Back home (my real home), I barely have time to lay my hand on the doorknob before hearing a tornado making its way towards the apartment’s entry. It is Fiou, of course. The furry ball has been named after the reaction he causes when people see him the first time… He is disorienting, despite his 15 years full of dirty tricks and somersaults. When I open the door, I get a glimpse of Mireille walking her way to me leaning nonchalantly against the wall, as usual. Mireille has never been naturally energetic, even as a kitten. I suspect Fiou has sucked all the energy their affectionate mother had to give them, right from the womb.
My two furry balls on the heels, I go straight to the kitchen to prepare the cats’ meal and pour myself a glass of white wine. It isn’t a habit for me to drink alone when I get back from work. But today has been quite a roller coaster, and it seems like a good idea tonight. Once the litterbox cleaned, and my little terrors sated, I head to the bathroom and turn the faucets to run myself a pool of comfort. I chose this apartment in great part because of the luxurious and spacious bath. I love to splash about in it, when I need to get my thoughts together.
I smell the lavender vapors filling the room… Since I have a few minutes to kill before enjoying my private little oasis, I pick up my glass and move to the next room to turn on my laptop computer, and do a research I’ve had in mind since noon…
I open my Google browser and type with a teenager’s feverishness the two words that haunted me all day; “Gabriel Madsen”. The search is a bit disappointing, and even if I have found information about the clinic where he practices, I have nothing interesting to nibble on.
Despite my lack of interest for social medias in general, I have given in, and set foot in the Facebook world recently. If only to follow a bit of what my family and circle of close friends are doing, especially in these overtime-loaded months we’ve been having at work. Anyway… EVERYBODY is now on Facebook… Everybody… I type his name again in the research field on the screen… BAM!
I take a good sip when I notice that my research has given only one option, thank God for unusual names!! I hold my breath for a moment, just long enough to check that the information I have access to confirms it is really him. Confirms that I have Gabriel at the tip of my fingers… There is no doubt, it is him, and the tiny profile picture seems to be mocking me as I try to find a way to access his photo albums.
I finally find the tab that interests me and I dive into panoply of images of all kinds. Family dinners, meals with friends, vacations, pictures from the clinic, birthdays and diverse holidays… He is so handsome! Even more than in my (still so fresh) memories. I almost feel bad letting myself into his souvenirs like that, but I can’t keep myself from browsing, and I tell myself he just should have locked the albums if he didn’t want people to look. I have no more control on my right hand directing the mouse here and there, clicking everywhere to open the files one after the other.
I remember the bath that must be almost full now, peak a second at the laptop’s screen, and decide to go turn off the faucets and pour myself a second glass of wine. Because, you know what? I deserve it!
I run back to the guest room where I keep my computer. Only the screen’s light illuminates the room a little, and I sit back at the keyboard to unwrap my treasure . I can finally watch him without worrying about every traitor face muscle, at last. Finally examine every detail about his face, his arms, his whole body, without worrying about anything. The camera loves him, I couldn’t blame it, and in such personal scenes, one could hardly guess he has such a serious and rigorous job… He smiles all the time, and every portrait gives out the image of a truly good hearted man.
One picture in particular gets my attention. He sits on the edge of some cliff, his back to a dead tree trunk. Probably at sunset, because his silhouette is drawn in a darkened background. Duc, his great dane is lying by him, his big head on Gabriel’s thigh. His left hand on the dog’s neck, Gabriel holds a cigarette in the right one, and a draft of smoke is slipping from his lips… I can hardly guess the expression on his face.
Maybe a deep quietude with a pinch of melancholy. Hypnotized by his profile, and most probably with a little help from the wine starting to have some effect on my brain, I feel like a teenage girl peaking at a porn magazine found in her parents’ closet. Without even really giving it a thought, I save the picture and set it as my background wallpaper.
There are still many files still left unopened, but I hear my bath calling, and tiredness is also getting to me slowly. I am not used to staying up late, and it’s been a long day. I throw one last look at Gabriel, and close the laptop before picking up my Riesling and heading to the bathroom where I slip out of my clothes and into the deliciously warm water and the lavender bubbles.
Once tightly wrapped in my towel, I quickly make a round in the apartment, to make sure the doors are locked, the alarm system is on and that all the lights are off. I go back to my room, shunning Fiou’s stunts in the darkness, well aware of his jumping-on-my-feet-like-a-kamikaze tendencies especially when I can’t see him coming.
I fold summarily my towel, put it on the back of the reading armchair near my bed, and slip under the Egyptian cotton sheets. In the dark, I can feel that Mireille is in her spot, on my second pillow, where she most probably already sleeps. Fiou is still scaring himself off and running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. I could get up and try to stop him, to spare my downstairs neighbours, but I know it is worthless. I can only hope he tires himself quickly.