by Robert Fenhagen (USA)
for the Romanian version, click here
“Sergeant, I truly am most apologetic; I must have been sleep-walking, or something. I assure you, nothing like this will ever happen again. Ever. Alright, I will tell you what happened as best I can…., excuse me as I mimic the voices:
“Are you looking at me?”
I glanced around to make sure no one was watching, I said nothing.
“I said, ‘are you looking at me?” I glanced at the statue I was standing in front of, but dismissed the thought.
Again, I looked about, trying to find the source of this verbally aggressive and rude address, when a sultry feminine voice purred:
“Hi. Do you come here often? My name is Passion.”
Her voice was the voice of my nanny, and as hard-wired as the soft, sensuous, dripping with both potential lust, and potential nurturing—if such a thing is possible, and as automatically responsive, I felt as odd and strange as any fleur des lyses believing Quebecois can be, I was knocked for the proverbial loop by hearing Tia’s voice, the voice that I had apparently hidden away in a never forgotten hiding spot in my psyche.
It was Tia, all five foot six of her, with exquisite and long dark hair, who taught me to speak proper English, and even though I am French-Quebec born, many of my sensibilities have been borrowed from Tia from England, who allowed me to present myself properly to the business powers here in Montreal.
(Suspect Gilles Talbot on describing his experience. Excerpts from Montreal Police Document)
The declaration of her name was spoken softly and nearly drowned out by the cars and the occasional bus that whizzed along Sherbrooke Street, and I barely heard her voice, but it was Tia, the stunningly beautiful, who came to work for my mother, who had divorced my schizophrenic father.
I had been wandering along Sherbrooke Street– browsing through the various art houses and galleries, and had paused to try to appreciate the rather extraordinary statue outside of Le Memory Art Emporium at 6411 Sherbrook, when interesting, life changing questions began floating into the air looking for his warm ear to come to rest in. Excuse me for sounding so poetic, but it was the Art block, after all.
It was cold, but with a toque pulled down over the top portion of my skull, I was snug as a bug—a happy, well-fed, well-employed manager of the Le Jardin restaurant on Cressent Street, downtown—that one.
It does not matter much, but I enjoy sampling Chef Jean Cretin’s daily creations…a lot. If you’ll excuse me, Sergeant, it looks as though a man such as you might enjoy them, too.
“Allez-vous, frog man!” the decidedly male voice sneered in the most absurdly cockney accent I’d ever heard. It was the boyfriend, come back from whatever Hell he ended up in order to take up residence in this poor statue instead of some flop house in Montreal West.
I thought he died some years ago—as a matter of fact, she must have, too. Maybe not. She would be in her fifties by now if she had lived. I don’t know.
Hearing, or seeming to hear her long lost voice also reminded me of listening to the worst moments when Tia’s boyfriend, Fred, the cockney English idiot was in my life. He was abusive both in verbal, and I think, a physical way. He was a bloomin’ bully. Sorry, sir.
“Come here,” purred Tia’s, or whoever’s voicing it was, sounding more and more like Tia—so beautiful, with her soft voice and long, dark hair. I again looked at the statue standing alongside the walkway leading from Sherbrooke Street to the .M.M. Something was very strange, besides the fact that it was warm on a January afternoon in Montreal.
The statue had short, bronzed hair, so it could have been dark; on the other hand, the entire statue could have been a boy or girl, too. I was very confused, and thought to myself:
‘Who in the devil was the guy telling him to get the hell out of there, and who was this girl telling him to come near to her? Was it the statue, or was this all in my head?’
It was very confusing and I remember rubbing my head. I was wearing an Expos baseball cap (no, I’m not a fan), and I think I was squinting, because it was bright out. As you can see, I have light blue eyes, which are ridiculously sensitive. My mother always used to tell me that I was a hyper-sensitive boy.
“Androgyny” read the brass plaque underneath the statue of a slim bronze figure, with no discernable gender, that was, until I looked closer at the chest, which immediately reminded me of when I caught Tia showering. What exquisite breasts she has–lovely, small, but very beautiful.
“Were you speaking to me?” I asked, suddenly, remembering the odd voices.
“Oh, I was.” The decidedly female voice said softly.
It was Tia!
No, no. It wasn’t; it couldn’t be; it was a statue standing off of Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, Canada. I was trying my best to keep past, present, male, female all straight in my head! Can you imagine how confused I was?!!?
I straightened up and peered at the sexually explicit statue. “Androgyny.” I murmured.
‘Isn’t that bi-sexual?’ I whispered, ‘maybe both sexes?’
I wondered about it, but this time to myself.
“I’m Passion.” the statue whispered, now looking decidedly female. Tia never spoke to me so huskily, but I wish she had, if you know what I mean, Sergeant.”
No, I’m winking to say ‘We’re both men, and we understand; that’s all.
Suddenly, the statue’s short hair looked very attractive to me. I guess it was my imagination before; it had had looked mannish, but now, it seemed to ooze femininity!
I moaned, my underpants stirring, and smiled seductively (which was quite difficult as traffic roared by. A Volkswagen beeped at me, and the driver waved). I leaned closer to the statue, and said:
“Um, you’re a statue, n’est-ce-pas?” I asked, glancing around, not sure if this was a French statue, and just in case a Montreal constable happened to be looking at me, and wondered what I was doing talking to a statue outside of the M.M.– the local name for Montreal Memories, this brand new, avant garde place..
Having been raised by a nanny from London, England, yet, later attending a French High School, my thoughts were often schizophrenic. Both languages, and, particularly, verbal nuances, now drifted in and out– consciously and unconsciously, depending on the social situation, so standing in the sun in the middle of a Montreal winter, also proved odd. I wondered about the etiquette of addressing a statue that is talking to you.
Does one respond to each voice emanating from a human statue that has a male torso, with well developed pectoral muscles, with a woman’s genital area—pubis apparent—that’s the long and short of it, so to speak?
If one is spotted conversing with the said statue, does that constitute a reason for a trip to the booby hatch, as my British nanny used to assure me that I was eventually heading toward, especially after I attempted to seduce her using my finest whispers d’ amour?
“Oh, yes. I am.” The sexy one said.
“So am I, hair-ball.” growled the man voice.
At that point, I remembered that androgyny had to do with mixed up sexuality, so didn’t it make sense that there was a male and female voice talking to me?
I again leaned closer, feeling slush splatter up to my derriere as a bus roared by.
For some unknown reason, I remember– it was a number 3 bus.
I used to imagine a French/ English dictionary, which was the technique that I had developed as Tia addressed me in her proper British accent. I also used my imaginary dictionary when trying to understand what her idiot boyfriend with the cockney accent was going on about.
My uncle, Claude, used to point to his head and say about someone who was acting crazy:
“La machine est brise.” The machine is broken. Tia‘s boyfriend was very broken.
My imaginary dictionary was called “Clouseau’ after the bumbling, yet unaccountably stalwart and effective detective.
In it, as the pages flipped open in front of my mind’s eye, there was ‘A’ for ‘And’, ‘A’ for ‘Androdygny’, Ant, Antelope… Let’s see,
Androgyny: ‘Not male or female, but…’ HMMM.
The statue sounded like English, which was an almost quaint these days as Montreal became more and more French predominant. It spoke in Tia’s voice, I swear!
Actually, I adore English women. I suppose that Tia was the one who made that all possible. They were so unique, so… international. That’s a funny thought.
Chuckles. (Police document notation)
“Are you still bloody lookin’ at me?” Why I fell into Robert De Niro’s voice from ‘Taxi Driver’, I’ll never know.
“No, I mean, yes.”
“Why?” I asked the statue. Excuse me, sir, but why is the constable looking at me like that?
“Because I am from bloody London’s East End, and I will give you a thumping the likes you have never, EVER experienced, you French wog bastard.”
“But I’m only looking. Besides, you’re a statue, not even a figment in my imagination anymore. You’re probably dead anyway, the way you used to act. Strutting around like some stupid English bull dog.”
“You were looking at my baby, you greasy bastard.”
“Tia was my nanny, you idiot.”
“You loved her from the day you saw her.”
I had to admit—I had. She was so beautiful with her long brown hair, but now, here in this art house, the statue couldn’t be her. Of course not. Of course n…
“Help me down.”
I nearly screamed like a girl. I did!
“I am looking at a statue. You are a statue. I have no desire to help you do anything, although you remind me of my most beautiful nanny when I was much younger, but I assure you, I am mortal, and you are, you…a statue, and certainly not alive.”
“I need your help. Don’t I look like your nanny? What was her name—your nanny?”
‘Her name was, is: Tia.”
“And where was, is she?” Passion the statue said softly, yet in that strangely familiar voice.
I sighed, looked around again, convinced that I must have digested some sort of psychedelic substance. Probably, that idiot, Marc, at work. He despises me.’ I thought miserably, yet, resentfully, I might add.’
“I need your help. Truly, I do. The other part of me is a beast. He’s very angry and aggressive. You’ll have to be careful.”
“Who are you and what are you talking about?’ I asked.
“He wants to beat me. He thinks I am flirting with you, when we both know that I am simply a statue that was sculpted of me after I left your parents’ employ. LaForest, the mad sculptor from Olde Montreal made me both a woman and a man, for some artistic, yet wholly unconscionable reason. I am Tia, your nanny. When you saw me naked, I looked into your eyes and knew that I wanted to be with you. Do you even remember seeing me naked?”
I swallowed, but did not speak.
“You have such tenderness in your eyes.”
“This is crazy,” I murmured, unfortunately loud enough for a guard to take notice. Another guard was walking toward us, I mean, me. I ran.
“Why do you call yourself ‘Passion?” I called over my shoulder.
“It was LaForest, not me.” called my nanny.
“You’d better run, you coward!” called the insulting and very nasty male voice. Glancing over my shoulder, the obviously male portion of the statue was preening, his alabaster colored penis erect. How despicable!
What a thing, him being so close to the loveliest woman I’d ever laid eyes on. Tia.
Gulping great mouthfuls of oxygen, I leaned against one of the pillars outside. I was cold and very confused, but I went back inside the house, and walked directly up to Tia’s statue, ready to address this male should he start something. I nervously said:
“I have no idea as to how this is possible, but I have thought of you everyday since seeing you in the bath that day.”
“Whot’d you say?”
“I don’t know who you are, monsieur, but I’m an old friend of Tia’s, and respect her highly as I know you wish to.”
“Oh, I’ll bloody well respect her. I’ll respect her all the time I’m putting the boots to her tawdry ass. Tart! Whore!”
“I told you.” Tia, my love whimpered.
“You’ll do no such thing!” I yelled, and before I knew what had happened, I was being led away by you policemen, who I might add are excellent. Thank you for getting me out of there.”
As Patrolman William Davis, and Sergeant Lucien Labelle left the Westmount police station at the end of their shift, Davis asked, “So, what you think?” Sergeant Labelle sniffed the cool air, and after a moment, replied:
“I think la machine est brise; crazy as, how do you say—a fox?”
“Why did he try to steal that statue?” persisted Davis.
“Who knows? It was comical, was it not—him screaming to unhand her. What a loo-loo.”
“Did he think the statue was his girlfriend, or something?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t think he did, either.”
“Salute, mon ami.”
Who knows who said that?