Comme Si de Rien N'Etait


Now that you know the ending to our lost dog story, we can slow down a bit -- and learn the middle part! (Click on the photo to enlarge... and please excuse the marchand de sable or "sandman" in Sam The Man's eyes, but you'll allow him the excuse of complete exhaustion, won't you?!)

crevé(e) (kruh-vay) adjective

    : exhausted, dead beat

Audio File & Example Sentence
Download & listen to "creve" MP3

Les chiens, qui se sont échappés, sont complètement crevés.
The dogs, who had gotten away, are completely exhausted.

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

(Note: To read Part One of this story go here).

At the commissariat de police along the Canebière, Jean-Marc and I step up to the comptoir.* I go to rest my arms on the counter-top... when I see gouttelettes* of blood on its surface. My hands drop to my sides and I look over to Jean-Marc, who is already pleading with les policiers*:

"S'il vous plaît... on a perdu deux chiens...."*

Three officers fix expressionless eyes on us. They must think we are crazy. Here we are, looking for a golden retriever in heat... when the person in line ahead of us had been injured. But weren't our own hearts bleeding? Could the officers see the injury inside of us?

They could. Earlier, at Stalingrad square, it was another officer, stationed in a fourgonnette,* who had suggested we stop into this, the Noailles, police station. I had run up to the police truck, after nervously crossing over tram tracks and traffic lanes, to ask whether anyone had reported a missing dog. Only, as the policeman leaned over to the truck's window, to hear me, a few more frantic citizens arrived. The man now standing behind me was drunk--and the woman standing beside him, angry.  "Bon,* I will let you get back to work..." I said to the policemen, wondering whether, to the authorities, domestic anger might constitute a more pressing situation. That's when the officer shouted over my shoulder, to the man and the woman: "Would you two keep your voices down, please?!" Next, he pulled out a notepad.

"Were the dogs tattooed?"
"Yes!" I remembered with a sigh of relief.
"Were they wearing médailles*?"
"Yes... I mean, no! Both dogs recently lost their tags..."
"Have you called the SPA*?"
"Yes--but we got a recording!" I remembered my husband's cynical remark, after hanging up the phone: "Et, bien sûr, ça ne répond pas!"*
"Are the dogs méchants*?"
"No! No, no!" This was the third time that we were asked this question, which still took me by surprise. I had not realized that golden retrievers might pose a threat to anyone! Unless... out of desperation... or in response to what might feel like a threat... Oh, Seigneur!* What if a couple of kids found the dogs and tried to drag them inside, by their collars--when the hungry animals wanted to find their way home? My mind began to draw up disaster.

"Is there a number where we can reach you?" the policeman asked, putting a stop to my imaginings. After carefully noting down the information, the officer suggested we stop into the Noailles police station.

*     *     *

Back at Noailles, I stare at the droplets of blood on the counter, wondering where oh where is our dog--and is she in pain? I hear Jean-Marc's voice, and see that he is turning to leave. "Merci," he thanks the officers, who wish us bonne chance.*

On the corner of Canebière and Boulevard Garibaldi we see Jean-Noël, Sam's owner. He is standing alone, which answers a pressing question. Jean-Noël reports that he has spoken to his wife, Sabine. She confirms that no street accidents--involving dogs--have been reported. Oh, mon Dieu--it is only a matter of time!

"Chances are, the dogs are still roaming..." Jean-Noël says, on the bright side, and I am touched by his hopeful heart. My own heart sinks at the thought of Sabine and Jean-Noël losing their dog--all because of us! "Sam" their golden retriever of eight and a half years... is one of the reasons that travelers flock back to their charming B&B, where the golden host adds so much to the cozy atmosphere.

"I'll head north," Jean-Noël tells us.
"Okay," Jean-Marc says, "We'll head west."

Braise (foreground), limping, Sam her saviour nearby I try not to think about how the dogs may be heading east, or south--advancing in the opposite direction. The situation is hopeless and the dogs--helpless! It is the helplessness and the innocence of the animals that torture us the most. How to explain the nauseating sentiment? It feels as if my own five-year-old child--and his little sister!--had wandered onto a freeway! I can almost hear the cars screeching to a halt, as the "toddlers" toddle across seven lanes of traffic. God help them!

I do my best to keep my thoughts tied up, for fear I'll let loose the wrath of WHY: Why did we bring Braise to Marseilles?! Why didn't we have her spayed?! Dammit, Dammit, Dammit! Maybe if I displace the heavy blame from my heart that is being crushed... I will find relief?

The wrath of WHY continues: Why did we choose this weekend to come to Marseilles! Why did I let my family talk me into getting this dog? I knew she would break our hearts one day... one day....

One. Day. One. One... Focus your mind! One. Love... Love is all. Be loving. There is no use pointing fingers. What we are to do is to love each other through this pain. I reach over to put my hand on Jean-Marc's back, which is wet through his T-shirt with worry. He is weaving in and out of traffic, looking left, to my looking right--our eyes endlessly scouring the crowded boulevards and side streets of Marseilles. I look under the parked cars, up the stairs to the church.... inside the open garages. They could be anywhere--anywhere at all.

*     *     *

Fast forward. It is 2:30 a.m. the next morning....

"Let's do another tour around the neighborhood." Jean-Marc says. The tears in my throat wet my vocal chords so that I do not recognize my own voice. It is a low, slow, slur that comes out: I do not know how to tell Jean-Marc that I want to go to sleep now. I feel too guilty to admit to this. How can one ever stop looking for a lost love?

"I think that's enough for tonight," I say.
"You don't want to do one more circle around the block?" my husband asks, point blank.
"I don't know. I can't make a decision! I want you to decide."

"Ne me mets pas dans une situation embarrassante!" Jean-Marc's words strike back.
"But, I--"
"Ne me mets pas dans une situation embarrassante!"

I am stunned by his unexpected reaction, until I begin to try to translate the French: "Do not put me in an uncomfortable position." It is then that I feel compassion instead of defensiveness. It wasn't fair to ask him to end the search.

And so I end it.

"Let's go in now." And we do, but not before unlocking anxious eyes from the sidewalks, the alleyways, the parks, the gardens and the squares. Oh, Braise--Sam!--are you somewhere out there? Goodnight.

Inside our rented room I ask one last question. "Veux-tu me prendre dans tes bras?"* And I hope my husband's arms will strangle the worry inside of me, in time for us to fall to sleep.


Read the final chapter of this story.

Note: this story continues on Friday. Comments



~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~
Would some of you like to help translate these terms in the comments box? Merci beaucoup!

s'il vous plâit... on a perdu deux chiens....
Et, bien sûr,
ça ne répond pas!
oh, Seigneur!
bonne chance
Veux-tu me prendre dans tes bras?

May she never fly off by the wings of her ears (see how they're ready to go!) again!

In books: The Rose Cafe: Love and War in Corsica

Rose cafe Starred Review by Publishers Weekly. Avoiding military service in Vietnam, American author Mitchell spent six months working in the kitchen of the Rose Café on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, a season of which he recollects in this powerful memoir.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety