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.
136. alistairConnor - 4/14/2005 6:46:33 PM
Pelle, by all means fire away. But bear in mind that a strong autobiographical element is required.
137. Magoseph - 4/14/2005 7:28:20 PM
Ali— I thought I was reading a romantic adventure with an unusual woman and it turns out to be a total deception, which could have ruined your life—What a story and quite ‘a tour de force’ the way you brought up the end! I am stunned.
138. judithathome - 4/14/2005 7:37:40 PM
I'm very impressed with the way the whole thing unfolded. Great job...it held my interest all the way through.
139. wonkers2 - 4/14/2005 7:58:59 PM
Great story Alistair! I felt betrayed by Marie Claire but never succeeded in getting her in the sack although although she kept letting me think I was getting close.
140. alistairConnor - 4/14/2005 9:49:32 PM
I have linked up the stories in the sidebar.
Eight authors so far. I want more.
Come on, I've shown you mine...
141. webfeet - 4/15/2005 5:55:37 PM
I was astonished when I opened up this thread and saw the crop of stories that sprouted overnight.
I just loved Tomet the Toad and the social critique of life inside one of Texas's tony suburbs, especially the image of the sheik on horseback and the description of the lawns groomed like mousepads.
I really could identify to the post-partum sense of bewilderment you express, like making yourself up and then forgetting the diaper bag. Very real. (and I'm relieved to hear you have SOS for second child.)
142. webfeet - 4/15/2005 6:15:00 PM
Fabulous, alistair. I'm still stunned, actually, that you were at the center of this international scandal. The pacing only heightened the suspense and it led to quite a climax--for lack of a better word.
I was also interested by the passage you translated from the Nouvel Observateur. I hadn't read it. I can't think of any writer, Hemingway, McCarthy, Bellow that hasn't plagiarized, borrowing shamelessly from the pages of his own life to authenticate or expand a narrative, bringing it to life.
Although I am writing about the faultline of a marriage (Ever hear of a book written by an American couple both journalists-- she wrote The Bitch in the Kitchen and he wrote The Bastard on the Couch about their almost divorce) I am much more interested in bringing the story out of my boudoir, or couch as it were, and taking it into an entirely fictive universe that is unrecognizable from the life frenchcat and I lead.
I thought what you were referring to "In Defense of narcissus" was the spate of autobiographical books dealing with childhood traumas that have also been recent subjects of literary interest such as 'Mermaid Frigo.' Written by a minister in the Chirac administration, a polished over-achiever whose biography should read like any other enarchque, he recounts instead a childhood marked by poverty, horror and depression. The title of the book is about a game of hide and seek which ended when a small child, the cousin of the author, pretended he was a mermaid, and froze to death hiding in the refrigerator.
I would describe it more but I have to go to mommy and me baby gym. Merde.
143. webfeet - 4/15/2005 8:09:13 PM
What a pleasure that was..I'm still holding out hope that banksy, my urban male counterpart, will pop up and treat us to some Daddy and Me anecdotes.
144. Magoseph - 4/15/2005 8:25:02 PM
Web, please go the Cafe--thank you.
Message # 14622 in thread 142
145. Jenerator - 4/15/2005 9:54:25 PM
Loved your toad story!! What was Keoni's reaction?
146. alistairConnor - 4/15/2005 10:29:22 PM
I'm still stunned, actually, that you were at the center of this international scandal.
Well I'm... flattered.
On Monday, I was thinking, what could I write?
The story just popped into my head, fully-formed. Easy enough : it was a simple conflation of my actual life and well-attested historical events. A slight temporal telescoping (I had already emigrated at the time of the bombing), and one invented character.
It's been an immensely cathartic experience, writing it. I'm quite pleased with the result.
I would be keen on concrete criticisms. Stuff that doesn't work, irritating mannerisms, implausibilities, incomprehensible references, etc. I don't think I'd ever publish it, but I'd like to write some more stuff.
147. judithathome - 4/15/2005 11:41:33 PM
Jen, Keoni loved it but he loves all of them. The very first one I killed off the main protagonists and he was rather squeamish about it so I just write "happy happy" stuff now.
(the unfortunates were rabbits and were killed by one of the Magi in the desert while following after the Starin the East on Christmas Eve...heh.)
148. judithathome - 4/15/2005 11:42:17 PM
149. webfeet - 4/16/2005 12:31:29 AM
Does that mean you weren't? Am I like the only one who believed it? I feel like Candide.
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