Soon the streets of Paris embraced the rush hour of a busy Friday night as the sky raised the black curtain while the stars behind geared up for the show. She smiled at her own reflection on the glass walls of Le Petit Cambodge, a beautiful cafe on the streets of Paris. “You look impeccable,” she whispered. The sound of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata suffered amidst distant murmurs of a crowded restaurant. Maddie sat on a table scripting her new play as she waited for her coffee. The waiter interrupted obediently, “Excusez moi madame, voici votre café,” placing a freshly brewed café renversé on her table.
|Let Petit Cambodge|
“Merci,” she smiled watching him leave.
“Génial (Great),” she said sipping some coffee from the cup. Maddie picked her pen and began writing when the glass door behind her shattered witheringly. She swiftly turned around to look when an another glass shattered as the sound of continuous gunfire deafened her ears.
People leaped out from their chairs squealing amidst the pandemonium. The gunfire turned intense with bullets ripping through the chests with brute force. The place so jubilant and busy a moment ago now turned into a bloody, gruesome hunting ground with the sounds of machine guns hammering the bullets out of the barrel. The glass walls are being smashed to powder as blood carpet decorated the white marble floor. The air resonated with the cries of those in pain. The moans grew silent as some breathed their last laying there helplessly on a fateful day.
Maddie stood there watching the chaos unfolding. She turned around to reach for something in her pocket when a hand gripped her forearm in a flash, “Get up! this way.” he yelled at her.
His grip on her hand felt so unassailable that she rose in a spur to follow him.
“This way!” he sighed.
Inches taller than 6 feet, broad shoulders, prominent jaw line sporting a stubble, with his strong arms revealing the veins running all over, he gripped her hand a little tighter. They rushed across the floor painted red with fresh blood. She looked at his grey eyes which looked familiar. They troubled her as they reminded her of something from the past which she could not recollect. Maddie tripped and fell flat on a dead body while he tightened his grip pulling her up on her feet. The smell of raw blood frightened her as she tried to get on her feet. They rushed into the restaurant and exited through a broken window. Far away from Le Petit they spotted a small house with the door left unlocked. They sprinted across the road and he rushed inside with her.
“Looks like there is nowhere to go, we should lock this door,” he said taking a deep breath.
It is a small house made completely of wood. The inside of the house looked decorated with dust sprayed on the old furniture perhaps inherited from their forefathers.
“Looks like no one has been staying here for quite some time. We are safe here, at least for this night,” he concluded.
Flickering lights strained his eyes making him incompetent to scout the room. He walked around looking for something when the lights burned out completely. He said in a low voice, “No lights! I am unable to see, not even her beautiful eyes. Yet, I saw these lights flickering in them a while ago.”
“Excuse moi, est ce que tu flirt avec moi?” she queried.
“Did you just flirt with me, Mister?” she enquired.
“I know, French is a beautiful language indeed; I just found out that it is more ravishing when you speak and..,” he paused for a breath, “And…..”
“Vous flirtez!” she snarled.
“What? Yes. I am. Truth… is a great flirt,” he whispered.
“Are you aware of what is happening around? My hand please!” she cried withdrawing her hand from his clutch.
“Help me find the key before someone brings those fireworks here. Por favor!” he begged.
Maddie stood there not bothering to reply. She walked to the window, pulled the chair out and sat on it looking at the moon resting her head on the rusted window frame. He walked behind to the window, stood by her side with his shoulder against the window while he looked at her. Her long triangular half lit face looked mesmerizing in the moonlight. Her dark thin eyebrows formed a beautiful crescent whenever she looked up at the moon. One half of her lips glistered as the lip gloss reflected the light from the moon while the other half were hid in the darkness of the room. Her long chin did not allow the moon to see the neck as it lurked in the shadows of the moonlight. She looked fearless and calm despite knowing what has just happened out on the streets of Paris and at Le Petit. She looked beautiful as she closed her eyes.
“The moon looks beautiful isn’t it?” he said looking at the sky.
A brief silence followed. She sat with her eyes closed as if she was meditating. She quickly opened her eyes. “What? No. It looks like a boring, old, aged, loner who is longing for a date with earth since its birth. Why do you even talk about it?”
“Technically speaking, without the moon, oceans would be calmer, nights would have been much darker and a day on earth would have been much shorter than what we are used to and the theory suggests that the moon is the reason for the life on earth.”
“I am not interested.”
“Well, okay. Moon is a beautiful thing to talk about you see. When you want to praise a girl, praise the moon instead.”
“Oh! I now see where is it going. Do not get any thoughts, mister.”
“You better know, Madelene Rose”
She opened her eyes wide while her spine came back straight by itself and she asked, “How do you know my name?”
“What an interesting night, isn’t it? In this old dusted house with no power, a beautiful woman, the moonlight and a mass massacre outside this house.”
“Who are you?”
“You don’t remember, do you? You don’t remember this scar here, do you?” he said as he turned to show her his neck.
“You still have that scar?”
“It has to be, your teeth were pretty strong.”
“Yeah, I had to. Now you know why,” she giggled jumping out of her chair to hug him. She smeared her lip gloss all over his face.
“I wrote a countless number of letters to your home for a year until I was informed that you left the town. Did you even care to inform me ? It has been 14 years,” she asked with a broken voice.
“Let us not talk about it right now…… except, I saw you performing in Paris last month. I somehow managed to find you at Le Petit on this fateful day.”
She stepped back pushing him away and looked into his calm grey coloured eyes.
“Everton, today you need to know something about me. I am not what you think I am,” she said removing her vest.
He looked at her surprisingly as she removed her crew neck sweater to reveal a jacketed vest beneath loaded with plastic boxes and metal pieces interconnected with a strand of wires.
“What is it, Madelene?”
“It is a suicide vest with C4’s,” she confirmed him taking it off and placing it carefully on the table.
“You came to blow up the place?” his voice froze as he kept looking at her half lit face.
“You cannot detonate it without a trigger. It is the only way. You took me away when I was about to… you know.” she explained.
“Madelene, I.. I…” his voice trembled as he collapsed on the chair.
She stepped forward towards him. He encircled her in his arms and stuck his face in her waist as she brushed his hair with her fingers.
He looked up at her and said, “Let’s get out of here.”
Soon both left his place leaving no trace of their presence dumping the vest in the woods on the way.
He stood by the window in his apartment looking at the skyline as the sun rose to greet the people of Paris the new day. He picked up the newspaper to read the familiar headlines. He has not been the same person since the previous night. He looked back at her sleeping across on his bed. She looked as beautiful as she ever used to be, maybe more. Yet, there is something dangerous behind that beautiful face and the thought of it sent shivers through his body. He rushed inside to make a telephone call.
He sat down looking at the horizon and resumed in a while to switch on the television. The news of the terrorist attack has taken the headlines of the news channels all over the world. He looked at the footage of the massacre telecast on the screen. He suddenly felt her arms on his shoulder.
“I know you would not forgive me anymore,” she said in a low voice.
“How could you even think about something like that? Look at all the innocent lives. Do you even feel something for them?” he screamed.
“I am sorry, I know I am insane. Try to understand. I swear to you I never did something like this before. Please do not hate me.” she cried.
“I would not forgive you for this, but I will not stop loving you either,” he said taking her face in his arms.
She leaned forward, raised her heels and planted a kiss on his lips as he reciprocated. The doors slammed open as the cops entered the building with their guns drawn in their hands.
“Hands where I can see them, both of you,” ordered one of the cops.
“Sir, will you please step aside. Are you Everton who called 112*?” asked a cop with the barrel of his gun aimed at his chest.
“Yes, Please! Do not hurt her. She is unarmed. I checked.” replied Everton.
Maddie looked at him unbelievably, “Did you?”
“Sir, will you please step back? This is the last time I am warning you both,” said the cop.
“Why?” she cried again.
“Because you committed a crime. A crime...” he cried as his voice broke into bits.
“Everton, do you still love me?”
“I do, I told you I will not stop loving you. I will wait for you,” he promised.
“No, do not wait for me. Please! Do not wait for me.” she cried walking towards the cop with her hands above her head.
She quickly negotiated through his defence; drew the gun from his handgun holster and shot herself in her head and collapsed on the floor in the pool of blood.
P.S: Le Petit Cambodge was one of the restaurants which was attacked during 2015 Paris attacks.
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*112 - Emergency helpline in Europe