I met him, like everyone else, on the street. He was drinking from a can, some alcohol brand that was decidedly low-brow, though I can’t recall the name. All I can remember now was that his hair was a reddish-brown, his face pale and subtly freckled. He was dressed in black and claimed to be a lawyer as he proceeded to walk down the street with me, unasked. But he had already started chatting me up and it seemed like getting rid of him would never happen if I remained stationary. Yet all walking did was lead him to tag along like a yipping little dog. He asked me all the usual fare: what was my name, my job, what was I doing in Marseille. I told him, flat out, that I moved here for my boyfriend. Apparently the information didn’t compute as we drew closer and closer to the apartment I shared with said significant other, Xavier.
At the intercom, I got out my key with the fob attached to open the door, making a blatant performance of the action so as to indicate it was time for Pierre to go, that I had already done enough for him in even allowing him to accompany me this long, to see where I lived–which was a terrible idea, I realized too late, in terms of breeding a potential stalker. And oh, don’t be fooled, it was entirely in the French’s “romantic” nature to stalk. I searched for the “polite” way to say, “Okay you can go now,” but all that came was: “I’m going inside, so…”
“Great, let’s go.”
I was suddenly endlessly uncomfortable. What had been an awkward inconvenience in indulging a man in his delusions had now turned into something potentially harmful. Thus, I reiterated, “I really don’t think my boyfriend would have any interest in you coming to the apartment.”
“Boyfriend?” he asked, as though this was brand new information.
“You live together?”
“That’s right,” I assured, growing more anxious by the second for this exchange to be over.
“Well prove it then. I want to see if this bloke really exists.” Ah, the European need to speak with British vocabulary.
I was insulted by him pressing the matter. “You don’t believe I could have a boyfriend?”
“Let me see a picture of him.” The thought of showing him an image of hairy, near beastly Xavier all at once felt more embarrassing than not. I felt he would make an insolent comment about how I was wasting my time, could do better.
So instead I said, “I don’t have one.”
“That’s bollocks. Then you don’t really have a boyfriend. Let me come upstairs. Prove it to me.”
Xavier was, indeed, very much upstairs and I went over all the possible reactions in my mind of what it would be like to actually let Pierre have his way so that he might finally leave me alone. Would Xavier scare him off? Would he be genuinely aghast that I had engaged this man so willingly–enough to make him believe that he could bulldoze me in this manner? I honestly didn’t have any idea. It was as much a game of roulette as any in Monte Carlo. Before I could deliberate any further, Pierre demanded, “I won’t stay long, just let me use the bathroom at least. I’m about to burst at the seams.” A classic ploy. Yet even after I told him to just “release himself” on the street, he insisted he had a phobia about being seen, or worse, hassled by the police.
Having no idea what result would be yielded in rolling up to my apartment with Pierre in tow, I unlocked the door and entered cautiously. “Xavier?” I called. He grunted from within the recesses of the common area, where he was reposing on our pull-out sofa bed that we never turned into a couch. Pierre arched his brow, “So he is real.” Yet this revelation didn’t seem to deter him as he entered nonchalantly. I directed him furiously toward the bathroom.
“The toilette is right there. Use it and get out.”
“Jesus, you haven’t got to be such a cunt about it.”
Things were turning more venomous by the minute and I could see in my mind what I had risked in the mere “liberty” of deciding to take a walk outside to get some fresh air. To briefly get away from the atmosphere of filth that Xavier so relished stewing in for days at a time before finally ceding to doing something as simple as taking a stroll along the port. I ventured down the hall and into our living room/bedroom to assess his status. It was: beached whale.
“Hi,” I said quietly.
“Hey,” he returned from behind the haze of his depression coma.
“So I don’t know how it happened, but there’s this guy here named Pierre using our bathroom. We met on the street and he accompanied me home.”
Xavier rose from the bed. “Is that so? Well let’s meet this fucker.”
At that moment, Pierre emerged from the bathroom (I couldn’t help but note to myself that I hadn’t heard the sound of water running at any point, but then why would I be surprised that a man like him didn’t wash his hands?). He stopped in his tracks at the sight of Xavier, whose shirt was off, exposing his hairiness and gut. He chortled outright. “So this is the lucky berk, eh?”
Xavier barely registered the insult as he grudgingly teetered out of the bed, his stomach ruining his sense of equilibrium while he did so. His general toppling soon landed him within an inch of Pierre’s face as he stoically inquired, “What are you doing in my apartment and why the fuck did you follow my girlfriend home?”
“I didn’t follow her, she was keen to have me at her side. She’s obviously missing something here at home.”
I ran my hand through my hair, a pretense of using the other one to reach for a knife that was on the counter. I could feel the escalation building, and I knew that the only way to ease the tension was to give in to it. To let it rise and rise until the crescendo was reached. I found my voice long enough to say, “Don’t speak to him like that. You fuckin’ harassed your way into my life and you know it.”
“Ah, come on Reina, you know you enjoyed talking to me. You could’ve stopped it anytime you wanted.” He side-glanced at Xavier. “I can understand why you would give in to the temptation, stuck in this shithole with this sloth, but it’s no reason to turn the tables ‘round on me when I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Xavier was about to reach his breaking point on tolerance. Sure, he was generally bovine–a pacifist by way of resignation–but this was an offense of the highest degree. I could see his fist forming, but I got the suspicion that he wouldn’t be able to protect either of us in the end. That much was made clear when Pierre threw the first punch right in his gut, buckling him in pain. “So listen up Reina. The thing is, I’m not really a lawyer.”
“Oh no?” I replied in faux shock.
“I’ve been a bit down on my luck if you want to know the truth of the matter, and I think the Christian thing for you to do would be to let me stay here for awhile.”
I laughed outright. “First of all, you just called this place a shithole and now you wanna stay here? Secondly, get fucked, you fucking asshole piece-of-shit-freak-stalker-entitled-motherfucker!” I wailed at him as though possessed by a banshee, brandishing the knife to go in for his literal jugular. I was no longer playing games, and this entire debacle had been my fault to begin with, so I reasoned that I was to be the one to solve it by whatever means necessary. Plus, Pierre had no right to so harshly critique Xavier for his appearance, as though forgetting the age-old cliche, “Love is blind.” Right now, so was rage, as I proceeded to stab him.
In fairness, he had pulled out a “weapon” of his own, even if it was only a pathetic one affixed to a Swiss Army knife. Xavier watched me aghast, frozen in his position as the “imposing boyfriend” who, in reality, could do nothing to stop any of what was happening. I suppose I got carried away. I didn’t “have to” kill him. Could’ve just stuck with the maiming and sent him on his wounded way. But something possessed me. Something within that said no man, no matter how “pleasant” or “open” you made yourself to him, should ever think he had the right to do what Pierre had done.
So there he was, cut down “in his prime,” one could say, lying prostrate before me, bloodied and ravaged. When I looked over at Xavier, I could see something in his face had changed. That he would never regard me the same way again. It was as though I had transformed into a monster before his very eyes. And it was a transformation he could not unsee, would never forget. Now that he had viewed firsthand what I was capable of. And, at the same time, what all of humankind was capable of, no matter how seemingly “benign” on the surface.
I tried to explain that it was necessary as I debriefed him on what we were going to say to the police, but I instantly intuited that his entire attitude toward me had altered. It didn’t take long after the “incident” for him to inform me that he was no longer interested in living with me, especially not in that apartment, where all he could see now in his mind’s eye was the vision of Pierre dead on the ground, brutally eviscerated by me. In truth, however, I think that what really bothered him is that he never would have had the gall to do it himself. That in eviscerating Pierre, I had also eviscerated his already fledgling sense of masculinity.
So it was that I found myself striking out on my own. Though it hurt me to separate from Xavier, maybe Pierre’s “murder” at my own hand had been precisely what we needed to break the cycle of the rut we had gotten into. We still occasionally keep in touch. He moved to Toulouse where he met someone who I reckon makes him happier than I did (though I know for a fact she isn’t as attractive as I am). I, instead, moved in the opposite direction, to Nice, where I suddenly found that my unique ability to kill (not everyone has what it takes, as Xavier showed me) was useful to the Unione Corse, a member of which reached out to me after hearing of the “snafu” in my Marseille abode. He seemed to think that my status as an “inoffensive femme” would make me the perfect decoy. Throw all of their enemies off the scent of my new role as their hitman. Or woman. And yeah, I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t give me a thrill to kill men who thought they were untouchable. Immune to any human laws of decency. I cure them all of that illness fairly quickly.