vrijdag 11 september 2015
The Woman in Red: Chapter 42
42. Paris by day and night
The following morning Katarina was listless. She had dreamed terribly. They had lost the tree tapes and wherever they looked they didn’t find them back. In her nightmare, her mother was killed by her abductors and every time she had awakened startled by it. Unintentionally she relived the same situation when she dozed off. It turned out a feverish night from where she came out still tired.
Jean-Pierre tried to cheer her up by telling her that dreams are deceptive. He showed her the tapes and assured her that he would protect them with his life. Katarina raised with a faint smile that she hoped it would come to that.
The visit of the Sacré Coeur basilica was, nonetheless Katarina’s mood, a success. Because of Katarina’s fatigue they took the ‘Funiculaire de Montmartre’, the famous funicular, instead of the 222 steps up to the bright white basilica. They heard from their guide that the construction of the basilica had cost 6 million euro’s, at that time 40 million French Francs. They looked with great eyes to the architectural masterpieces of the basilica in Roman and Byzantine building style. They also heard that for the foundation they had dug 83 pits about 45 meters deep. The tolling bell of the Sacré Coeur, the guide was telling, was one of the heaviest tolling bells of the whole world. They needed 28 horses to pull the 19-ton heavy bell up to the Montmartre hill. They got dizzy from these fantastic numbers in their head. A wonderful realization of the architects Abadie and Magne.
After their visit of the Sacré Coeur, they went also to the Place du Tertre, with the famous stand with paintings especially made for the tourists. The quarter of Montmartre had been known for a long time for his artists, it drew to this place, especially painters. There they heard of one of the painters that the name of Montmartre actually derived from ‘Mons Martis’ or the ‘Mountain Mars’, obviously because in Roman time there was a temple in that place devoted to the god Mars. Another man told them that the origins of Montmartre derived from ‘Mont du Martyr’, the ‘Martyr Mountain’, because Dionysus, the first bishop of Paris, was decapitated here. They bought a beautiful aquarelle of the Sacré Coeur and after that went off to their room at the Carlton.
Katarina said she loved to catch up some sleep because she hadn’t had much sleep last night. Jean-Pierre thought it was a good idea and lying close together, he took her protectively in his arms. It didn’t last five minutes before Katarina’s eyes were closed. Jean-Pierre felt the tension of her body changing and now she became more relaxed. He hoped everything went fine. It had just been too much for her nerves the last days. It was natural that a normal person should break under that tension. He had a lot of respect for Katarina that with all the problems concerning her mother’s kidnapping she still reacted so bright. He dozed off for a moment, but he didn’t sleep heavily.
After a few hours’ sleep, Katarina woke up again and it seemed as if the time she had spent in bed had done her good. She looked a lot more lucid out of her eyes and her smile was back. They dressed up for their visit at the Moulin Rouge. Katarina had never visited this well-known place. She had heard a lot of it and it was one of her dreams to visit it sometime. She was sorry it came true in such circumstances.
When they were escorted to their places, they saw indeed that it was fully booked. They had to be thankful to Frau Hofmeister, but that was for later. When the curtain went open the show started right away. They saw a whirling spectacle filled with colorfully dressed ladies with fanned out feathers on their costumes and glittering strass. Beautiful scene decorations and a professional dancing group, the famous Doriss Girls, and the Doriss Dancers. Jean-Pierre’s mouth fell open when saw a whole circus on stage with real clowns, acrobats, jugglers, Siamese sisters and 6 little horses. A genuine color palette accompanied by real orchestra music.
When the Doriss Girls danced the French Cancan it opened the floodgates. The spectators became wild seeing this spectacle. Jean-Pierre looked at Katarina and saw at that moment that a man whispered something in her ear after which her smile disappeared from her lips and she stiffened. The man looked for a moment in the eyes of Jean-Pierre and nonetheless she wore a tuxedo, Jean-Pierre recognized him. Ignace, Katarina’s former friend, nodded politely but cool at him. Ignace just moved his right hand a bit that was hidden under a big white napkin. He saw the top of a gun barrel pointed at Katarina’s lower back. Again he whispered something in Katarina’s ear and she stood up instantly while Ignace made a sign with his head, meaning Jean-Pierre had to follow her example.
Jean-Pierre couldn’t try a thing. They were among a lot of people here, but he didn’t know if Katarina’s former friend was bluffing that he would execute his threat with his pistol. A nervous finger on the trigger was enough to cause a real tragedy.
‘Get in here.’ Ignace was brief and pointed at a black limousine. Jean-Pierre started to hate the color black and especially limousine. All they could do was obey the order and they stepped into the semidarkness of the car.
‘Hello Katarina, greetings Jean-Pierre.’ A masculine voice they recognized greeted them inside the car. General Jules de Tavernier was sipping on a glass of champagne and looked at them inquiringly above his glass.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere