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4th Arrondissement

by Earl Carrender

Earl is currently a graduate student in the M.F.A. program at Butler University in Indianapolis. His work has appeared in The Fioretti, BENt and on the Bilerico Project.

L'Imprévu is a quirky bar on the Right Bank, owned by two American boys. And I used to see you there, chatting with Martin or Buck, the American owners, talking about America and Chicago and debating which was better, American football or soccer. The three of you complained about the froggies so much I wondered why you stayed in Paris.

To be in Paris, I suppose.

I saw you at Raidd, watching the shower boys. I watched you at L'enchanteur. Karaoke is bad enough in English; in French it’s a little taste of Hell. But at least you noticed me. Or so I thought. I got up to sing and I think it scared you off. Maybe “Son of a Preacher Man,” was a bad choice.

One night, watching a mime at Pompidou, I saw you again. A bottle of Bollinger in your hand. “Would you like to join me?” you finally asked.


We walked along the Quai de Seine. You asked my name.

“Paul. What’s your name?”

“Serge,” you said as you sat beside me. “So, what brings you to Paris?”


You laughed. You told me that you wrote a play and that I should come and see it.

“What’s it about?”
Love, of course. Stories compiled from interviews you filmed in bars and cafes. You asked couples—women and men, men and men, women and women—how they met and they told you. And you made up the rest.

“So you’ll come tomorrow?” you asked.

“Sure,” I promised.

I spent the morning sleeping late and eating the last of the eggs for breakfast, which was actually lunch. I spent the afternoon at Les Mots a la Bouche listening to some British writer talking about his novel that wasn't a novel because the novel is dead.

We met at La Curieux for spaghetti, but we were asked to leave when you kissed me. It was an impulse, it was desire, it was possibility and pain.

“Pas ici,” the waiter told us as he pushed us out the door.
“Not here,” you translated.
“Not anywhere, I guess.”
“Here,” you said and kissed me again, there on the street for everyone to see.


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