F. Patrick Butler

Book VI- Maurice RAVEL and Claude DEBUSSY

Book VI- Maurice RAVEL and Claude DEBUSSY

"While Debussy played I had the most extraordinary emotions I have ever experienced in my life. ...I could no longer look at my score for the tears. It was all very strange and unbearable. I closed my book and just listened to him and as he played the death of Mélisande, I burst into the most awful sobbing, and Mme Messager began to sob along with me, and both of us fled into the next room. I shall never forget it."

Mary Garden

Chapter 1: At the Crazy Horse

Chapter 1: At the Crazy Horse

Sex for sale can most readily be found along the congested sidewalks of Montmartre. It is a chaotic place, noisy and crowded, where the fumes of idling cars fuse with summer's humidity and the night's bright lights.

This concoction of milling crowds and their pheromones create an ambiance along Rue Saint-Denis, which visitors describe as 'having fun'. The loud brassy music mingling with the odor of stale beer wafting through the doors of erotic bars is the same routine in most European cities, like Hamburg's Reeperbahn or Amsterdam's Red Light District. It is expected, akin to the mold gathering in the crevices of their famous cheeses, giving a pungent taste, rank smell and a shiver of excitement to the lives of inhabitants in otherwise jaded cities.

Up and down Rue Saint-Denis like a gauntlet of vice, black men in Gucci and muscular Lotharios hustle gawking tourists into the bars calling out to any eyes they can capture. Sidling up to shy victims they whisper of prurient sex, Champaign and adventure inside. Embarrassed, young honeymooners and grandparents alike giggle and timidly scurry away, while others, mostly prowling males and sauntering teens, loft leering glances promoting their own darker versions of chance and seduction.

Colonel De Monteaux stepped out of the crowd and walked lamely across Avenue George V through stalled traffic to a street-level lobby guarded by doormen dressed as Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and made his way downstairs into the modest, 420-seat theater, decorated in sumptuous red with an Art Deco flavor. The stage, flanked by nude golden statues partially hidden behind a silver curtain, was barely adequate to the task. Signs everywhere proclaimed "THERE IS ONLY ONE REAL CRAZY HORSE." The crowd was mixed, about three men to every woman. One could assume there were no families about; however, the colonel believed that the shows were necessary for any young man's education, and to their credit he saw a few parents shepherding excited teenage boys. He chose to stand by the bar with its veterans and locals, as it gave the best view. On his right a Swiss engineer who he had seen on occasion, and on his left, one of the most beautiful brunettes he had come across in Paris, accompanied by a gentleman even older and seemingly richer than himself. As he scanned the audience a hand waved from a table across the smoky room. He picked his way among the crowd to Jean-Michel's side.

Jean-Michel took the colonel by the arm and pulled him down into an empty chair, "they are on any moment," he said impatiently. His glass empty, Jean-Michel signaled the waiter.

No sooner had they begun to talk, however, than a siren went off, louder and louder. Then trumpets, martial drums and the voice of a British sergeant began barking commands. The glittering curtain pulled open, bright lights were lowered on the audience and there they were, the famous line of eighteen proud-breasted girls in shiny boots, white gloves, great Beefeater hats and nothing else save tiny black triangular patches over hairless crotches. Lifting their knees high to military music, these soldiers marched, saluted, and about-faced, mesmerizing the crowd with jiggling alabaster breasts, rose-colored nipples and heart-shaped derrieres.



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