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Excerpt from Fairytale for Another Time
by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, translation by Simon Green and Mark Spitzer

The Horror of Reality!
     All places, names, characters, and situations presented in this work are imaginary! Absolutely imaginary! Each connection with each reality is imaginary! It's neither here nor there... it's a "Fairytale"... and yet!... for another time!

Here's Clemence Arlon. Both of us are about the same age.
     Considering the times we're living in, I find her visit a bit funny... No, it's not funny... but here she is, in spite of the air-raid warnings, the shut-downs in the metro, the barricaded streets... she's come all the way from Vanves!... Clemence hardly ever comes to see me. No more than Marcel, her husband. But she didn't come alone this time... her son Pierre has come along with her. And there she is seated in front of my table... while he remains standing, his back to the wall. He's more at ease looking at me out of the corner of his eye. That's what she's doing too, perched on the edge of her chair... It's an embarrassing visit... both of them are ill at ease... They're deep in thought. Everyone is deep in thought these days... the people you meet, the people you know... It'll soon be three or four months that no one's been able to look me squarely in the eye... and all this, of course, is because of recent events. Nearly all creatures behave the same way, at the same time, with the same tics, the same mannerisms... like little ducks behind their mother. Be it in Daumesnil or the Bois de Boulogne! Always at the same time: "Right face! Left face!" Ten! Twelve! Fifteen! It's always the same: "Everybody! Right face!" Not one out of time! Clemence Arlon gives me a sidelong glance... it's a sign of the times... Give her ten, twelve, fifteen sons... they'd be looking at me the exact same way! I am, of course, that well-known treacherous felon... soon to be lynched. Maybe tomorrow... perhaps the next day... maybe in a week. Look at the traitor out of the corner of your eye, and he is a fascinating spectacle. Pierre, however, looks like his mother, both physically and morally... that's for sure. But her features are finer than his, they're more regular. I'm an Athenian, so physically I'm hard to please... but, God help me, morally I'll make do with anything. They worry about moral issues which is proof that they all want to kill me... not just Clemence, but her son too! Everyone does! On any pretext, they're ready! The way the war's going at the moment, the Krauts, Monsieur de Brinon... the martyrs of the black market... the defense of Fort Montrouge! There will always be pretexts.
     I mentioned that Clemence... in her time, in her youth... had been very pretty. I glance at her kid again... he reeks of deceit... has all the instincts of his mother. He has no desire to take a chair, so there he is, back to the wall, embarrassed to be here... rocking back and forth... fiddling around in his pocket. They've been talking about me over the dinner table, among their friends, with the neighbors... they've been going over the same old things, rehashing the same garbage, the same stupidities every time, mixing everything together... For months and months they've been going on... dragging out the details of my assassination... how much fun it'll be! And patriotic too!... To rip out my eyes! To have me drawn and quartered! Or buried alive! They seem to find it hard to choose... the subject is on everyone's lips... from the concierge's place to the corridors of the metro during air-raid warnings. Naturally, the Arlon family, having known me for more than thirty years, have more than just a little to say when it comes to my faults, my dubious habits, my disgusting ways! They must be on permanent duty out there in Vanves... organizing university courses on my vices and buffooneries, my unbelievable acts of delinquency! Just one excess of mine is worth a thousand nooses! No, ten thousand! My friends, we're in the middle of a living detective novel... complete with animal heat!
     That weasly brat is reading Law... one of these days he'll become a judge. The bench and everything! He's never seen someone who's doomed to be hanged from so close up before... and hanged tomorrow! Hanged at last! Nobody really seems to be able to make up their mind. If you listen to the radio there's some disagreement in the air. "He'll be hanged!" "Torn limb from limb!" "Flayed!" Anyway, final judgement is near! It's a question of mere hours. In Brazzaville, and Berne, and Tobolsk, everywhere, there's a bleating, a roaring, and a quacking coming from every window around... With brave men on microphones in London calling out for me to be "Impaled!"... though the cry from New York is the worst: "The Monster of Montmartre shall be Minced!"
     Which explains why Clemence and her son are here... it's imminent. I don't listen much to the radio, but my patients keep me up to date... Over in Vanves, all day long, they're tuned in to the "radio waves of death!" And openly! With the windows flung wide open! All bellowing: "The Krauts are fucked! Draw up your blacklists!" Oh yeah! They're a colorful bunch of characters over there in Bezons and Vanves, alright! That's where I have my practice!... Up here on the Butte! At my house even!... But I'll get back to that later on... so that's why they're here... their old friend is about to be bumped off... Clemence and her son... Of course, the kid wouldn't dare do it himself... not right here! Quick as a blink... Blafff! Perhaps he's got a little revolver on him... he keeps fiddling around in his pocket... No, I don't think so... He's got a sly look to him... but he doesn't look crazed. You'd have to be crazed to shoot a man point blank, looking in his face. That demands a certain fervor... he doesn't have any of that... I would've already seen it. But if three or four of them had shown up, then you'd have seen fervor... alone though, he's just a dumbass, and that's it... a dumbass!
     "Got a bit of acne there, sonny?"
     My finger aims at his chin, gives it a poke... he's covered with acne...
     "Picking at it, are you?"
     "What?... What?... What?"
     He's trembling... he's all shaken up... over nothing.
     "You jerk! Shit!"
     I'll tell you this though: that kid'd kill with four or five others behind him! Yep, that's right! So, why'd they come from so far away? To cash in on the inheritance? Maybe I'm already dead... is that what they're thinking?... is that why they turned up here, the oafs? Are they surprised? That I'm alive? Or was Clemence, perhaps, driven by affection? By some old tenderness? To warn me? I don't see much tenderness written on her face, though. Anyway, twenty radio stations tell me every day...
     Ahhh, Sweet Clemence, and dear old Marcel! Ahhh, the darling child!... What memories we share!... I wonder if they'll put flowers on my grave. The idea goes through my head that maybe they might, but you can never tell. First of all, I won't have a grave! I'll be drawn and quartered, thrown to the dogs... the local tenants aren't the only ones going hungry at the moment! The news is all over the air-waves! Come Zero Hour: "Chop up the Monster! Don't even give him a chance to say 'OW!'"
     Actually, Clemence and the kid are just a bit ahead of schedule... they want to be here before the others arrive... to avoid being crushed by the mob. Otherwise what would be the point of having known me for so long... of having been such close friends... since 1914? That brat in the corner, in the shadow, is eyeing my books... or rather, what passes for my bookshelves. Everything's neat and tidy at Clemence's place... the books aren't scattered all over the place! I never put anything back on the shelves... But here they are, the "Vultures!" At Clemence's place the interior is impeccable!... But I'm letting myself get all worked up again! When it all comes down to it, I'm much too soft-hearted! Here I am putting up with that brat! The noose! Brazzaville! The guillotine! The inheritance! To Hell with their curiosity! I take a long hard look at Clemence... Not an ounce of beauty left... she's puffy, wrinkled, pale! I feel like saying, "You deadly little slut, do you know that you've turned into a fat, unhealthy bitch? So fuck off! You and your brat! Get Out!"
     They deserve brutality! Coming here to see someone on their death bed, someone doomed to be hanged, when she herself is already at death's door! With seepages, and shrivelings, rancid with menopause! Swilling with bile! Women melt down like wax, they spoil like milk, become runny, bulge out and drip from beneath! Leakages, hemorrhages, discharges, fibromas, fistulas, and prayer! It's horrible, the end of candles, and ladies too. Out with you... Get out! Get out! No more smiling! Mass is over!
     So there they are, both of them... will they speak? Or not? What do they want? Between the two of them there's barely any courage! I give them a nudge:
     "Come on, come on!"
     No reaction.
     Clemence and I, we go way back... thirty-two years. Thirty-two years demands a certain respect... If you take a building that's thirty-two years old, that's something! Leaky toilets, the elevator out of order! The concierge having grown into a matronly lady! If you're looking for a comparison... it's "wear and tear"...
     We first met each other long, long ago... I've got an elephant's memory, incapable of forgetting anything... It's not what you'd call a mark of intelligence... Having a good memory is nothing to boast about... It's the luck of the draw, really. So if my memory serves me well, it was May 15th at the Val... the Val de Grace Hospital! All that was a long time ago though... and I don't want to get lost in memories...
     I turn to the young man leaning against the wall... the ungrateful dimwit... he's not worthy of a lengthy description. He's still fiddling around in his pocket... nothing to worry about there... all young men fiddle around in their pants. What's he got down there? A revolver? An erection? I should really mention his acne to him again... perhaps suggest some lotion for it... Bah! Why bother! They're not going to leave anyway... They're Gaullists... the whole family! You can be damn sure about that! It's in fashion... Hatred is in fashion... Hate has always been there, same old hate! But now it's in fashion... Four million Parisians boiling over with hatred, fashionable hatred! When the last Kraut leaves La Villette, then it's going to be out with the swords! You can bet on it! It's going to be principles, pricks, garrotes, Honor and Country! I'll be part of the great uprising: my head, my kidneys, my aorta... the Place de la Concorde has been promised meat a meter thick! The public dismembering of traitors! On the hour... the very opposite of when we waded through the mud at Verdun, or burst over the top of the Marne! A pack of a hundred thousand against one! A pursuit guaranteed! Free of risk! A dream come true for every miss and madame, and the grand cartel that's after my hide! Skin, the National Industry! Hunting the bound and gagged beast! Here's your prey served up on a platter! Oh Sheer Bliss! Fatherland! Intoxication!
     That brat, that sly little brat, could he be packing a piece. He runs no risks, none at all! Do it for glory! For the medal! At point blank range! Suddenly, Plaff! A slug in the heart! No... he doesn't have the fervor! There aren't six or seven of him here! He's not in a crowd... though he'd like to be. As for Clemence, she's got her roving eye on my home, the view above Paris... the metro station just around the corner. They have a four-room flat over in Vanves... comfortable of course, but a bit on the small side. She's looking out the window, daydreaming... she takes another look at the furniture, the ceiling... she thinks about pulling the partition down, how she'd deck it all out...
     The radio has everyone's mouth watering... my Montmartre flat will soon be free... at 18 rue Gaveneau. They even tell what floor it's on! The seventh!
     It's possible, it's even probable, that I'll be paraded through the streets... They'll chop me into chunks on the sidewalk...
     Madame Esmerelda who lives in number 15, who's always friendly, has already warned me, via a lady whose name I'm unable to reveal. Madame Esmerelda is a manicurist whose clients know everything... The exact time and place of the Landings for example. And the radio leaves you without doubt, local gossips are bellowing it out... in the cafes, in the crowds, on the sidewalks! Everyone's howling, "The Krauts are fucked! They're on their way out! We'll massacre all Kraut's left behind!" From Tomsk to Sydney, from Aberdeen to Chad, the air-waves are growing hoarse, repeating over and over that there's gonna be a stew the likes of which we haven't seen for three centuries! Blood will spill in torrents, guts all over the place! We'll be sticky with gore! The mass graves of Nazis! The whole gang! Draw up your blacklists! There's the smell of a landing in the air!
     I'm all for taking to the air! Adamantly! I'm already gone! Outside of Madame Esmerelda, there've been others who've been laying it on thick... that it's time to wake up!... And there's more on the radio! In thirty-six languages!... Right after the Landings, there's gonna be a National Slaughter! Let's butcher all the bastards! Fifteen corpses per block, at least! One on every staircase! Maybe even more! That's the way it is! It's the future! Let there be universal joy! But my credit has run out! France can't stand me anymore!... For three or four months they've been spying on me... There's a line of nosy people at my door. Knock! Knock!
     They're knocking.
     "Good morning, Doctor."
     They look at me out of the corner of their eyes... those the most decided seem a little embarrassed, at least for the moment. But they're all accomplices. They've got the soul of a butcher... I fascinate them. The men bleat, tremble, flounder! The women get wet! And openly!... The young ones are the worst! They can already picture me hanging from a hook... Dismembered! Castrated! "Quick! Quick!" they're saying, "Rip out his tongue! Gouge out his eyes!" They undulate up to me, they sit on my lap, they kiss me tenderly!... They even greet me in the street... on the sly, of course. Acquaintances, people who practically never talked to me at all... any excuse to have a word with me. I recognize those looks, those glances...
     The Krauts have been going down hill for quite some time now, but only these past three or four months have they been truly fucked... and that makes three or four months in which I've been feeling the horny little cunts up...
     You wouldn't believe the number of people who come to see me! There's no end to the knock-knock-knocking at my door! My door! And I'm hardly welcoming at all, barely even polite. I cut it short! I...
     Knock! Knock!

     "Get to the point! Hurry up! Goodbye! Ciao!"
     Knock! Knock!
There's another one! And another!
     "Please, Doctor!"
     My personal tragedy, I tell you, is that by now I should've been long gone... up in Lapland... or down in Portugal... as soon as the first voyeurettes started showing up... the first oglers with their sidelong glances!... It's the essential signs!... The interest people take in you is atrocious... it's the death in you they've come to see... they want to stay on the right side of Death... they want to make sure no harm will come to them... to their dear little "selves," and when the time comes... well, it's better to be in cahoots with Death!... To laugh at Death, at your own death... and to make the most from being around Death... to make friends with Death... They'll hand you over to Death entirely... hands bound... instructing it to keep a tight grip on you, to never let you go... they'll tell Death to bear in mind that they are the jackals... and that Death has a soft spot for us! For you and only you will the scaffold exist!... So that they can come and applaud, bubbling with enthusiasm. They're all for you being put to death!... If it means they're gaining an extra hour of life! For themselves!... It's a Pact of Instincts!
     What a jerk I was for not getting out sooner! There's a moral in this!
     In fact, I was aware of what was going on, but I was overworked... and there were still a few remnants of good old kindness left over in me... I don't know why. Out the door with kindness! With a kick in the ass!... If only to preserve my self-respect! Excuse my curiosity! I should've refused to see anybody!... I've been overworked since 1914 and have a thousand reasons to be an unbearable, grubby sonuvabitch. But nevertheless, I opened my door to them! Knock, knock! My door! Shit! I should kick them in the ass!
     That would've been the smart thing to do! The only thing to do! Why do they all come here, hounding me? And not just at my home, but at the clinic too! Jesus Christ, Bezons! Ten, twelve, fifteen people to see me... no matter how politely you put it: "Sorry, I'm not receiving patients today" they still come beating a path to your door. There's no holding them back! They come running to sniff you!... Yeah! That'll teach you to be doomed to hang! If you talk to them, they babble and splutter back... discretion has to be shown, tact must be displayed! Or else you gotta appear as if you don't notice they're sniffing you over. And Clemence over there is no different... outside of talking about our old friendship... she's remaining silent... rocking from side to side on her chair... mumbling a couple words... then shutting up again. I have a good laugh... I should laugh "Come on Clemence! Get on with it!"
     I help her along! I cough. What if I showed her my pecker? Dropped my pants? Pow! Would that snap her out it? I think about it... I consider it... but I'm too worn out! I'm beat!... It's too much of an effort... All she'd do is go "Oh! Oh!" and that's it. Making a big deal out of nothing! I should kick her in the ass! But I'm not violent enough... and when I think how much I used to be... Hell!... I've lost a lot of character... These days I hesitate over everything... It's probably due to lack of sleep... it's funny though that her husband Marcel didn't come with her... He found himself an excuse... Couples hold competitions in cowardice...
     "Well in that case I'll go then!" she says.
     But what precisely do they want out of me? Marcel, his son, the family... they're all in it together... She's the reckless one!... That's a Gaullist for you! Damn right! I'm talking Gaullist Resistance Fighters!... Marcel had taken over a bistro belonging to some Jews... a stand-in job, so to speak. But it wasn't just a bistro, it was more like a depot. He'd told me about it... two years before Stalingrad... and he hasn't been back to see me since... since Stalingrad. Everything has become a bit peculiar since Stalingrad... he hasn't really put his heart into being wicked. But everybody around knows about him and me... how he replanted his roots in the area... though he can only talk about me! He's chatty, he's a drinker, running off at the mouth... parading around Vanves telling everyone what a swine I am for selling out!... At one time, of course, we were old comrades!... But ever since my "nazism"... it's all over... Finished! Finito!
     Before the war he was flattered to know me... "My old buddy Celine!" he used to say... But now there's nothing! It's true to say we've been friends a long time... We were at the Val together. Both of us were operated on, and mentioned in dispatches, and awarded medals... for real wounds in a real war, without a second thought, I tell you, and not a penny of profit. But these days things are different. Now he won't even come to look me over... I'll tell you what I think!... With my hand on my heart!... After all, one further confession won't make any difference... let's admit it: The History of France began with St. Genevieve on her mount, and it went to Verdun in 1917. Since then it's just been shifty characters, all of them on the shady side. I glance at the suspicious kid and his equally suspect mother... what pigs!... and what wonderful examples... If there's anybody I've been generous and friendly to, and soft hearted with, it's got to be them... and here they are rolling up like grave diggers! Them and all the rest! Fucking Christ, I don't keep a list of good deeds... that would be impossible! I've given everything away!... everything's gone... from my hand to somebody else's... either wrenched from me or taken gently... and here's the proof: All I've got is the shirt on my back! And the dungeon I live in! Which is what's expected!
     "You get off on it!"
     "It's possible!"
     "You're right!"
     "Why not?"
     May it do them a whole lot of good!
I start thinking, and it's about time. I take another look at them. I'll just break into my story for a moment: Basically, people haven't been very nice to me. They've been hunting me down since 1914! Jumping on any excuse! First of all they tried doing it with cannons, then with evil rumors spread to the police! I was just out to save my fellow countrymen from getting their throats slit! I wanted to save their shitty faces! Their rotten little hearts! To help them avoid the slaughter-house... through my books.
     "Arrogant bastard!" they complained, "You're gonna croak for this!"
     My brothers in flesh, how I adore you! With the love I've been saving, hurrah! With my back against Cain's Zenith! With pusing lesions! Triumph, I see your approach! Pro Deo! Crack open my skull, as wide as you can, brother! Let in the heavens! You want a star? Do you want one? I'll give you my life as a gift! What else can I do? Do you want me to kiss you? If I gave that kid there a big hammer, and suggested that he smash my head in with it... if I taunted "Come on, do it right now, on the spot!"... He wouldn't dare!... He'd die of fright. But there will be others coming... storming the house, storming my library... I think about it, I anticipate it! They'll rip out my tongue so I can't demand anything, they'll gouge out my eyes just for a laugh, they'll toss me out the window... down to the sidewalk... where others'll finish me off... I'll be tied to the tail of a horse, and "Giddy Up!" It'll gallop away! To the Avenue of the Opera! To the Place de la Concorde! Just like Brunehaut! That's a bit of history I learned in school... Don't forget I'm a local kid... high-school diploma and everything!
     An immense crowd will be gathered there, the whole city rejoicing! Yes, of course I'm glorifying myself... that's my nature... but hang on, I haven't forgotten my purpose here, nor my visitors, nor you:
     "This man's gone loony!"
     Awwww, now you've offended me... That's a rather summary judgement!... You'll see how quick I get back on track...
     "Oh, you're day-dreaming!"
     "Me? I Never dream!"
     But there they are, Clemence and son... sniffing around!... Sniffing at my library, at my rags and tags, my most sellable stuff... They've made money out of this already once before (Ahhhh, an important memory!)... back when I folded up at Rueil! What a wreck that turned out to be!... Ahhhh my clinic, my beautiful clinic! They must be telling themselves, "It's happening all over again!... Better get in there before the mob does!... Better rush off to the Great Estate Sale!... Good luck like this doesn't come around twice! You can count on at least ten thousand pillagers appearing! And all in a matter of hours!"
     "Come on Clemence, shake a leg!"
     I can't stop thinking about Reuil... all those beautiful trees... and the barges moored alongside them... and my Rest Home! What foul luck! Her brat had just passed his exam in Rhetoric... He came into all my books. Throughout my life I haven't been able to hold onto anything, not even a single book. Destiny swept everything away from me! The landlord was going to sell all my junk... I told them, "Help yourself, my friends!" So off they go with all my books... the brat's a reader! And the mother scooped up the kitchen! Marcel took care of the wine cellar!
     I don't think anything will ever get me drunker than disaster! I get sauced on bad luck! I don't go out looking for it, but it comes along like some sort of privileged guest. But I was telling you about the great wreck! What an undertaking! With two bailiffs out of Chatou glued to my ass! So I call my good friends for help... I'm talking about the Arlons, Clemence and that snotnose! The place had already been seized!... A public sale of my possessions was coming up the next day! "Get a move on, now! All for one and one for all!" You've never seen such fancy footwork... when they came along! There was even an aunt from Nantes with them, she'd been staying for a couple of days! They carted everything off! And all in a single night! Sneaking out by the light of the moon! All the way from Rueil to their place! Like magic! Stuff on their backs, and loaded on handcarts... it should've taken three truckloads! If you don't count the library, there were at least twelve racks of bottles, five heavy medical cabinets, an incubating crib, two sterilizers, twenty-four beds and an entire kitchen...
     I was flabbergasted... When the sun came up all I had left were fifty copies of the Revues des Deux Mondes... leather-bound editions! And a motorbike complete with a sidecar, and a blood pressure tester, plus five hypodermics... No one could say I didn't leave anything. I'd left at least enough for a couple months rent. And what for? For a big pile of crap! At least I had the satisfaction of knowing that Marcel, his brat, the wife, and the aunt saved something from the wreck! But not for me! For them! Personally, I loath relics... I'm convinced they bring bad luck... I wanted to start back at zero, make a new start at life... but this time do it differently... with no more enthusiasm!... And no more zeal!... And no more complications... or ideals! No more thoughts about riding on the tail of a comet!... Complete with dining room, lounge, twenty bedrooms, complete modern comfort, taxes... Hell! All I need is a stethoscope, a pen, a bare wooden table... No overheads!... No decoration!
     What a bunch of bullshit! Mad ramblings! Everything was crumbling around me! Life was catching up with me! It was time to break out the sled, get going, give it a shove! Down and down and down! What limp, useless wretches we are! Destiny is a never-ending soapy slope!
     It's hard to fall lower than being locked up! And being exiled on top of that!... They're giving me hell! And what has this toboggan ride cost me? Fifty years of unrelenting, superhuman, terrifying effort... I haven't done too badly though! Being bankrupt and hated everywhere, I'm such a paralytic asshole that it's a miracle I'm able to bitch at all... with my poor wife, my dancer, on the other sick bed, just getting over an operation. I'll say this about the Middle Ages... back then, writing a little lament could save your life... but these days you have to churn out huge books... And on Journalism Street they've never heard of the Avenue of Lumpen Freaks! These days there are no more alms! It's Cinema! Before the Age of Liberation, a prince just gave the word and you were out of the dungeon! Maybe because it was Christmas, for example! Now see how things are... King Olaf himself couldn't get me out of here... where I'm chewing my nails to the bone! He'd get a slap on the wrist from the masses for the slightest mischief! If he cried "Unchain that Man!" they'd bash his head in!
     I'm writing this from everywhere to tell you it's true! From my flat in Montmartre! From the depths of my Baltic dungeon! From my seaside shack! The times and places are all mixed up! Shit! It's a fairytale, you see... it's in the future! It's in the past! It's false! It's true! It's exhausting! Nevertheless, I can't help thinking something: that the lowliest mongrel, rummaging in the gutter, nosing around (let's call him Fido)... has less dread than me! Now no one hounds Fido because Fido's a dog! And no one's after Fido because of his name! Fido is a name you can put up with!... It's no catastrophe being Fido!
     But it's not just the fact that I possess a foul name! It's because there is sickness! And envy! And spies all over the place... You'll see what I mean in the coming chapters... what plots I've had to uncover!... What an odyssey: Lili and Ulysses! And if there weren't any spicy parts here, and if it wasn't a bit funny, you'd never bother reading this... I'd be wasting my time, holding my begging bowl out! You'll be buying me under the counter anyway! They're going to impound this on the day it's published! (they passed a law on the 23rd of February). And me behind on a hundred thousand debts! And other court decisions coming up! And appeals, and the Supreme Court, etc.! More prison! More indignation! More degrading loss of rights! Everything!... When you're riding the toboggan into the abyss, you're going to be badly bruised at every twist and turn, you're going to be kicked in the face. The further you go... the more toil and trouble you can expect!
     Just imagine a centrifuge of hate!
     Then finally you let go, and gasp your last breath... Sure! You bet! You belch up your soul... and Ciao! Into the wind, sweetheart!
     But pain remains, plenty, spurring you on! At each twist of the road! You rage! And you're saved! There's nothing brilliant about hate!... There's nothing moral about it either... Shit!... A truce upon my scrutinies! My pulsations! Let's get back to the facts! So, I was saying that after the collapse at Rueil, and the midnight escape, and the furniture, etc... I was veering from place to place, doing a bit of everything... I gave my science and my mind to the wind!... Doing stand-in jobs... devoting myself to the task... in the city, the country, out in the fields, scrambling down paths, running up stairs... gripped by that fever of the art of healing... I was bandaging, consoling, prescribing, delivering babies and copping some feels... Down with pain! Down with Microbes! Fatigue! And Death! With at least twenty-five different kinds of desperation!... To sum it all up: Nothing but trials and tribulations! Getting shat upon! Tiny profits and big misadventures, Christ Almighty! Getting my fingers burned left and right!
     The only promising thing about this all was the possibility of dethroning the health resorts of Canteret, Bourboule and Neris! Even Enghien, with its lake and sulphur baths! Sannois! You can picture it from here: A Sanatorium for Asthmatics! A kind of Mont-Dore, but you can get there by bus! A royal health resort for those of the Modest Wallet! Just a stone's throw from the gates of Paris and back! I had all the low-income catarrh patients locked up, the ones that'd never go away! Come springtime they took the place by storm! But not just always in the spring... but during all seasons! It was a dream come true! Maybe you can picture the quarries above Argenteuil... sandy crevasses, naturally dry! A white-flanked summit facing the South! They'd come straight from work at the factories and shops, and spend two hours at my sanatorium... not a minute to lose! For an instantaneous natural cure, lounging in hammocks! The secret was all that hot air rising up from the sand! Go and find someone suffering from asthma in the Sahara! Come take a good gulp of our torrid sandy air! Fuck Mont-Dore! For those who were slightly better off, I had a house complete with beds... the "Night-time Sanitorium!" All the windows were open wide and facing the South! They always faced south!
     For once prospects seemed reasonable. Business was healthy. Fortune was smiling on me... And then it started raining! Downpours and cloudbursts! The sand washed off the slopes! Torrents streamed down from the heights of Sannois! A freak year of rain! Like once in a century! The banks of the Seine were swept away! Floods in July! Some patients coming up for their treatment got bogged down in the mud just above Argenteuil! Not one of them made it as far as the hammocks! Hellacious weather! Extremely rare! You don't get the Deluge every summer! If I'd had a hundred thousand francs on me, Mont-Dore wouldn't have existed at all! Argenteuil-Sannois, the Queen of Bronchial Tubes!... The "Circum-Urbane" Solution to breathing problems! I just needed to wait... but I've never ever been able to wait!... "The Health Resort of the People and the Elite." He who can wait is graced by God. Time is on his side... but if you've run out of time, away you go! How much time do you have left? To tell the truth, I would've needed three years. The next two summers were wintery... I won't mention the other socio-medical experiments and tribulations I've been through... some were amusing, but others less so...
     But don't worry, I'm not getting away from the point! I'm not just blabbering on!... Clemence, being the way she is, right there in front of me... she makes me consider things. You should know her nature... how we're connected...
     As I continue this tale, it's obvious that I'm becoming a bit more personal... Forgive me!... I don't mean to put you out, I know nothing about your profession, your taste, your little luxuries, your rank in society... Status, health, character and fortune come from different worlds! As well as how long you live! And then there's cosmic madness on top of all that! As well as common hatred!... I don't know if you're on any blacklists... or what your pedigree might be... or whose side you were on... or which cheek of your ass you placed upon the chopping block... or what noose was waiting for your neck... was it this one? We've seen everything! Were you labeled, arrested, pinned down, strapped to the rack, named Horror of the Universe, accused of being a bastard, an ogre, a monster, a faithless little punk, a flunky of the Gestapo, a lackey of Landru, or a revolting slob robbing honor of its sleep? Or if you're from the countryside, the Army, La Villette, the fancier neighborhoods that include the Flea Markets, the Medrano up north, or BarbĀs (and Rue Trudaine), or the southern regions stretching down to Antibes, or if you're from La Ciotat? Perhaps you'll understand what I'm going on about... Let's see if you do!
     In short, you're the most pestilent traitor to ever gobble up that mass-murderer Petiot... with salt on the side! You would've sold the Invalides by the pound, or the Legion of Honor to Abetz! You would've given up the Place de l'Etoile to be used as a garage, and the Unknown Soldier for twenty marks! You'd've let the Maginot Line go for a kiss. And then you'd shout out," The Frogs have gone mad!" That's right! I know it! If you ever had the pack yapping at your heels, the misses and the madames in heat, the old friends foaming at the mouth, the necromaniacs, and the grave-robbers already nuzzling and sniffing at your meat, you'd understand what I mean! They want it all right now! Your cock, your balls, your last ejaculation, all of them quivering at the thought of your slaughtered carcass, their masks of politeness cracking beneath the strain... rubbing their palms, but puzzled as to which way you'll twist and turn as you barf up your liver! They'll pass by distracted while you twitch with tics, working out how many times you're going to spasm... your phlegm and guts will be all over the sidewalk... Do you follow what I'm saying? Do I make myself clear? It will be magic! Exciting! Divine! And that's just the gentlemen! And therefore the ladies! And our youth!
     I've known at least a dozen well-muscled virgins, as well as some high-school Apollos, ready for ecstasy, and willing to allow me any intimacy, the day before my execution! If I'd gone to the trouble of placing an ad, I would have probably found more than a thousand of them... but that's the way of the world, and its applause. You've got the Roman Coliseum right inside your own home, you're a martyr, you're modest, you say: "I've only got a small place." Meanwhile, ten million hungry people are sniffing you right through your walls! When you're on the lam, you have to bear everything in mind!
     "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! These things exist. You filthy slob! You have a wicked mind! It's vicious!"
     "No I don't! Not right now at least!"

Novelist Simon Green's co-translation of The Church, a 5-act play by Céline, is forth-coming from Green Integer Books. He is currently in Europe... Somewhere.

Spitzer's Publications:

Collected Poems of Georges Bataille
Bottom Feeder

Chapbooks: Motorhead and Notch of the Sorceress (send 5$ for each title to MuscleHead Press, 3700 County Rd. Route 24, Russell, NY, 13684).

Spitzer's Email: spitzer@corpse.org
Green's Email: follandgreen@hotmail.com

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