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I can see myself going into my shower, quite happily, whistling. I can also remember that irresistible urge to smoke. The one that comes upon you anywhere, at any time. And you have to obey it.
So I can see myself not offering too much resistance, tying a towel around my waist, grabbing a pink and green tracksuit top straight out of the 80s, the whole outfit completed by a pair of plastic sandals. With the cigarette already in my mouth, lighter in my hand, ready to roll. With a bit of foam still in my hair. Addictions won’t wait. That’s a real shame… you might be able to avoid certain situations.
Like the one I am in right now: shut on my third-floor balcony, dressed as a sexual pervert from some Eastern European country. The glass door has slammed shut, there is no handle on the outside, it’s dark, the rain is coming down at an angle and it’s winter. This shower is a cold one. It would be really pathetic to end up frozen in your own home, just a few feet from the sofa, the TV and the heating. With no cell phone, alone in the world.
If I ever get out of this, I’m giving up, I swear. If I get out of this, I’ll tell Lisa I love her, that I want to live with her. If I manage to get out of this, I’ll join a gym, I’ll stop sticking loads of adverts in my neighbor’s letterbox, I’ll give to charity, I’ll change my job, I promise to vote in every election, I’ll stop kicking that bloody cat on the stairs, I’ll be friendly to that grumpy woman at the baker’s, I’ll go easy on the porn films and I’ll change my underpants every day.
But right now, all I have is a towel, my trackie top and a morale at rock bottom. As a responsible adult, I begin by panicking and shouting for help. No response. Just a woman on the pavement who hurries away.
My mate who works at the Post Office would tell me to jump and get fully justified time off work. My mate who started his own business would tell me to take a risk. My unemployed mate would tell me to wait for help. I decide to analyze the situation. I must concentrate and mobilize all available resources.
I have at my disposal an empty cup of coffee, a full ashtray, a lighter and a folding table. I try to think back to what I can remember of Survivor. Not a lot. And MacGyver always had a pen. I don’t have one. More stupidity. Come on, I must use my imagination, take a step back (but not too far) and improvise. An idea comes to me: I could break the cup on the ground and throw the little pieces of china one by one at the window of my sexy neighbor upstairs. Although, if she is there and if she sees me, I will have to accept that all my efforts at seduction will be wiped out in one go. Too bad, these are serious times.
And it was just at the moment when I saw the cup falling to the ground, rolling, nearly stopping but then falling inexorably into space beneath the guardrail that I decided to draw up an emergency plan. I could have swallowed all the cigarette butts in the ash-tray to put an end to the whole thing. A tragic Marilyn Monroe-style end, but more Marie-Line at the Cabaret Michou, with no fee and on the edge of the abyss.
Fortunately for me, I had another idea. Why not take the metal legs off the folding table and use them to tap on the shutters of the neighbor underneath? That was inspired. I carry out my new plan with enthusiasm. I lean over (but not too far) and start to knock. After several attempts, my neighbor finally decides to stick his head out the window.
When he sees me, his expression hardens and he asks me to stand back a bit so that he doesn’t see under my towel. When he asks me why I’m disturbing him in the middle of the night, why I’ve damaged his shutter (reminding me that soliciting in the building was forbidden), he adds, “Are you the one who kicks my cat?” Shit... I hope he doesn’t know about his letterbox.
I’m going to have to think of a Plan C.

Translated by Wendy Cross

226

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