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, 14 I took the Metro to the Hôtel Batignolles. Since I was paying for a room to store an empty suitcase and a couple of extra credit cards, I felt I might was well stash all my Mosjoukine loot there, too. I waited while the clerk checked for messages, though I had no reason to expect any, since no one knew I was staying there. There were none, the clerk said, handing me my room key. The clerk didn’t seem surprised to see me. I’d only been gone three—or was it four?—days. So little time. It had been Friday when I arrived in Paris. What day was it now? I asked the clerk. He blinked twice, registering more surprise at my question than he intended, then he answered smoothly, “Tuesday, Madame.” “Tuesday,” I repeated. I had promised John I would call on Tuesday. “Is there anything else we can do for you, Madame?” the clerk asked. “No,” I said, “but thank you for asking,” and left it at that. By the time I reached my room, I’d decided I would call John. That was something I could do. I called from the phone by my bed, asking the clerk to put the international call through, knowing that it was both the easiest and most expensive way. Another charge on my card at this point wouldn’t make any difference. I tried John’s office, but as it rang and rang I realized it was two in the morning back home. I stretched out on the bed, turned on the black-and-white TV. The world was still there. As usual, there was a war on. Always, things fall apart, I could have sworn I heard the French news announcer say. I managed to make myself wait until noon. Then I called John and woke him up. 135 “Good God, Emma, it’s five in the morning here! What’s wrong?” I thought about lying. I thought about telling the truth. I picked a middle ground. “My niece died, John,” I said. “Oh, Jesus Christ, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had a niece.” I could hear him fumbling for the light or maybe his glasses. “Was she in France?” “Yes,” I said, “in Paris.” Then I felt guilty. I was breaking my promise to Ilya. “John?” “Yes?” “Wasn’t I supposed to call you today?” “Well, actually, I think we said tomorrow. Unless it’s a day later where you are.” “No,” I said, “not in Paris.” “Good,” John said, yawning so hard I heard his jaws crack. “Glad we settled that. Listen, I haven’t been able to get anywhere with the Cinémathèque Fran- çaise. I am supposed to call them again today. I was going to wait until I got to the office, and Ihave my big lecture this morning.Then tonight there’s a screening for the class. We’re watching Rashomon. Can I call you back?” “I’ll call you, John.” “Listen, Emma. This is crazy. Where are you staying? Can’t you at least tell me that?” I almost said, “44 Place Ste-Odile.” Then I thought, I’ll give you the address, but just try and find it. Except now that isn’t true, if it ever had been. My brother has thrown me out. “I’m at the Hôtel Batignolles,” I said. “Ah, the Batignolles.” John sounded relieved. He, along with half the faculty, had stayed there. “Good, then I can reach you if I have time this afternoon between the class and the screening. If I find something else that might be useful. Otherwise, it will be post Rashomon.” “I’ll try to stay put,” I said. Already I was restless. I wanted to find Nolo. I had to talk to Ilya, make him listen. He had to stop taking morphine. “But if I am out, you can leave a message.” “Do you have to go to your niece’s funeral?” “Funeral?” I hadn’t thought of that. I imagined Ilya at Anne-Sophie’s funeral this morning surrounded only by nuns. “I don’t know. I don’t know the 136 arrangements yet. Listen, John, this is costing me a fortune.” I wanted to appeal to the miser I suspected lay in the hearts of all men. I was wrong. “Your father was cheap, Emma,” John said. “Ben was cheap. Not me. That’s why you should let me call...


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MARC Record
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