About three days in La Rochelle (end)

La Rochelle, 1985

Then my rage rises like the tide, and I don’t know exactly by now all that I tell him. Of course his disrespect gets me mad; but I am especially ulcerated because he ‘s dirtying a song. And a beautiful, most poetic one; I can’t bear it.
I start insulting him, a lot, violently; so much that I clearly see his jaws twitch; and he grabs my hand, twisting it in a very brutal way. There are threats in his voice, but he still pretends to kiss me.

“ What the hell is going on , Eponine ?”
It was Virgile. Surprised, the guy let go of my hand. They stared at each other for a moment. Virgile was a little taller than him, but the other held his gaze, obviously ready to do battle; in any case not at all impressed by the beautiful eyes first full of incomprehension, then filled with a rising thunderstorm that Virgile darted on him.
“ You’d better go the fuck out of this place.”
The guy jerked his shoulder off the wall, still looking Virgile in the eye; he didn’t answer and pretended to walk away, but I was sure he wouldn’t go very far.

Virgile took me to the bar, however; and in any other moment I would have been happy feeling his arm around my shoulders; but there I was terrified and in the most total misunderstanding.
“ He’s not gone.
– I know, but you must drink something and calm down. Holy shit, it seems to me he’s  a “regular” though. No place is safe. But where are all the others?
– Dancing I guess. You’re not at the set?
– I just needed a pee break… it was charming, as you can see. Coquelicot is replacing me for a bit. Well take some “fruity juice”; how do you feel now?
– Still spoiled. But thank you so much for intervening.
– So natural; you’re part of us now “Lark”. But I can’t help wondering what your brother’s doing in a moment like this…”

By the time I was so scared, I didn’t enjoy the end of the guys’ set. Music was far away in my head, still good; the beat of my body hung up to it at times, but I no longer had the energy to really care.
“ We have to go back to dance, said Virgile, you know it’s like when you learn to swim and drink the cup, you have to go back immediately in water.”

On “ Laughed” , the US remix of Propaganda’s “Sorry for laughing”; our bodies have been close to each other in the dancing crowd. Music caught me again, and pleasure; so that I barely saw Alb and Colin crossing the dancefloor, followed by Diane, Valentine and Maude. It had been the last song of their set , at almost three in the morning.
“ We must go with them, told Virgile however. Alban seemed very upset; we’d better avoid a riot if we still want to mix here eventually.
– But don’t worry, Alban is not the kind to fight…
– Don’t believe that ! Sometimes the dock worker’s blood awakens in him. It’s rare, but it may happen.”
I was a little annoyed that Virgil himself mentioned once more the social origins of Alban, as if it was absolutely necessary to be a “working-class” guy to defend feet and fists the integrity of his friends.

But for the fight, Virgile was right. If the guy hadn’t been impressed by Virgile’s threatening tone, he no longer allowed himself to laugh when he saw an Alban, livid with anger, swoop down on him. Because it wasn’t just about me.
In this brief moment I could see the embodiment of wounded honor taking cynical oppression by the throat. The guy had apparently brought his pals back to get the shit, but seeing him suffocate in the collar of his branded shirt; they did not insist.

More, there were some guys from La Pallice, the merchant port where Alb was from in the dancing room; and obviously the guy’s friends were only brave to show off in front of girls.

“ You’re part of us” , Virgile said this night. And I felt at that moment how much it was true, and later when we sat all together ; drank and laughed the rest of the night away. We were building our own family, and even if I was not accepted in Dautet’s high school the following year I knew that I could count on them all, even Virgile , by whom I was more and more charmed; but in secret, because Valentine was there.

No need to tell you that we had a little trouble getting to sleep with Diane then, in the little bedroom that Alb left us next to the main room he shared with Colin in his flat.
“ Don’t worry , she told, they’re both deep asleep …
– I wouldn’t be that sure, Alb never sleeps.
– Really? And he never fights either it seems, you should see him with Colin in his arms …”

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