Meeting Richard II in Paris, 1985
Blondie and I ran uphill, turned the corner, lungs working madly and reached the bus stop just in time to see it wasn’t the one we wanted. The 252 direct to Paris came next. I neglected to purchase a ticket, having the tiniest of inklings that I was dreaming. It was a double decker. She went up the stairs. I followed and came to an abrupt stop when I noticed the seats were too small and cramped. The lights kept flickering on and off.
“How long?” I asked.
“Don’t worry. We’ll be there within the hour,” she reassured.
“But I don’t think I can handle it,” I said. “It’s just too uncomfortable.”
“Come here,” she said, pulling me against her. “I’ll wake you up when we get there.”
Standing alone outside the Moulin Rouge I saw my name written on a poster. White lettering against a pink background. It was a message of love from Sofie. We would marry on June 20.
No more uncertainty about my whereabouts; the other Montmartre, the one inside my dreams. I entered the cabaret and tracked the music. It was 1985. No stage, but plenty of dancers moving up, down , twisting side by side to an amplified “Into the Groove”. Their red skirts were made of thick netting, their legs long and muscular. Pretty girls making clicking sounds with their heels.
I stood mesmerized by the mind’s capacity to build a setting with such accuracy and vivid detail. The room was hot. I touched the back of my neck, wiped the perspiration and felt the texture between my fingertips.
I exited left and entered an ordinary hallway with many doors. I opened the last door and found myself on a rooftop overlooking Paris. I was miles away from the Moulin Rouge, far enough to see the top of its windmill spinning. A rattling sound caused me to turn around and notice a barred door on the other end. I approached with caution. Someone was whispering.
The man had long hair, a thin face, black whiskers and small tufts on the edge of his chin. His hands were covered with gold rings. The crown on his head was cracked.
“Won’t you come here, please?” he whispered.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Richard,” he replied. “King of England. Please open the door.”
“Who put you in there?” I asked, my apprehension growing. He seemed crazed, impetuous with his head pressed hard against the steel barriers.
“This is the last door, girl, don’t you see? I’ve come this far. It was destiny that you came to be here at this precise moment. Now, help me,” he instructed. “That’s why you’re here.”
Richard was dead. That much I knew.
I waved my hand over the lock. The door opened and he stepped out allowing me to see the grandeur of his cloak. It had gold chains hung on each shoulder. There was a dagger in a pouch attached to his hip and plate armor over his legs and chest. It looked as though he never got around to taking it off.
“Alas,” he said. “I have crossed over safely.”
“From where? Where did you come from?”
“The place without light, sound or emotion. I was so very still for so long.”
He took out the dagger and edged so that I could see his rotten teeth. “Do you know this place?” he continued.
“No. But I often meet the ones that come from there.”
He reached out and cupped my chin. The touch was cold, but his skin surprisingly soft.
“Show me where I am, girl,” said Richard, extending his hand. When I took it he pulled hard and we accelerated off the roof. He didn’t let go of my hand. We descended until the cobbled streets of Paris were under our feet.