116. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 11:16:55 AM
(oops, 113 continues from Message # 89. And this one continues from 113.)
Don't imagine that I was content to be simply her love puppy. I knew she wasn't being completely straight with me. But I was OK with that. Really.
From the first day, I wanted to take her home and keep her. That is, offer her hospitality for the duration of her stay in New Zealand. Save her the money of cheap hostels.
But no, she was house-sitting, for a wealthy business connection of her father's. A luxury flat in Parnell. Obviously, I wanted to go there : see how the rich bastards lived. No, that wasn't possible, she was under strict instructions to bring no-one home.
It was almost plausible. I almost believed her. Rather, I suspended my disbelief. Like in a movie.
I had read a lot of Alexandre Dumas, in my student days (that, and Conan the Barbarian). Sword and swashbuckle; plots against the Queen; revolution in the streets of Naples. I sensed that I was living some sort of adventure. I was impatient to see how it played out, but I didn't want to mess it up by asking too many questions.
I had already eliminated the most plausible explanation : another lover : because my heart told me she was true to me. I had the idea that she was probably in the drugs trade. I don't mean to say that I approved of that. Nor was I afraid to know the truth. But I didn't want to force her to lie to me.
I was confident that I would unravel the mystery in the end; that she would tell me everything when she was free to do so. In the meantime, living day to day, hand to mouth, was enough for me. I have never been happier in my life.
One night, so as not to appear a total idiot, I playfully chided her for not introducing me to those other people she was surely hanging out with. She turned the question around : who had I presented her to? It was true, apart from my flatmates, she had met no-one but Desdemona. Okay, says I, reaching for the phone : so you want to meet my parents? ... what was your family name, again?
She called my bluff. It was no bluff. My parents adored her; she was charming; I was proud. After dinner, talk, and the inevitable photo albums, they retired to bed, and we retired to the jacuzzi to try some experimental stuff. (For what it's worth: I found that there's not much that's worthwhile that you can do in a jacuzzi, for various reasons.)
117. Macnas - 4/14/2005 11:33:57 AM
You might have drowned man!
118. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 11:37:22 AM
And a mask and snorkel are not much help.
I've got to get this thing finished. It's eating up my head.
119. Magoseph - 4/14/2005 11:54:41 AM
It's eating up my head.
Good, a fellow in misery, I like that.
120. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 11:58:40 AM
(continued from Message # 116)
In the middle of the third week, Gisèle announced that she was going to do a three-week tour of the South Island. There was no chance of my going with her, I wasn't entitled to any holidays until Christmas. After that, she would be back in Auckland for a week, then she would fly on to her next destination, Tahiti.
My guts clenched like a fist. Time to face reality, and the prospect of losing her.
But the coming weekend was for us two. Another diving trip?
We discussed the Poor Nights islands, New Zealand's best diving site, and probably high on the world's best list. We would have to book a trip with a dive boat, I said. She frowned : not very romantic, not very... intimate. Couldn't I organise a boat, just for the two of us?
... I could see her point. She didn't have to draw me a diagram.
I thought about it : who could I borrow a motor boat from? No one in the immediate family. I had friends I could go boating with, but nobody I could just borrow a boat off, out of the blue. Hire one perhaps?
She prompted me : In the dive shop, they had those rubber inflatables... Zodiacs. Yes! I thought I could handle a Zodiac. I made the arrangements immediately.
The plan was that I would get everything ready on Thursday night, so that we could start straight after work on Friday. There was three hours' driving, then we could bivouac on the beach, and start for the islands at first light.
And I would have plenty of time to talk to her about Us. To make my move, to stake my claim. Not a proposal of marriage : heaven, and ideology, forbid! No, I was going with her. Wherever she was going. (It was time. I had never been out of the country, except for a brief political gravy trip to Australia. Any self-respecting New Zealander of my age and generation had to go out and conquer the world.)
I would be passionate, I would be firm. I would not be denied.
121. wonkers2 - 4/14/2005 1:15:14 PM
Great stuff! Keep it coming. I actually went back to the first installment and read them all. How about posting a photo?
122. wonkers2 - 4/14/2005 1:19:41 PM
The Cap'n had a less satisfying experience with a french girl once--Marie Claire, a beautiful au pair, he met at the International House in Cambridge, Mass once upon a time. What is that je ne saix quois about French women?
123. Magoseph - 4/14/2005 1:27:44 PM
Meet me somewhere, I'll show you.
124. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 1:31:11 PM
A photo, eh? I'll see what I can find...
The last story you were working on last Christmas about a dream you had, Judith, should be posted too
Definitely, more Judith!
I know the toad story is specifically for Keoni, but I find that the marvellous description of the golf-course McMansions gives it that element of universality that makes it work for a wider audience.
And I'm still waiting for Wonk. Or the Cap'n... would there be a South American tale to be told, for example?
125. judithathome - 4/14/2005 3:21:53 PM
Summer Woman, I don't get that near the golf course...heh.
Magos, the one with the dreams is very, very Keoni-centric...I'm not sure others would enjoy it that much but maybe I will post it to liven up the idea I am a stodgy stay-at-home old lady.
The Toad piece is the one I did before I broke my leg. I didn't do one the Christmas I had my broken leg and the one I did this past year was a bomb...literally. I was so blocked I finally ended it with an asteroid hitting earth and blowing it up, just to get out of the story.
126. judithathome - 4/14/2005 3:25:35 PM
Alistair, I was thinking maybe you could list the post numbers of the person's story in the right hand column...author's name and post number of their entry. For yours, you could list all the post numbers of the chapters and update it each time.
It might be a daunting task right now but doing it after each submission in the future would be easy enough. And starting now, you'd only have a few to do whereas if you decided to do it after 300 stories, it would be a pain.
127. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 3:56:23 PM
Good idea... I'll consider that Judith...
128. judithathome - 4/14/2005 4:13:41 PM
Before I forget, thank you, Alistair, for your nice comments on my story.
I may post another one in a few days.
129. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 4:19:12 PM
OK here it comes, the oh-so-predictable kicker.
130. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 4:31:39 PM
(continued from Message # 120)
On Thursday night, she helped me pack the car. It was a tight fit, but we weren't intending to pick up any hitch-hikers, anyway. We had agreed that she would take the car, so she could pick me up directly from work on Friday without losing any time. She was affectionate but tense, and in a hurry to get away.
"What, no love tonight?"
She kissed me tenderly : "You get some sleep. You'll need it."
It was sound advice.
I was awakened by a knock on my door. 7 am : a bit early for me. The flatmates were buzzing around the kitchen in a turmoil, listening to the radio : "The Greenpeace protest vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, has sunk at its mooring in Auckland Harbour. One crew member is reported dead. Police suspect sabotage."
My flatmates suspected "the French". I was completely floored. I didn't know what to think.
I didn't go to work that day : I went to the usual gathering place, and with Desdemona and the others, we tried to make sense of the fragments of information and rumour we had. One of the boat people turned up, distraught. He explained that an explosion during the night had woken everyone, and they had evacuated the boat, but that Fernando, the photographer, had gone back to get his cameras, and had been killed outright by the second explosion, the one that sank the boat.
I can't say I knew the guy, but we'd been in the same room a couple of times.
But who had planted the bombs, and how?
Late morning, someone arrived with the news/rumour that limpet bombs had been placed on the outside of the hull, below the water line; and that a Zodiac and diving gear had been found in Mission Bay, about a mile away.
Desdemona turned to face me. Her mouth opened, and her pupils dilated. (In any other circumstances I would have found the effect intensely erotic. She has wonderful eyes.)
"You'd better go to the police."
We left the room unobtrusively. She had her mother's car. She was going to drive me directly to the main cop shop, but I wanted to go home and have a shower first. Or something. I don't really remember.
The cops were waiting for me at my front door.
131. thoughtful - 4/14/2005 4:57:12 PM
i just started reading the stories here and I'm enjoying them. Good job to all.
Wanted to mention that it reminded me of a game my mother and I played when I was a child where one of us would start telling a story and then stop and the other would pick up the thread and weave it along. It was fun trying to trap the other person into corners and the creative ways we got ourselves out of it. Good times.
132. judithathome - 4/14/2005 5:20:38 PM
Over at WC, in Demonizing Religion, we're writing "Jesus, An Internet Play" that way.
133. PelleNilsson - 4/14/2005 5:21:14 PM
Aideing and abetting, eh Alistair? But I suspect there is more to it. Much more. How can you now have a classified job at the nerve centre of SNCF? The Prince of Darkness lives among us.
I'm thinking of putting something together but I have a problem. Over the years I have posted many tales and I have contemplated posting other tales but never got around to it. In my mind those two categories are conflated, so if you recognize whatever I'll write please don't think "there is Pelle digging out the same old story". I genuinely don't remember. And it will not be exactly the same anyhow.
134. alistairconnor - 4/14/2005 5:28:28 PM
Here's the wash-up.
(continued from Message # 130)
Five weeks in prison might seem excessive to some people. I didn't mind, actually. Saved me making any complicated decisions.
The problem was, they didn't have anyone else. Only me. I told them everything I knew, straight away. That took about four minutes.
They charged me as accessory to murder, to start with. Obviously, what they wanted to get me for was conspiracy to murder, plus the various property-damage things. (I had always believed that New Zealand had abolished the death penalty; but at that time, there was still a capital offense related to sinking ships, that was at least theoretically on the books. Also, treason.)
Desdemona and my flatmates were put through the grinder too. Obviously, they knew nothing that I hadn't told the cops, which was a point in my favour I suppose. The dive shop guy remembered that there had been a woman with me the first time, though it seems she had kept out of his line of sight and let me do all the talking. Nobody else, as far as I know, came forward with any useful information about her. Nobody of her name had either entered or left the country, nor had she ever been at the universities she mentioned under that name.
Quite simply, Gisèle had never existed.
I didn't tell the fuzz she had met my parents. I didn't want to put them through the ordeal of an interrogation, when they had strictly no useful information anyway. That backfired on me : of course, they spontaneously came forward to tell the cops all they knew about her (absolutely nothing), and Auckland's Finest had their proof that I was trying to protect her.
Then three weeks later, by sheer chance, a couple of French secret service agents got caught trying to leave the country with false passports, masquerading as a Swiss couple on their honeymoon. (When all became clear, a couple of years later, it turned out that there had been at least six DGSE agents in the country in support roles, as well as the two divers.) They brought us together for a confrontation. The two of them eyed me coldly, weighing up whether I could be of any further use to them. I had never seen them before, nor they me; but they had heard of me, it seems. In most uncomplimentary terms, they said.
In the end the cops had to accept that I was telling the truth. Boy were they pissed off about that. Clearly I was no danger to anyone (other than myself), so they let me go. Without dropping the charges.
Luckily for me, the affair came swiftly to trial. The French government was stonewalling, the entire New Zealand nation was in the grip of righteous fury. The French spooks got ten years each, conspiracy to commit murder. My lawyer -- he was very good, my parents took care of that -- begged for, and obtained, suppression of my name, and I was discharged without conviction.
Desdemona stood by me in that dark period. Not many other people did. Not that I blamed them. If I had been of a truly romantic disposition, I would have borrowed my brother's .303 and blown my head off (but I have always abhorred firearms). Or, more appropriately, I could have bought a couple of extra weight belts and jumped off the Harbour Bridge. I like to think that, if I had been truly suicidal, Desdemona would have used love to keep me alive. Not for humanitarian, but for political reasons. That's the sort of woman she is.
Naturally, my nascent political career was over. Opposition to nuclear testing, formerly a lefty fringe thing, became a great National Cause; and rabid anti-French chauvinism was the norm for several years. It served as a wonderful alibi or smokescreen for Dick Jeckler and his cronies, as they pillaged the country. Helen Clark, who had been of my faction, built her career around the issue of nuclear disarmament, becoming minister of foreign affairs, and is now Prime Minister.
After a couple of months of moping around, I saw the writing on the wall, and emigrated.
Where is Gisèle now? Who is Gisèle now? Do I want to know?
You bet I do.
At the time, I forgave her in my heart for deceiving me, but I could not forgive her for being on the wrong side.
Twenty-two years later, all things considered, I think it's the other way round.
135. alistairConnor - 4/14/2005 6:45:12 PM
I want a story from Jexster.
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