Like a Bronx Drummer

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I’ve never set one damn foot in New York City. Oh, but I have seen Escape from New York, where a one-eyed Kurt Russell surveys the Big Apple, now transformed into a prison. But I have never put one tip of a lousy toe in New York City.

It was you who, one winter’s evening, freed me from the cage into which melancholy had thrown me. There I had stored up the shreds of my heart which were shrivelling up. You had managed to sew them together, and my ticker had started to beat time again.

Outside some joint called ‘Black Café’, you had told me you had put your pirate boots on, that had made me laugh. And we had smoked Lucky Strikes all night like in Blue in the Face with Jim Jarmush. Yet you, like me, had never seen that film. In that bar, they were playing ‘Caribou’ by the Pixies and I had told you I loved that group. Kim Deal had whistled at me like a siren and you had smiled at me. That had resonated in my chest as if my insides wanted to catch hold of you.

We never set one damn foot in New York City. Yet the city where we met could have been a vague reproduction of it. At the foot of the volcano, our glances brushed off each other like butterflies. The Brazilian architect had prepared that place for us to record the song of our life story there.

Then time had ticked by, but there were always vivid highlights. We still hadn’t seen New York City. We’d heard a bit from the mouth of Lou Reed. It was autumn, and we had been able to afford tickets for a music festival. We had gone there, just to see a group from Nevers that had always impressed us. I had told you that, on some drunken evenings when I was a student, me and my mates used to drum half the night on dustbins and that the noise rang out fit to crack the limestone of the old stones of the city. You had smiled.

After a group whose name I no longer remember, The Bronx Drummers had struck their hefty sticks against the skins of their drums. And our three hearts had beat in unison. Yes, because for three days, we had known that there would be three of us who hadn’t been to New York City. And then, the Bronx Drummers had nothing of New York about them either.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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