Journey’s End

journeys by greg mackie
Photo: Journeys by Greg Mackie

The lovers met at Porte d’Orleans on the first Friday of June. They had done so for the past seventeen years. This was the one weekend they spent together each year. They would book into a hotel under assumed names, stroll arm in arm through the City of Light, see all the touristy sights. They never took photographs or sent postcards. They carried no mobile phones or electronic devices of any kind. They travelled on false passports, arrived from different places. They believed themselves untraceable.

In the shadows at the back of the platform the man in the tatty trench coat watched as the lovers greeted each other with a kiss before leaving hand in hand. He followed, keeping quite a distance behind. He already knew where they were going, had seen them both last year. He would take his time before making a report.

After reacquainting themselves with one another they woke to a clear and beautiful sunny day. Eagerly they set off to explore their beloved Paris. Today they would climb the Eiffel Tower, take advantage of the clear day to see Paris from up high. Afterwards they planned a visit to the Louvre, preparing to queue up to see the Mona Lisa in all her glory. They always found time to visit her. She was an old friend.

The man in the tatty trench coat spent the most boring day of his life trailing the lovers all over Paris. Why did visitors all want to see the same sights?? By the end of the day his feet were blistered and he had overheated under the coat. He daren’t take it off for it was his only disguise. He regretted his profession.

At dinner the lovers spotted the man in the tatty trench coat sitting alone at a table by the door. It could be no coincidence that he was here too. They had seen him all day, everywhere they went. Even in the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This was when they’d first noticed him, sweating under that awful coat, studiously staring straight ahead. They’d made an Inspector Clousseau joke and dismissed him. Now they were beginning to worry. Hurrying back to the hotel, the tatty trench coat man panting behind, they were sure they’d finally been discovered.

He didn’t know why they were rushing but he was sure they were up to no good. He hurried along behind wishing detectives didn’t have to wear trench coats. It was a tradition and he must comply. With great disappointment he watched them enter the hotel. Ah! Only rushing back to bed!! He settled in a doorway across the road from the hotel prepared to wait all night.

From behind the curtain in their room the lovers watched the trench coated man with growing concern. He must’ve been paid to watch them. Their spouses must finally be suspicious. They were found out and doomed. Together they sketched out a plan.

Earlier than he had supposed on Sunday morning the lovers left the hotel. The man in the tatty trench coat had spent a cold and uncomfortable night. Not for the first time he wished to be someone else. Nonetheless he followed them to the Porte d’Orleans metro station. He tried to stand close but not too close, he didn’t wish to be obvious. The problem was they were the only three on the platform, so there was no one to notice when they pushed him under the oncoming train and calmly walked away.

After walking around for a few hours full of excitement at what they had done, the lovers walked back to the hotel. In the lobby the Cleaner was crying as two Gendarmes hesitantly stood by. They asked the manager what had happened. He told them Madame’s son had thrown himself under a train that morning. He’d always been a little strange the manager indicated by a tap to his skull. Thought he was a Private Eye, wore a tatty old raincoat. The lovers turned pale, hurried back to their room and packed. Barely glancing at each other they checked out early, left in opposite directions. The affair was definitely over. They each remained faithful to their wives from then on.

Copyright October 2013

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