The Bastard is Dead
The Bastard is Dead
The nightmare woke him just after 5 a.m. He had dreamt he had needed to catch an airplane, but he had been inexplicably held up at customs by some jerk of an official and, when finally cleared, he had seen the plane beginning to taxi. He had burst through the airport doors and sprinted as hard as possible toward the departing plane and just when it seemed he would reach out and climb aboard, it had pulled away, leaving him to a terrible, unknown fate.
So he had woken up, not to the songbirds outside his second-storey apartment bedroom, but to anxiety.
Sitting up in his bed with the sheet wet from sweat, he wondered if someone could please tell him what the hell was wrong. He had experienced such feverish dreams for the last two or three years and hadn't a clue about the reason for them. He just knew that sleep rarely brought pleasure or relief.
He also realized he had a thumping headache and a queasy stomach. He had felt fine or close to it after the bottle of Bordeaux. Maybe it had been the four pastis afterward. Even Claude had suggested that maybe he was going a little too deep into the booze. But he had blown off the friendly suggestions to stop. He grimaced. Taking advice wasn't one of his strong points.
He stood slowly and looked out the open window to see the start of a sunrise against a cloudless sky. It would be another beautiful, hot July day.
Burke had little to do.
His next blog for three Côte d'Azur newspapers and their websites wasn't due for another three days. He also had a column for the same publications, but had another week to finish it. Maybe he'd do the blog about what Claude had discussed - the self-absorbed sprinters and strikers in sport who thought they were God's gift. Or maybe he'd do a piece about racing in abnormally hot weather. Or maybe he'd write about how crappy it felt to wake up with a hangover after you had solved the problems of the world.
He stuck his head through the open window and let the slight breeze caress him. He loved early mornings in this part of France - they were so sunny and languid and the birds were always chattering away at sunrise. He loved the smells and sounds of the world awakening. He closed his eyes, which actually seemed to accentuate his hangover, and took a couple of deep breaths. His problem, he knew, was that he had too many late nights.
Then he stepped back, a little wobbly, went to the bathroom and washed his face for a few moments in cold water. That helped.
Burke then went into his tiny kitchen and started up the coffee. During his racing days, he had been a three-coffees-a-day man for the caffeine boost. Now he was putting down five cups of espresso a day because he found himself bored too often and without a lot to do. When in doubt, drink an espresso. Then later drink pastis.
He promised himself that within six months, he'd have everything straightened out. Maybe he'd go back to Montréal for a visit although there really wasn't anyone left he wanted to spend much time with. He chuckled at the thought of a few days with his older brother and his brother's family. If he showed up, they'd start finding excuses to disappear. Too much brotherly competition - and borderline hatred - over the years. To make matters worse, his brother's two kids, both boys, were shitheads and they weren't even teenagers yet. As for his sister-in-law, she was a chronic complainer. The family dog, Alvin, was the only one he liked.
Or maybe he'd go to Vancouver to see that young woman he'd hooked up with the previous autumn in Antibes just down the road 10 k's. She was a doctoral student doing research on something involving plankton and they had bumped into each other at the Picasso museum with her coming out and him just hanging around outside slurping down a gelato. She had thought he was an art fan and he'd gone along with it because she had great legs and enormou