Pierre deserved it. He was so arrogant, so full of himself, always parading down the Champs Elysse with his gaggle of tourists trailing behind like needy baby geese. "Zis is the most beautiful city in all the world," he would cry, spreading his arms and framing the Arc De Triomphe--a perfectly staged moment just as the sun slipped below the horizon and the famed lights burst into life. As he basked in their oohing and ahhing, he would smile his dazzling smile and remind them he was also the world's greatest guide.
His life was no less staged than his career. He'd never known a moment of passion or romance that was not thought through in the most minute detail. Even in our bed, he was an actor. At least a dozen "Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah, Ahs‚" would proceed his climax, like a two-bit actor's death scene.
The camel's straw came when he forced my eighty-six-year-old father to sit and pretend to whittle wooden replicas of the Eiffel Tower. They were, in reality, cheap souvenirs of that second-rate Eiffel Tower in America. Las Vegas junk. But Papa would pretend they were precious to him and haggle until Pierre finally talked him into parting with his treasures for a mere two hundred percent markup.
Did my father profit? Did I? Oh no. Once the people were hooked and they'd handed over their cash, the day's tour would come to an end. The money, moments later, would be reclaimed by Pierre. Then he would disappear into the streets, hopping bars and doing all the ladies. My father and I would whisper till almost morning, lamenting the bargains we'd struck with Pierre.
Although my father didn't carve those little towers, he did possess amazing artistic talent. Indeed, there are still a few shops that display the sculptures he did as a young man. The nasty replicas he sold for Pierre were made of balsa wood, light and flimsy. Papa and I decided to invest in a bit of teak. Once it arrived, he set about carving his life's masterpiece, an Eiffel Tower complete in all details, including a sharp antenna at the top.
One night soon after, Pierre arrived home, full of himself and at least four bottles of wine. He stepped into a pool of splashed water just inside the door, poor thing. He fell headlong into the foyer.
That teak statue went all the way to his backbone and he had time for only four or five pitiful screams. The authorities shook their heads. "How sad," they said. "His pockets are full of little Eiffels, dangerous enough for a sober man." No one noticed the wood.
C'est la vie.