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  • Paris. June.

    Day reigned. The long summer queen.

    I was reading a David Goodis novel in French. "Nightfall." La Nuit Tombe.

    Goodis is in my personal pantheon of great noir writers.

    He hailed from Philadelphia, a Philly son, and the French discovered him as their noir prince. His essential novel, "Down There," was made by Francois Truffault into the film, "Shoot The Piano Player," (which for some reason I have always called "Don't Shoot The Piano Player.")

    David Goodis wrote "Dark Passage. (Yes, Humphrey Bogart wit the bandaged face.) Goodis is eminently good noir value. He has the pitch, the tone, the cadence, the light. He has that brute concise hard poetry.

    Reading him deep in the warren of medieval streets in the Mouffetard seemed right. A table, a coffee cup, a blue jersey, the dark truth with page numbers.

    Yeah. The nights were long and bright in June. Too long. They reminded me of how the sun was a liar. The sun set out to wreck your pictures and it did a damn good job of it. I was sparring with the sun, waiting for the real thing which promised to turn up later.

    I bided my time until 10. Some nights it was 10:30. Some nights that damn night did not fall until 11. It was like a tomb which would not deliver.

    Then it delivered special delivery.

    I was at the part in "Nightfall," which is set in New York City, where the protagonist Vanning, an artist trying to put paint to canvas in his Greenwich Village studio, is tormented by trying to make a buck, and then there was that matter of the stolen money. And oh yeah, the murder.

    I couldn't see what had changed since the book came out in 1947. Artists, paint, Lower Manhattan, murder, who has the money. Banks, canvas, taxis, meet-ups, the Western drives through Colorado coming back to haunt the man (did he kill somebody?), Sheridan Square, Christopher Street.

    I figured nothing had changed and nothing ever would.

    That was okay with me. I sipped some more Paris coffee. It wasn't bad. It was cold. That was okay. The bookstore was right across the street with its nice tree logo. When I finished reading about how night fell and that damn sun was still stalking me, I could cross the way and buy "Friday the 13th."

    Maybe my luck would turn and June would become November.


    Like the bank was on the phone saying they paid off my mortgage.

    Like the police were on the line, saying it was all a mistake, that painter in the Village did not really abscond with the 300,000 large, he had no reason to be on the lam, and besides which out of the goodness of his heart, his landlord had a rent-controlled place all set up real sweet for him.


    I sipped some more cold coffee. The sun was alibiing all over the blue sky.

    Then a voice said, "But what about us?"

    And I said, "Remember, we'll always have Goodis."

    (Photo by D, of Susan, Paris, 2002)
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