So either I’m just lucky, I have telekinetic powers, or the girl next door reads my website – unfortunately the second is more probable than the third – but she has finally stopped doing a can-can dance with her keys every morning. Alas, I have a new enemy in the building.
The building must employ some kind of cleaning person, because every few days there is someone vacuuming the stairs and the landing on every floor. The idea in itself is a little absurd, because the building is old and mostly filthy anyway, and the carpet they’re maintaining is dirty and threadbare. Even if the occasional sweep to pick up litter would be beneficial, I really don’t know what a vacuum cleaner is bringing to the party here.
Whoever it is operating said vacuum cleaner – I have yet to catch them in the act – seems intent on banging the device into every wall and railing with the force of a highway collision. It’s like a broken Roomba jacked up on PCP. The mental image I have whenever I hear this in the morning is of a maid working a canister vacuum cleaner, and swinging the hose portion over her head like a lasso, taking out all dust and structural objects in a five foot radius.
Anyway, the day set forth like so many these days, taking up residence at the Breakfast in America diner around the corner from my flat. I have finally gotten past the awkward phase of the first few occasions working at a table for hours, and now they know what I’m doing and that I’ll clear out if they actually get busy with customers. I try to work there from the 3pm-7pm time frame when they’re almost empty anyway. For a mix of pleasant people, American coffee, and quality British-based classic rock, it’s impossible to beat. If you ever come here, you have to get the California Chicken Wrap. Just trust me on that one. I’m making them take my picture in the back booth, working on my laptop, so when I become a famous writer they’ll have a cool 8×10 to put on the wall there.
After getting some work done and dropping in at home for a quick dinner, I decided to go back to the pub I mentioned in Day Four – that which is the home to our old friend Hermione. She had been out of town for the past several days to check on family, and now that she was back, and I hadn’t really had a direct conversation with someone for a couple days, I thought it was a good time to drop in and chat.
The bar was even more empty on this night, with two other gentlemen at the small bar – one older and Greek, the other extremely drunk, of indeterminable origin, and staring straight ahead for long stretches at a time – and one person lazily flipping through their phone at a table. The TV wasn’t showing unintentionally funny French rap videos on this night, it was a football game instead; but true to Paris bar tradition, the audio in the bar was something different.
Shortly after 1am, Hermione started to clean up and get ready to shut the bar down. I told her I would hurry up and finish my beer, she quickly said “no, no, you take one more, you can stay and talk while I clean.” I’m not one to argue against more beer or pretty bartenders, so I obliged. Roughly half-an-hour later, I was starting to second guess again if I had overstayed my welcome, and asked if she wanted me to walk her home [the street back to her place, at this hour, is dotted with drunk obnoxious twenty-somethings who can get a little handsy] or finish my beer and take off so she could lock up. Again, she said “no, no, stay… I just need to let out the cats.”
“there are, you know, mice and stuff down in the cellar, being Paris and all, so he keeps cats down there.”
“like, all day?”
“yeah, but we feed them and let them out at night, they can run around the bar.”
No doubt my disposition as a cat fanatic exacerbated my shock, but I couldn’t believe that all these nights I was sitting there drinking, there were cats running around underneath that floor. When everything is cleaned, Hermione walks over to a trapdoor in the floor, turns a knob and lifts it open. Sure enough, two bouncy balls of fur shoot out into the bar.
One was a little bigger than the other, “he’s the mean one,” Hermione says, but they were both a healthy size, and seemed like they only wanted about five minutes of your attention before bounding to the window to watch the drunks stumble home.
Of course, it was the mean one who liked me most, jumping up on the chair next to me and peppering my arm with loving headbutts. The other one paced back and forth in front of us, eyeing me suspiciously. He loved Hermione, though. Of course, she had the food, so big advantage for her.
After I was convinced they were done with me, I slammed what was left of my cheap beer and headed out the front door with Hermione to navigate the cobblestone back to our respective flats. I don’t know how I’m going to get through a night at that bar without trying to sneak down in the cellar now.