Paris Noir

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Authors: Jacques Yonnet
warm‚ and take a nap. But mind you don’t just fall asleep anywhere when you’re in a weak state. If you’ve found a good spot where you feel relaxed‚ it’s because you’re protected there. Try and stick to it. That’s very important.’
    He’s right. At his suggestion‚ I moved the position and orientation of the bed in my room five or six times. Now that it’s at an angle by the window‚ I feel comfortable in it‚ quite safe. What Cyril said holds true to within a metre.
    Cyril’s not the only one who has contributed to completing my education. Several people have taught me that there exists‚ in the underlying order of things‚ a potential for humour that corresponds to paradoxical requirements. Laughter is proper to the man? Perhaps. But the incident that provokes us to laughter‚ the comical incident‚ belongs to all creation‚ from the amoeba to the crystal. In short‚ nothing should be taken too seriously.
Alfophonse’s Moniker
    On receiving his call-up papers for military service‚ a fellow by the name of Borjois noticed that his first name was Alfophonse. You read that correctly: efohpeeaitchohen. He started laughing‚ and showed it to his mates‚ who cracked up‚ as well they might‚ and Alfophonse thereupon embarked on a discreet but necessary investigation. He likes to report his findings in the argot he speaks better than anyone else. For Alfophonse is a purist: he’s from Glacière‚ where traditions are not about to die out.
    ‘You see‚ when my old lady pupped me‚ I had three older sisters. “A boy‚ at last!” says the old man.’ (At this point‚ I’ll pass over the physiological details that would lack colourfulness in correct French.) ‘Now my uncle‚ my old lady’s bro‚ I have to tell you‚ is a pen-pusher in the local council administration. And it’s His Nibs that does the entries for the Directory‚ as you might say. So his brother-in-law goes to see him: “Hey! Gus‚” he says‚ “got some news for you! Your sis has pupped a boy! The real thing‚ complete with nuts and a joystick.” “Listen‚ Albert‚” says uncle‚ “when the same thing happens up the Prince of Wales’s neck of the woods‚ the king of England has twenty-one shots fired from a single cannon. Well‚ you and me are going to put away twenty-one shots. Down the hatch! Without a moment’s delay!” And off go the two brothers-in-law to knock back twenty-one glasses of red. No messing about! Going back to the office‚ they’re a bit unsteady on their pegs. Then uncle picks up his pen to enter me into the local Directory. “We’re not done yet‚” he says‚ “we need a name for the little blighter.” The old man racks his brains. Draws a blank. Then he says‚ “Remember granddad‚ Gus? D’you remember? Alphonse‚ he was called. D’you remember? Well‚ Alphonse is what we’ll call our lad. Like granddad!”
    ‘What it is to be susceptible! Next thing‚ they’re blubbering‚ and uncle’s snivelling as he writes: A.l.f.o. “Hey‚ watch what you’re doing!” says the old man‚ “Peeaitch!” “What do you mean‚ peeaitch?” “Ehelpeeaitch!” Well‚ blow me!Scratching out in the register‚ can’t be done‚ not for love nor money. ‘Gainst the law. No way can my moniker be altered. So that’s how I come to be called Alfophonse!’
    Alfophonse’s name made him famous in the army‚ and then among his workmates. Eventually convinced that his name must be written on the end of his nose‚ when he finds himself with someone new‚ he laughs. As others might apologize. He has a good hearty laugh. Of an epidemically infectious nature. He’ll live a long life filled with mirth right up to the very last moment.
The Sorry Tale of Théophile Trigou
    That blesséd Théophile! One evening he opened up and confided in me. Now I know everything about him!
    Nearly twenty-five years ago the young Théophile‚ a native of Rennes‚ fresh out of school‚

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