Paris. Cigars. FourWhen I lived in Paris.When I smoked cigars.Four.I develop a fear of umbrellas. Not only do I fear them but I hate them, as well. I never carry an umbrella – ever. Yes, I know I have told you not to believe me but this is everyday reality that I am talking about now.I have been caught at this very spot, in dozens of rain storms. They always seem to happen just as I am a few meters away from the door of my favorite café in Montmartre. It's a great place to sip strong black tea, smoke a Churchill or Double Corona and watch other people splash through puddles.
Paris. Cigars. Three.When I lived in Paris.When I smoked cigars.Three.I don't remember now where I sat, which café, what sidewalk.I remember exactly but I don't want you to know that. It was in the 19th where the Avenue Simon Bolivar intersects Rue de Belleville.I hold a Royal Coronas box in both hands. Next year maybe I'll smoke one. Or the year after. I place the box on the tiny round table in front of me. I open the lid.Now, here, quickly, I gather my notebook and my pen and put them back in the box. I can't leave it open. If I did, a thousand people and dogs would gather around wanting to know what that wonderful aroma is.
Paris. Cigars. Two.When I lived in Paris.When I smoked cigars.Two.Once again you have come to me for a story knowing that I cannot be trusted. I am too far into the crude spiral that begins with looking inward. It's like a small, wooden top that has lost its momentum and is wobbling to a halt.I haven't lit my cigar. I feel its weight in the palm of my hand. The wrapper is not entirely smooth but shiny. Like silk. Chocolate silk. The memory of flavors becomes confused in the back of my mouth. The aroma is strong. Coffee and molasses and leather.See? Even now sitting here on the terrace of Ba Ta Clan you listen to me like you believe me. You can see that I have no cigar. Still, I want to believe that you believe me. It's yet another spiral.
Paris. Cigars. One.When I lived in Paris.When I smoked cigars.One.Now there's just this square wooden box. An SLB. And a few stray wooden matches. Long matches. Cigar matches.But I'm an unreliable narrator. You can't believe anything I say. Maybe I'll tell you a story later; right now, I am remembering.The box is not empty. The inside smells like damp earth and, however faintly, like barnyard. I put my face into the open box and inhale like I'm about to drink fine, aged cognac. Or port. I prefer port, really. I can taste vanilla, caramel, toasted tobacco. I can hear the water flowing over the top of the lock at the Canal St. Martin.