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The Eiffel Tower Gang

By Darlene Clark,2014-06-28 14:20
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The Eiffel Tower Gang ...

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    The Eiffel Tower Gang

    The Adventures of Inspector Migraine

    of the DST

    Roy Lisker

    8 Liberty Street

    Middletown, CT 06457

    rlisker@yahoo.com

    www.fermentmagazine.org

    The Eiffel Tower Gang

    Roy Lisker

    8 Liberty Street

    Middletown, CT 06457

    E-Mail: rlisker@yahoo.com

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    Table of Contents

    (Page numbers are approximate only)

    Chapter I:

     The Message of the Moving Sidewalks .................... page 1 Chapter 2:

     The Inspector ............................................................ page 5

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    Chapter 3:

     The BlueMill ............................................................ page 8 Chapter 4:

     The Eiffel Tower Gang ............................................ page 15 Chapter 5:

     Two Restaurants

     (a) La Jambe Cassée........................................ page 17

     (b) La Belle Noisette ....................................... page 20 Chapter 6:

     The May Rallye........................................................ page 26 Chapter 7:

     Lost in the Paris Metro ........................................... page 33 Chapter 8:

     The van Klamperen Gambit ................................... page 38 Chapter 9:

     A Message in Dutch ............................................... page 46

    Chapter I0:

     Migraine tracks his quarry ..................................... page 51

    Chapter I1:

     La Jambe Cassée .................................................... page 75 Chapter I2:

     Sergei ..................................................................... page 101 Chapter I3:

     The Verdier Affair................................................... page 107 Chapter I4:

     Point Counter-Point ............................................... page 112

     Chapter I5:

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     The Russian Embassy .............................................. page 122

Chapter I6:

     Jan van Klamperen..................................................... page 124 Chapter I7:

     The Klamp............................................................... page 129 Chapter I8:

     Another Kind Of Science ......................................... page 132 Chapter I9:

     L'Espace Cardin...................................................... page 136 Chapter 20:

     Trung Quac ............................................................ page 148

    Chapter 21:

     The Poisoned Goblet................................................ page 153

     Chapter 22:

    Deus ex Machina ................................................... page 156 Chapter 23:

     Ultimatum.............................................................. page 160

    Chapter 24:

     The Hotel du Nord .................................................. page 163 Chapter 25:

     Endgame and Finale ................................................ page 167

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    Chapter I:

    The Message of the Moving Sidewalks

     1988; early April, the month that will always belong to Paris. 6 PM: the peak of the rush hour. Swirling impetuously, as vortexing bath waters will (in the Northern Hemisphere ) churn clockwise down a drain, the crowds descended into all the Metro orifices around the Place du Chatelet. In its central plaza, midst more impetuously swirling vortices of traffic, squat four angry Sphinxes. Above them and just below the monument to Napoleon's cloud-capped victories which they carry on their backs , stands a plaque informing us that these harnessed beasts are situated at the geographical center of 13th century Paris. It was at this very place that barbarous executions of Templars were performed, in full view of hoards of spectators dropping like flies from the Black Plague.

     Today Chatelet is a domain of elegance and arena for the performing arts. Parks, theaters and concert halls, restaurants and cafes abound in all the adjoining streets. Below the complex web of vehicular traffic, ( previously described as impetuously swirling ), sprawled over several descending levels like the cars of a derailed train, lies a speliologist's paradise of caves, caverns, corridors, gloomy passageways, tenacious odors, mysterious branchings, street musicians, pickpockets , fiends and beggars, witless advertising and existentialist philosophers: an uncharted Cour des Miracles of vast dimensions: Nowadays, station

    Chatelet amalgamates several branches of two independent Metro systems in tentacular stratigraphy.

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     Herein the French have accomplished a miracle of modern engineering, par for the course from the nation that razed the Bastille, raised the Eiffel Tower, rectified the Transit of Venus, reaffirmed existence through doubt, and restored the Pantheon. In the preceding decades a new subway system had been immersed totally within the musculature of the old. Called the Reseau

    Express Regional ( RER ) , it brings the suburbs into the

    downtown in a matter of minutes. What hope, indeed, can there be for a civilization that enables its Third World street cleaners to leap, in only a few stops, from the boiling hovels of Belleville to the crusty villas of the snobs of Neuilly?

     Even as the RER was assuming its present shape, Les Halles ,

    the picturesque "entrails of Paris", was being demolished. Its replacement is a most modern atrocity, a miscarriaged miscegenation of a megashoppingmall , a citadel constructed from the collective concatenation of random bulbous extrusions like the bumps on the head of a man who has fallen off the Butte Montmartre, architectural tribute to the wake of confusion inexorably engendered by greed.

     The official name for this sleazy Bedlam is the Forum Des

    Halles : though one cannot doubt that its architects worked through long nights to make it certain that it would not contain as much as a single square meter of space where any discussion, debate or dialogue, educational , religious, political or otherwise, could even be imagined.

     Beneath this duplicitous "Forum" lies yet another Metro

    complex pasting together the earlier station, Metro Les Halles ,

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    with the RER . Together Chatelet and Les Halles are multiply-

    connected through capillaries, viaducts and tubercles over a

    superficie of perhaps a square kilometer, to produce a monster of chaos seething with humanity as foam will settle on the lips of a hydrophobic bat, and that most horribly during rush hours.

     One enters these corridors to experience the despair written above the entranceway to Dante's Inferno. Wily Parisians know that it often takes them more time to reach and climb aboard the train they seek than it will to reach their destination. They have learned through hard experience that even their eventual return into the light of day is hedged about with diresome uncertainties . In the shifting landscape there are many things to arouse anxiety. Sinister beings lurk in the darkness cast by long shadows, behind the pillars and the advertising and in the shops: criminals, spies, left-wing radicals, right-wing fanatics , and the ever omnipresent police.

     Rigorous crowd control is exercised by a variety of means. Unvarying and obnoxious music, and monotonous imagery

    issuing from long rows of TV monitors make passengers eager to get out of there at the first opportunity; subliminal messages may also be implanted in them that incite the crowds to keep moving. In addition, the Metros of this district retain a lingering ambiance of rotten eggs. It speeds people up, those persons in particular who otherwise might wish to hang out for much of the day. Everything possible has been done to insure the prevention of the breakdown of law and order in this city of ten thousand subterfuges, a million stratagems and several quadrillion centimes.

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     Linking the ganglia of the Chatelet/ Les Halles network

    are sets of moving rubber sidewalks , known in French as trottoirs roulants . These horizontal escalators cart the

    multitudes through long, garish and gloomy tunnels. The longer of the two sets at this location consists of a group of four belts linking the RER station at Les Halles with the ancient Mairie

    des Lilas line at Chatelet. Two of them move in a direction which, for the sake of convenience, one can label "forward", the other two moving in the reverse direction. The belts extend the length of a city block , sloping downwards at the middle, flattening out near the entrance to Les Halles. Along the walls one finds a novel distraction: 40 or more huge advertising posters, all of them identical. Concrete aisles on either side have been installed designed for people persons who don't wish for any incremental assistance to their innately generated momentum. Whenever the machinery breaks down these are of course filled to overflowing.

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    Chapter 2

    The Inspector

     On this chilly evening in early April, when a general sentiment of dire portent hovered over the social order, when students at the University of Montpellier developed a fondness for reading tales of calamity, when the ducks in the ponds of all the chateaux on the Loire turned belly-up , and fat tourists in Bermuda shorts and cameras around their necks, excelled one another in their wretched mispronunciations of "Champs Elysées " .....

    1....Inspector Guy de Migraine , Senior Inspector for the DST ,

    absorbed in his work, was standing on a belt of the trottoir

    roulant that, monotonously and irreversibly, transported him between station Chatelet and station Les Halles .

     It was indeed he! None other than he! The famed Inspector Migraine , the living legend, a man as feared in the jungles of Borneo as in the stinking dives of Pigalle, every inch of him, every kilogram of that paunchy mound of flesh!

    Not a detail was missing of that ever and again reinforced media image: the dissolute yet crafty face, as of a ferocious drunk waif; the fabled trench coat, draped slovenly-wise about those irritable shoulders which can never refrain from shrugging; the tattered English rainhat slapped atop his all but hairless head like a newspaper over the body of a derelict dead on a bench in the Place Furstemberg; last but not least, that permanently ragged, rarely lit

1Departement de Surveillance de la Territoire , the French FBI

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    Gaulois cigarette butt jammed between cracked lips and the clamp of jaundiced teeth.

     Between the four belts of this carpet of moving rubber are waist-high buttresses formed from longitudinal rows of metal plates . As the belt jerked the Inspector's fat jelly-belly through the bleak tunnel, he could be observed using his left hand to squeeze a lemon onto each panel as came into his vicinity. With his right hand he wiped selected areas of the panel with a chamois cloth. These areas were precisely those covered by a certain Chinese character, always the same, laid down in blue ink with a rubber stamp. When the Inspector wiped away the residue of ink a French word appeared.

     This message had been painted at 3 AM that morning with invisible ink and a Sumi brush, then covered by the blue hieroglyph. Chung Wah, Chief Inspector of the Taiwan Secret Police, was its author.

     Slow as the moving sidewalk may have appeared to those anxious to return to their homes, it was still moving too quickly for Inspector Migraine to retrieve the entire message from a single passage through the tunnel. Even after circulating the belts 4 times, there were still pieces missing. On the fifth pass Migraine ran out of lemons. This obliged him to walk out of the Metro station and onto the Place du Chatelet, where he could command a French lemonade, a citron pressé , from the Sarah Bernhardt café .

     It is not to be imagined that any ordinary citizen would be allowed to take a glass from this elite café down into the Metro. One need not emphasize that Inspector Guy de Migraine was no

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    ordinary citizen. He handed the proprietor a standard DST requisition form whereon he might list anything he pleased: the glass, the lemonade, the spoon, even the ashtray Migraine had used to dispose of his weary Gaulois butt preparatory to lighting up another. Sooner or later the bill would be paid in full. The only hitch was that there was no way to guarantee that, in the interminable delay, the franc would not be so far devalued as to reduce its effective value to nothing.

     On that particular night Inspector Guy de Migraine never did make it back down into the gigantic Chatelet/Les Halles terminus.

    Enervated by his alcoholic good cheer, his voluble and inexhaustible story-telling, the clientele of the Sarah Bernhardt continue to ply him with drinks, including the stiff Marc de

    Bourgogne that was known to be his favorite. Three hours later, still at it, he was discoursing at length on his previous case, the one involving the head of the Russian diplomat that had mysteriously rolled off the ledge of a window of the boarded-over Hotel du Nord , beside the old Paris canal on the Quai des

    Jemmapes .

     Thus the brilliant and cunning Inspector Guy de Migraine, the most famous detective in all places around the world where the Alliance Française has installed its mission. never did retrieve the full message left for him by Inspector Chung Wah before going off to the Côte d'Azur . It remains to be seen whether or not this will have any further effects, good or bad, major, trivial or irrelevant, on the unfolding of this compelling drama.

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