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The Girl on the Train


This girl on this train to Charles De Gaulle out of Paris city center had very green eyes, very blonde hair, and, as most Parisian women with a face devoid of make-up, had skin the look, and, no doubt texture of, fine porcelain. She was maybe 17, already a woman here.

A black coat kept her warm but was unbuttoned so I could see her white pull over sweater and faded blue jeans.

Every so often she looked over and smiled. I returned the gesture mildly.

Bye bye beautiful city…

It had been a long haul this trek out. They get to be even more so at a certain age. I was told the train from Gare Du Nord to CDG would take an hour. As usual I’d be cutting it close, but as Hunter S. Thompson once said (or was it Johnny Depp?) “I’ve never missed a plane yet.”

Sleep was a luxury the past few days in town, what with the excitement of being in Paris-three jaunts through and it’s still obscenely exhilarating for me-but more than that, there was the asshole in the top bunk at my hostel who snored like he had several lungs removed during the night.

Just when was it I told myself I was going to start looking into budget hotels and B&Bs? Too fuckin’ old for the hostel beat. Almost.

So, sitting here on this train headed for the airport I kept, despite my best traveller instincts, dozing off. My legs were slung over my bags, but still, a stupid thing to do. Antennae up the whole trip only to lose it at the end is amateur hour. Nothing bad came of it though.

I had showered and shaved this morning after spending a thoroughly drunken and sex-crazed night with a gorgeous twenty-year old Australian girl, and, was remarkably unhungover. Still, the body and soul were beat.

I was more thrown over my seat and bags, actually; crumbled in a heap, coffee in one hand, rubbing my eyes to feeble alertness with the other. Jeans dirty. Boots scuffed. Shirt wrinkled. Coat stained and blotched with God knows what. My light was on the dim switch. A real fucking sight I was.

My passport stuck out of my shirt pocket: flimsy, thin, worn, chewed up, the plastic sliding off my mug shot, it was time to get a new one, but I didn’t want to lose the pages. Those stamps were like badges of honor to me.

Chased by the police in Italy. Shook down for cash by the “Black Sheriffs” in Czech Rep. Witness to a killing in London. Hitchhiking across Ireland. Two World Cups of madness on opposite sides of the world. New found “love” in Paris. So it goes.

I look over at the girl on this train. Another smile. Maybe she was amused at the state I was in. Maybe I confirmed for her the perceptions she had of lazy and gluttonous Americans and couldn’t wait to tell her 27-year old banker boyfriend when she saw him.

Lucky bastard.

I’ve always maintained that the women in Paris are the most beautiful in the world. Truly unspeakable how naturally blessed they are. Yeah, the Italians and Latinas are pretty hot, the Scottish and English are fun as hell, and the Asian women, oh my, but the French, from the city, good lord!

Like looking into a painting. Loveliness so inspired by God that they just couldn’t be real. That it had to be through a divine hand and on canvas in order for them to exist. At any rate, my dream girl would be from Paris. Yes, she’d probably take on a second lover, but hey, so it goes.

Never could get one though. I’ve flirted with the locals, but they’re tough nuts for me to crack. I usually get the opposites. While in Scotland I’d hook up with an Irish woman. Ireland-Scottish. Amsterdam-German. Germany-Swedish. Czech Rep-English. Paris-Australian. Fuckin’ strange. So it goes.

This girl on the train: her eyes sparkled.

And about this train: two stops once you reach the airport. CDG#1 and CDG#2. Thank Christ I bothered to check the Internet before jumping on. CDG#1 was for Domestics. CDG#2 for Internationals.

The scenery leaving Paris and to the airport is the same as all trips out of a euro city to the airport and can be summed up in one word: blank. The only good thing is that the trip took 25 minutes. That’s the last time I ask a hostel clerk (she said over an hour) for an ETA. I mean this is the shit you should know and be able to tell your guests with accuracy. A pleasant surprise when we pulled up, don’t get me wrong, but on “travel days”, every little bit helps.

A few stragglers I hadn’t even noticed shuffled off the train ahead of us. The girl waited for me. We smiled at each other, both standing now, bags in hand. I let her step off first.

“American, yes?” she said as we strolled the platform looking for signs and escalators that’ll take us up into the belly of the airport.

“Yes. You?”

“No, no, I am from here.”

“I know, just a little joke.” My eyes were heavy. I needed sleep, and I can never sleep on a plane so it would be, what with connections, lay-overs, the shuttle from the airport back to my home, at least 17 hours before I actually got to fall into my soft, soft bed. Goddamn.

“On Holiday?” she asked and walked close to me.

“Just finished. Time to go. How about you?”

We stepped onto an escalator and she turned and said, “London. My first trip anywhere!” She was bubbling. “And by myself too! I’m so excited!”

You could see that fire in her eyes, that wanderlust burning, that electricity that streams through the body and brings you to climax. I wanted to feed off her newness, wanted to get that same sense of true drama again, back to the first time I headed for the airport, back to my first flight where I would’ve killed for a window seat (only to now demand the aisles because I can get to the can easier instead of climbing over drunks), back to when my passport was hard and untouched.

The escalators led to a very white lobby area, compact and humongous at the same time. Though well organized. A sparse crowd lay before us. Eternally long passageways awaited beyond them.

“Did you enjoy your time in Paris?” she said and pointed to another escalator she had to take for Euro flights.

“I had a great time. Even made a friend last night.”

“Oh really?” she squinted at me and grinned. “That is good. That is Paris. Too bad you are not going to London. We could have dinner.”

Sure, great. Now. “How old are you?” I had to confirm.

“I am seventeen.”

But before I could respond she continued, “Age does not matter, I think.”

Was an extraordinarily gorgeous young lady from Paris actually hitting on me at the airport when I was in my worse state? Looking like a bum, senses raped and left for dead?

There was a charge between us that I didn’t feel the night before, an absolute connection. I felt dizzy. Giddy? Were my palms suddenly sweaty? Was my heart going boom-boom-boom?

“I must go this way,” she motioned.

“I’m over here.”

I wanted to give her one of my cards but they were all crumpled up at the bottom of my daypack. I wanted to ask for a number, an email, but I had lost all my pens. Dammit! But even if I did, so what? The moment’s here, it’s always here. That’s my problem.

“Well,” she stopped at the foot of the escalator. “Maybe another time,” she said.

“Yeah, maybe,” I said.

“Au revoir, then,” she said, then, gave me the two kisses.

“You too, sweetie.” Two kisses.

The escalator took her up and away to the next level. Before she reached the top she turned and waved a little wave at me because she knew I was watching her leave. So it goes.

There was a screwy, spider web-like designed kind of passageway that led to the check-in area for the International flights. I had to pass through it after hiking through a maddening maze of corridors, walkways, and moving floors.

I went through three security checks once there. They just simply refused to understand why I would want to travel alone, why in the world did I only have a daypack and a medium sized backpack, both as my carry-ons, and how in the hell could I have gone to Paris and not come back with a bag full of souvenirs. “How will you remember your trip with nothing to take back,” one of the Vichy goons demanded of me. I had to laugh at that one.

At the tiny café they have in the departure area, I had a ham and cheese sandwich, a large beer, and a smoke. I thought of the woman I just met, I thought of the one I had spent the night with, woke up with not even four hours ago. I sat in the corner of the café with a big smile on my face. Content Jim. And for once I slept like a baby on board. Though I too snored like a bear.

A week later the hinges that supported that lattice-work-bridge that everybody must cross in order to get to their final destinations gave way without warning, collapsed, and shattered into a thousand pieces. Dozens were injured and killed. So it goes…

Like this? There’s more and better in Jim Marquez’ newly-published book LA BITCH….details at www.lulu.com/jimmarquez

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