One Night in Nice, France

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Brunette

This is an entry in the “One Night” contest. We thank the talented Chloe Tzang for her involvement and very hot stories. Esteemed readers, please enjoy what is based on a true story and render a fair vote. Critics please have mercy, I am not a native speaker and am doing my best. I don’t enter contests to win but because the readership is strong.

As always you may email or leave your comments. Best regards to all! Many thanks to Laurel and the staff.

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My name is Keith Radisson. The year was 1969. I was a 23 year old graduate student studying under the famous Ukrainian Professor Kogut W. Odbytnicy at the University of Milan. He was world famous for his series of lectures on Axiology or what is commonly called Logic. These building blocks were the basis of the new school of computer languages.

Fortunately the lectures were in English and Italian. I understood no Ukrainian. Occasionally he would throw out a few words or an expression in his native language that had a sexual entendre. I didn’t understand most of these off color comments.

While some of the students would laugh, I’d remain stone faced. He’d point a finger at me, laugh his strange high pitched cackle and say,

“Kief, (he had trouble pronouncing the ‘th’) they will explain the joke to you later.”

They rarely did.

When the Spring Break arrived I was desperate to get away. I loved Milan with its wonderful restaurants, theater, clubs, modern high fashion clothing stores and a youthful good looking population, but I needed a change. Odbytnicy had made it obvious what was involved when offering me a mentoring relationship.

Odbytnicy’s notoriety at the university went beyond academics. Although he was of an advanced age, silver haired and athletic, he had a reputation based on his sexual vigor. Gossip of his stamina and the Herculean proportions of his fabled genitalia had enthused other students invited to his nude private parties. I had also been invited, but not being habituated into such practices, I shied away from his advances. I had no problem accepting other people’s sexual behavior, but I was not ready to alter my own sexuality or to be coerced into allowing my body to be penetrated by my esteemed Professor.

It was my whim to escape all that silly nonsense and make an excursion by car from Milan, Italy, to visit diverse cities and museums in Spain. It was the Easter Holiday and there is no place in Europe more festive than Espana. Every large city and small Spanish town has colorful Easter pageants. The locals fill the streets with processions, whose centuries old traditions are still embraced by the populous.

My mind had welcomed the mental stimulation of the Lecture Series. I feared that once they ceased I would become depressed and dwell on what I refer to as my mishap. I’d prefer not to offer more than a few words about the primal lover I’d left behind. But to be more succinct, several months ago, my lost love had left me for another. She was off in East Germany, no doubt being fucked into numbness by Rolfe, a German student she’d met on the train while ostensibly coming to visit me. No doubt the train’s vibrations had helped with her seduction. She was extremely sensitive and it took little to unleash her erotic desires. Also, I tremble to repeat how she cast aspersions at my own manhood with her parting words,

“He’s hung like a horse, by that I mean a stallion.”

I was so disheartened that I swore never again to take a train trip, certainly not to East Germany.

I had had terrible stomach pains and mental confusion dealing with her betrayal. With the occasional help of antidepressants I’d made it through these tumultuous months. I realize that my entire life had revolved around her. Her sweet letters and calls, her timely silly cards and gifts, our hopes for the future..

By now I was now drug free and hoping to return to normalcy. I no longer felt attached to anyone, my heart once magnified, had shrunken into a loveless condensation. I couldn’t look to the future without thinking that tragedy, not romance, lay ahead. I was indifferent to attention paid to me by other female students. Maybe that’s why some thought that I was gay?

The trip by to Spain had been just what I needed. Now it was over. I was returning to Milan and had driven for several days; from Seville, north to Madrid, then to Alicante, on to the French border, past the tiny pocket Republics and then to Paris where mature leopard coated prostitutes patrolled the intersections. I felt no attraction or interest.They were just a curiosity like the gargoyles hung high on the cathedral walls.

I had driven many hot dusty roads. For the last few days the tires on my Karmann Ghia sports car were giving out. I could see them flattening in the morning and I’d had to pump them up before setting out. I didn’t have the money for four new tires. I was managing until my return when I could buy cheaper retreads in Italy.

Finally, the trip almost completed, I was in the final stretch. bakırköy escort I had arrived that evening in Aix de Provence. Hidden away in the car were wines and liquors,remembrances collected from Spanish towns and country monasteries. I found a small bistro that had several rooms upstairs. I checked in, signed the register and was given a massive skeleton key with a metal disc, the room number crudely stamped on it.

I rested an hour and went downstairs to order dinner. It was already dark. The meal began auspiciously. The filet of beef I’d ordered arrived on a white plate at my table, seemingly raw. I sent it back. The chef, all 350 pounds of him, came out of the kitchen, He carried it back to my table. He held the plate in one hand and a 14 inch long knife in the other hand that he kept tapping on the plate.

We conversed briefly in Italian, I was lucky. Most frenchmen refuse to speak any language other than French and my French was abysmal. I’d advise that travelers planning to visit France, learn the language. Foreigners who don’t speak French are treated contemptuously.

“What is the problem?” the Chef said.

He was dressed in white, a chef hat on his head, a thin mustache above his lip.

The very image of Escoffier, the famous french chef. He stood over me. His chin was greasy, his face round and swollen. He was huge. His white uniform buttons were strained by the rings of fat around his abdomen.

“The meat is raw.”

He reached out with the grey blade whose shining edge severed the filet with one stroke into two. The blood red inside bordered by the grey thin outside layer stared back at me.

“No,” said the chef, “E’ perfecto.”

He said nothing more but kept tapping the blade on the porcelain plate. I quickly got the message.

“Ah yes, ‘pardon,’ you are right. It is perfect.”

He spun around as graceful as a ballerina and left me in the semi-dark dining room. Only a few guests remained, but no one had paid any attention. I cut a piece of the filet. As hungry as I was, I tasted it with apprehension. I am an idiot, I thought, it was delicious.

I finished the rest of the meal, poured what remained of the carafe of red wine into my glass and retired to my room. I quickly fell asleep. The debacle with the chef morphed into a nightmare, he was chasing me around the room slashing at me with his long knife and I feared that he, like Odbytnicy, had something else in store for me. I awoke in the middle of the night, just before he caught me. I was breathing hard and sweating. I got up from the bed, drank some water. Slowly I calmed down. Finally I was able to fall asleep.

I awoke before 6am. I didn’t require an alarm clock. Somehow I had developed the knack of waking up on time without one. I dressed quickly, lugged my small grey suitcase and my Olivetti typewriter out to the car and put them on the back seat.

I had planned to drive to Nice in the morning. Little did I know, that night in Nice, I would be enveloped in a magical cloud from which I would never escape. There is fantasy and there is reality, a problem I would have to struggle to deal with. In logic we define the difference between what is true and what is false in this manner.

A proposition, in symbolic logic, is represented as truth (T or 1) or false (F or 0) of a given proposition or statement. Logical connectives(symbolized ?, for “or”) and negation (symbolized ~), can be thought of as truth-functions. The truth-value of a proposition is a function of its component parts. Of course in our minds the math is less clear than on paper and we may become befuddled with personal propositions for eternity.

A few minutes into my drive I found a petrol station where I could pump up the tires. I filled the gas tank and set out on an eastward course. I hoped that the heat of travel, the flexing and friction of the wheels on the road, would keep the tires inflated.

As I drove, I thought back on the trip. I remembered passing through Switzerland on my way to Spain. Switzerland was a country that seemed to consisted of big icy mountains. At the base of the mountain ranges, a city or village would sprout like a strong weed growing on the side of a paved highway. One wonders how it survived, but the Swiss are tenacious.

The cost of life in Switzerland was shocking. One thought twice about buying a cup of coffee at $8-$10. Coffee was seemingly more expensive than gasoline.

And then there were seemingly endless dark claustrophobic tunnels, weakly lit with neon lights, that enabled one to sub navigate Hannibal’s Mountains. Outside the tunnels, one would find petrol stations. The accommodating gas pump jockeys spoke five languages.They put gas station attendants of other countries to shame.

Unfortunately, one could not say the same for their standards of hygiene. I had made the mistake of stopping at a mountain chalet restaurant. I ordered a bowl of soup. When I realized the floating black objects in the creamy soup beşiktaş escort were fly carcasses, I spat out what was in my mouth and left with a loss of respect for Swiss culinary skills.

I knew I would have to pass through Switzerland again and this filled me with some trepidation. It was a cold country where people could be distant and reserved, so different from the hot blooded countries where people were quick to befriend you and help should you be in difficulty.

As I drove cautiously toward Nice, I thought back, of my brief brush with death on the way to Seville. I was zipping along when, without warning, there was a 90 degree turn. I fought to keep the car under control but veered off road, some 30 feet into a muddy agricultural field with vegetables flying over me. Fortunately I’d missed the large trees that framed the field or I’d be buried there.

A farmer with a large black mule appeared out of nowhere. He wrapped a thick rope around the axel, tied it to the yoke of the powerful animal and pulled me out of the thick mud. He charged me the equivalent of $30 for the lost vegetables and the mule tow.

“Do you farm here,” I asked.

“Yes, a little, but mostly I do this all day long for tourists like you who end up in my field,” he said in Spanish.

As I neared Nice, I recalled the humorous encounter I had in Madrid when I spent an hour one afternoon in a tapas bar. I was approached by a dark curly haired dangerously thin Spanish woman who told me in broken English that she was married to an American serviceman stationed nearby. She took the bar stool next to me and leaned over revealing her dimpled nearly bare breasts. She asked me to buy her a drink and then whispered close to my ear, smelling of cheap perfume, “you want maybe fuck-ee fuck-ee.”

Obviously, her pronouncement was a strange invitation to coitus. There was something about her behavior that invoked suspicion. I demurred, finished my beer and left for The Del Prado. The museum was stupendous, but up to now the trip was fuckless.

THE STORY BEGINS

No wonder I was horny when I finally arrived in Nice. The drive that day had been pleasant. The traffic was not too intense. In those days the super highways were not yet completed. The roadway would come to an end, then a zigzag detour though grape vineyards and back road until the highway would once more appear like a welcomed mirage.

I arrived, in the late afternoon, in Nice’s old town harbor area. Small sail boats were neatly docked in rows. I spotted a parking place on the side of an old hotel that looked inexpensive. I was a student with few francs for frivolities. I was saving my money for some unknown purpose, perhaps something that might give me the happiness and pleasure I deserved.

Next to the hotel was a store. It’s wood paneled entrance folded away when the store opened for business. A faded painting of a cluster of grapes on a wooden board above marked it as wine merchant’s store. I thought it would be a good idea to bring some bottles of french vin back with me. I entered. The smell of fresh wine coming from two spicots on the counter filled the air with a pleasant aroma.

I saw a very french looking gentleman, wearing a beret covering his greying hair, standing behind the counter. I asked,

“Do you speak Italian?”

He surprised me by replying in a Brooklyn accent,

“No, but you are an American, aren’t you?”

“Yes, from New York City, now studying in Milan.”

“I’m an America From Brooklyn,” he said.

” I’m happy to meet you. What are you doing here? If I may ask?”

“I was stationed here after the war. I met a beautiful French girl. We married, had a family and I’ve been here ever since.”

“How did you get into this line of work?”

“My wife’s father started this shop years ago. When he retired my wife and I took it over.”

“That’s a great story. I’d love to take some of your wine back with me.”

We talked for a while. He gave me samples of the red and white to taste. Both were quite good. While we conversed, several locals came in, he paused, commenting,

“We mostly refill empty bottles. The wine is all from local vintners. I have fresh empty bottles I can offer you.”

The entire bill was very modest. I bought a dozen green bottles that he filled and corked before packing them in a carton with newspaper wedged in between.

“Can you suggest a good place to eat?”

“Ah yes, there is a restaurant run by a young women and her grandmother, both from Marseilles. They make a wonderful Bouillabaisse.”

“That sounds perfect.”

He drew me a small map on the back of a wine label and wrote the name of the restaurant, Chez Palmyre.

I thanked him and carried the carton of wine outside and laid it down on the curb next to my car. I had spray painted the sportscar before leaving America, a steel grey color, as if it were James Bond’s DB 6. The car was streamlined and quite attractive, despite the small but reliable beylikdüzü escort engine under the rear hood.

I opened the convertible’s door and leaned in to pull down the back seat. Behind the seat, hardly big enough for a child, Karman, the car’s body maker, had provided a secret compartment, perfect for smuggling contraband or in my case, bottles of wine and herbal liquors. When the back seat panel was returned to the upright position it closed off the compartment so efficiently that no border guards had ever thought to look there.

I returned to the hotel and rested an hour. Then I began to feel hungry. I got up and washed my face to freshen up. Before setting out to find the restaurant that Monsieur Polonaise, the wine seller, had suggested.

It was beginning to get dark. I could still make out the contour of the harbor from the hotel’s window. The old town’s was laid out along the harbor like the white of a hard boiled egg surrounding the yellow. The setting sun made the hundreds of orderly small boats, one next to another, look like a tourist postcard.

I found the restaurant with little difficulty. The directions were clear. It was only a few short blocks away. I had learned that when you pass by the front door of a restaurant it should smell good. If the odor is foul, do not enter. Here the fragrance was heavenly, some chef knew how to cook. The deep base odor of garlic fried in fine olive crept out the door and attracted me like a magnet.

I climbed up the worn stone steps and opened the old wooden framed glass door. Once inside a waiter pointed at a small table. I sat down. On the table was a handwritten menu on a thick paper card with a number of prix fixe items. The idea of a prix fixe menu was originated by Escoffier, who thought people did not know what food went well with another. He was probably right.

I ordered the Bouillabaisse, a seafood soup and a half liter carafe of white wine. Bouillabaisse, a provincial soup, is a speciality of Marseilles. A classic recipe involves a good broth made from fish bones. Add garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, some fennel or saffron to give it the taste and color and a sprinkle of thyme. Several different fish are then added with a crustacean or two. A bay leaf is di rigor but unless it is fresh don’t bother. The french add a crushed dried orange peel. I prefer a spoonful of English whole fruit marmalade that unites the ingredients.

I was able to understand from the menu card, that the meal would take at least 20 minutes to prepare. I busied myself with the wonderful crusty french bread and wine. As is customary in Italy, I ordered a bottle of chilled mineral water. The wine did not require dilution as is the habit in Italy with the darker more pungent red wines. I drank it straight. It was a fragrant white wine with a floral bouquet.

I glanced at the other patrons. A white haired, short but wide shouldered man reminded me of my grandfather. He was seated a few tables away with his family, a grandson at at his side. My own grandfather had left France as a young boy to work in the sweatshops of New York, eventually passing the depression as a clerk in Wanamakers famed department store’s antiquities division.

A coarse looking man with a large nose and paint on his hair and clothing was eating rapidly in the corner, probably a laborer. To my left were two middle aged women busy gossiping. A young woman clearly in the late months of her pregnancy sat by the window with her spouse.

After two glasses of wine the soft yellow lamp light filled the room like a tranquilizing fog. The door would open now and then. A guest would enter or depart as a breeze smelling of the harbor would sweep through the tiny dining room blowing the hanging ceiling lamp to and fro.

The dishes finally arrived. First a clear broth, I quickly burned my tongue.Then a thick white soup plate with white fish flesh, a crab claw, and two large shelled prawns. Several small potatoes were leaning on the side with a sprig of parsley. A thin yellowish brown sauce, wonderfully tasting, lay over all. As if an afterthought, a waitress brought a small round dish with aioli ( the garlic mayo) and garlic toast.

I ate slowly. I was in no rush. The soft evening light faded. The window view of the harbor turned dark grey except for a few lights strung over the boats. I enjoyed the meal, especially the aioli. Finally, after an hour I ordered an espresso and a small slice of a cheesecake with a green Pernod sauce that seemed to celebrate the coming springtime.

It was now quite dark outside. The check arrived on the table. I put on my leather jacket draped behind me on the chair. I had ordered a second carafe of wine and drunk most of it. The wine had made me a bit giddy. I pulled myself up by the chair back, my legs stiff from a combination of the long drive and sitting on the hard cane chair. I nodded my head to the waitress, paid the bill with the correct tip, said “Merci” and set out into the dark street lit by a dim street lamp.

I walked in a circle for about an hour. The wine had an effect. Fearing I was lost I tried to retrace my steps. The weather was mild and I felt warm. Finally I saw the restaurant where I’d eaten, a surge of confidence came over me. From there I knew my way back. I was now cold sober.

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