Friday, January 14, 2011
I was shocked when Charlotte walked in the room. Simonne would have announced her at the door. I wondered if she had just barged through the front door or Simmone didn't want to come up with Charlotte. Charlotte was a gorgeous woman, but the grief had aged her terribly since I'd seen her 30 months before. Her blond hair peaked out from her bonnett. She hadn't combed it that day, which was quite unusual. She flew into the room. Charlotte walking right up to Jean-Paul, an undressed man, an undressed man not her husband. I couldn't believe what I was watching. Jean-Paul was less shocked then me, he reacted more quickly, sensed the danger, and started to bring the board he was writing on up like a shield. He was translating another famous English work, his English was so strong, he had this flair for capturing the metaphors that the English lace their writing with and could find just the perfect correspondence in French. That's what I was thinking about as I watched the board rise and those pages fall into the bath. I know that sounds odd but while I admired Jean-Paul I never really liked him.
It was then that I noticed the dagger Charlotte brought out from the money purse in the front of her dress. I doubt Jean-Paul recognized but I knew it was the daily wear dagger of Restif, her brother, her dead brother, he had died in the September massacre with much of Charlotte's family. Because Jean-Paul was still seated she had too much leverage, as she reached the tub she shifted her weight onto the board and it dropped back towards the bath trapping his hands in its fall. She used the blister on Jean-Paul's chest like a bulls-eye and targeted his heart. Her aim was solid, and the dagger pierced deep. She didn't get caught on the ribs, I've often wondered if she had she practiced on hogs?
She glanced at me, a smile. I was actually happy to see her smile, those blue eyes, with light in them again. And then I thought of the irony. Five years ago, Charlotte even though she was little more than a petty aristocrat, would never have smiled at a commoner about a shared activity she would have considered that act grossly inappropriate. Now in her last truly free moment I saw that "égalité, fraternité" had become so much a part of her that she was untroubled sharing an emotion with one of a lower rank. She saw our shared humanity.
I suspect she missed the heart, but in Jean-Paul's condition that didn't matter. It took him almost ten minutes to die. I could hear the air from his punctured lung hissing with each breath. The noxious chemicals from the bath that he used for his skin kept the blood flowing faster. I don't know if he would he have bled out anyway, without the chemicals but I suspect he likely would have. Simmone entered and wept, and wailed. It was amazing how much she loved him, despite how visually and olfactory unpleasant it was to be in his presence, that her care these years hadn't been just duty. I realized she always saw the marvelous doctor from the 70's and not the withered politician.
Simmone tried to help him but she had never been in the army, she didn't know what to do. I did, know what to do, but I've mentioned all that was going through my mind. Also I'm not sure it would have worked, so I followed Simmone's lead of laying him flat on the ground and let Jean-Paul bleed out. It was a mercy when the hissing stopped. In his final moment, Jean-Paul looked at me accusingly, knowing I hadn't really tried. I shrugged, I loved him, but I never liked him. I admired what he did, and considered him a monster. I had often thought I was a terrible hypocrite for assisting him. But over the last year, I had seen his physical pain further twist his already damaged soul, this man had done much to damage our revolution. That his final glance would be an accusation for me and not a comfort for Simmone proved Charlotte had been right. Georges, Maximilian were there to take over for him. If Charlotte thought this was worth the gallows for her, I'd honor her death with his. And that unforced smile of Charlotte's proved that Jean-Paul's life had accomplished its mission.
Amanda Knox was asked to imagine the death of Meredith Kercher and provided some details about herself in the kitchen. That's not a confession to having been present to the murder, anymore than my little terrible attempt at fiction is a confession to having been present for the death of Marat. It is not hard to picture a murder when asked. That is not a confession and the use of the word "confession" to describe a vision she was asked to construct is frankly dishonest in the extreme.
It is fair to say those statements have a ring of authenticity too them. That is very different though than a confession.