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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Life Stories

The Northwest Angle: A Fairytale
• George Sparling 
Back in 1964, after the fairytale but before we saw the movie on the Champs Elysees and went to les toilettes on Bastille Day, we ran with crowds down the Paris streets, Larry and I stopping at bistros and bars, he drinking a beer for every burgundy I downed. On leave, stationed at a base in Germany, we reveled in the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Revolution.       


He wore a red beret and I a white Panama hat, both of us dressed in jeans and sneakers. After a while I began to lag behind him: thick, heavy burgundy weighed me down. He chugged beer and I chugged glasses of burgundy. Larry grinned, speaking French to other celebrants but when I asked la femme running through the streets with us, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, se soir?” the only French I knew, her fingers cut across her throat. In my growing drunkenness, her gesture scared me. After all, the
guillotine was the favored execution of choice. I caught up with Larry for protection. I had trouble distinguishing les hommes from les femmes, but their faces all looked like East German Communist Party officials and agents we monitored.
The enthusiasts’ thinned out by the time Larry and I reached the Champs Elysees. We passed a theater playing “America, America” and bought tickets to the last show. A Greek who lived under great stress was an oppressed minority in Constantinople wants to get to America to reach his potential. Finally, he gets the money and takes a ship to New York City, and the Statue of Liberty greets him. Downstairs of the theater were bathrooms: Larry and I had to piss and he entered pour hommes and I, after I
bounced off the hallway wall, ended up in the women’s toilette. I passed out and awoke curled up around a bidet, my half-naked body in a brown pool of urine and shit and smelly vomit.
I couldn’t move, exhausted by the Revolution; panic set in and I wondered about my wallet, my ID’s, my cash, so I pulled it out from by back pocket. It was difficult because my water-logged pants were wrapped around my ankles. I grabbed it and it flopped open and everything spilled out into the miasmic pool. I eventually focused on its contents, the single thing I saw was a photo floating on the surface of Larry and I in Vietnam, I holding up the decapitated head of a suspected Viet Cong. Then I got dry heaves, and  waited for Larry to bang on the door, yelling, “Frank, are you inside?” He never rescued me. He had beer-fueled staying power while I was unaccustomed to burgundy, its thickness put me into a stupendous torpor.
As I sobered up I remembered how, as a teenage adventurer, I found a way into Canada from Minnesota, by crossing the Lake of the Woods with the aid of a First World Ojibwa where he found a spot of earth for me on Lake Manitoba known only to a few members of his tribe. I backpacked food to last a week and was undiscovered until my guide came back a week later and took me to the border. I never told my parents about my flight and they were very angry with me but glad I lived to tell how I survived. A fairytale, they called it.
I struggled to my back and pulled myself up grasping the bidet, then sat uncomfortably in, not on, the bidet. I feared the outside world, and if worse came to worse, I would recycle the slop off the floor when hunger overcame me. So peaceful, in love with Stavros, a shoeshine boy struggling in a new land. That final screen shot gave me forbearance until a woman theatergoer found me. My morale took a dive as I waited for the Paris gendarmes. Instead, for what seemed hours, two large armed U.S. military police entered the squalor, my space. One bent down, the soaked though color photograph caught his eye, and he retrieved it and placed in a white handkerchief.

Would it be evidence against me or would it give me a commendation? They flew me in handcuffs back to the base in Germany.
Fairytale Redux: I wanted back into that fairytale of Lake Manitoba, its maples, jack pine and tamarack, its lynx, mule deer and muskrats, I bathing in the freshwater lake and saw my reflection in its calm water, and after shitting and pissing in a hole I dug in the earth, covering it with dirt and underbrush, leaving no stink, the atmosphere tingling with the electrical charge of positive ions. Paris having negative ions I never again traveled there as a civilian for family vacations, though that was always possible.

© G Sparling May 2012
Arcata, California

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