JAMES BOND-THE ESCAPEHATCH (JEG)(ELRUADEBOOK)
Author: Elruade

Chapter 7
THE HORSE GALLERY

7.THE HORSE GALLERY

 

Welcome to the Horse Gallery. First hall we’ve just entered. And mind your step, eh? We don’t mind you wearing sneakers; it is insulting enough. There are no pictures on the walls. There is no Rembrandt when you need him the most. Please proceed in a straight line. No dodging and no squeezing of subcutaneous membranes. I ask you to enjoy, but with care not to disturb the peace.

(Peace is everlasting, infinite)

 

Horse Gallery

Dedicated to Janothon Hearse

Non-profit, non-reflective

Pee-O-Box Celery-Nine

Egnoman, Dammit FU4EVR

 

        A bitten-chewed bit of celery made it’s way to my mouth; I avoided it last-second. Then over my ears came the loud sound as of a million canaries in flight. I covered both eyes with a cloth and sneezed. A solemn occasion, I thought, for release. A common form; release.

        I stepped out of the truck. I asked to be let out. They asked me why I needed to get out. I didn’t know, except that the silence had an effect on me. It had a very clear effect. My idea of Paris turned out to be false; completely so. Even if it is always advertised as being dirty and loud and you don’t believe it, saying Paris is beautiful and serene. I never thought such a thing. All I know is that Paris doesn’t look like this, it doesn’t sound like this.

        A foghorn blew in the distance. We were nearing the shore. (and was Paris on the shore?) The director did as if that meant we had to move, and he whistled and waved at me. I dug a little hole in dirt with my shoe. I said to him, just leave me. He made a dismissive motion; the trucks went on their way. I was James Bond in a short-sleeve shirt, and I had lost the plot (a long time ago?)

        Standing in between the ditch and the lamppost was an old man with rags on. You haven’t left, have you? He didn’t move, and I gave him a push. This is hardly fitting! Where are the young people, where is the wine? His was a sorry sight in the plain light of the afternoon. It was a dreary, boring day.

        Even if I couldn’t drive what I wanted, the last thing I would do was drive ‘Aston Martin’. In any case, if there was no-one there I could go to any dealership and get any car I desired. Lawlessness came to mind; and the freeing of boundaries when there is no-one watching and you know there is no-one watching. Even though the old man was looking at me, I took a piss in plain sight. He didn’t move. With some people it’s true; you can’t tell they’re there. The paradox of the city is that you know nobody cares; it is without question they don’t care what you do. But you cannot feel what you know, however certain you are, and no-one does anything because they have defeated themselves in thought. Thought is a moist green; a good paint-substitute.

        I fished in my pocket for change and threw it at the old man. Any pebbles lying around wouldn’t do; he had put them there, where instead my coins would come from an artificial press in Peru. I decided to leave him there.

        I walked around the corner and saw the remnants of some riot. A car had overturned. This wasn’t an accident. I found fingerprints on the car’s roof and on the mirrors. The leather seats were torn with a knife. It made no sense; if there was a riot, why did everyone run away like this? They must have known about it beforehand. People breaking out into a riot doesn’t make any sense when they can just get up and leave altogether.

        I saw people looking out of a window. When they saw me looking at them they disappeared.

   

 

        The beach; we ought to have known. Not that we want a beach scene with Bond necessarily. There are still many people sunning themselves. These could all be people who are relaxed to such an extent that a riot going on behind their back wouldn’t mean anything to them.

        There is not a single mention in the script of a beach. We had not even considered the possibility that their could be a beach in Paris. We had pictured many rivers crossing through, but not a sea. Not the mother of rivers.

        We did a petition to find out what people want to see in a Bond movie. There were 30 questions. One was whether you wanted to see Bond on the beach. We weren’t clear enough; we received more than a thousand questions in the mail, asking us if this meant a Bond without a shirt on and in shorts. We blamed ourselves; we didn’t answer any of these letters. Instead we considered the matter closed altogether; no beach scene. Besides, there were plenty before. Or there must have been.

        In other words, we intend to meet the public’s demand. We will provide them with exactly what they want. It can’t be any other way in the business of entertainment. Entertainment is just that.

        I will give you an example. He expressed his desire to drive a Ferrari in the movie. Now I had some sympathy for this, but I very much doubted the public would want to see Bond drive a Ferrari (seeing as it’s always been an Aston Martin). We did a petition of course, and it turned out that only about 9% of people wanted to see a Ferrari in the movie. We couldn’t fulfill James’ wish because public demand is more important than that.

        That said, he wasn’t pleased at all with this arrangement. Should he cause more problems (I am afraid he will) we will be forced to take action. This isn’t his movie; we’ve made it clear from the off. He plays the role of James Bond. There can be no real James Bond in the same way there can be no real Superman, or whatnot. This is what the public wants to see as entertainment.

        The director shouted in the direction of the beach. Get out! he yelled. He waved his arms around. When no-one did anything he started running in the direction, shouting at them, get out get out. A group of young men surrounded him and pushed him in the sand. They laughed triumphantly, shaking eachothers’ hands.

        I looked the other way and found our place; a nice little hotel looking out over the sea. I didn’t understand no-one knew there was a beach at all. This hotel would provide a very real view of it, so we’d see it first thing when we’d wake up. There is nothing more real than that. The crow James was talking about, outside his window, was only real in that he could see it from there. The sound of the crow may just as well have been a bird flying overhead.

        I checked in at the counter. No-one was there to help; I rang on the bell five times. The windows were all thrown open. Blue curtains blew in the wind. A faint scent of flowers. I went behind the counter and took several keys to rooms. I would open each and decide which I liked best. I wondered why one couldn’t decide like this normally. I mean when there is a person you are dealing with.

        Outside a faux-fight had broken out between the director and a young man. The other men were just cheering on. The director had taken off his shirt and was standing in a karate posture. I didn’t give a damn what he was trying to do; was it important? Let them stay on the beach for as long as they want. But I can’t blame him; he initiated the whole evacuation plan. He must find it unbareable to see anyone remain. His is a working man’s attitude. Should he fail, his salary is on the line.

        I checked each room. Four of the five were looking out over the buildings behind the hotel; I picked the one that didn’t. There are two beds here. I will share it with someone. The others can take any room they like. It doesn’t matter.

        There were signs that people had just been here. The bedding was in a mess. I tidied up and placed a chair in front of the window. Everyone was lying down in the sand; I couldn’t see the director. He might have been knocked down.

        I was touched on the shoulder. It was Basreol.

        -You’re here. Where were you?

        -I walked over. You know it’s crowded here.

        -No-where else?

        -Yes I found some people.

        -It won’t be an issue. We can get shots in without people.

        -Has it been decided by the public too?

        -The fact that the city’s empty? Bond, you know that was my decision. It was the one thing I was certain about in this movie; no people. I want you in alone in the shot.

        A photograph of Bond leaning against a lamppost. In the background, a bent-over old man.

        -Where is the plot?

        -Weren’t you carrying it?

        -That’s right.

        -Did you find a room you like?

        -Yes. It’s at the end of the hall to the left. There are no windows in it. It may be a closet, but I prefer it.

        -Whatever you like! Hey, pick out a drink from the fridge. There is lemonade, vodka, Martini, and milk.

       Basreol (Bond) took out a bottle of Martini and poured it out into a glass. For some reason his fingers were always dirty, and he left a smudge both on the bottle and on the glass.

        -The silence is strange, also around this time of year.

        -Yes, usually this place is all out of vacancies.

        -How do you know?

        -I’ve been here before. Bond; Paris is my favorite city. But the one thing I hate about it are its people. Whenever I was here there was something with them. They were always threatening me. I think I have something that goes against the French spirit. Maybe it’s my dress. It’s not good enough?

        He almost always wears these short-sleeve shirts that barely cover his shoulders. It’s unusual where he comes from; who knows how Parisians would react. This is the birthplace of Chanel and evening coats.

        -Do you realize the significance of a deserted Paris, James?

        -Is it just about contrast?

        -There is true contrast in it. But I don’t know. It has stayed in my mind for a long time. I’d get back from my trips, and I’d miss Paris and all that, but I never missed the people, or anyone I met. It is cathartic to walk around at a time like this.

        -You’ve never been a tourist.

        -No. God I hate the word.

        -It’s more of an insult it seems.

        -It’s the same as calling someone ‘clueless’.

        -Right.

        -I don’t know why anyone would act like a tourist.  That amounts to looking about you too much, and doing too much in a day. Going to too many places, and going to the ‘hotspots’.

        -It’s better to look straight ahead.

        -You can turn your head around, but with the eyes it’s more dangerous. It’s about not appearing too eager, I think.

        -Indifference?

        -Bond, you have changed?

        -Uhm. Who knows.

        -Have a rest in your room. There is a bed, right?

        He left and fell asleep in his room. He had lost the plot; the script. He decided he didn’t like it. He hated it. He had dumped it in the river. River’s flow out into the sea. Bond was apprehensive; would it be found again?

        He questioned how much could be done without it. It was the only one; it was written by someone apparently in total isolation, and there were little to no references to anything. It was a purely imaginative thing. He would find out who wrote it exactly.

        Apparently the script began with Bond flying in an airplane. It may have been coincidence, but it made him totally uneasy in any case. And why was it Nanking in the script and not Paris? What is the connection between the two, if any? His name was often written as ‘J.E.G.’ for some reason.

        The following day all the crew had settled in at the hotel. Basreol went into the manager’s room because he wanted to talk. He was just putting on his slacks.

        -Please wait for me in the lobby. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.

       He listened at the doors. Some were snoring. In some rooms a TV was on. A groaning came from another. If anything, he thought, this crew seems about as prepared as a bunch of children at the dentist. It was almost seven. Who brought the camera?

        I waited downstairs at the entrance. It was early; it seemed some people had spent the night on the beach. The sky was green where the sun appeared. There was a thin layer of mist on the sea.

       

 

 

       

 

'We are shrugging our complaints from a balcony'

       

   

 

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