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Jeremiah Granden

Thierry and Anouk

 

Inspector Thierry Botolph wore only his shirt, the hollow right sleeve signaling amputation, as he gazed into the postcard sea. Anouk, her head and crotch dyed a radiant blonde per Thierryís instructions, squatted for her jeans. Anoukís belly was tight.

"How about having a drink near the water?" Thierry suggested.

***

The Marseilles police knew that Gustav Guy, a twenty-one year old pseudo-gangster with bad acne, was diverting animal tranquilizers from veterinary clinics and animal hospitals into the local drug market. Thierry, who abhorred all puzzles and mysteries, was content to work the case since its successful completion mainly involved manipulating Gustavís suppliers into confessing their roles in the enterprise, so that he could bury the young criminal under a corpus of written statements.

Possessing strong instincts for that part of his duties as a narcotics detective, Thierry almost immediately decided that Anouk would crack the quickest. He waited by the lovely twenty-year olds car to intercept her as she left the animal hospital for a numbing weekend of caring for her invalid father and when she showed up in algae green scrubs he proceeded to bombard her with a series of lies and innuendos designed to pressure and entrap. Thierry, of course, had nothing concrete to implicate her with. It was up to Anouk to provide him his material.

"Öand the French prison system is, of course, very hard. Particularly for the young," Thierry announced. The empty sleeve dangling from the detective like it was part of a haunted sports jacket gave Thierry a certain sense of gravity. His already substantial level of charisma was only amplified by the aesthetic of amputation. People assumed that the limb was severed by a mafia bomb or something, when in reality it was lost to him through an ordeal of illness and infection a few years ago.

"I hope it is hard," young Anouk said, her eyes becoming polar water.

"Pardon?"

"I hope it is hard. Ruinous."

"If you know something..."

"I have been stealing from work and selling what I steal to a guy named Gustav. I confess. I donít care about prison. My life is a prison."

"I am certain it wonít come to that if youÖ"

"Confess? I will either way. But I saw you when you came to go through the recordsÖ"

Her hands trembled.

"I want you to force the truth out of me," she said gently.

"Pardon?"

She met Thierryís eyes, attempting boldness. "Make me confess all my crimes. Beat every dirty secret out of me. Use whatever weapon you choose."

"That kind of talk Ö is very dangerous. I donít think you know what you are saying,"

Anoukís face softened into a cheerful smile. She ran her finger down his sleeve. "I have barely said no to anyone my entire life. Iím sure it will be easy for a dangerous man."

 

***

Anouk, returning from an early morning jog, was met at her apartment door by a restless, visibly exhausted Thierry. She said nothing to him as she inserted the key into the latch.

He went straight for her spandex shorts. Thierry heard inexperience in her quivering voice as she whispered in his ear.

Thierry left Anouk bottomless in the hallway. He clutched the wad of pink spandex and blue cotton underwear in his good hand.

***

That Monday, the phone at Thierryís desk hummed in its quiet, electronic way.

"Gustav is fucking a veterinarian at the hospital. She is his main channel."

Thierry barely recognized Anoukís voice over the phone.

"Whatís the name?" Thierry already knew the name.

"I donít know," she answered and hung up.

***

Gustavís other co-conspirators, not knowing to make the sort of offer Anouk did, were promptly victimized by a ruthless fact-finding campaign. One by one, Thierry shattered these individuals with his bullying and mesmerism, turning the remaining pieces into narratives that he, like some Neptune, gathered into an enormous wave that was soon hurled at Gustav. The animal tranquilizer scheme was then totally capsized and Gustav instantly drowned. The sobbing young man signed a full confession with Thierryís silver pen and that was that.

***

"Your friend is gone. Off to jail."

The red wine coated Anoukís teeth. "How many years?" she asked.

"Around two to five. He has already confessed."

"Are you going to let me go now then?"

Thierry nudged Anoukís thighs apart under the table. Francophone rap pulsed from a black speaker nearby.

"Do as you wish," Thierry laughed.

"Thatís no fun."

***

Anouk was bent over wheezing. Thierry saw that she had her jogging clothes on and wondered why she ran all the way to his house at what must have been an unbridled, crazed sort of sprint.

Anouk had no answer for him. She limped past him toward the bathtub, leaning against the wall and almost falling. Anouk turned the water on and kneeled, her chest heaving, either unwilling to or unconcerned with taking off her clothes. She didnít bother with the curtain either. Water sprayed off her saturated tee-shirt onto the linoleum.

Thierry busied himself cleaning a filthy pot. Dreadful visions of a dead woman in his house preoccupied Thierry, so he left the kitchen after ten minutes of listening to the distant shower run.

Anoukís stripped off clothes floated in the filling tub. She had the face of a phosphorous, ecstatic Lucifer.

"Nothing will every destroy me," Anouk countenance implied as she rose her hips to the surface.

***

In the dream Anouk, now chief of the Marseilles police, was firing him for incompetence. "Your badge can go to another," she said.

The police station was transposed over a beach. Thierry started traversing the sand and found his lost arm lying there, slightly to the left of a starfish. He was able to reattach it and it moved freely, effortlessly. The nearby sea was quite dreary.

He called Anouk. She would be greeting her fatherís daytime nurse and getting ready for another day at the animal hospital.

"You must call in sick today. Donít cancel the nurse," he said.

***

Everyone was naked except for Thierry who wore only his white shirt. After their escapade on the beach Thierry and Anouk went to a rowdy bar near the port. Thierry observed three Quebecois sailors gawking at Anouk, so he bought them a few rounds of beer and convinced them to go back to his house.

The sailors were tripping on acid. Two were in bed with Anouk, their feet having pushed the sheets to the floor, in the midst of passion. The third was lost in a psychedelic meltdown and wandered the property singing pop songs in a jerky cadence.

Thierry found the sight of Anouk writhing between the two foreigners eminently pleasing but he couldnít shake a certain disinterested feeling.

"Love is not enough," the third sailor sang.

It was a bored, glacial feeling. It was something that prevented Thierry from getting full enjoyment from the ongoing orgy. He couldnít identify it.

"My brain is not enough," another verse went.

Anouk, her voice less innocent than it once was, had the unnerving quality of a phantom now. Her words started frenzies in the bed.

"My soul is not eee fucking nough," the sailor bellowed.

"Itís like being on a ship," Thierry decided. "A boring, hypnotic ship where everything is just happening and all you do is drift."

"I hate books and love cows," the third sailor said to the sitting amputee in a prophetís voice.

Thierry tried to arrange the four words, cows, love, hate, and book into a comprehensible idea when the sailorís blade crossed his body. The sailor ran it across the white shirt four times total.

Blood was everywhere.

The two Quebecois shouted panicked curses at their wayward shipmate. Anoukís scream, piercing, had a melodious quality.


Jeremiah Granden wrote "Thierry and Anouk" in an attempt to leave the
detective story out in the rain in order to alter its aesthetic nature and
reveal a few hidden threads of meaning. The author is delighted and honored
to be making his debut as a fiction writer in The Mississippi Review.  He
lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two hounds.

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