Locked Out

For the next few days I went around in a stupor. It was soon evident to one and all what the cause was. Violette Bouclier. I soon became the laughing stock of the old village. It was little consolation that I was not the first, and according to common gossip, certainly would not be the last to have fallen under her charms. But perhaps, none had fallen so quickly and so heavily as I. Since meeting her, I'd read through Romeo and Juliet three times and was now embarking on my fourth. I tried to recreate something of the beauty of that language, as my mind composed sonnets to my love, but though they were quite cleverly thought, they could never recreate full extent of the emotion, that was raging in my heart and desperately looking for a way to express itself.

I hadn't actually seen Violette since that fateful night of our meeting. As I stood there stammering before her, she smiled and turned back into the flat that was behind the shop. It was the smile of one used to conquering others' hearts; a smile which acknowledged yet another wounded victim laying at her feet in the hope of some slight acknowledgement that they might dare to hope. But did that smile permit me to hope? A hundred different answers to that question existed in my mind, and I knew not which would eventually prove to be the truth.

Among the younger generation I was considered as a fellow warrior, honourably wounded in battle. My older friends, however, merely shook their heads in amusement at my plight. No one seemed to take seriously the possibility of a relationship with Violette. It was rumoured she ate a man for breakfast at least once a week, thriving on the chase of the hunt but growing bored quickly once the eating started. However, like a lovesick child I refused to listen to sense. I would prove them all wrong. I would catch Violette and not give her up.

A number of my friends began despairing. During these few weeks I was more or less good for nothing. I went about my few duties without really being aware of anything, so you can imagine how well my duties were done. I didn't even make a serious attempt to get to court Violette, who by now had come back to the village for good. True, I went to the shop whenever I could in hope of catching a small glimpse of her. But I never dared enter and only once did I leave her a letter, to which I got no reply. It was generally considered all round that something drastic was required to pull me out of my plight. And that's precisely what happened.

And that's precisely what's happened. Two dramatic events both within the space of a few hours of a cold icy winter's day which sent the shivers into all of us. We were sitting in the pub just before closing time, when news of John Lennon's assassination was flashed across our radios. A deathly silence fell over us all. I had grown up on the Beatles. I listened to their music whenever I could. I sang their songs at school competitions. I even started guitar lessons, inspired by the Beatles. And although, I always was and always will be a Mcartney fan, there was no denying that it was Lennon the musical genius of the group. He was the great innovator who turned the Beatles from teenager heartthrobs to avant-garde rock musicians worthy of the name.

I remembered the one time, I'd been to see them in concert. I was just eight and went with my mother and aunt to the 1966 concert in Deri. The crush outside the theatre was terrible, especially for a little eight year old like me. I remember holding on tightly to my mother in one hand and my aunt in the other. But I still felt like I was suffocating. Then a pair of strong hands pulled up above the crowds and sat me down on his shoulders. I felt like the king up there, surveying all and sundry in front of me. And soon there would be a gala performance to be given in my honour by the world's most famous musicians.

Unfortunately, I was soon brought back to earth, when we entered the concert hall and the man placed me gently back on my feet. My mother thanked him kindly and there was an awkward pause before he somewhat sheepishly asked my aunt if she'd like to have a drink with him before the concert begun. We didn't see her again that evening. But another man came and took her seat, explaining he'd exchanged tickets with a young lady who'd wanted to sit next to her brother!

The concert itself was awful. Firstly, there was hours of second-class music groups before we even got to the Beatles themselves. And there, the moment they got on stage, every single... - I think I'd better delete the adjectives I put in here - ... including my mam, got up and screamed their heads off. We couldn't hear a thing. Correction! We couldn't hear any music. I could cheerfully have throttled every single female in the hall single-handed if I'd had the strength to do so. As it was I just sat in my chair watching all these normally sane beings and crying. That night I resolved never to go to a Beatles concert again. Records would be good enough for me.

And now, Lennon was dead. The group's break-up had come as a bitter blow. Never again would the wizards of music perform and create. Over the years there were multiple rumours that the group would come back together again... for one last farewell concert, or perhaps even a tour. But now that would never be.

We were just beginning to digest the news when Violette and her mother burst into the pub.

"The espace loisirs has been closed by order of the town council!"

We looked at her in amazement. We knew it couldn't be true. Mayor Demille had courted the votes of all those in the old village by promising greater funding for the centre. Regular activities would be extended and there would be more concerts, exhibitions and the like for the people of Gensdouce. Not that anyone had any doubts that this sudden change of heart on the Mayor's part was just a piece of cheap electioneering, but who would have expected this?

"He can't close it. He's just promised to give it a new lease of life."

"The double-crossing bastard! I bet you he had intended to do this all along."

"I don't believe it. Even he couldn't pull this off!"

"Well, all the doors are closed and there's a big sign across the front."

We rushed out and almost knocked over Mrs. Ledphine who was supposed to be leading the water-colour painting group that very afternoon. It seemed the news was true, after all. It took us just a few minutes to see for ourselves what had been done. But we weren't going to take this lying down.

"I'm not letting him get the better of me again. Wait here, I'm getting my keys. We'll opening this afternoon and we'll be open for business until they come and drag me off to prison."

I raced off to fetch my keys and was back within a few minutes. But the keys no longer fitted.

"The damn bastards have changed the locks."

I sank to the floor shaking. Jean and Annie took my keys went round to the back entrance and tried that. Same result. We soon found out that every single lock in the building had been changed. Mayor Demille had got the better of us yet again.

I took off toward the hills. I had to get out of here and burn off my anger somehow. I still couldn't believe he'd actually done this. I took off so quickly, I failed to see the sparkle in Violette's eye as I passed her. This was no time for girls and for lovey-dovey. This was time to act.

I didn't return to the pub that night. I was too shaken up. When I did make it back to Gensdouce, I went to straight to the espace loisirs and took out my keys. Once again I tried each lock, knowing full well how useless it was. At least, it gave me something to do. But I couldn't spend the rest of the night walking around the building, so I I sat there keys in hand and tears in my eyes. I heard a train rushing past in the distance and couldn't help recalling that first time I'd arrived in the village. So much had happened since then, but now it all over. A soft voice came from out of the darkness behind me.

"You seem really cut up about this." It was Violette.

"This village has given me a new lease of life. Its people took me in when I was on the run and had nothing."

"On the run," she replied hesitatingly.

"I'm not an escaped convict, if that's what you were thinking. I just had to put everything behind me, strike out on my own, make a new start. These people made that possible. And this centre was all I had to give them in return. Now, it's all over."

She came up and put an arm round me, turning my face toward hers. "Simon, it's not over. You mustn't give up now. You've fought to make this place a success, all of you. And you succeeded. If you only knew how often my mother sings your praises. She loves your English classes. She can't speak a word, but she still swears by your abilities as a teacher."

"You mean, she's doing my wooing for me?"

A laugh was her only reply.

"Simon, now is the time to stand up for this village. We can't let it be taken over by the likes of Demille and his petty provincial politics. If we do, the village will be ruined within years. It will just be another suburb of the great city metropolis. We can't let that happen.


"Yes, we. All of us. All those who know and care for this place. But you're the one to lead us on. You're young, you've got the vision and the energy. Fight back, Simon. You'll have us all with you."


"You're young, you've got the vision and the energy. Fight back.."

I like that....

14 November 2007 at 18:10  

i loved the way you worked in the part about the beatles concert... come on simon... i know you can win her heart!!!!!!

14 November 2007 at 21:14  

Well-written! The way you insert bits of back story is terrific! Nice read...

14 November 2007 at 22:31  

Among the younger generation I was considered as a fellow warrior, honourably wounded in battle. My older friends, however, merely shook their heads in amusement at my plight.

Isn't that the way it always goes? :)

And she's doing my wooing for me? Great! :)

14 November 2007 at 23:37  

excellent...and yr desire for violette..hhmmm...

15 November 2007 at 19:49  

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