Devita left the hotel and walked down rue de Charonne toward La Bastille. It was raining again but softly today, and not having an umbrella he stayed along the buildings. The shops of Paris were shut at lunchtime and the streets were empty. Mooney was at a café waiting for him. It had been years since he had seen his friend.

Under a red awning, the only one sitting outside, Devita saw him, long-haired now and dressed heavily in a peacoat and scarf. He was at a table writing something in one of his notebooks.

“Hey there, Moon,” he said.

Mooney looked up. “Well, if it isn’t my old friend Devita.”

“I like the hair,” said Devita.

“One can’t afford to have it cut so regularly, my friend.” The Moon had a big grin on his face. The Moon looked the same as ever.

“What’re you drinking?” said the Moon.

“What are you having?”

“Bit of the ole rotgut, I’m afraid,” grinned Mooney. “Never too early.” He waved for the garçon. Mooney commanded in French for another whisky.

Je voudrais un café au lait, s’il vous plait,” Devita said carefully to the garçon. It was a phrase he used expertly. Mooney said something quickly in French as the waiter left the table. Speaking French was wonderful. Devita loved to speak it and to hear it.

“I think you’ll need to move along to a proper beverage,” Mooney advised. “My friend, it is officially the afternoon. Cheers.” Mooney pointed his whisky at him and finished it off.

He offered a cigarette to Devita. “No thanks, Moon.”

“Forever a man of few vices,” said Mooney, lighting it.

“So how is the great writer?” Devita asked.

“Not a writer,” scowled Mooney. “But I am good, very good.”

“If you’re not a writer, than what are you?”

“My friend, one is only as one does and I am trying to make life. So I am, I suppose, what you might call a god.”

Devita laughed. “Good old Moon. It’s good to see you again.”

The waiter approached their table with a tray overhead. Instead of Devita’s café au lait he had returned with a whisky for him and for Mooney.

“Do not protest, my friend. It is a celebration. It cannot be avoided. Without water or ice, as I drink it.”

“I’ll try it, Moon,” Devita said confidently. Devita didn’t quite know what whisky tasted like.

“What shall we drink to, my friend?” Mooney held out his glass.

“To the good old days,” Devita replied. It energized him to think of the past when he and Mooney were students. Those had been the great years of his life. With Mooney now he felt again their excitement.

“To the good old days and greater coming ones,” invoked the Moon.

Devita coughed on the whisky. “Strong stuff,” he winced.

“Delicious stuff,” Mooney smiled and drank again.

“So what else are you doing besides writing, Moon?”

“Nothing. There is nothing else besides writing.”

“I guess there isn’t.” Devita remembered he had tried to write something once. Back at the university Mooney had encouraged him to do it. He had been proud of it until Mooney had explained how it wasn’t any good.

“And how does it go in that country of ours?” asked Mooney.

“Business is good. Everyone needs furniture.”

“I am happy to hear it. An extraordinary business, I am sure.”

“The Paris life sure is great though, Moon. Maybe I’ll move here and try the writing life.”

“I most expect you to do that,” said Mooney.

“I’d live down the street from you with my French girlfriend and we could meet in cafés and talk about our writing.” Devita imagined how it would be. The thought of that life stretched out wonderfully before him.

“The definitive book on the furniture salesman has yet to be written,” said Mooney, downing his whisky.

Devita tried a bigger sip. The whisky stung at his lips and mouth. There was still a lot in his glass. The waiter had come by with another for Mooney.

“You sure drink those quickly, Moon.”

“Much can be said for a man not only for his choice of refreshment, but by his pace,” Mooney remarked. “And that is to say nothing of his stamina.”

The rain was coming down harder and the wind had picked up and begun to blow the rain onto them. The awning was no protection sitting outside. It was cold and miserable to sit outside.

“Let’s go in, Moon.” There was an open table right inside the window.

“As you wish, my friend.”

Inside the café was warm and noisy and cheerful. The French at lunchtime enjoyed themselves very much indeed.

“So, my friend, you’ve gotten yourself married.”

“Yes. Yes I have.” It surprised him that Mooney knew.

“Where is she?”

“At the hotel. She wasn’t feeling well.”


“It’s just in the mornings.”

“No kids though, right?”

“No, no,” Devita shook his head.

“At least you’ve avoided that trap, my friend.”

Devita didn’t say anything.

“Only with tremendous, lasting pain do you get out of that one.”

“I guess so.”

“I’ll have to meet her while you’re here.”

“I think you’d like her. She comes from a good family,” he added, but was quickly sorry to say it. It was something his mother said.

Mooney was smiling at him. “My liking her will depend upon only one thing, my friend. And I am hardly a difficult critic.”

Mooney continued to smile at him. “You are the Last Man, my good friend, the Last Man.”

Devita took a small sip of the whisky. “Why thank you, Moon.”

“Forever the Last Man,” Devita said, holding up his glass.

Mooney just laughed and finished his whisky.

“My friend, you are beginning to bore me,” he said suddenly. “You need to say something interesting or make something happen. As it goes now, I am bored.”

“We sure had good times as students, didn’t we Moon?” Devita tried.

Mooney just stared at him.

“You don’t miss the States at all?”

“Not at all.”

Devita did not know what to say.

“All there is to life is creation and you do not create. Sadly -- and sometimes I do regret it -- then happily too,” Mooney paused. “I just do not give a Fuck,” he said loudly. “Whoooo Waaahhhh! WhooooWaaaaahhhhhh!”

This man is a drunken fool, thought Devita. He could feel the eyes of the café upon them. Devita did not look up. They were all associating him with Mooney.

“And I believe the time has come for you to accept this tab for the impoverished artist that I am,” said Mooney, getting up from the table.

Devita did not quite believe it.

“Maybe you should publish something so you can buy your own drinks,” he said finally.

“In due time, my friend, in due time.” With a wave to their waiter Mooney left the café.

The waiter came to the table and handed Devita the check. Nine whiskies and he had only had one. He thought about a tip and thought against it. He had read somewhere that tips were unnecessary in Paris, and he was not a big tipper anyway. He left the money and went out into the rain.

Devita walked until the Place de la Bastille and stopped to watch the cars circling the monument. Then he realized the rain streaming down his face. His hair and jacket were soaked through. Devita started back toward the hotel. He thought of her in bed, laying there since the morning. Devita walked faster.


  1. Anonymous17.2.10

    this is a great tale of two men. One, has wasted years accumulating pieces of a life meant not to please, but to impress. another, an artist and linguist, drowning in whiskey, but otherwise keeping his head above the metaphorical water that surrounds us.

  2. Anonymous18.2.10

    One should not judge a man's life until they see how that man dies. This is common knowledge among those who follow a riteous path.


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