Fiction Finalist Corinne Larochelle

Jan 29, 2018 by

Fiction Finalist Corinne Larochelle

Video Man

Whenever we made love, he’d talk about mathematics. He was obsessed by prime numbers.

He disliked contemporary French singers, with the exception of Charles Trenet and Claude Nougaro.

I met him in a bar one October night. He erected himself in front of me and complimented me for my wavy hair.

He had three cats. On Christmas day, one of them died of cancer. During his visit at the vet, he texted me, keeping me abreast of the ordeal.

He worked like a maniac on his video games.

I slept with him on the first night, hesitantly. It took two weeks before he contacted me again.

He was always late for our dates.

He was a profligate: on any one evening, three taxis, restaurant, two bars, drinks galore.

One night after excessive drinking, he invited me back to his place. As I stepped in, he spun toward me and said, ‘In this house, you do as you wish.’ He did not remove his boots when he climbed to the third floor. There was cat litter everywhere, on the ground floor as well as in the basement. We walked into his room and he collapsed on his bed. Standing in front of him, I unbuttoned my blouse. He turned on the TV, sound on mute. He tossed and turned on the bed to get a better view of me. His gaze gratified me with the purity of desire. Wordless, he stared at my breasts.

When he was young, he enjoyed going to look at striptease artists. He would probably have asked me to dance had I been one myself.

There was much dawdling before he’d kiss me.

One evening, after making love, he asked me, ‘What hope is yours?’

In a sushi restaurant, he revealed that, as a child, he enjoyed spending time with his grandmother, who’d cook delicious meals and serve them on a platter in front of the TV.

He did not expect me to cook for him.

He did not even taste my lamb turnovers, claiming that they made him queasy.

Taxi-drivers, listening to him, broke out in laughter. So did waiters and waitresses. As for himself, he had a sense of irony that prevented him from laughing.

We played tennis together. Thanks to my persisting phone calls, I was able to secure a court throughout the winter season. On one particular evening, as the ball bounced to and fro, he started to laugh, as if he were removing a mask.

Bars were a place for conversation. He’d say, ‘You have shit ideas on politics, but so do I.’ He was clearly leaning to the right, and I to the left.

When he found out that my nephew adored the action game Watch Dogs, he handed me Watch Dogs 2. From that moment one, my nephew was forever grateful to him.

I was obviously enamored of this French man in exile, who had moved to Montreal at the age of twenty-six, who had fallen in love with a woman from Quebec, who had a child, who had separated and never moved back to France.

An avalanche in the Alps had killed his only brother.

Sleep came to him easily. He could not understand my insomnia. He’d say, ‘Sleeping is easy. I’ll teach you.’ He then would shut his eyes.

He abhorred women’s carping. He heard carping everywhere, even when there wasn’t any.

Half way through December, I told him, ‘We should meet before Christmas. Carp about a thing or two.’

I sensed he was distancing himself, but could not catch the reasons why.

The last time I saw him, he looked worn out. Too much work, I suppose. He’d go to the office on Sundays to finish a project.

Following the tennis episode, I sent Fabrice three messages. He never replied. I resigned myself to the silence.

There are days when, out of nowhere, I yearn for him, briefly, intensely.

One last thing. He would decide to kiss me, he’d say before the act, ‘This is a moment of weakness.’

(translated by Antonio d’Alfonso)

Author of six poetry books and a novel, Corinne Larochelle lives in Montreal, where she teaches literature at Collège de Maisonneuve.


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