Love is a pastime for the middle-class. But passion! It is the command of all the gods, even that virgin-viper Diana. The lesson of the cards: the deck is shuffled–perhaps even by our own hands–but blindly. We cannot penetrate the design on the back of the deck; order exists, but is not revealed. Rules show themselves only randomly, and then assert their supremacy with the rigor of a priori dictates!
Thus my suicide–so perfectly planned and coldly and cunningly executed–timed to render justice to my Jeanne and to rest my racing mind, is overturned in a trice. What had the cards now revealed? Puzzling out their dictates–the insistent wishes of life itselfÂ–became a game of feral fascination to me. I was chained to the daemon of ‘needing to know,’ of being one with the supreme pattern that would unfailingly unfold.
My chest had been Xed by red, livid lightning. Must I mend and scar, I, who was so ready to sail into eternity? Would those far shores rear as exotically and grandly as my Afric daydreams had done, those chocolate bonbons of youth and sun? Would I arrive companionless and remain entertained? Eh, the cards have kept me ignorant of my fate–at least for this iteration of the deal. At least I did not die unredeemed by the Savior. Hmm, this coverlet itches. My lips are dry.
“Maman? A little water, water.”
“Your mother is absent, Baudelaire. Like your God.”
“Gerard? My savior! My saint!”
“No. It’s me, Bonadventure. Your intimate and fellow inmate.”
The chilly cup was pressed to my lips before I could offer protest. By evening, I was able to scribble a little something.
* * * * *
Your absence in my life is more cutting than the wound in my chest, where my vile heart still rat-a-tats abstractedly despite my attempt to cut it out from beneath my recalcitrant ribs. Why will you not come visit me in my sickbed? Today, I arose and dressed, while Jeanne, my constant and good-tempered nurse, was out on her errands. The doctor’s strict insistence is that I stay in bed, but having no word and no motherly visit from yourself, I battled gravity and injury to discover what had become of our loving bond. When I made it to the door, it was locked against my egress. My doctor has become my jailor, but my health is your prisoner alone. I have slipped this letter under the door in the poor hope that some passerby will post it. If it reaches you, then these words must be my ambassador and speak with the pity and sincerity my ruined body would have to a mother’s doting eyes.
I am weak as an infant, and I write this as if I were wearing mittens on my fists. Take some trouble to visit me, dear mother, of only to assure your progeny’s survival! I tell you without shame, dear mother, I need you desperately. You will understand where others will not. I am at Jeanne’s apartments on the Rue de la Femme-sans-Tete. Come, if only to scold me for residing with a woman of her class. Maman, it is your sympathy that will heal me, as it has been your alienation that has been the one scourge of my life. If only the General had not stolen you from me, how we would laugh these afternoons away. Surely even Aupick would not deny a wounded son a visit from his mother. Remind him of his wars, and that you have a soldier of your own, and come to me–at once, alone.
As ever, your loving son,
P.S. Sixty francs would do the trick for my medical expenses, and the current creditors who now, because of my injuries, find me constantly at home. Their insistence is tiresome.
P.P.S. Undoubtedly my injuries have crushed, not just my own physical and spiritual well-being, but also any plans Alphonse and your dear Husband have concocted between them to ‘straighten me out.’ I hope to hear no more of such ‘solutions’ in the future. My pattern of life is set; it simply requires a requisite amout of cash.
P.P.P.S. Hear me, heal me, divine creatrix of my being!