Geneviève’s Version


[One afternoon, without warning and with only the lightest of knocks, Ms. Sans-Serif appeared in my office. From her small black bag she produced a tape machine, set it on my desk, and pressed Record. Perched on the windowsill she began to reminisce, only to cut herself off after five minutes. She stopped the tape, took the machine, and left. The following week I received a transcript of her statement, versified with minimal changes to the original. —Ed.]

The secret name my family gave to me, the streets from which we came, how long I spied and on which side and in what war (if it was even real)— all this and more I am at liberty not to reveal.

As Garamond found out. Unhappy man! Of such frustration who would not grow fond? Bold captain without plan still drifting on, still adding all the globe, nation by nation, to his grand wardrobe of accoutrements.

His pipe, you know. A man who smokes to savor. Prefers his suicide scented and slow— leans back, takes pains to register the flavor of each sun-dried, lovingly chosen leaf… Life is too brief! I smoke in furious chains.

Our little jokes, you know. Well, one could take a stick of chalk and with a few quick strokes, some smiles, some clever talk, prove how our break occurred, show why it must in every case, boom-boom, erase the board, wave off the dust—

and what would be solved then? Some days, one tires of men in the abstract, of the loopholes that men slip through, but not the way a scent, or else some private fact— how do you say?—conspires, that is, compels... Perhaps, you do not say.