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Breathe in through your mouth‚ out through your nose. That’s it. You’re hooked. Someone here is smoking hashish. The patron looks like a higher form of rodent. Almost fit for society. Around him stews sozzled flesh. Sozzled not only with adulterated wine. But hunger‚ tiredness. And boredom. Out of a dark corner‚ three pairs of brown eyes look daggers at us. There are some wide-awake people over there. The smell of hashish comes from that direction. The rodent stares at Théophile and me. Fanfan delivers some spiel.

There was Fanfan-No-Kidding‚ Smoke-Sucker and Butterfly. Butterfly is so called because the stem of his nose runs into the abdomen of a blue bombyx that spreads its delicately veined wings across his forehead. During a period of his life when he wasn’t making much use of his‚ what Rabelais referred to as‚ ‘quickening peg’‚ Smoke-Sucker thought it a good idea to have it decorated with delicate spiral motifs. Something of a Don Juan by nature‚ he said it was his practice to invite his partners to use this instrument in a subtle manner reminiscent of Baudelairean chibouk-smokers.

Before‚ he lived in a brothel in Le Havre‚ where he was called Miss Mexico. Now he fleeces the Jerries‚ especially the young SS who turn up one by one‚ not very proud of themselves – the street is out of bounds to them. He’d be thrown out anywhere else. Here he’s tolerated. Why‚ I’ll be wondering for the rest of my life. And to my own surprise that I don’t instinctively recoil in disgust at his presence somewhat appals me. There’s Léopoldie the West Indian. A tart‚ a fine girl who’s stopped turning tricks for the duration of the war.

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