29daysofaugust

AUGUST 23, Calanque de Sormiou to Saint Laurent-le-Minier:

We fuck all night. Even through the trailer is up on blocks, it creaks and rocks with us.

Each moment of detumescence is just a pause before a return to passion. We are scratched, bitten, beaten, exhilarated.

At dawn, I throw open the trailer door and walk barefoot down to the Mediterranean to bathe.

In the water, the stench of sex, of sweat, on my body dissipates, but my cock throbs and your scratches sting in the salt water.

I float on my back, ears submerged, a stupid grin exposed to sky. The only thing I am thinking is that I want more.

I walk to the little store, buy a baguette and a small bottle of orange juice.

As I turn to pay, I see you in the car, eyes hidden behind Wayfairers, on the front page of the paper.

I take a breath then feel the adrenaline course through my body, my heart pounding.

Me, nodding to the proprietor, scooping up the paper and proffering a five Euro note: Bonjour.

He responds in kind, places my change in an acetate tray. I pocket it and turn for the door.

The walk to the trailer is nauseatingly long. There is no place to run. I am concentrating my energy, preparing for what will come next.

Me, opening the trailer door, then panic spilling over: We have to leave, now.

The puzzle is far from done. But you are placing the final piece in the chest of a ghostly woman suspended on the blank canvas of the table.

You, confused: Aren’t we were going to finish the puzzle?

Me, grabbing at clothes on the floor, brandishing the paper: They’ve found us. Now. We have to leave now.

Me: You—not Salome—you made the cover of the paper. You, your sunglasses and the Porsche.

You, in shock: But the puzzle…

Me, ballistic, stuffing everything into a bag, knocking over the chair, dragging you to the door: Fuck the puzzle! Now! We have to go now!

I can hear you sobbing as I push you into the car, but there is another thing I know: I am not going to let us get caught.

I draw the gear shift to the front left, release the clutch and back into the lane. There is no one in sight. It is barely 7 AM.

Me, kissing your hand: Ok. It’s going to be ok. Just, whatever you do, don’t put on your sunglasses.

You, cracking a muted smile: Ok.

We roll past the store, turn up the road out of the Calanque. In the mirror, I see the attendant come to the landing and wave as we leave.

Me, watching him turn into the store and reach for the phone: Fuck.

Discretion abandoned, I gun the Porsche. There is no time. We are miles from the nearest cross-road.

Me, pointing to the glove box: Get the map! We’ve got to disappear.

In my chest, I feel the police cars drawn to us like metal filaments to a magnet. They are out there.

You, anxious: Where are we going?

Me: Anywhere off this road. Anyplace empty. At least, until nightfall.

I burn up through the switchbacks and hit the straightaway, push the car down this endless corridor.

There is no pleasure in this velocity. Five minutes of purgatory and dust and we hit the next street. Beyond the engine, silence.

Newly composed, you point right, and I follow your lead.

We drive on, too fast, away from the coast, skirt the center of Marseilles, into suburbs of stiff compressed townhouses.

Me, glimpsing a sign for the municipal prison, urgent: Still too many people. Get us away from this.

You, squinting at the map, controlled: Working on it. You have to trust me. Next right.

I see the intersection, ignore the stop light, and turn hard. Another block of houses, then empty road, bordered by vineyards.

We pull over, out of view, behind a copse of trees. Weigh the paper’s news, the radiating capillaries of the map. Search for an escape.

You, gently: We could abandon the car.

Me, not ready for the sacrifice, drawing a line with my finger: No.

You: What, then?

Me, finding the destination, Saint Laurent-le-Minier: Remember that party I mentioned on the 26th? We’re going to show up early.

Suffering below the sun’s incremental transit, we subsist on the pine trees’ shade, the baguette and orange juice.

——–

It is very late, driving. Beyond anxiety and dehydration, cicada call through open car windows, night smells of sage, of bergamote.

We see Le Chateau lit-up across the river like some Mississippi paddle boat stranded on the wrong continent.

A massive retaining wall runs along its edge. A formal garden laid out at its bow, and a hundred-foot tall water wheel spins at its side.

Me, nodding as we turn up the drive: This is it.

We idle at the gate, and the groundskeeper comes down the hill to meet us, holding a gas-flamed lantern by a pole.

Me, presenting him with Mr. V.’s card, seemingly unnecessarily: Good evening.

Groundskeeper, knowingly: The 914. Mr. V. told me we might be seeing it again for the party. You’re a little early. But no matter.

He walks up the gravel driveway, lit by our headlights, then waves us into the stables.

Groundskeeper, ambiguously discreet: Collect your bags. If you don’t mind, I’ll put the 914 under a tarp to keep the dust off.