Monday, 21 July 2014

Stories from the Bar Marché - Laurent

He could always tell who was most likely to leave him a tip. A young father to apologize for the mess the children had made, spilt drinks and chewed sugar sachets, a  middle-aged man with a younger companion to make him into an accomplice, a  lone woman grateful for his male attention. You could tell a lot about people watching them eating and drinking at the little round tables under the plane trees. In the summer months the tourists came. So much was revealed about a couple or a family when they were on holiday, thrown together in constant contact for all hours of the day. The men would sit at the bar waiting while their wives browsed at the market stalls. Some sat patiently reading the paper and when their companion arrived, would stand up and pull out a chair,  admire her purchases of over- priced soap and lavender and then they would smile and raise their glasses to each other . Other men sat gawping at the girls in their skimpy summer clothes, downing two or three glasses of wine and then snap at their wives when they arrived , complaining and sulky. It was the families that interested him most. The fathers taking charge and holding a baby on their knee, giving firm but kind commands and then sitting with their hand on the mother's  knee. He liked to see those little shows of affection, it gave him hope.. How different he would have been with a dad like that, keeping him safe and with a mum that had guided him gently through his childhood.
Looking at all the families and couples that came to the bar he slowly began to understand . Her anger, her resentment, her vicious ways must have come from disappointment. His lazy father that preferred drinking to working, the dingy flat, the cheerless life they lead, must have caused it. The priests that had taken him in with his little brother talked a lot about forgiveness. Seventy times seven, they said. He thought of his little brother, of how much he loved him and of how grateful he was that he had managed to protect him. He would make everything into a game, pulling faces, making jokes, until his little brother's tears turned to giggles. He told him to work hard at school so he could be free, that was the way, not to get in with a bad crowd like he had .His brother was his reason to survive. Every Christmas now, he stayed in Paris with his brother and his lovely family, his wife Sophie and little Maxime and he felt the glow of a great achievement. No-one would ever know how much it had cost him. Oh yes, looking at the families and the couples he could at last understand his mother. But he wasn't ready to forgive her yet.
Le Bar Marché

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