Friday, July 15, 2011

Monsieur Cinquantes Centimètres

I wonder what has happened to Monsieur Cinquantes Centimètres and his wife. He acquired his name when P. and Bernard were building the fencing around our property. He came out to look, as he always does whenever there is activity in the neighbourhood, and he claimed that the pickets should be hammered in 50 centimetres from his boundary, as he was entitled to that extra land. It might be true, and it wouldn’t make any difference where P. struck his pickets, but le Belhomme (his name!) couldn’t see that. Bernard shrugged, P. chatted some more amiably, and they complied.

We watch their inactivity from day to day, of Monsieur Cinquantes Centimètres and his wife. They now live there permanently, but no improvements are made to the cottage, in spite of all the great plans that have been divulged to P., who is much better at socialising than I am. They stay hidden in their house, and only come out to shop and to complain to the anyone who will hear it about the government, and all other ill-doers.

We had gotten used to the bickering between them, especially at nightfall, when it had been enforced by wine consumption. Her insistent nagging voice and then his: low and defensive; the slamming of their screen door, the shouting ringing up the hill: they had become familiar disturbances of a peaceful evening.

But now they are so quiet. They are there, but the door doesn't bang, and we don’t hear their voices wailing through the night. Are they sick? Have they become teetotallers? Or have they seen the light? P. saw them walking up the lane hand in hand. Have they fallen in love again? What has happened to them?

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