Le Coureur de Jupons

Bernie Dubé lay in his narrow bathtub, knees rising out of the water like two pale, knobby icebergs. His head rested on a rolled up towel and he had a wet cloth draped over his eyes as he listened to the faucet drip and echo, smoked a damp hand-rolled cigarette and sipped at a bottle of beer.

Every few minutes he’d hum a tune, some love song from his younger days and remember how a certain girl smelled, or the colour of her eyes, or if she chewed her fingernails or not.

The cherry fell from his cigarette and the small hiss woke him from his daydreams. He pulled the cloth away and saw the man standing int the bathroom doorway.

“Dubé, mon ostie,” the man said, pulling a gun from his overcoat pocket.

Bernie slipped trying to sit up, sending a wave over the edge of the tub onto the grubby bathroom floor.

“Reste la,” the man said and walked in closer. He looked down at the naked man. “Crisse, t’as pas plus que ça? Tu dois manger comme un affamé, d’abord.”

Bernie laid his wet cloth over his crotch.

“What the hell is going on? What’s the big idea here?”

The man with the gun threw his head back. And then shook his pistol at Bernie.

“Ridicule.” The man said, spitting his words. “T’es effronté en tabarnak me mentir en plein face comme ça. Tu l’sais très bien.”

“Listen, Jacques, I swear I have no idea what you’re talking about. None.”

“Ma femme. Ma jolie Isabelle,” Jacques said and fired three times into Bernie’s chest. The sound was deafening in the small room.

He put the toilet seat down, hiding the four or five yellowed cigarette butts floating, and sat to watch Bernie bleed out. The water turned a murky reddish brown colour, like the river sweeping away all the garbage in the first spring thaw. When the ringing in his ears stopped, Jacques could hear someone was banging at the front door and the faint yowl of police sirens growing closer.

“Ma jolie Isabelle,” he said, softly, before putting the gun against his temple and firing.

Prompts courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.

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7 thoughts on “Le Coureur de Jupons

  1. Powerful! I really thought this was great. I thought I had reasonable French until I read this story: I didn’t understand much of what Jacques said, but then, I didn’t need to. You pick up enough from Bernie’s responses to figure out what’s happening. The image of the bathwater changing colour after Bernie’s been shot was particularly good – I could *really* imagine the scene. Really great story, well done.

      1. Yes – I got that it was a dialect, so I didn’t feel too stupid for not understanding all of it. :) But, as I said, you didn’t even need to follow it to understand your story, which shows great skill. Well done.

  2. I was going to say what Patrick said, but in English – very dark! The knobbly knees don’t sound very attractive, has Jacques got the right guy for his Isabelle?

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