by Michael E. Lloyd
Book I: Self Above All
Chapter 10: Five out of Ten but Improving
Baumettes Prison, Marseilles
Five years later: May 1965
Still no letter from Emilie.
Hah! I’ve said that to myself every day for nearly five years.
She must know I’m here — it was in all the newspapers on the day the trial ended. If she ever read them, that is. If she was still in France. If she was still alive ...
Always the same stupid thoughts!
If I really wanted a letter from somebody, I suppose I could have tried to contact my mother at any time. I still have the address they gave me when I left the orphanage. But if she was happy to dump me there all those years ago, she’s hardly likely to want the world to know her unwanted son turned into a jailbird.
Ah, merde! How many times am I going to think those useless thoughts too?
And damn that stupid pattern in the ceiling plaster! How many times am I going to look up at it? How many times am I going to see that palm and those three fingers??
I’d have gone crazy in this awful place years ago, if it weren’t for the library and my writing. What an irony! Your body must lose its freedom before your mind can be liberated!
Well, mine had to, anyway. And that’s actually a rather good line. Maybe someone already said it. Maybe even Rousseau! But I can use it anyway. Ignorance is bliss. “Innocent of plagiarism until proven guilty!”
And I have had a few letters. Mainly rejections, of course! But I shall treasure the acceptances for ever!
OK, it’s nine o’clock. They’re all playing cards and baiting each other. Diary review time ...
Hah! It’s exactly three years and eight months since my last beating.
And flipping back from that entry ... oh, it’s really weird ... almost the same words every time:
‘So, who WAS Luc?’
‘I have no idea! Aaaggh!’
‘Where did he go?’
‘I don’t know! I just dropped him off on Gambetta! Aaaggh!’
‘How much was in the bag?’
‘No idea! I was just the driver, remember? Aaaggh! He gave me one measly wad of cash before he got out of the car, and the police took that back off me the very next day! Didn’t you read the papers? Aaaggh!’
Those days were the worst of my life.
And look at this entry! The only time I ever got asked that question. But I was ready for it. I’d rehearsed my awful reply for months:
‘Did you actually run off with the money bag yourself?’
‘No! Didn’t you read that witness statement? Perhaps you’re illiterate. Or maybe your mother was born really stupid. Which is it, eh??’
Of course, he took a big swing at me. But I ducked and head-butted him! The only time I ever fought back. And it worked. That particular ape never bothered me again. But we both got a lot of negative behaviour points, and my request to use the library more fully was then denied for another six months.
Ah, memories .......
I don’t think Irvoise or Aignant were behind any of those beatings. Neither of them has any idea that Luc did give me the money bag, so they can’t be holding any grudges against me. Unless they believe I could have handled things better at the moment of the crash! But they surely wouldn’t think that. They know I avoided a front-on collision with that lorry and probably saved their lives. And they heard my full story during the trial. It never changed. I’m a very good liar. Fine qualifications for a writer!
The pressures on them for information about Luc finally dried up too, of course. If the rumours are to be believed. And they always are. But I’m still hearing word that Aignant’s face keeps getting rearranged, even though he’s in the high-security block. That poor bank guard must have a lot of influential friends. Thank god I was just the driver!
OK, diary review time over. Back to Anais Nin and Cities of the Interior ...
Copyright © 2012 by Michael E. Lloyd