Fr Cn De Es Pt It

XVII - Roudy

Painting by Jean-Marc Guéroux

The first time she met Roudy, she was on her way to lunch at the home of a friend, Dr. Lillibou. Roudy was sitting on the sidewalk bleeding.

On my way to see a doctor, I meet a wounded man, mused Elisa, Destiny’s child.

At first, Roudy refused to get into her car as he didn’t want his blood to stain the carpet.

Elisa was amazed at his courtesy in such an emergency and looked at Roudy with curiosity and respect.

Doctor Lillibou, a retired doctor, was in the shower when they arrived. His lovely wife Loulou filled a champagne bucket with water and ice cubes and asked Roudy to place his hand in it. A deep gash gaped between two of his fingers.

After his shower, Dr. Lillibou’s diagnosis was official: Roudy needed stitches. Despite Roudy’s reluctance, Elisa pushed him into her Mercedes and sped off to Bichat, the hospital at the Porte de St. Ouen. Roudy protested all the way and said: “You should at least know who you’re dealing with. I’m no good company. I’ve served a prison sentence. I’m just out on bail. I can get out now wherever you want. I don’t want to create more trouble for you…”

She decided to trust her instinct and take Roudy to the hospital. She left him in the emergency room and tried to make it back to her lunch.

Roudy told her: “This is the first time I’ve spent time with a woman of your rank”. This made Elisa laugh.

When she saw him on the Rue Gabrielle at the end of the afternoon, he told her that there were too many people in the emergency room and that he had walked back to Montmartre.

Elisa wondered if he had taken the risk of being dropped off at Bichat, dripping blood, and walking home in this condition just to avoid hurting her feelings or disobeying her.

From that moment on, Roudy was “eternally grateful” to her. “You’re like a mother to me,” he said, bowing his head and joining his hands together as if in prayer, as a sign of respect.

Roudy was touching. He wanted so much to return the gesture that she had so spontaneously made. He promised her free drinks for life in all the bars of the Butte and insisted that he would wash her car, which, admittedly, could have used some high-pressure sandblasting.

Elisa was uncomfortable. As an “Arian”, as Ertann called her, having a handsome island boy wash her Mercedes seemed to point at slavery – yet this was far from what she wanted.

But Roudy was insistent. Elisa tried to find a water spout in the garage that she rented, but it was not allowed to wash your car there and the garage keeper had removed all the faucet heads from the spouts to prevent just this.

Roudy wouldn’t give up. He decided to wash her car at the Place Jean-Baptiste Clément, where all of the neighbours would see the exotic boy washing the German car of the “Arian”. Elisa watched him with mixed feelings.

Her car had never been this clean. Roudy wiped it lovingly. Two hours later, the car looked brand new.

Elisa wanted to pay Roudy, but didn’t know how to do so without offending him.

He had asked for work from Elisa… and he had spent two hours washing her car.

Not sure if she was being impolite, she slipped him a 20 euro bill, which he accepted with a smile.

Elisa was relieved that she had set the “hourly rate” of 10 euros. Now she could make sure that Roudy had some pocket money. Roudy wanted nothing more than to work.

A few days later, she ran into an African friend at La Divette, who asked her in a provocative tone, “What are you doing with blacks?”

“What do you have against blacks?” she shot back.

“He’s jealous,” Roudy explained. “He says that he met you before I went out with you.” Elisa, who wasn’t going out with anyone, concluded that there must be an African custom of “first dates”.

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