by Michael E. Lloyd
Table of Contents|
Book I: Windmills Everywhere
Chapter 7: Down, Downer, Downest
part 2 of 2
‘Well, that took longer than I’d expected ...’
‘Hard to choose, was it?’
‘Oh no — I tried very hard not to choose something I liked. No, we just had to wait for the bank to call me on my mobile to verify my identity. Protecting their customers, they said! Hah! But it was all OK in the end. There’s an impressive certificate in the box — and here’s the receipt.’
‘Thanks. So what did you actually buy?’
‘Don’t ask. I’m already trying to forget.’
‘Good move. OK, if I hurry I can make the three o’clock rendezvous. But don’t worry — if I miss it, they’ll be there again at four, but that will be our final chance. So I may not be back before four-thirty.’
‘All right. But ... oh, it does seem such a shame to have to give away so much ...’
‘I think it’s worth it, Donna.’
‘But can we trust them?’
‘I believe we can. Because they also told me what they’re doing for us, nearby, as a demonstration of their good faith. Do you know exactly what the Ste Trinité Church looks like?’
‘Yes, Shaun ...’
‘And the two windmills up at the Moulin de la Galette?’
‘Well, if you go and look at both those places right now, as soon as I leave, you’ll see they’ve made some big changes to them today. They took me for a little drive this morning and showed me what they’ve done. They’ve given the Church a very different façade, and they’ve swapped the two windmills around.’
‘Hold on, Donna. You mustn’t panic this time, even when you see those changes for yourself. Because if all goes well with the handover, they’ve promised to set all three buildings to rights, at four-fifteen precisely. So you can have a nice couple of hours’ walk up the hill this afternoon, and check them on your way out, and then re-check them on the way in, to make sure everything’s fine again, and meet me back here at about five.’
‘Well ... I’m really not sure I want to ... Oh, very well then. I’ll try and be brave. Because you’re being so much braver!’
‘Right. OK, here I go again. Wish me luck.’
‘Good luck, Shaunie. And .......’
‘Mmmm, that was very nice — as always. See you soon ...’
So, two hours to kill. Well, I can certainly take in more than just those locations, if I get ...
What the hell was that?
Something just changed. What was it? Don’t know.
Something in my head. Stupid. But ... something feels different. What?
Still don’t know. Just feel slightly different. Slightly brighter ...
It’s like the lovely silence when a monotonous background noise suddenly stops and you realise you’ve been shutting it out for hours.
Feels nice. Like a small weight off my shoulders. Why?
Is it because Shaun’s going to finish the job this afternoon?
Maybe. But it doesn’t feel that simple .......
Snap out of it, Donna. You’ve got work to do!
Nearly at the end of Magador. I can just start to see Ste Trinité. Brace yourself, girl ...
But there’s nothing wrong here! Sure, there’s all that temporary steel fencing along the bottom, and that colourful kids’ mural — I think even allowing that’s a disgrace, but there we are — but I can’t see anything different about the façade! It’s just as uniquely dramatic as usual. But Shaun saw they’d changed it to something else, and said they wouldn’t be sorting it out again until four-fifteen! It’s not even three o’clock yet. He hasn’t even made the first rendezvous time!
I guess I should be relieved. But it doesn’t feel right. Better check ...
‘Excusez-moi, monsieur. L’église a changé de façade deux fois déjà aujourd’hui?’
Well, I’d better press on and see what they’ve done up at the Moulin de la Galette ...
Nothing! The mill at the top was still quite normal — and so is the one down here behind the café. But Shaun said ...
Perhaps they’ve already set these back again, too?
I don’t like this. But thank god the windmills are both all right!
What shall I do now?
Well, I’d better come back and check both sites again after four-fifteen, in case we got the wrong message. So stick with Plan A, Donna. Go east, young woman!
Wait a minute, I’m feeling a bit woozy. Must have climbed up the hill too fast. Sit down on the wall here for a minute .......
‘Excuse me, mademoiselle.’
‘Yes, how can I ...? Oh my god, it’s Molière!’
‘Indeed. And you are Mlle Donna, I understand?’
‘I believe you were hoping to talk briefly with me at last night’s dinner. I regret that when I came to find you, you had already departed ...’
‘Oh my god. Well ... yes, I left rather suddenly, I’m afraid. But I really did want to take the opportunity ...’
‘So, here I am. But I do not have much time to spare.’
‘Oh, M. Molière, now that you are here, I really do not know what to say!’
‘I understand. This is normal when meeting one’s true heroes in the flesh. Perhaps instead I may simply say a few words that I feel may be of value. I know you have always valued my words in the past.’
‘Do you? Oh my god ...’
‘Yes. So ... let me just suggest that you turn your mind, now and henceforward, away from the unwarranted self-isolation of Alceste, and concentrate instead on recognising the real dangers lurking in your society, rather than its mere sillinesses.’
‘I’m not sure I quite understand, sir.’
‘I think you will enfin, Donna. You seemed to be getting close to realising the need yourself, in that bookshop on Monday.’
‘When I was looking at your plays?’
‘Indeed. You do recall which titles you thought had been exchanged ...’
‘Of course! Dom Juan and Tartuffe ...’
‘Et voilà. I shall leave it in your own capable hands now, ma chère Donna. I am sure you will soon see the light. And so, enchanté, et adieu.’
‘But I still ...’
Huh? Ouch, jarred my neck!
How long have I been sitting here? Hah, just five minutes! Wow, I must have needed that little rest. I feel even brighter now!
Oh my god! I wonder if Shaun will come back safely this time? Or maybe I’ll never see him again! Oh, that would be so awful ...
Stop it, Donna! Don’t be so silly. It’ll all be OK. Let’s get going ...
The Place du Tertre still looks nice. Well, a lot tackier than it used to, actually. Wish I’d been here a century or more ago! Ho-hum. Anyway, the best is yet to come ...
Ah, the Sacré-Coeur! Just glorious. What an achievement! And the view across the city is unbelievable. At least that never changes!
Wait a minute. That’s just silly, Donna. It changes all the time! Just as if ...
Oh look, there’s another wonderful Paris carousel, down at the foot of the steps! Hold tight, Donna! Walk on, walk on ...
Right, it’s four-fifteen. Back to the Radet windmill!
It’s still OK. Phew! So, back along Rue Lepic ...
And the old mill is still all right up there as well!
Down to Blanche again now — and I’m gonna pick up a taxi to the hotel. Ste Trinité is on the way ...
And the church is just as it was earlier, too! Well, colour me confused. Never mind. We’ll be at the Café in a couple of minutes. What’s the time? Quarter to five. Shaun may not be back yet .......
Here we are.
‘Merci bien, monsieur. Au revoir.’
So, is there a spare table? No, I don’t think ... Ah, he’s there already! Shaun’s there!! Oh, what a relief! I feel so free again! And he’s done so much to help me this week! He’s so kind and so smart! What a guy! My guy!
‘Oh, Shaun!! You’re safe!’
‘Oh course I am! No worries, Donna.’
‘You deserve a big kiss!’
‘I certainly did. And you seem a lot more cheerful than usual.’
‘Yeah, my head’s feeling somehow ... lighter.’
‘So, how did it go?’
‘It’s all sorted. They accepted the necklace. Ah, sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned that, should I! And they promised me once more that everything would be all right again after four-fifteen. Have you checked the buildings since then?’
‘Yes. But the funny thing is, they were all OK as soon as I arrived, well before that time. And they stayed that way all afternoon!’
‘What’s the matter?’
‘Ah ... nothing. Just a bit surprised. Like you. Well ... they must have fixed things earlier than they said they would. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it!’
‘I suppose so. Yes, of course it is! And it’s all down to you, Shaun. My hero!! Come here again .......’
‘You’re making me blush, Donna.’
‘As it happens, you’re making me do more than that, Shaunie. Fancy a quick change of scenery? After all, between the two of us we have been out here for most of the day!’
‘What do you suggest?’
‘What do you think?’
‘Like a little drink?’
‘No thanks. Don’t need one! You go ahead, though.’
‘Oh, my aching legs! Gotta get these fashion shoes off. I walked really fast all the way up the hill to Montmartre!’
‘You poor thing.’
‘Still, maybe I’ll have a nice foot-massage service on call in the future ...’
‘Now that things are settling down, I mean.’
‘With your feet?’
‘No, you idiot. Things. All this buildings nonsense ...’
Did I just say “nonsense”?
‘... and my head, and — well, us, you know ...’
He’s dropped his whiskey glass!
‘Are you OK?’
He’s picked it up again now.
‘Yeah. Sure. Just lost the thread for a moment. Picked it up again now ...’
Wow. I’ve never seen him so edgy. Oh, maybe I’m being too pushy! He’s never been pushy like that with me. Well, only that once! Yeah, that’s it. Easy does it, Donna. Try the soft approach instead ...
‘Sorry, Shaunie. I only meant ... we can really relax this evening, for once, can’t we? Come here .......’
‘Mmmm. That was lovely, as always.’
That’s cracked it! I’ll let him take it from here ...
‘So, let’s do this properly, shall we? You go first in the bathroom. Soothe those poor tired feet!’
‘Well, I’d be quite happy to ...’
‘No, Donna. This time I really do insist.’
What a gentleman he is. And I give in!
‘OK, baby. Thank you! I won’t be too long!’
That feels a lot better. So, what’s the time now? Just gone six. And a lovely long evening to look forward to!
Right, clothes or bathrobe? Bathrobe!
There! Just check the mirror again. Yes, ready!
‘OK, it’s all yours in ...’
Hah! Where’s he hiding? Under the bed?
Can’t see him anywhere.
‘Where are you, idiot? Stop playing around. You’re spoiling it!’
Hey, what’s that on the bed? A piece of notepaper ...
Had to go. Don’t call me, I’ll call you ...
Where’s he had to go? And why right now? And ...
Oh my god. His suitcase isn’t here. Wardrobe, Donna! Look in the wardrobe ...
All gone. All his new clothes. All gone! Have they kidnapped him? Oh, Mother! Oh, no-oo-oo .......
Copyright © 2010 by Michael E. Lloyd