THE SALE OF TWO TITTIES

by Anton Wills-Eve


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/a-tale-of-two-cities/”>A Tale of Two Cities</a>

I’m following the prompt very closely.

 

                          THE SALE OF TWO TITTIES

I first met Nicole in the old ‘Les Halles’ region of Paris in 1962. Apart from being the city’s central vegetable and meat market, open all night for those who supplied these commodities to the traders, it was also the area where the vast majority of the ladies of the night gathered to ply their trade to needy husbands of middle class French matrons. And I suppose lorry drivers passing through, the odd tourist – very odd some of them – and the lonely, occasional student like myself were also attracted to them. Those markets have long gone, as has that Parisian world I knew in its entirety, such was my love then of the capital of Gaul.

Now I was young, not yet twenty, and very shy in matters of the flesh. Yet being male I too had needs, but if I picked up a girl occasionally it was only after a short chat in which we also shared a sense of humour. If she lacked humour I knew I could never enjoy any time spent with her for any reason at all. Fortunately a lot of them faced the adversity of their lives with a smile and the appreciation of a good joke. Little Nicole was one of those. She was quite attractive, hence the title of my tale, but we had to confine our humour to her native tongue. It was a shame because my version of the name of Charles Dickens’ book about the French revolution, which was my favourite transposition of any famous novel title, was not a joke I could share with her.

But she had two great assets. And these also reminded me of a line I knew from a famous English poem, A.E.Housman’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’. In this the eponymous hero somewhat wistfully recalls his youthful memory of his countryside’s ‘blue remembered hills.’ Nicole had a pair of those which were certainly one of her great assets. The other was the way she felt so sorry for the manner in which she had to earn her keep. She would chat to me, as we embraced, about the difficulty she had in going to church occasionally to ask God to teach her how to justify her life. But she was such good fun and I assured her that her clients were the real sinners in her plight for they sought her out purely for their own satisfaction. She, on the other hand, I was sure was forced into, and kept plying her nightly trade, by people who would have made her life a real hell if she had tried to give it up. She always smiled at that and then apologised for making it so easy for me to enjoy doing something which I knew I should not be doing.

But this is a tale of two cities and the second one in which I could spend most of the rest of my life is Lucca in Tuscany, my favourite region of Italy. I am fluent in the language and love the food and the people and the pace of life. The latter in particular is essential for the mental and physical comfort of an ageing blogger like myself.

I have another reason for loving being in Lucca. I was very fortunate when I came into a lot of money in my early twenties just after I had finished at university in Paris. I decided to spend some few months in Lucca, which I already knew, while I sorted out the rest of my life. A few days before I was due to leave I wanted to say goodbye to Nicole, not for any prurient last hurrah, but because I really thought I would miss such a cheerful yet sad friend. As I sat on the edge of the bed in her small room I asked her if she had any chance at all of leaving behind forever the life to which she was tied but not wed. She said the organised syndicate which controlled her would find her anywhere in France. So I made a proposal. No, not marriage, we enjoyed each other’s company but we were never in love. I asked her to come with me to Italy for a holiday and try to find a new life there.

Poor thing, she thought she had to satisfy me for a few months as the price of her freedom and I almost hit her.

“Nicou, ma petite. Nous ne sommes que des amies. All I want to do is get you out of this life and into a new one. I would not let you pay me in the only way you think you can. No, cherie, all I want in payment is for you to be happy.” To cut a long story short she came with me a month later, scared stiff as we took a taxi to the airport that she was being followed, and incredibly relieved when she was finally airborne and free to relax for the first time in seven years. We were both 23 and I put her up in a hotel room of her own telling everyone she was my French cousin. Within two months she had met and fallen hopelessly in love with a young Italian waiter. They married and I was able to set them up in their own modest restaurant which they ran as a very good little business for the next forty years before Alfredo died. But her two sons and three daughters still run the business and look after her. She is always so glad to see me when I visit my favourite mediaeval walled city and, truth to tell, we still enjoy a happy meal and a good laugh together.

The poor soul thinks I’m some sort of saint. Me!? Strewth no, but at least when she asked God to help her I was on hand and able to be his instrument. When next I go to Paris, though, my thoughts will not be on her. They will be on the price her poor city paid last week for it’s reputation as the best place in the world to meet a girl like Nicole.

AWE

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