Sold out?

With the new year things began to get very busy and afforded little time for metaphysical reflection. Most of those who had offered courses at the espace loisirs, were waiting to see what would happen before committing themselves to continuing. That was disappointing, but I couldn't blame them. It was after all their free time they were sacrificing with no recompense other than the pleasure that comes from helping others. So with the future in such doubt most of them preferred to let events run their course before deciding whether or not to continue. In time, it became known that the closure of the centre was not one of Mayor Demille's political masterstrokes but had been forced upon him by economic necessity and pressure from above. This little titbit reached me via Violette who I was seeing quite regularly now. Though where she had got it from, she refused to reveal. Not only was that curious, but it should have put me on my guard.

The few events that continued were held either at the pub or in people's houses. This state of affairs could not continue. If we were to make a game of it, then we would have find some more permanent premises which would enable us not only to house our current activities but also to extend our offer. But where were we to find such premises and how were we to finance them? And then we had to get fresh blood into the centre. New premises, new activities, new people... and quickly, as the drift towards the big city was already making itself felt. During the weeks following the closure of the centre, three of the youth sports teams folded due to lack of interest. The leaders had done their best but could not compete with the facilities offered by the bigger clubs.

More than once I had been tempted to face up to reality and letting the dream die its inevitable death. But my friends refused to let me, and the most vociferous of all was Violette. I was seeing her regularly now, at least in an off an on way. We usually got together for a few weeks and then argued over something quite insignificant and then went our separate ways. Eventually we realised that we really did like each other and made up again. Our antics were becoming the talk of our village and we were often called Richard and Elizabeth after that infamous Hollywood couple who married and divorced only to find that they really needed each other after all and so reinvented the wheel by remarrying.

To be honest, that wasn't the kind of relationship I was looking for. I needed a true partner; someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone to dream with. More often than not I felt I was little more than a jewel in her crown to be paraded around town and shown off to all and sundry until someone else took over. Well, at least that was not the case, not yet anyway. The one thing that Violette did make clear was her total belief in me and my abilities. If I didn't give up during that time, it was because of her constant encouragement and her insistence that I would make it. But she never said that to me; it only ever came out in her public statements - sort of cold and detached, never warm and cheering, not even that one night she stayed over at my flat.

February brought the regional elections and the resulting change in our fortune took us all by surprise. For the first time in years the political status quo was threatened, teetered and finally toppled. The regional administration change hands. At fault, was not the opposition. They remained as ineffectual as they always had been. Fed up with the staleness of the current state of inertia, several leading players in the region had organised a citizen's initiative and succeeded in attracting a large amount of support, enough to become the second largest group in the council and with help of the previous opposition, take control of the council. One of the first dossiers on their hands was that of the espace loisirs and the decision was taken to put the building up for sale.

Guillaume was the first to inform me. As he worked at the Town Hall in Besançon he was always one of the first to find out what was going on. We arranged to meet that evening and as Thérèse was coming along, I phoned Violette and asked if she would come too. But all she did was make excuses, so I dropped the matter. That's why I was surprised to see her sitting with Thérèse and Guillaume when I arrived at the pub.

"When I got the wonderful news, I couldn't fail to come along," she started seeing me walking up to their table. "You should have told me at once."

"Well, I wasn't really sure what there was to tell," I exclaimed giving her a peck on the cheek. She held my face in both hands and turned my eyes towards her, giving me something far more worthy of a lovers' greeting than she had ever done before.

We ordered drinks and Guillaume soon began with the news.

"The fact is the council have decided to put the building up for sale. They need the money and they need it fast. But as they're not exactly fans of Demille, well they've decided to give us first offer on the building. 80 000 € is their asking price, which you must agree is a pretty fair price. If they went to some of the developers around here, then they could get up to 100 000 €."

"But that would rather tarnish their people's council image, wouldn't it," chimed in Thérèse. "I say we offer 75 000 €. Then we'll see if they really mean what they say."

"Yes, but how on earth are we going to going to raise even 75 000 €? The centre's got some money in the bank, I know but nothing like that amount."

"Well, if we can raise half the sum, the bank should give us a loan on part of the rest. And then there's the various grants which institutions like ours..."

"Well, if you ask me we don't need the bank. We'll make an appeal to all who know us and get them to support..."

Just as I was thinking the fire had suddenly come back into her eyes, Violette stopped in mid-sentence. She raised her eyes and flashed what seemed to me to be a warning sign before flushing violently and going quiet. I turned around to see what had caused this but saw nothing. Thérèse gave a kind of tell-tale look towards Guillaume but said nothing. But the wind had gone out of our meeting. We continued for a few minutes and agreed we would have to consult a number of other people before taking any action.

"Yes, but we'll have to be quick about it. The council won't wait for long." With that Violette left the room saying she needed to take a shower before turning in, whilst Guillaume brought in another round of drinks.

Now, I know I can be overly sensitive to such things, but I couldn't help feeling there was something unsaid on the table between us. And in this case, I was right. After five minutes awkward silence and small talk, it was Thérèse who spoke up.

"Simon, did you see who it was who came in there, at the end?"

"No! What does it matter anyway."

"It was Gérard, Simon and the moment he saw you..."

"But that's nonsense! Gérard and myself have made things up long ago. True, we're not exactly the best of friends, but he's no need to hide from me."

"And what if he wasn't hiding from you? What if he was just hiding something from you?"

I looked at them both, unable to gather where this conversation was going. "What would Gérard have to hide from me? What on earth are you two getting at."

It was Guillaume who took over the conversation. "Simon, when we arrived her tonight Violette was already here. It was obvious that she was meeting someone here, and it obviously wasn't you."

I stared at them both wide-eyed, still trying to grasp the implications of what they were saying.


and now she is catting about behind his back???? no... i think there was something in the works here no one else knows about.......

27 December 2007 at 17:51  

Uh oh, what's going on here???

I really liked how you used "curious."

27 December 2007 at 18:14  

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