Paris lay before me like a glittery necklace, looped around a rotund lady’s neck. To the right rose the Eiffel Tower. The receding night swirled its foggy velvet cloth around the skeletal-like framework and smothered the sounds of the cars passing beneath and between the famous structure’s feet. I never liked the shape of that thing; it reminded me of a tiger ready to spring on unsuspecting tourists and counterfeit-hawking merchants alike.
I chewed the eraser of the pencil I carried and wetted its tip with my tongue. As I continued to watch the duo, who were strolling just beyond the call of my voice, I made note of their previous rendezvous, writing the information I’d acquired in the battered notebook I carried in my pocket. The misty rain that had begun to fall didn’t stop the pair as they made their way through the darkened cheap streets beside the Seine. Even the boats had stopped gliding over the waters; it was too cold and damp for any tourists to want to be out on the river.
I pulled my collar up and scrunched further into the rain jacket I’d owned for twenty years. Yeah, it was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
I spit the eraser top out onto the cobbled street and ambled along behind my subjects. I slipped from darkened doorway to darkened doorway as the two continued to stroll, the wet and dismal air making me impatient for them to conclude their meandering. They finally stopped their aimless walking in front of the infamous Moulin Rouge. Oh “non!” Not there.
The red and yellow neon lights blinked garishly as the larger-than-life windmill flashed its hideous colors over the pavement. It creaked and turned to the syncopated music that was spilling out on the tourists who were waiting in line even at this hour of the early morning.
I sighed. Why did they all end up here? I couldn’t stand the thought of another hunt inside that crowded, sweaty, cigarette smoke-laden tourist trap with its greasy, slippery tiles littered with food debris. I wish they’d sweep those floors.
But the couple in question had other plans. They suddenly darted into the alley that ran beside the old building and disappeared into the hazy darkness beyond. Rats. I’d need to hurry if I didn’t want them to give me the slip. I couldn’t afford to let another pair get away, or my boss would be on my back like escargot on a buttered baguette.
I loped around the crowd and caught a peak of the pair just as they were rounding the corner onto the Boulevard de Clichy. They ran east toward the metro at Blanche. I couldn’t let them disappear into the groups of people congregated there.
I clambered down the steps into the metro but there was no sign of my quarry. “Quel desastre!”* I slowly climbed the stairs back to street level, and just as I was ready to give up, a flash of white moving in the park across the way caught my eye. Could it be? “Oui!” It had to be them!
I edged my way to the path and pounced on my first subject with a yell of triumph. The net settled like a nylon web over the wiggling behind of …a Bison Frise. “Oh non.” The wrong dog! I hauled the squirming, snarling puppy toward my truck and managed to push the petite chien into the waiting cage.
As I latched the back door securely, the rising sun cast its rosy glow over the sleepy park. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied two fluffy tails happily bouncing away from me toward the center of Paris. I narrowed my eyes as I watched their retreating backsides.
“Next time, you mongrels,” I growled.
*Quel desastre: what a disaster!
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