July 14: Bastille Day

About two weeks ago, the Marquis was transferred. In transit, his opus was “lost.” Probably destroyed. Probably burned. They can’t prove the existence of hell, so they’ve created one on earth. Their Satan is an overseer, making sure they make their hell hellish, doing nothing himself. The Marquis is grown obese, his skin puffy and moist, his decaying mass burying his organs, “hedonism written on his jowls”—how they probably put it. What do they know of pleasure? Their heaven is as dull as their Sunday services. Within the asylum he slobbers, masturbates, writes out his eroded nightmares. He is old. The Bastille is surrounded, stormed. An ironic and purposeful torture: he is not there. But he is, there, ghosted, his dried stenches permeating the breached walls, his ragged breath hanging hard in the air, his fluids not completely scrubbed from the floor. In the city the Eiffel Tower explodes in light. Flags line the Champs-Elysees. People everywhere. Nowhere to go. Pierre yawns. The celebration has all the excitement of Sunday school. He is here last year, and the year before that. A sentence. Three to five? He was transferred to Paris. The year before he is in Philadelphia, with Gerard and… Gerard’s cousin. Whoever. They go to the Eastern Penitentiary reenactment, for kicks. It is trite. American. Antihistorical. Some hag in a Marie Antoinette wig, letting them eat Tastycakes. Amusing, he supposes. Pierre is amused at the memory. What glorious amusements. This must be heaven. The ghosts of the penitentiary line the walls of the wagon-wheel structure. Al Capone. The anonymous. Gerard is in San Francisco now. Alcatraz. Probably. Pierre touches his companion’s elbow. He is claustrophobic, needs to leave. He can’t move.