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I wrote this when I was sixteen. I daresay it's unreadable. And yet I want the world to read it. I'm not sure I care to analyse the psychology behind that. View table of contents...


Chapters:

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Submitted:Apr 29, 2007    Reads: 188    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Bertram had once more gracefully declined the advice of his manservant and decided to walk to the Left Bank in the green jacket that had arrived from his Taylor that morning. With a waistcoat of equally conspicuous blue as it's canvas, Bertram was aware of what would be said of him and equally aware that he looked radiant. Whilst he knew that his face and his body were at best unremarkable, he realised that which a decreasing number of people did; that life relies on decoration. The decoration of a thing or a person defines the way it is perceived, a revelation which on its materialisation had implanted the desire in Bertram to alter the popular perception of himself, if possible more than once. He was pleased to notice that he was indeed observed by more than a few pedestrians on crossing the Pont des Arts (both figuratively and literally, he declared internally and immediately adored himself for such skilful waltzing with Language). Examining this idea further, an image of a "bridge or arts" slided in to place behind his eyes, a bridge orchestrated of indescribable materials, seamlessly decorated with unprecedented shades and emitting a unique and wondrous odour. It was a shame that he was not a painter, he reflected, as such an idea could be put to wonderful use in a painting. He may, however, be able to salvage some of it in one of his poems. He found that he had time to visit Charles Pierre at the Pere Lachase cemetery before breakfast. A reading of Les Fleurs de Mal the night before had persuaded him that he had not been sufficiently sparing with his first visit to the cemetery and that this was what a great poet deserved from him. He remembered very well the inscription: "Charles Pierre Baudelaire: 1821-1867. Poete et critique. Resident de Paris. 'Les morts, les pauvres mort, ont de grandes douleures, et quand Octobre souffle, emondeur des vieux abres, son vent melancolique a l'entour de leurs marbescerte, ils doivent trouver les vivants bien ingrats." Bertram furrowed his brow on reflecting that the quotation was almost incomprehensible in such small letters. They were arguably a more enlightening obituary than those above them. "Bonjour, Charles Pierre. You may remember me. Bertram Tenwick? I came to visit you last Friday. I'm afraid I didn't have much to say to you at the time. In fact, I didn't say anything at all. I trust that I looked very respectable, but a look is no substitute for a word. You taught me that." Bertram did not stop talking when he saw a young gentlemen in a suit escort a lady with a veil to a nearby stone. Although the lady appeared curious about the conversation, the young gentleman seemed to understand. As he spoke, Bertram took time to admire the sky; his life-long feud with science meant that he could not define why it was so, but it was so that Paris was in possession of one of the world's three perfect skies. He allowed a smile of gratitude to engulf his face and savoured a slow breath of the glorious air. "I'm staying at the Hotel Lazure; they've hung up your portrait upstairs. All that nonsense about 'decadent lifestyles' steadily grows quieter, and nobody complains any longer, although why anyone would complain at having a wall graced with your likeness quite confounds me. Anyway, I really just came here to tell you that Meret is publishing some of your works again. Not Les Fleurs de Mal, I'm afraid; it's almost impossible to get hold of. I promise you it will be published again at some point; emotions can not be censored."
He replaced his hat. "Bonjour, Mon Charles." He left the cemetery and continued towards the Left Bank. * * * Breakfast had already began, not so much out of disrespect for Bertram, but as a celebration of disrespect as a concept. Bertram entered five minutes later than he had said and took off his hat. Only one of the three rose from the table. Emmett approached and kissed Bertram on each cheek. "I'm glad you made it here. The ferries are usually very good, but the docks can take a long time."
"They did; I started at six o'clock two mornings ago and I arrived at eleven o'clock last night. I found the hotel and, God be praised, they did have a vacancy." Emmett nodded to Bertram to sit down. "Did you wear those here?" he enquired in English, the tongue the conversation would continue and conclude in. "Yes," said Bertram with delight. "Calhier sent it from Marseilles last week and I have no doubt you will agree with me that it lends me a quite indescribable air."
Emmett nodded with a small, skilfully ambiguous smile. "Quite indescribable." Nicholas smiled. Bertram detected that he was smiling, and his face swung around in time to absorb the intoxicating memory of Nicholas's flawless teeth slightly bared as his quite lovely red lips assembled a statue of youth and beauty. "You must tell me at some point where you got that cigarette holder," said the sort of voice which will always command obedience to a certain persuasion of ear. Bertram smiled a merely functional smile and reached in to his jacket pocket. "We can do better," he said, and placed a golden cigarette holder between Nicholas's wine glass and his champagne glass. Bertram looked at the object rolling between the

Bertram had once more gracefully declined the advice of his manservant and decided to walk to the Left Bank in the green jacket that had arrived from his Taylor that morning. With a waistcoat of equally conspicuous blue as it's canvas, Bertram was aware of what would be said of him and equally aware that he looked radiant. Whilst he knew that his face and his body were at best unremarkable, he realised that which a decreasing number of people did; that life relies on decoration. The decoration of a thing or a person defines the way it is perceived, a revelation which on its materialisation had implanted the desire in Bertram to alter the popular perception of himself, if possible more than once.

He was pleased to notice that he was indeed observed by more than a few pedestrians on crossing the Pont des Arts (both figuratively and literally, he declared internally and immediately adored himself for such skilful waltzing with Language). Examining this idea further, an image of a "bridge or arts" slided in to place behind his eyes, a bridge orchestrated of indescribable materials, seamlessly decorated with unprecedented shades and emitting a unique and wondrous odour. It was a shame that he was not a painter, he reflected, as such an idea could be put to wonderful use in a painting. He may, however, be able to salvage some of it in one of his poems.

He found that he had time to visit Charles Pierre at the Pere Lachase cemetery before breakfast. A reading of Les Fleurs de Mal the night before had persuaded him that he had not been sufficiently sparing with his first visit to the cemetery and that this was what a great poet deserved from him. He remembered very well the inscription: "Charles Pierre Baudelaire: 1821-1867. Poete et critique. Resident de Paris. 'Les morts, les pauvres mort, ont de grandes douleures, et quand Octobre souffle, emondeur des vieux abres, son vent melancolique a l'entour de leurs marbescerte, ils doivent trouver les vivants bien ingrats." Bertram furrowed his brow on reflecting that the quotation was almost incomprehensible in such small letters. They were arguably a more enlightening obituary than those above them.

"Bonjour, Charles Pierre. You may remember me. Bertram Tenwick? I came to visit you last Friday. I'm afraid I didn't have much to say to you at the time. In fact, I didn't say anything at all. I trust that I looked very respectable, but a look is no substitute for a word. You taught me that."

Bertram did not stop talking when he saw a young gentlemen in a suit escort a lady with a veil to a nearby stone. Although the lady appeared curious about the conversation, the young gentleman seemed to understand.

As he spoke, Bertram took time to admire the sky; his life-long feud with science meant that he could not define why it was so, but it was so that Paris was in possession of one of the world's three perfect skies. He allowed a smile of gratitude to engulf his face and savoured a slow breath of the glorious air.

"I'm staying at the Hotel Lazure; they've hung up your portrait upstairs. All that nonsense about 'decadent lifestyles' steadily grows quieter, and nobody complains any longer, although why anyone would complain at having a wall graced with your likeness quite confounds me. Anyway, I really just came here to tell you that Meret is publishing some of your works again. Not Les Fleurs de Mal, I'm afraid; it's almost impossible to get hold of. I promise you it will be published again at some point; emotions can not be censored."
He replaced his hat.

"Bonjour, Mon Charles."

He left the cemetery and continued towards the Left Bank.

* * *

Breakfast had already began, not so much out of disrespect for Bertram, but as a celebration of disrespect as a concept.

Bertram entered five minutes later than he had said and took off his hat. Only one of the three rose from the table. Emmett approached and kissed Bertram on each cheek.

"I'm glad you made it here. The ferries are usually very good, but the docks can take a long time."
"They did; I started at six o'clock two mornings ago and I arrived at eleven o'clock last night. I found the hotel and, God be praised, they did have a vacancy."

Emmett nodded to Bertram to sit down. "Did you wear those here?" he enquired in English, the tongue the conversation would continue and conclude in.

"Yes," said Bertram with delight. "Calhier sent it from Marseilles last week and I have no doubt you will agree with me that it lends me a quite indescribable air."
Emmett nodded with a small, skilfully ambiguous smile. "Quite indescribable."

Nicholas smiled. Bertram detected that he was smiling, and his face swung around in time to absorb the intoxicating memory of Nicholas's flawless teeth slightly bared as his quite lovely red lips assembled a statue of youth and beauty.

"You must tell me at some point where you got that cigarette holder," said the sort of voice which will always command obedience to a certain persuasion of ear. Bertram smiled a merely functional smile and reached in to his jacket pocket. "We can do better," he said, and placed a golden cigarette holder between Nicholas's wine glass and his champagne glass. Bertram looked at the object rolling between the two glass stems in awe.

"Really, Bertram, you know that I can't."

"You'd be doing me a great honour," said Bertram. Nicholas smiled coyly and picked up the cigarette holder.

"Will you be staying with us for the World Fair, Tenwick?" MacLaine was putting his cup back on its saucer and wiping tea from his mouth.

"If they get the tower up in time, I'll certainly stay to see it unveiled."

"Oh yes," enthused Nicholas. "They're building a restaurant just above the legs, now. They say it's going to be a thousand feet high. Come over here, Bertram; you can see it perfectly."

Bertram rose towards the window. MacLaine continued to look at the wall as he addressed nobody in particular. "I spoke to that Eiffel chap a few years ago. He's got the right idea. They ask him for a little fairground attraction and he gives them a tower complete with a restaurant and his own set of rooms. All scientists should think like that."

"There's a difference between architects and scientists, my dear MacLaine," came the sort of remark expected from Bertram.

"Not as much as you might think," came the sort of reply expected from MacLaine. "I look upon myself as an architect; science has to be well built or it falls down and you can barely get rid of the wreckage." MacLaine was fascinated enough by his own parallel to be quiet. Bertram looked from the window at the origins of the tower.

"I'm sure she'll be quite beautiful when the time comes; she doesn't look at all unimpressive at the minute."

Bertram returned to the table.

"Are you working at all today, Emmett?"

"Absolutely. I'll certainly work until luncheon."

Bertram mumbled with disapproval, a cigarette still in his mouth. He took it out.

"You work before midday? Have you ever produced anything of note with that method?"

"Most of my poems were written before lunch."

"Hmm. Well, I am sure I could never function at such an hour. The only possible way to bear fruit of suitable ripeness is to spend the day away from your desk and return to it in the evening for two hours when it is dark. The dark titillates and intrigues because it is unique and has mystery. If my writing is unremarkable and without mystery it will be of no interest to anybody worth speaking to."

"Are you writing tonight before visiting the Library?"

"Certainly; for at least two hours. The spirit of Charles Pierre shall caress my mind and my soul and words shall leap forth."

MacLaine took out his pocket watch and stared at it intensely whilst slipping the chain around his index finger.

"He's got little else to do with his spirit, I suppose," observed Emmett.

"You must tell me the name of this library, Bertram," Nicholas entreated gently. "Emmett has been teasing me about it as though it were some delicious secret. He keeps talking about the 'greatest library in Paris.'"

Bertram nodded emphatically from behind a champagne glass and when he sat it on the table he said "indeed. And without question my preferred literary salon, and there are so many in this wonderful city."
"Yes, yes, yes," Nicholas said with semi-serious impatience. "But what's it called?"

"It's very near and it's called... Follise Bergere, I think. Something of that ilk."

Emmett nodded.

"That is perfectly accurate and now you've spoiled things for me."

"Follise Bergere," mused Nicholas. "I think I've heard of it, but I don't believe I recall mention of it as a salon or library."
Bertram's eyes widened with patronage and an eager smile appeared. "A positive spring of artistic inspiration. Such a wide congregation of artisans is not to be found anywhere in London or Berlin, and the administration is kind enough to encourage the artistic spirit of it's clientele at every opportunity."

"A moment, please," came Nicholas's cautious point of information. "Is it not a place of... well, of some... ill repute?"

Bertram nodded enthusiastically.

"Yes, and it is wonderfully decorated as well. The chairs are highly comfortable also."

"Can we really be seen there and call ourselves respectable?"

Bertram shrugged and would to those unfamiliar with him appear to be concentrating on a cigarette he was rolling rather than on the words he was considering for his sentences. "Well, if we called ourselves artists we would have no excuse for not embracing the experience. A genius in art is a genius in life also, for although Life and Art have always shared an uneasy association, they attempt to avoid open conflict and, as a show of some tolerance toward one another, one will offer the other what he possesses whenever it may be required. Thank you, my boy," he interjected as Nicholas lighted his cigarette, swiftly reclaiming the flow of his words. Nicholas and Emmett sat down and continued to derive pleasure from watching Bertram develop his soliloquy. Paradoxes were that hour presenting themselves to Bertram quite freely, not at all as coyly or stubbornly as they did usually. "Therefore we who are routed in Life but wish to add to Art would be foolish, as well as impolite, to refuse what Life offers us. Life frequents the Follies Bergere and has stood me dinner every night since my first there. I find him a much more agreeable host here than he has been in other places."

Emmett smiled. "You are speaking very impressively today, Bertram."

"No, not today, merely this morning, possibly merely this two hours or this fifteen minutes, and I must allow Language to gather momentum in me if I am to produce anything of note later today, so a good day to you and I hope to see you this evening."

Nicholas's smile reached its contemporary height of beauty, to be surpassed presently.

"Have a good day, Bertram."

Bertram smiled a smile.

"Thank you, the same to you, Nicholas. Good day, MacLaine."

MacLaine did not look up from his pocket watch. "Yes."

Emmett endorsed the same sentiment by raising his hand and smiling. Shutting the door, an emotionally satisfied Bertram smiled through the closing gap.

He walked in to the street, swung his cane to self-consciously ridiculous effect, sighed with content and consulted his watch. This was exactly how long it took the workers to recognise him.

Presumably they had chosen not to honour the conditions of their employment and had decided to spend sometime outside their place of work. The less scandalous possibility was that they would arrive at the workplace late to their evident non-dismay. The first one to see Bertram both deployed the first word and threw the first stone. The stones came as a tidal wave, failing to distract Bertram from the words. He listened for the words partly, he later reflected, to prevent him from concentrating on the physical pain. When the siege was lifted the enemy had fired more words than stones. The words travelled quicker. They came with such viciousness as should be impossible for a human being to inflict.

"Tappets."

"Bougere."

And even one "sodomite."

And then a "Jesus Christ" penetrated Bertram's mind from the hotel door behind him. Bertram recoiled on the floor, tears in his eyes, his knees wet from a puddle and sweat developing in abundance, at the exact moment that MacLaine fired his first bullet. It was heard on the other side of the bridge and further. Even before MacLaine said anything more than the blasphemous expletive with which he had introduced himself, Bertram was unable to recognise in his mental address book any other person of his acquaintance or abstract knowledge who would casually employ a dangerous firearm in the early Paris morning.

"En avante! Fais-le maintenant!" he shouted, retaining his English accent to nauseating effect. Not requiring any particular sensitivity or intelligence to recognise the damage which can conceivably be inflicted by such a person, the workers retreated instantly and swiftly, MacLaine still pointing the rifle at the figures as they faded in to the background.

"Damn sorry, Tenwick."
Bertram's vocabulary was the first facet of his decorum to be retrieved. The others would follow only after extensive chasing.

"Not at all. Thank you very much, MacLaine. I'm afraid a certain type of person will always fail to understand or appreciate we artists and our art."

MacLaine nodded and smiled. He pulled back the top of the gun and with a final, confidence-restoring pat on the shoulder, he announced his retreat with "well, if you think you can make your way to the hotel safely, I'll say good morning. After all, time waits for a very select minority."

two glass stems in awe. "Really, Bertram, you know that I can't." "You'd be doing me a great honour," said Bertram. Nicholas smiled coyly and picked up the cigarette holder. "Will you be staying with us for the World Fair, Tenwick?" MacLaine was putting his cup back on its saucer and wiping tea from his mouth. "If they get the tower up in time, I'll certainly stay to see it unveiled." "Oh yes," enthused Nicholas. "They're building a restaurant just above the legs, now. They say it's going to be a thousand feet high. Come over here, Bertram; you can see it perfectly." Bertram rose towards the window. MacLaine continued to look at the wall as he addressed nobody in particular. "I spoke to that Eiffel chap a few years ago. He's got the right idea. They ask him for a little fairground attraction and he gives them a tower complete with a restaurant and his own set of rooms. All scientists should think like that." "There's a difference between architects and scientists, my dear MacLaine," came the sort of remark expected from Bertram. "Not as much as you might think," came the sort of reply expected from MacLaine. "I look upon myself as an architect; science has to be well built or it falls down and you can barely get rid of the wreckage." MacLaine was fascinated enough by his own parallel to be quiet. Bertram looked from the window at the origins of the tower. "I'm sure she'll be quite beautiful when the time comes; she doesn't look at all unimpressive at the minute." Bertram returned to the table. "Are you working at all today, Emmett?" "Absolutely. I'll certainly work until luncheon." Bertram mumbled with disapproval, a cigarette still in his mouth. He took it out. "You work before midday? Have you ever produced anything of note with that method?" "Most of my poems were written before lunch." "Hmm. Well, I am sure I could never function at such an hour. The only possible way to bear fruit of suitable ripeness is to spend the day away from your desk and return to it in the evening for two hours when it is dark. The dark titillates and intrigues because it is unique and has mystery. If my writing is unremarkable and without mystery it will be of no interest to anybody worth speaking to." "Are you writing tonight before visiting the Library?" "Certainly; for at least two hours. The spirit of Charles Pierre shall caress my mind and my soul and words shall leap forth." MacLaine took out his pocket watch and stared at it intensely whilst slipping the chain around his index finger. "He's got little else to do with his spirit, I suppose," observed Emmett. "You must tell me the name of this library, Bertram," Nicholas entreated gently. "Emmett has been teasing me about it as though it were some delicious secret. He keeps talking about the 'greatest library in Paris.'" Bertram nodded emphatically from behind a champagne glass and when he sat it on the table he said "indeed. And without question my preferred literary salon, and there are so many in this wonderful city."
"Yes, yes, yes," Nicholas said with semi-serious impatience. "But what's it called?" "It's very near and it's called… Follise Bergere, I think. Something of that ilk." Emmett nodded. "That is perfectly accurate and now you've spoiled things for me." "Follise Bergere," mused Nicholas. "I think I've heard of it, but I don't believe I recall mention of it as a salon or library."
Bertram's eyes widened with patronage and an eager smile appeared. "A positive spring of artistic inspiration. Such a wide congregation of artisans is not to be found anywhere in London or Berlin, and the administration is kind enough to encourage the artistic spirit of it's clientele at every opportunity." "A moment, please," came Nicholas's cautious point of information. "Is it not a place of… well, of some… ill repute?" Bertram nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, and it is wonderfully decorated as well. The chairs are highly comfortable also." "Can we really be seen there and call ourselves respectable?" Bertram shrugged and would to those unfamiliar with him appear to be concentrating on a cigarette he was rolling rather than on the words he was considering for his sentences. "Well, if we called ourselves artists we would have no excuse for not embracing the experience. A genius in art is a genius in life also, for although Life and Art have always shared an uneasy association, they attempt to avoid open conflict and, as a show of some tolerance toward one another, one will offer the other what he possesses whenever it may be required. Thank you, my boy," he interjected as Nicholas lighted his cigarette, swiftly reclaiming the flow of his words. Nicholas and Emmett sat down and continued to derive pleasure from watching Bertram develop his soliloquy. Paradoxes were that hour presenting themselves to Bertram quite freely, not at all as coyly or stubbornly as they did usually. "Therefore we who are routed in Life but wish to add to Art would be foolish, as well as impolite, to refuse what Life offers us. Life frequents the Follies Bergere and has stood me dinner every night since my first there. I find him a much more agreeable host here than he has been in other places." Emmett smiled. "You are speaking very impressively today, Bertram." "No, not today, merely this morning, possibly merely this two hours or this fifteen minutes, and I must allow Language to gather momentum in me if I am to produce anything of note later today, so a good day to you and I hope to see you this evening." Nicholas's smile reached its contemporary height of beauty, to be surpassed presently. "Have a good day, Bertram." Bertram smiled a smile. "Thank you, the same to you, Nicholas. Good day, MacLaine." MacLaine did not look up from his pocket watch. "Yes." Emmett endorsed the same sentiment by raising his hand and smiling. Shutting the door, an emotionally satisfied Bertram smiled through the closing gap. He walked in to the street, swung his cane to self-consciously ridiculous effect, sighed with content and consulted his watch. This was exactly how long it took the workers to recognise him. Presumably they had chosen not to honour the conditions of their employment and had decided to spend sometime outside their place of work. The less scandalous possibility was that they would arrive at the workplace late to their evident non-dismay. The first one to see Bertram both deployed the first word and threw the first stone. The stones came as a tidal wave, failing to distract Bertram from the words. He listened for the words partly, he later reflected, to prevent him from concentrating on the physical pain. When the siege was lifted the enemy had fired more words than stones. The words travelled quicker. They came with such viciousness as should be impossible for a human being to inflict. "Tappets." "Bougere." And even one "sodomite." And then a "Jesus Christ" penetrated Bertram's mind from the hotel door behind him. Bertram recoiled on the floor, tears in his eyes, his knees wet from a puddle and sweat developing in abundance, at the exact moment that MacLaine fired his first bullet. It was heard on the other side of the bridge and further. Even before MacLaine said anything more than the blasphemous expletive with which he had introduced himself, Bertram was unable to recognise in his mental address book any other person of his acquaintance or abstract knowledge who would casually employ a dangerous firearm in the early Paris morning. "En avante! Fais-le maintenant!" he shouted, retaining his English accent to nauseating effect. Not requiring any particular sensitivity or intelligence to recognise the damage which can conceivably be inflicted by such a person, the workers retreated instantly and swiftly, MacLaine still pointing the rifle at the figures as they faded in to the background. "Damn sorry, Tenwick."
Bertram's vocabulary was the first facet of his decorum to be retrieved. The others would follow only after extensive chasing. "Not at all. Thank you very much, MacLaine. I'm afraid a certain type of person will always fail to understand or appreciate we artists and our art." MacLaine nodded and smiled. He pulled back the top of the gun and with a final, confidence-restoring pat on the shoulder, he announced his retreat with "well, if you think you can make your way to the hotel safely, I'll say good morning. After all, time waits for a very select minority."




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