After my Sunday morning riding lesson, on Flash, because Mac was lame and PT wasn't where he was supposed to be, I checked my phone before leaving the parking lot. There was a message from The Artistic One's "Youngest Daughter Before Ours". Sylvie is a half dozen years younger than me and did a good job of getting to the point. "Please ask Papa to call. The news is not good. His brother Alan is deceased."
Alan; playboy, pimp, professional poker player, (cheater), night owl, ne'er do well. Did his heart give out or was it his liver? Past the age now when the obligation to repay a debt to "The Connected Ones" had him transporting stolen jewels across a border and spending Time in a Swiss jail. Aided in his escape by his wife but menaced into selling their apartment in Paris to settle the score. When we stayed at their Hotel around the corner from Le Moulin Rouge, the ornate, bird-cage elevator went up and down all night long and the "He's Who Would Be She's" were decorative additions to the sidewalk beneath.
Sylvie called again before I reached home. I pulled over to talk uninterrupted. Strangely, Alan has been dead for almost a week. Sylvie is just learning of this. At least she thinks to share the news. Alan was living in a little guest apartment in the back of his girlfriend's property. Impossible to heat in the recent cold weather, another brother Pierre had rented him a hotel room for a few nights. After morning coffee and croissants Alan went out to smoke the inevitable cigarette along the banks of the river. He never returned. A few days later, the body found five kilometers down stream was linked to the missing hotel guest by the sim card in his phone.
Thoughts of a fatal slip or fainting spell leading to an accidental cold plunge, into the swirling waters, are swept away the next day by the news that he had mailed a letter to his wife. Varicose veins and an impecunious old age were an unthinkable footnote to the Story he wanted remembered.