a coffee?’

‘No, I don’t think so.’

‘May I escort you up to your room, then?’

‘Why thank you, kind sir!’

* * *

‘Like a nightcap? There’s a very inviting mini-bar inside ...’

‘OK ...’


‘Champagne?’

‘What else, Shaunie!’

POP!

‘Thank you! ... So, cheers! ... Oh, isn’t this lovely!’

‘Delightful.’

Hmmm.

‘Top-up, please, garçon!’

‘OK.’

‘So, anyway ... listen ... I have some ideas about what we could cover tomorrow ...’

‘Don’t worry about that now, Donna. You’ve had a long day.’

‘But we ought to make an early start ...’

‘Maybe. Not really essential, though, is it?’

‘Well, I suppose not. Oh, is that the time? It’s getting rather late, isn’t it?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Look, you can stay here tonight, if you like ... Sleep on the sofa, you know ...’

‘Good idea. Thanks.’

Huh? Is that it?

‘Oh, but what about your things? They’re all up in the other hotel ...’

‘I haven’t booked into a hotel yet.’

‘You silly boy! Fancy forgetting to do that! So where’s all your luggage?’

‘Don’t have any. Some people live out of their suitcases, Donna. I live out of my jacket. Look — toothbrush here, spare pair of ... knickers here. That’s it.’

And a brand new book hiding behind the toothbrush. Wonder what that is?

‘Well, aren’t you the lucky one tonight? So that’s all fixed then.’

‘Yeah.’

‘OK, who’s first in the bathroom?’

‘Me, please.’

‘Oh! Oh, all right then.’


‘Wow, that was quick!’

‘It’s a very small toothbrush.’

‘Hah! Right, my turn now ...’


How long have I been? Only twenty minutes. He’s very quiet in there. At least he hasn’t switched on the TV! OK, here we go ...

He is on the bloody sofa! And he’s still fully dressed ... and he’s fast asleep!! Oh, that’s just wonderful.

What to do, Donna?

Don’t push it. Don’t force it. He’s probably had a long, hard day too.

Sshhhh.

He’s left his jacket on the chair. Right, I’m gonna take a look at that new book ...

Hah! Sartre’s Nausea — in English! What’s it all about, Shaunie?

* * *

It’s that light again, dammit!

Oh, it’s only Shaun, sitting by the window with the curtains open, reading. What’s he ...?

Damn, he’s spotted I’m awake. The book’s gone straight back into his pocket. Gonna have to pretend I didn’t see that ...

‘Hello, Donna. Sleep well?’

‘Huh?’ ... ‘Oh, yes, I did, as it happens ...’

‘Good. Me too. Right, you wanted an early start. It’s half-past seven and the bathroom’s all yours.’

How very kind of him.

‘Thanks, Shaunie ...’


‘So, as I was saying last night, I’ve made a rough route plan in my mind. I thought we could give the Left Bank a thorough going-over today.’

‘But it’s Sunday, Donna. Day of rest. There’s only one place to be in Paris on a Sunday afternoon, isn’t there?’

‘Huh?’

‘Grande Jatte island, of course! Let’s just take a taxi over there and have a nice relaxing time by the river. You still look as if you could do with a break from the pressure.’

Oh, thanks a lot, partner.

‘But we really need to track these people down before they do any more harm, Shaun.’

‘Well, they don’t actually seem to be very active over here — yet. But OK ... tell you what, let’s just spend the morning out on the island, and pretend it’s the afternoon ... and then we can come back and check up on the Arc de Triomphe and the Elysée area — and perhaps the Champ de Mars and the Invalides as well.’

He does know his Paris. Must have been here as a boy ...

‘But ... Oh, all right then. Quick breakfast first, though!’

‘Of course!’

* * *

‘Oh, the grass looks so green! And we’re very lucky with the weather today, Shaunie.’

‘Yeah. It’s bringing people out early, and the atmosphere’s building very nicely.’

‘You’ve been here before, haven’t you?’

‘Yeah. Long time ago. À la recherche de Seurat.

‘Me too. I can still feel the mood of those good old days.’

‘Which ones?’

‘Theirs and mine.’

‘Yeah.’

Hmmm. I was trying quite hard there.


‘I reckon this is the spot. See all the patterns in the landscape?’

‘Yes, you’re probably right. I expect we could find out exactly, from a book or whatever. I’ve never thought of doing that.’

‘Doesn’t really matter, Donna. It’s all in the mind, eh?’

‘I suppose so.’

‘Let’s sit down here for a while and watch what happens.’

‘OK.’


‘Thought so. They’re steadily forming up just as they should. They must be expecting us to pull out our sketching pads any minute now!’

‘Oh Shaun, you are a fool! A lovely fool! Come here .......’

‘Hmmm, that was nice!’

‘More later if you’re good.’

‘Yes please.’


‘Right, now I fancy being really devilish. Let’s stand up again and stroll straight into the scene. Blow the idyll to smithereens!’

‘Oh, Shaun, that’s horrible. Poor people!’

‘All in the mind, Donna.’

‘Hah! Yes, of course. Bit of fun, eh? OK, let’s do it. But quietly and with due decorum, please! And don’t bump into that little girl!’

‘Sold.’


‘Shaun, they’re all watching us ...’

‘Of course they are. We’re walking through their little world!’

‘No, I didn’t mean that. They’re part of the conspiracy! They’re all pretending to look very upright and harmless and detached, but ...’

‘Now you’re being silly.’

‘No, I’m not! Hold my hand, please.’ ... ‘OK, let’s walk a bit faster, and try to hide in the trees ...’

‘Donna, there’s really nothing to worry about. Unless ...’

‘What?’

‘Unless that soldier’s trumpet is actually a movie camera.’

‘What soldier? I can’t see one!’

‘But I can ...’

‘OK, that’s it — we have to run now! Gotta find a taxi! Come on!’


’L’Arc de Triomphe, s’il vous plaît.’

’Monsieur.’

‘I’m still so scared, Shaun!’

‘Take it easy. Here, look at me ...’

Oh, such lovely eyes ...

‘It’s going to be all right.’

And then he kissed me!

‘Oh, I do hope so ...’

‘Can I make a little suggestion, Donna?’

‘Sure.’

‘Shall we ask the driver to go straight down to the Trocadéro first? Then we can quickly check out the Chaillot Palace, and the Eiffel Tower, and the façade of the Ecole Militaire in the distance, all from the comfort of the taxi. Save your legs for the rest of the day’s inspections!’

‘Oh, that’s a very good idea, Shaun. Thank you.’

‘OK, I’ll tell him. S’il vous plaît ...

’Ça va, m’sieur. J’ai tout compris. On va droit à la Place de Varsovie.’

’Ah, merci bien.’


‘So, everything looks fine from here, doesn’t it?’

‘Yes, thank goodness!’

‘Right, straight to the Arc de Triomphe now, s’il vous plaît. Are you going to pay the man, Donna?’

* * *

‘Nearly at the top!’

‘Yes!’ ... ‘Here we are!’ ... ‘Wow, I’d forgotten this view! Fantastic!’

‘Fabulous!’

Hah! Where does he get them from?

‘This was another very good idea, Shaun!’

‘It was nothing. And ... hang on, what’s happening way over there to the east?’

‘Where? Show me!’

‘No, I can’t see anything that far away, but I can feel it. Something’s not quite right in the Latin Quarter ...’

‘Oh, I knew we should have gone there today!’

‘Hang on, Donna. I don’t know what it is. Don’t jump to conclusions. We’ll check it out together, all in good time. Wait ... yes, it seems to be coming from somewhere near the Sorbonne ...’

‘Oh, no!’

‘Donna, it’s just a feeling right now. Please don’t worry unnecessarily ...’

‘But I can’t help it!’

‘I know you can’t. I know.’

‘I think I’d like to go straight back down now, Shaun.’

‘Of course. And I’d like an early lunch.’

‘Hah! Well, there are a couple of rather special places on the Champs-Elysées ...’

‘Lead on, Batwoman!’


‘OK, here’s the first one. Le Fouquet’s. I guess you know all about it?’

‘Not really.’

‘It used to be a haunt of the rich and powerful. Churchill, Roosevelt, minor figures like that. Now it’s where the beautiful people come to eat after the César Awards ceremonies. Ah, Amélie! So it’s still rather special.’

‘Looks quite nice. Wanna go in?’

‘Well, let’s go down to Le Deauville first. It’s only a short stroll ...’


‘So, which one do you fancy, Shaun?’

‘I’m easy. But there’s no real point in backtracking, surely?’

Now that’s not what I call sufficient reason.

‘OK, we’ll eat here. It’s just as nice!’

* * *

‘How’s your credit card doing?’

It’s aching all over, truth be told.

‘Still some slack, thanks. But there’s no real problem ... I’ve got several thousand in my bank account now.’

‘Ah, good.’

‘And I must draw some more cash at the next hole-in-the-wall. Right, it’s already a quarter to three ... let’s head along to the Rond Point, then cut up to the Elysée Palace and come back down Marigny.’

* * *

‘So, M. le Président’s residence hasn’t been touched.’

‘I’m sure he’s delighted.’

‘And the Petit Palais is OK. And the Grand Palais. More of those awful advertising banners, though! That disease has spread here too.’

‘It’s what’s underneath that matters, Donna.’

‘Yes, but we can’t see that properly, can we? Idiot!’

‘There’s that special smile again.’

Aahhhh.

‘Thank you! Right, let’s cross the river now. We need to check out the Invalides and the Assemblée Nationale.’

* * *

‘Well, the old hospital looked remarkably healthy to me, and the Assembly’s constitution seemed as sound as the President’s.’

‘Shaun! How can you joke about such things?’

‘Just trying your keep your spirits up, Donna ...’

Yes he is, isn’t he?

‘... and anyway, nobody else is listening. I hope.’

‘Stop it, Shaun! I’m trying hard not to think about them! And let’s keep walking — it’s four o’clock now, and I’d like to dive into the Musée d’Orsay for a while and look at some of my favourite paintings again — with you, this time! But I don’t know when it closes today. If there’s still a queue when we arrive, will you please go and join it? I’ll meet you as soon as I’ve got some information.’

‘Sure.’


‘Ah, found you! Well, from this position we’re not going to get in until almost five. And that’s the final admission time. They start clearing the place at five-thirty, and it shuts at six! Don’t think it’s worth spending eight euros each for just half an hour in there, do you?’

‘No.’

‘And at first I thought we might try again tomorrow. But then I discovered the whole museum is closed on Mondays.’

‘This is Paris, Donna.’

‘Yes, of course! And the queues are apparently huge on Tuesdays ...’

‘Right ...’

‘So then I thought we could buy advance tickets ...’

‘Good idea ...’

‘But they only sell those at the Kiosk, and that’s not open on Sundays ...’

‘What a surprise ...’

‘But we can buy a Carte Blanche, here and now — that gives unlimited access with no queuing, any time from nine o’clock on Tuesday or any other day. But each card costs forty-four euros ... or seventy-four for a couple living at the same address.’

‘Sounds like you have one simple decision to make, then.’

‘Whether to splash out a lot of cash for a few hours’ culture, you mean?’

‘No — whether we’re a couple living at the same address.’

‘Hah! Well, I’ll definitely get us the Cartes Blanches. And I’ve got twenty minutes to think about the other decision.’

* * *

‘Good thing they wouldn’t buy that idea after all! I got a young person’s card for only fifteen euros! At my age! Vive la France! So we saved even more than I expected.’

‘Perfect logic, Donna. Now we can afford another drink or two.’

‘Hah! So what address did you give?’

‘I just made one up.’

‘Shaun, you are incorrigible.’

‘Yes, I am. And I’m sure we can find a bar along here. Oh, look — Le Voltaire, straight ahead!’

‘OK, but just a quick one, eh? My legs are getting tired again ...’


‘Ah, that was good. So, a nice gentle stroll across the Tuileries and back up to the Grand?’

‘Yes please. But we’d better stop on St Honoré and get you some more clothes.’

‘That would be very nice — thank you, Donna.’

‘And you’ll need a small suitcase ...’

‘Good idea.’

‘Come to think of it, I’m going to need another one as well. I bought two or three new dresses on Friday. You’ve only seen the red one so far ...’

‘That was a very good start!’

I should hope so too. Cost me a week’s salary. The things you do for ...

‘Ah, how sweet! So, like to see the blue one tonight?’

‘On or off?’

‘Either. Both.’


Proceed to part 2 ...

Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd

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