Métro, Boulot, Dodo

A Short Story by J M Jackson

J M Jackson
Dec 31, 2018 · 4 min read

Métro

The underground heaved with bodies. Passengers reading newspapers, rubbish eddying on the track blown by gusts of air that had never seen the light of day.

Paul used to count the days. He didn’t bother anymore. He’d spent all his free time his first year in Paris reading Camus (in English) at various local cafés. He was too naïve to see that as gauche. But the locals soon got used to him and the waiters stopped spitting in his coffee.

He always had a flashlight in his pocket. Ever since a friend had warned him of the métro’s tendency to lose power, plunge into darkness, and for the beggars to start stabbing everyone in the dark. All nonsense of course.

He alighted at Rue du Bac and a beggar was crumpled in the corner of the platform sleeping. A cardboard sign in front of him said: ‘C’est pas la peine.’ Something about it not being worth it or not to bother. It was a Monday morning. The beggar’s message seemed appropriate.

Paul gripped the flashlight in his pocket as he passed the bundle of rags.

The stairs safely delivered him to street level. It was a five-minute walk to the office from the station. He would pick up some breakfast on the way.


Boulot

Work was tiresome. His job title informed others that he was a journalist. In reality, he reported on local scandals and the price of cheese. At one point the price of cheese became a local scandal.

He needed a good war or something. Something to get his teeth into.

He was a newspaperman for an English paper in with a small office in Paris. Hardly a journalist in the truest sense of the term. Most definitely not a writer. His world was still full of cigarettes and typewriters, though. So he was halfway to becoming a real writer at least.

He had tried writing short stories in his youth. He had dabbled with idealism as a hobby and he tried to convey his ideology through his writing. Problem was, though, nothing ever happened in his stories. A friend had told him writers need to live before they can write. But then they have to stop living in order to write. So what was the point of bothering?

He didn’t feel like writing today. A profile piece on a local shop owner was overdue. He probably sold cheese and whatever else. Who even read this stuff? Paul just wanted to type explosive words. Bombs. Crash. Whatever else.

He liked to start off an article with a double entendre. Draw the reader in and punch them right on the nose. Like whispering to someone in the dark to draw them closer and then switching on a flashlight in front of their face. Burnt retinas, my speciality, he chuckled to himself.

But his editor rarely let this kind of thing slide. ‘Stick to the facts man… Brevity is heavenly… Hammer down that bloody word count.’

He better get on with that profile piece. Maybe he could blow up the market stall owner half way through, spattering cheese everywhere. His editor probably wouldn’t like that, though.


Dodo

Monday passed without incident. Paul made it home without needing to use his flashlight on the métro. No power failures. No stabbings. A decent enough day.

Paul made his way up the steps to his apartment block. Flashlight now deployed, he illuminated his path through the litter adorning the steps. A collection of bottles, mostly broken, one still intact; several crisp packets at various states of non-decay; a lone shoe which hadn’t been there this morning; a sleeping tramp, possibly an artist.

He soon found his way into bed. He held a newspaper from back home in front of his bespectacled face. Never read one’s own newspaper, he thought. A loose sheet trembled gently in time with his pulse. Water started tickling the thinly glazed window opposite his bed.

He read an article about how the historical proliferation of automobiles had led to the euthanising of two hundred thousand horses. Enlightening. Or was it just distracting? Was history a flashlight on the future? Or was it just a stain on a broken sofa? At the very least, horsepower seemed to be in bad taste.

Paul started to read a new article but emitted a tired sigh then dropped the paper by his bedside. He drifted off into a dream. Trapped in the métro. A flashlight-wielding vagrant switching the visible world off and on while muttering ‘it’s not worth it, it’s not worth it, it’s not — ’.


Métro

The underground heaved with bodies. Passengers reading newspapers, rubbish eddying on the track blown by gusts of air that had never seen the light of day.


The Junction

The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

J M Jackson

Written by

Husband and father who writes about the human condition while trying not to come across too Kafkaesque at parties. He doesn't actually go to any parties.

The Junction

The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

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