Lausanne

The friend of a friend of Coco’s got the key to the sewers beneath Lausanne and down we went with only the light of a pétard passed between us to spot the darkness. Coco had just returned from the States where he’d been on a suicide mission; slept under bridges with tramps, took up with the Moonies and was shot at in a forest while escaping. He was back in Lausanne having failed at dying, his eyes sparkling like stars soon to supernova, his jeans too straight and short. I was there for les vendanges, drinking too much rough red wine between the vines, wanting love to waddle up to me like a fat duck. We took each step carefully, a hand against the rough brick wall, laughing nervously saying putain qu’il fait noir and making other useless observations. At the bottom, we stood listening to the Styxian river rushing and the squealing of the sewer rats padding Christ-like across the water. I had a moment of transportation; in the total darkness, bodily, I was not there. Later, in a café with Coco, I got drunk and stole some money and broke a door when we were evicted and slept on the nature strip outside une boîte de nuit. That morning Coco took me to an old girlfriend’s place who complimented me on my French and gave us whiskey and in the grey morning light, we pretended we were philosophical. I was set to follow Coco (whose suicide was continuing) like I was a breakaway, an isthmus that fault lines at either end released to sail off with a raised finger to the mainland. I was not yet thirty and my mind was vapour and I had left my body in the bowel of Lausanne.

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