When I weave through the lines of cars, I feel like the king of the world. I can slip into the smallest space and at rush hour I am faster than a Porsche. But here, lying on my side, in this unfamiliar car park, a poor scratched carcass with my body squashed and one of my wheels completely buckled, I am not much to look at anymore…just a little scooter come to play with the big boys, who’s paid a heavy price for his misbehavior. Can you see the brown stain over there? It’s a bit of oil I’ve spilled, a piece of myself.
The one that knocked me over stopped for a moment, looked in his rearview mirror and calmly drove off in his beautiful, confident Mercedes. For insurance purposes, I am nothing but a piece of junk, and in any case, no one died.
Mano, my owner, will have to get back from his conquest of the previous night on public transport; he’ll be late for the fourth time this month. His boss will reprimand him yet again and say such hurtful things that the only reply Mano will be able to make will be to give him a good punch. No one will die…just back on unemployment, yet again.
It’s a pity, because it was at Mail Express—which he’s about to leave any time now—where he should have met Joanne…
Joanne dreams of traveling, like everybody does, but she’s a member of the ground staff at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. She has spent her morning on the phone with a nasty little man of the Mail Express company. She was supposed to receive the documents her client needed to travel with his guide dog by courier. So the morning was rather wearing, but…no one died. That time spent with her client will mark the beginning of a relatively long and smooth love story, but one which in the autumn of her life will leave her with a slight feeling that she hadn’t really lived life to the fullest.”
Mano and Joanne would have fallen passionately in love from the first moment their eyes met. The first time their hands touched, each would have felt at the same time a little shiver run through their whole body. Everything in their lives would have had that little spice of happiness, the one that makes us pass through time and all its trials without doubting for a second that we have the right companion by our side. There would have been a child, then another, and another, two houses, one somewhere around Paris, the other in the sun of Portugal, with a lilac and pink rhododendron and a river at the bottom of the garden, difficult months when Joanne’s father died, tender words and acts, tables full of friends and good food, knowing glances, the illness of the youngest child and the ages it would take to find its cause, the serendipitous meeting with Doctor Luck, a few clouds, but mostly real rays of sunshine…
Mano and Joanne. Joanne and Mano. They would have been a couple made for each other.
But they have not been able to meet, all because I met a Mercedes.
Did you know he’d given me a name? Trotting Horse, that’s what I’m called. I would have really liked to have gotten to know Joanne. They would both have cherished me because I would have been witness to all their first times: the first stolen kiss, the first ride clinging to each other, the first drive-in movie… Even their eldest son would have taken care of me, crazy about old scooters as he would have been. I would have been kept in the shed at the bottom of the garden with two other friends and from time to time we would have gone off on a trip with other Vespa lovers.
I would have liked that life, but I never knew it. Oh, no one died, not even a scooter because I am embarking on my second life: I am a compression in homage to Caesar in the art gallery where Mano is the resident artist. I am his centerpiece and I am not for sale. Placed right beside the gallery entrance, it’s me who greets each potential client or mere passerby who’s come in to shelter from the rain…
It’s crazy how good she smells, this woman brushing her fingertips over my hollows and bumps; her hand is warm and light, and a shiver runs through my whole carcass. We already know each other very well, I think. Don’t mess it up this time, Mano: this is Joanne.
Translated by Wendy Cross