StreetLegalPlay by Kyle Thomas Smith

A Sorcerer on Montmartre – (Chapter Two)

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on November 2, 2013

A Sorcerer on Montmartre

By Kyle Thomas Smith

(c) 2013

Montmartre photo

Bridge Chapter from the novel I’ve been working on

(Click the following for Chapters 1234, 5678910 (p. i)10 (p.2)10 (p.3)1112, 13)



Simon the Sorcerer. That’s what Menard Jake Minshew had been calling Simon from the day Simon’s eyes had first seen shapes and his hands had first been able to grasp at the mobiles of Abraham, Moses and Isaiah on the plastic vane above his crib. Why they had to go and name him Simon, Menard never knew. Except that Menard’s wife had kept telling him that the Lord kept telling her to baptize the baby—who wasn’t Menard’s baby but some no-count punk’s—Simon. Menard had refused until his wife had argued that Simon was a good name since Simon Peter was the apostle who’d started the first church and, without the first church, there’d be no Calvary in Wizard’s Stone today. To this point, Menard had shown her the back of his hand, saying Simon Peter had founded a church of graven images and superstitions that the Reformation should’ve put an end to. But, almost in the same breath, he’d changed his mind and decided to go with his wife’s idea—which she’d said was the Lord’s idea—since Menard had wanted to get her in the habit of turning to the Lord. And so, with his own hands, in his own church, with his own water pitcher, Menard had taken it upon himself to christen his wife’s firstborn Simon. He rubbed the sign of the cross on the screaming infant’s forehead but something told him not even that was enough to save Simon.

And Menard had wondered again and again why Simon was his own lot when he was his wife’s mistake. It couldn’t have been so he could pass a test and get in good with God since, as far as Menard was concerned, he’d built Stone Mountain Calvary by the sweat of his own brow and, as such, was already in. It must’ve been there was something in Simon that God had given him to reform. So, maybe Simon was a good name. After all, his namesake, Simon Peter, was symbolic of an order that warranted reform (or, better yet, annihilation). However, Menard had gone on to rethink the matter and determined that he’d go his wife one better and nickname her son Simon the Sorcerer because, among the seven Simons in the Bible, one is a sorcerer who asks the apostles to let him share in their miraculous powers, only to hear from Simon Peter—the selfsame Simon Peter his wife had brought up—“thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” And Menard had not been able to think of a truer description of their own Simon, conceived in sin, unlike his three half-brothers, all junior preachers now with wives and legitimate children of their own. But it turned out, didn’t it, that Menard would never succeed in reforming Simon to his specifications though he’d been able to keep a church community of over 200, the largest in all of Wizard’s Stone, under his spell. Ergo, he’d failed the homework God had given him. Guess Providence won’t be setting him up with that megachurch he’s been praying for all these years.

This is what Simon had been thinking about as he stood at the mirror, combing his hair and smiling, the morning after his first night with Pascal at Soho Grand. Sorcerer—that’s a cheap shot coming from Menard but, for Simon, it’s an archetype of mystery and empowerment, which is probably why Menard and the Bible writers before him had made it into an insult, something thou shalt not be. After all, all of them wanted to be the ones plying the power, casting the hexes, the aspersions and that’s why thou shalt not. But it must have been by dint of his own sorcery, which he’d wielded unwittingly, that he had attracted Pascal, whom he was now watching in the mirror, asleep on his stomach, his bare back rising and falling in gentle undulations.

Simon had already showered and left a message on his boss’s voicemail saying he wouldn’t be in on account of a middle-of-the-night fever, which wasn’t a lie since the best fever of his post-virgin days had been spiking until about three that morning under the sheets that Pascal still was laying under, catching what z’s he could before he had to be up for his morning meeting downstairs in the breakfast room. Simon slowly combed back his brown, ear-length locks. He was wearing the same clothes that he’d made his grand Soho Grand entrance in, but soon he’d have to do the so-called walk of shame back out and make a trip back to Bushwick to change.

He wondered, what was it Pascal saw in him? He appraised himself in the mirror. His skin was copper now on the parts that showed, here at the height of summer, and his body was sturdy if a bit scrawny, still nothing he himself would turn down if it came strutting up to him in a bar or on a subway platform. But his clothes weren’t much to speak of, standard-issue, white-boy, twenty-whatever, Brooklyn: faded, holey jeans, black canvass Chuck Taylor sneakers—clothes that were both in style and didn’t cost much—though he preferred short-sleeved collar shirts to tight t-shirts, which might have made him look a little like a Bible salesman but at least differentiated him from the run-of-the-mill on the J train to and from work. And yet he’d bagged a filmmaker from France, who was laying right behind him.

How in hell’s bells could he have done that, except by some strange sorcery? Must be a new aura about me, he thought. Or, if there were any such thing as a presiding fate (he’d been on the fence about that since long before he’d dropped out of Reginald Hill Bible College), maybe it’d decided to throw him a bone. After all, it’d seen him work hard enough on his self-study French lit (translated) courses. It’d seen him study up so much on France that it’d rewarded him with the best Frenchmen he’d ever seen. Taken further, Pascal’s presence in his life must mean he’d gotten an A on his homework, unlike God’s own flunker-flunky Menard Minshew, with his sodomite stepson and no megachurch to call his own.

Before they’d fallen asleep, Pascal had told Simon he could come to his breakfast meeting if he wanted. It was just going to be Pascal and his co-director Luc, who was staying one floor up, and all they’d be doing was reviewing the interview and shooting schedules for the day. He’d also said he was sorry but he couldn’t take him on location, as he had a full day of meetings around town, some with researchers and historians way uptown at places like Columbia University and El Museo del Barrio. How did Pascal manage to get into this field?, Simon wondered. What strings did he have to pull? Was he the kind who always had been firmly on foot or squarely on horseback, unlike Simon, who seemed to be tripping his way perpetually down some unmarked path that could lead to nowhere? Pascal is 43 now, all established in a career, and he must have started out on the right rung in life to climb as high as he has, thought Simon.

Pascal had asked Simon what he does for a living, and Simon said there’s a big divide between what he does and what he wants to do, even though Simon knew full well he should thank his lucky stars that, after seven years of grunt-work jobs and no college that he’d ever admit to, he was lucky to land his communications assistant position at the August Strindberg Theatre on 38th Street. Simon came clean and told Pascal he was working in a theater, doing a lot of photocopying and mail-outs for new shows, and he wanted to write plays and books but he’d felt he still had a lot of living and learning to do and, he confessed, he hadn’t had any higher education—except at Reginald Hill, which he didn’t confess to, not to anyone, much less someone who travels the world over making films and being important. Simon had already done the math so it wasn’t lost on him that he was talking to someone who, by the time he was his age, had already earned a master’s from the Sorbonne (Sartre and Beauvoir’s alma mater, Simon had also noted) in film et médias électroniques and who, by that time, had already assisted film crews everywhere from Zanzibar and Botswana to Buenos Aires.

Pascal told Simon, “Paris wasn’t built in a day. You’re still in za possible.” Simon smiled, even though he knew Pascal was being a lot kinder than he was realistic, especially for a Frenchman. After all, he’d heard they give you a lot less of a window for getting your shit together in Europe, where you either inherit your profession or have to choose one when you’re barely old enough to drink, whereas in America, you can shoot from the bottom to the top overnight if you’ve got the right gimmick and, even more importantly, the right connections. How sweet, though, that Pascal hadn’t noticed (or wasn’t holding it against him) that his position at Strindberg was entry-level and about four or five years behind that of so many of the people his age who were already starting to tear up the town in whatever their industry.

Simon went with Pascal to his meeting, where he met Luc, a stocky guy with a lot of wispy white chest hair peeking out from under his long-sleeve charcoal gray shirt, unbuttoned down to his sternum. Luc said bonjour and opened a manila folder. From that point forward, Simon merely sat there, drinking black coffee and munching on a cherry Danish while Pascal and Luc conducted their entire meeting in French.

At one point, Pascal lunged at Luc, “Il est trop tard pour modifier le calendrier. Je me suis arrange tous les entretiens.

Oui,” Luc replied, “Sans me consulter.

They seemed to be at each other’s throats over each and every point of the itinerary, but half an hour later, they both glared at each other, albeit with a hint of le-faire collegiality, and got up to go on assignment. Pascal told Simon he’d call him at 4 o’clock and kissed both of Simon’s cheeks, as dispassionately as he would Luc’s, but this was business, so Simon didn’t take the impersonality personally. Simon said enchanté to Luc, gave his hand a solemn pump and took the subway to the Brooklyn Public Library to apply for his first-ever passport before going home.

Kyle Thomas Smith is the author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010)He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his husband and two cats.

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