The thumping and dumping and 'rumping' made me jerk out of my sleep. Instinctively, I understood a Parisian garbage disposal truck wanted to let everyone in the 2nd arrondissement know that they were not on strike today and would be doing their duty according to the prescribed speed and appropriate noise level – i.e. very slowly and very loudly.
As usual in those rare instances – well, once a month at least – I tried to mentally close my ears to the noise barely dampened by the excuse of glass called ‘windows’ to find some more sleep. The jetlag and slight cough caused by recent travels to Mexico and Tokyo had made sleep a precious commodity. Having pretty much fallen asleep at 0400 in the morning, being woken up by the ‘sweet song of the City of Love’ at 0530 had stopped even that elusive slumber.
“Bump, bump,” it continued relentlessly. If they had tried to dig another tunnel for the Metro it couldn’t have been louder; in comparison, the military airplanes practicing for Bastille Day over the center of Paris displayed the quietness of wolves tracing their prey.
“Thump.” This was a statement: ‘We’re here. And we will continue to empty stinking garbage containers at maximum volume until everyone is as wide awake as us doing that job – fraternité!”
“Rump.” I felt the house shake. If I had been in the US, I would have suspected an earthquake, but Paris doesn’t get those – at least not the literal version.
But when a last “TAMP” made all walls quiver, I realized I had been absolutely unfair and my usual Francophobic. That noise wasn’t the jingle of the Île-de-France commune, but somebody hitting against a door – my door. “Bloody hell, who would visit me at 0530 on a Saturday?” Not that anyone visited me at any reasonable time, either; but right now?
I crawled out of my comfy bed, found some jeans and an oversized T-shirt and started to walk on my shaky legs. I wanted to shout “I’m coming,” but I doubt the wanna-be intruder would be able to hear me over the noise he was making; nor understand me as I could announce myself in several languages but not French.
I succeeded not to stumble down the stairs to get to the entry hall. And as if somebody wanted to make sure I didn’t change my mind mid-movement and crawl back up and back into my bed – a thump seemed to lift the decrepit door out of its hinges, literally. Not his fault, but the landlord’s who knew that anything could be rented out in any condition in the center of Paris. Merci!
I found the key without problems – I didn’t want to imagine how I would explain how a maniac completely destroyed a door to my flat; given my landlord was some anonymous subsidiary of a bank, and I’d have to do it in French.
And then I opened the door to identify my untimely wake-up call. And even without thinking I whispered incredulously: “Al?”
“Not really,” was the prompt response.
I tried to process things – being jetlagged, cranky, and generally miserable (in both ways of its meaning). First, I saw an incredibly handsome man at my door. And that was a rare occurrence. He was taller than me, had crisp black hair, a strong, shaven chin, and the most amazingly mysterious green eyes. I guess most of the few readers who had masturbated to Meta would know I was a sucker for green eyes; after all, I had given two of the ten of my wolves green eyes, a probability that should only be possible in certain villages in Ireland. ‘Not really Al’ wore a reasonably tight shirt, showing off his good physique without trying too hard or being queer, rather newish jeans which barely contained those thighs, and sturdy work boots. ‘Not really Al’ looked exactly as I had imagined him to look when Colt had met him at the vending machine. Of course, in this scene I put him into flimsy Converse-like sneakers to illustrate that he didn’t need boots to hit a machine but could have done it barefoot with his pinky toe. Thirdly, ‘not really’ was not really a comment to a wrong name. The typical answer would be: “Who is Al?” not “not really.”
After I had shaken my head to dispel the last clouds of my jetlag, I managed to ask: “Who the hell are you?”
I frowned, but choose to ask the next-important question: “And what do you want? At this time?”
“You need to change the ending!” he answered as if that was the most logical thing to say. He pushed himself past me, his Adam’s apple getting too close to my nose; a perversely fresh scent that announced a male in his prime having taken a shower not too recently petrified me for a few seconds, so the next thing was him making himself comfortable on one of my sofas, spreading his mighty thighs demonstratively. While I closed my door, still a bit numb, I had to think that if there had been a visual illustration of the misandric concept of ‘manspreading,’ there it was in front of me. Delicious.
“What ending?” I asked trotting slowly into the kitchen. I needed a coke. I don’t know why, but I returned with two cans offering one to Enon – also not a typical thing one did when encountering an unwelcome guest; well, unknown maybe, not unwelcome.
Enon had changed position and stretched out his legs, crossing them at the ankles, leaning back, spreading out his arms along the rest of the sofa. It not only displayed his size impressively but also occupied the whole couch as if it had always been his.
He took and opened his can without any thanks, but continued: “Come on. The ending of Meta.”
“You’ve read it?”
“Yes. I kind of liked it, until you killed me.”
“I killed you?”
“You killed Al. Why?”
“Do you really think that’s something you discuss at 0600 on a Saturday? By intruding into a stranger’s house?”
“You’re not a stranger to me. I’ve read all eight books – and those little stories which confused the hell out of me; so I know you,” the hunk disagreed with a baritone so full of timbre that I could feel it in my belly.
“But I don’t know you … how did you find me anyway?”
Al – no, Enon – grinned like a cat too sure of itself. “Well, I figured you live in one of the places you chose as settings in your books. So it was Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai, or somewhere in Poland.”
I couldn’t help but nod.
“Given you made Colt semi-American to excuse for your ‘unique’ English, I assumed that was a way to turn your disadvantage into a style element. The two places you hated most were Texas and Paris. So I started with Paris …”
“Paris is big, I contradicted.”
“Your style channels the typical business writing ‘inverted pyramid’ approach. You started your book with marketing cases. So I then looked at LinkedIn profiles for guys in marketing in big companies, based in Paris, but not French … and: voila!”
“Your reference to ancient culture suggests classical education only provided in limited parts of Europe, and a certain age …”
“Wow,” I uttered against my will.
“Thanks. Al might be a nose, but I’m a brain,” he said with little modesty.
“Handsome and smart,” I stated. “Too good to be true.”
“But here I am. So when are you going to rewrite Meta?”
“Why should I?”
“You killed Al!” he complained again, his voice getting a bit loud – not too different to noises usually coming from the streets during garbage collection time.
“It’s just a character, and I had to kill some wolves in the battle … war is bloody.”
“But why Al? He was the first wolf who loved Colt,” Enon pointed out quite rightly.
“It’s a book. Nobody like Al would ever fall for somebody like Colt, so it isn’t an argument.”
“Dumb. That’s the whole premise of the book. He deserved so much more time with the pack and Colt …”
I wondered whether I heard whining through the voice, like a big machine with a failing fan belt.
“He sacrificed himself by not pursuing him, and then by dying for him – alone. At least Leo got a good-bye.”
“I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have thought a character’s death would impact you so much.”
“I read through for four nights …”
“I’ve been told that happens …”
“So why did you really kill him off?” he insisted. “The ‘I created him out of hate’ explanation was contrived.”
I refused to answer, I couldn’t destroy his enthusiasm. “And why are you talking about the ‘ending?’ – Meta has several endings. He’s alive in the Nanoverse,” I tried to redirect his thoughts.
“The Nanoverse is crap. You just wanted to add a layer of confusion.”
“If you say so. He should also be alive in the Weddingverse,” I insisted.
“But we never read about him there,” he argued back.
“What do you want? You wake me up in the middle of the night, dash into my house, and I start typing a cheesy happy ending on my little laptop?”
“Yes,” he answered in all earnest.
I took a deep sigh while thinking through how to call the French police and how to tell them what’s happening – in French. I mean, I wouldn’t believe it myself.
“Maybe the books 5 to 8 are just more Colt’s visions in coma … so when he wakes up Al is there – so he can thank him for the Space Ship,” he started to rewrite Meta.
“Like in ‘Dallas?’ Or ‘Roseanne?’ Making it all disappear after a shower?” My sarcastic snarl was forced.
“You did it with your epilogue. Eight books nothing but …” Al, sorry, Enon’s, voice broke.
“That’s different …”
“You wrote somewhere you’ll add a book, MetAlternate …” His voice was hopeful.
“Yes, but only if certain conditions are met …”
“You’ve read Meta. You know …”
“Oh.” He seemed to blush.
I took a deep breath. He was just too cute with that embarrassed crimson on that clean white skin. He was so much younger, and yet his complexion was perfect. When I had a night of inadequate sleep – like today – I still got the spotty skin of a teenager, despite my age.
I’ve always hated genetics. Like yesterday when I had transferred in Zurich and spotted a family with three adorable blond angles as kids … envy had eaten me alive. At least it was wise that I hadn’t created offspring, no chance for angels with my DNA.
“Well, I’m not a marine,” he interrupted my thoughts.
“I guess nobody’s perfect,” I tried to joke.
“But I want Al alive and happy, hunting through Shadowlands with his Alpha. Getting fucked mad by his Meta. Growing old with his pack …”
“So I guess I’ll have to take one for all the Metaddicts out there,” he announced while he glided off the sofa, so his knees landed with a ‘thud’ on the wooden floor, shaking the empty coke cans.
I didn’t believe my eyes.
If he were to do what I thought I hoped he’d do, I wouldn’t believe it myself.
He slowly opened the zipper to my jeans, making much too much noise.
His green eyes looked at me with an odd mix of amusement, determination, and devotion.
And when his hot mouth with those healthy pink lips touched my knob …
… the world seemed to collapse …
… all the bottles of Paris seemed being dumped into a truck at this very second making my ears ring beyond repair …
… the earth quaked like in the moment Colt used his new-found Fate powers to save his Alpha.
And when my tool disappeared completely, an unbearable heat seemed to consume me …
… and then I woke up, realizing that my travels had given me terrible fever, and indeed the Parisian garbage collection services were performed outside my windows as intended: loudly and slowly.