Another excerpt from my novel, which is in its final stages and will soon be looking for agency representation. Comments welcomed, and please share with friends if you like it.
‘Fucking Paris.’ Anaïs muttered to no one when a man boarded the metro on crutches at Pyrenees. The stump of his left leg swung free, swaddled in a grubby sock. He flicked the end of his concertina up in the air before catching it and huffing out the chords of a familiar tune in time to the modulations of the train. When the song ended he shuffled the length of the carriage holding out an upturned baseball cap, trying without success to make eye contact with any of the other passengers. Only the tourists gave him money. Anaïs was versed in the school of thought that to pay beggars was to exacerbate their misfortune. She blamed the whole situation on the gormless tourists. She blamed the gormless tourists on fucking Paris. She needed to get out of Paris. It was not so much that she did not love Alex, she did, kind of. But she would have kept the relationship going anyway because its main boon was not his devotion or his excitement at her existence, but all the elements of the package that he could provide for her. She needed his studio as much as she needed his body. She needed his contacts as much as she needed him to lean over in the middle of the night and embrace her tightly with a safe and strong arm. She needed to get out of Paris. Her anger coupled with the severe black bob of her hair was more than enough to beguile him. It had in fact been Lucas that she had met first, at the top of a tower block in Romainville, in the apartment of a petty crook where people came and went day and night to stock up on ecstasy and cocaine and sleeping pills.
‘We could kill him and escape with his stash,’ Lucas had said when their host left the room to get cans of beer from the fridge.
‘Can we take the dog too?’ she asked.
‘No. We have to kill the dog.’ She had turned the corners of her mouth down and he had cracked a rare smirk.
‘I’m Lucas, by the way.’
‘Nice to meet you Lucas. I am Anaïs.’ She chain-smoked, seldom ate (art was too pressing to find time for food) and took exotic foreign excursions year round by scraping together cash for tickets and relying on charm and charity for the rest. Alex and Anaïs had met later, on a rowboat off the Cap d’Antibes during a trip arranged by their mutual friend. Alex had tried every device at his command to draw her into his sphere. Nonchalance first, the perfected practice of being aloof, and when that failed and the trip ended he tried overpowering her with Facebook messages and tweets, invites, even flowers. Finally he had gone back to ignoring her, and when he had all but given up hope of bringing her round she had come to him. He hadn’t questioned it. He’d just dropped all other options (he was never without options) to accommodate each and every one of her needs. The couple shared a concern about the parturition of an artistic truth, about an as yet undiscovered idea that would shape the world and save the people. Neither considered the limited number of people that saw or cared for their art to be an obstacle to the potential new world order. They moved from gallery opening to gallery opening, small talking with the same faces that peered out from behind the same horn rimmed spectacles, watching money move in rings between benefactors, gallerists and collectors to form a perfect ecosystem where their beliefs were protected from the scrutiny of the wider world. Occasionally a contemporary would sell a series to a well-known gallery and mark his or her end point in the cycle. That person would quickly be retired to the pile of vulgar sell-outs that took commissions from governments to commemorate futile events, like memorials or sporting events, or to produce boorish public artworks. The couple mistrusted politics in all its forms, believing there was no nation in the world that could boast such a thing as a true democracy. They believed that all citizens were bound by cages, golden or otherwise. However, Alex and Anaïs were unable to commit to a definition of democracy either widely accepted or not, and that made any discussion on the matter short lived. By nearly every account they made the most serendipitous of unions except for one small factor, which was that Alex was deeply in love with Anaïs and Anaïs was indifferent about Alex.