L'eau Sous Le Pont (Water Under the Bridge)
By ice rivers
When he was a jeune homme, Monsieur Blanc loved the story of Pierre Le Boucher. Pierre was a powerful man who took artistic pride in his ability to slice meat with his razor sharp butcher knife. One cloudy day, Pierre’s concentration was interrupted by a fly buzzing around his head. Pierre swung his razor sharp knife at the fly. He missed the nuisance but his follow through drove his knife clean through his own neck at such speed and power that his head remained perfectly intact upon his shoulders. Pierre’s assistant, thinking fast, pressed down on Pierre’s head, keeping it in place. Everything reconnected and for a few moments, the astonished Pierre remained silent. He tried to speak but with severed vocal chords, his attempt was futile. He signaled for a paper and a pen. Jean Paul, another assistant fetched a pen and Pierre, in his own blood wrote these words…..”L’amour est bleu”.
Jacques LaPlumer had lived a full life. His jet black hair had begun to turn white when he reached fifty years and the hair was so white that for the past twenty years he had been called by the nom de plume of Monsieur Blanc.
Monisieur Blanc had heard the rumor that when Marie Antoinette approached the guillotine, her hair had suddenly gone completely white. LaPlumer wouldn’t have to worry about that as he made HIS way to the guillotine.
LaPlumer had led an exemplary life. He had been a teacher. He had paid his debts and with weekly confession had cleared his soul. He still bore the heartbreak of early love. Arthritis had replaced his once joyful, athletic movements with inflexibility and continual pain. He had been wrongfully accused, speedily convicted and happily condemned. The guillotine would be a relief.
The day was dark. The question that murmured through the bloodthirsty crowd which had gathered for the execution was this “Ou est le soleil”. LaPlumer wondered the same as they led him with a comparative gentleness due to his age and infirmity up the steps to the blade.
Once again as he overlooked the crowd, LaPlumer recalled the words of Pierre…”L’amour est bleu.” Since his first love had abandoned him, LaPlumer had never loved again. This was his only regret.
Still, he had made many friends with the women of Paris. He had helped one of them, a beautiful auburn haired jeune fille named Michelle Rougeau, compose a book of love poems. The poems were as sad and beautiful as life itself.
The executioners, one of whom Monsieur Blanc had taught, helped LaPlumer to his knees. Blanc, locked in, lifted his chin skyward and took another look at the frenzy before him. The mob murmured again.
“Le Soleil” they cried and indeed the sun had broken through.
The people closest to the stage screamed "noir".
Blanc felt the sudden warmth and felt even warmer when he saw Michelle in the crowd, trying not to cry while expressing her sadness with the joy of seeing her teacher appearing as dignified, majestic and magically youthful as imaginable in his last moments. She was holding their book and had been reading it through the dark clouds and the repressed tears as she had awaited his last appearance in this bright and guilty world.
Their eyes met. He silently sent her this message… “Michelle ma belle sont des mots qui bout tres bien ensemble.” Michelle got the message and smiled.
La Plumer aimed his final words, his final question at her.
Michelle whispered back
“Page dix huit.”
The blade came down.
LaPlumer felt no pain but he heard the sound.
He headed toward the awaiting bucket
He continued to think as his body slipped away, already eased from its pain. He realized that his life had been a wonderful struggle. his trial had been a sham, his short imprisonment sloppy yet his execution had been sublime. “Sublime” was his last thought as well as his first thought without the lockdowned burden of his body.
When they piked his head and put it on display for the next week, passersby were struck by the startling beauty of Blanc's final facial expression.... so much different from the other heads on spiked display. There was no sign of anger, no sign of fear nor dismay rather a kind of benevolent, resolute melancholy under a mane of jet black hair.