So, I kid you not. I’m walking down the Metro Raumier stairwell on St Sebastopol in Paris, loaded up with bags of Apero and Rose from MonoPrix and heading back to our apartment. I’m focussing on the gazillion steps with a bung knee and dodging the peak hour crowds to avoid spillage of the bag contents which include le saucisson, pate fois gras, a rather nice sock-smelly Cambembert, corcherons and two still warm and yeasty smelling baguettes. I also need to ensure that the chilled and succulent bargain-basement bottles of Rose stay nestled in their now slightly-tearing extruded plastic bag. Oh the guilt I feel for not having the foresight to bring my green bags. Shit that bread smells good.
I’m teetering down the steps against the crowd with one heavy bag in each hand. My camera bag slung over shoulder with the solid bit bashing into the small of my back and banging uncomfortably just above my bum. I’ve come down the steps on the right, against the wall and now wedged in a rather familiarly urine stenched corner, squished by the outpouring of peak hour bodies surging upwards towards the surface. I have about three more steps down before I hit the platform and everything begins to roll in slow motion.
And I mean slow. Keanu bullet-dodging slow. Watch the replay of that googly bowl by Ricky Ponting slow. Like a fly watching a human hand trying to swat it slow. Take that you fetid little insect and you know all the time he’s sitting there yelling “Is that all you’ve got you biotch . . hit me!” Before the little buzzy bastard pisses off and leaves you smacking some unsuspecting appendage with a sting. Yeh, that kind of slow. Yeh, like that.
Noise slows down like it’s being played on a vinyl LP just after the power’s gone and it’s grinding to a halt. The fabric of everyone’s garments ripples languidly but discernably, trains glide in and out with a serenede of muted screeching and then he comes into the frame. A blind man with one of those extra long guide sticks with a big red knobbly thing on the end of it.
He’s short, wearing dark glasses which always strikes me as hilarious, “Hey dude, you’re blind, you don’t need the shades!” He’s wearing a black three-quarter winter coat which is also weird because it’s hot as hell down here and humid as a whore’s underwear. Do whore’s wear underwear? Perhaps that’s not a great analogy. Then I get to thinking, well he’s blind, maybe he didn’t realise what he was wearing. I mean I have friends who look like they get dressed in the dark and they’ve got 20/20 happening. Anyway he’s walking normal speed right. Cane outstretched, swinging wildly from side to side, working that red knobby thing.
Now I’m still moving when I see the cane sweeping the pathway as if he’s wielding a machete in a corn field or a scythe in a hay meadow, scanning for gold or detecting landmines, this man’s on a mission. I’m thinking, get out of the way, jump that thing but hey, the dude’s blind, I could knock the bastard over or worse do some damage to the Rose bottles so I just keep going, sure that he’s going to mark a target as big as me. Then, WHAM sure enough that thing cracks me fair and square on the side of the leg, and brings me down baby! Crumbling to my jetty stump knees on the cold tiles with a crash and a bottle of rose rolling menacingly towards the departing train.
Ok so the scene begins to speed up like my escaping bottle when a very nice man pulls me up to my feet, rather familiarly brushes my knees off. How very French I’m thinking as they have no concept of personal space but having your knees rubbed by a stranger is a little disconcerting. So before I actually told him to piss off and take his hands of me, he had the good grace to disappear into the crowd.
So now I’m on my feet, the train’s pulling away, no harm done to the shopping, the knees will live. No sign of the blind guy who has clearly had no problem navigating 75 steps in an overcoat at speed and without knocking anybody else over whilst swinging his knobby cane at a 180 degree angle in front of him. How rude. Not so much as a ‘pardon madame’. Bastard. I hope he gets run over by a bus.
Rather late Theme Thursday Post for "Stairs"