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Authors: Henry Miller

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BOOK: Quiet Days in Clichy
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“There are lots of other things to do in life,” I answered, returning her smile. So saying, I placed my hand on her leg and squeezed it warmly. In an instant her hand covered mine, removed it to the soft, fleshy part. Then, almost as quickly, she drew my hand away with an—“
Assez, nous ne sommes pas seuls ici

We sipped our drinks and relaxed. I was in no hurry to rush her off. For one thing, I was too enchanted by her speech, which was distinctive and which told me that she was not a Parisian. It was a pure French she spoke, and for a foreigner like myself a joy to listen to. She pronounced every word distinctly, using almost no slang, no colloquialisms.
The words came out of her mouth fully formed and with a retarded tempo, as if she had rolled them on her palate before surrendering them to the void wherein the sound and the meaning are so swiftly transformed. Her laziness, which was voluptuous, feathered the words with a soft down; they came floating to my ears like balls of fluff. Her body was heavy, earth-laden, but the sounds which issued from her throat were like the clear notes of a bell.

She was made for it, as the saying goes, but she did not impress me as an out-and-out whore. That she would go with me, and take money for it, I knew—but that doesn't make a woman a whore.

She put a hand on me and, like a trained seal, my pecker rose jubilantly to her delicate caress.

“Contain yourself,” she murmured, “it's bad to get excited too quickly.”

“Let's get out of here,” said I, beckoning the waiter.

“Yes,” she said, “let's go somewhere where we can talk at leisure.”

The less talking the better, I thought to
myself, as I gathered my things and escorted her to the street. A wonderful piece of ass, I reflected, watching her sail through the revolving door. I already saw her dangling on the end of my cock, a fresh, hefty piece of meat waiting to be cured and trimmed.

As we were crossing the boulevard she remarked how pleased she was to have found someone like me. She knew no one in Paris, she was lonesome. Perhaps I would take her around, show her the city? It would be amusing to be guided about the city, the capital of one's own country, by a stranger. Had I ever been to Amboise or Blois or Tours? Maybe we could take a trip together some day. “
Ça vous plairait

We tripped along, chatting thus, until we came to a hotel which she seemed to know. “It's clean and cozy here,” she said. “And if it's a little chilly, we will warm each other in bed.” She squeezed my arm affectionately.

The room was as cozy as a nest. I waited a moment for soap and towels, tipped the maid, and locked the door. She had taken off her hat and fur piece, and stood waiting
to embrace me at the window. What a warm, plantular piece of flesh! I thought she would burst into seed under my touch. In a few moments we started to undress. I sat down on the edge of the bed to unlace my shoes. She was standing beside me, pulling off her things. When I looked up she had nothing on but her stockings. She stood there, waiting for me to examine her more attentively. I got up and put my arms around her again, running my hands leisurely over the billowy folds of flesh. She pulled out of the embrace and, holding me at arm's length inquired coyly if I were not somewhat deceived.

“Deceived?” I echoed. “How do you mean?”

“Am I not too fat?” she said, dropping her eyes and resting them on her navel.

“Too fat? Why, you're marvelous. You're like a Renoir.”

At this she blushed. “A Renoir?” she repeated, almost as if she had never heard the name. “No, you're joking.”

“Oh, never mind. Come here, let me stroke that pussy of yours.”

“Wait, I will first make my toilette.” As
she moved towards the
she said: “You get into bed. Make it nice and toasty, yes?”

I undressed quickly, washed my cock out of politeness, and dove between the sheets. The
was right beside the bed. When she had finished her ablutions she began to dry herself with the thin, worn towel. I leaned over and grabbed her tousled bush, which was still a little dewy. She pushed me back into bed and, leaning over me, made a quick dive for it with her warm red mouth. I slipped a finger inside her to get the juice working. Then, pulling her on top of me, I sank it in up to the hilt. It was one of those cunts which fit like a glove. Her adroit muscular contractions soon had me gasping. All the while she licked my neck, my armpits, the lobes of my ears. With my two hands I lifted her up and down, rolling her pelvis round and round. Finally, with a groan, she bore down on me full weight; I rolled her over on her back, pulled her legs up over my shoulders, and went at her slam-bang. I thought I'd never stop coming; it came out in steady stream, as if from a garden hose. When I pulled away it
seemed to me that I had an even bigger erection than when I plugged in.

Ca c'est quelque chose
,” she said, putting her hand around my cock and fingering it appraisingly. “You know how to do it, don't you?”

We got up, washed, and crawled back into bed again. Reclining on an elbow, I ran my hand up and down her body. Her eyes were glowing as she lay back, thoroughly relaxed, her legs open, her flesh tingling. Nothing was said for several minutes. I lit a cigarette for her, put it in her mouth, and sank deep into the bed, staring contentedly at the ceiling.

“Are we going to see more of each other?” I asked after a time.

“That is up to you,” she said, taking a deep puff. She turned over to put her cigarette out and then, drawing close, gazing at me steadily, smiling, but serious, she said in her low, warbling voice: “Listen, I must talk to you seriously. There is a great favor I wish to ask of you . . . I am in trouble, great trouble. Would you help me, if I asked you to?”

“Of course,” I said, “but how?”

“I mean money,” she said, quietly and simply. “I need a great deal. . . I
have it. I won't explain why. Just believe me, will you?”

I leaned over and yanked my pants off the chair. I fished out the bills and all the change that was in my pocket, and handed it to her.

“I'm giving you all I have,” I said. “That's the best I can do.”

She laid the money on the night table beside her without looking at it and, bending over, she kissed my brow. “You're a brick,” she said. She remained bent over me, looking into my eyes with mute, strangled gratitude, then kissed me on the mouth, not passionately, but slowly, lingeringly, as if to convey the affection which she couldn't put into words and which she was too delicate to convey by offering her body.

“I can't say anything now,” she said, falling back on the pillow. “
Je suis émue, c'est tout
.” Then, after a brief pause, she added: “It's strange how one's own people are
never as good to one as a stranger. You Americans are very kind, very gentle. We have much to learn from you.”

It was such an old song to me, I almost felt ashamed of myself for having posed once again as the generous American. I explained to her that it was just an accident, my having so much money in my pocket. To this she replied that it was all the more wonderful, my gesture. “A Frenchman would hide it away,” she said. “He would never give it to the first girl he met just because she was in need of help. He wouldn't believe her in the first place. ‘
Je connais la chanson
,' he would say.”

I said nothing more. It was true and it wasn't true. It takes all sorts to make a world and, though up to that time I had never met a generous Frenchman, I believed that they existed. If I had told her how ungenerous my own friends had been, my countrymen, she would never have believed me. And if I had added that it was not generosity which had prompted me, but self-pity, myself giving to myself (because nobody could be as generous to me as I
myself), she would probably have thought me slightly cracked.

I snuggled up to her and buried my head in her bosom. I slid my head down and licked her navel. Then farther down, kissing the thick clump of hair. She drew my head up slowly and, pulling me on top of her, buried her tongue in my mouth. My cock stiffened instantly; it slid into her just as naturally as an engine going into a switch. I had one of those long, lingering hard-ons which drive a woman mad. I jibbed her about at will, now over, now under her, then sidewise, then drawing it out slowly, tantalizingly, massaging the lips of the vulva with the bristling tip of my cock. Finally I pulled it out altogether and twirled it around her breasts. She looked at it in astonishment. “Did you come?” she asked. “No,” I said. “We're going to try something else now,” and I dragged her out of the bed and placed her in position for a proper, thorough back-scuttling. She reached up under her crotch and put it in for me, wiggling her ass around invitingly as she did so. Gripping
her firmly around the waist, I shot it into her guts. “Oh, oh, that's marvelous, that's
,” she grunted, rolling her ass with a frenzied swing. I pulled it out again to give it an airing, rubbing it playfully against her buttocks. “No, no,” she begged, “don't do that. Stick it in, stick it all the way in . . . I can't wait.” Again she reached under and placed it for me, bending her back still more now, and pushing upward as if to trap the chandelier. I could feel it coming again, from the middle of my spine; I bent my knees slightly and pushed it in another notch or two. Then bango! it burst like a sky rocket.

It was well into the dinner hour when we parted down the street in front of a urinal. I hadn't made any definite appointment with her, nor had I inquired what her address might be. It was tacitly understood that the place to find her was at the café. Just as we were taking leave it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't even asked her what her name was. I called her back and asked her—not for her full name but for her first name. “N-Y-S,” she said, spelling it out. “Like the city, Nice.” I walked off,
saying it over and over to myself. I had never heard of a girl being called by that name before. It sounded like the name of a precious stone.

When I reached the Place Clichy I realized that I was ravenously hungry. I stood in front of a fish restaurant on the Avenue de Clichy, studying the menu which was posted outside. I felt like having clams, lobsters, oysters, snails, a broiled bluefish, a tomato omelette, some tender asparagus tips, a savory cheese, a loaf of bread, a bottle of chilled wine, some figs and nuts. I felt in my pocket, as I always do before entering a restaurant, and found a tiny sou. “Shit,” I said to myself, “she might at least have spared me a few francs.”

I set out at a quick pace to see if there was anything in the larder at home. It was a good half hour's walk to where we lived in Clichy, beyond the gates. Carl would already have had his dinner, but perhaps there would be a crust of bread and a little wine still standing on the table. I walked faster and faster, my hunger increasing with each step I took.

When I burst into the kitchen I saw at a
glance that he hadn't eaten. I searched everywhere but couldn't find a crumb. Nor were there any empty bottles about, which I could cash. I became frantic. I rushed out, determined to ask for credit at the little restaurant near the Place Clichy, where I often ate. Just outside the restaurant I lost my nerve and turned away. I now took to strolling about aimlessly, hoping that by some miracle I would bump into someone I knew. I knocked about for an hour or so, until I grew so exhausted that I decided to return home and go to bed. On the way I thought of a friend, a Russian, who lived near the outer boulevard. It was ages since I had seen him last. How could I walk in on him, like that, and ask for a hand-out? Then a brilliant thought hit me: I would go home, fetch the records, and hand them to him as a little gift. In that way it would be easier, after a few preliminaries, to suggest a sandwich or a piece of cake. I quickened my pace, though dog-tired and lame in the shanks.

When I got back to the house I saw that it was near midnight. That completely crushed me. It was useless to do any further
foraging; I would go to bed and hope for something to turn up in the morning. As I was undressing I got another idea, this time not such a brilliant one, but still. . . I went to the sink and opened the little closet where the garbage can stood. I removed the cover and looked inside. There were a few bones and a hard crust of bread lying at the bottom. I fished out the dry crust, carefully scraped off the contaminated parts so as to waste as little as possible, and soaked it under the faucet. Then I bit into it slowly, extracting the utmost from each crumb. As I gulped it down a smile spread over my face, a broader and broader one. Tomorrow, I thought to myself, I shall go back to the shop and offer the books at half price, or a third, or a fourth. Ditto for the records. Ought to fetch ten francs, at least. Would have a good hearty breakfast, and then . . . Well, after that anything might happen. We'd see . . . I smiled some more, as if to a well-fed stomach. I was beginning to feel in excellent humor. That Nys, she must have had a corking meal. Probably with her lover. I hadn't the vaguest doubt but that she had a lover. Her great problem,
her dilemma no doubt, had been how to feed him properly, how to buy him the clothes and other little things he craved. Well, it had been a royal fuck, even though I had fucked myself into the bargain. I could see her raising the napkin to her full ripe lips to wipe away the sauce from the tender chicken she had ordered. I wondered how her taste ran in wines. If we could only go to the Touraine country! But that would need a lot of jack. I'd never have that much money. Never. Just the same, no harm dreaming about it. I drank another glass of water. Putting the glass back, I espied a piece of Roquefort in a corner of the cupboard. If only there was just another crust of bread! To make sure I had overlooked nothing, I opened the garbage can again. A few bones lying in a scum of mildewed fat stared up at me.

BOOK: Quiet Days in Clichy
8.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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