Friday, September 21, 1990
Erwan leaves his apartment. So many things have happened. Adopting Emilie was done without too many problems. He had to pay travel for the notary office. As Dominique Meyer told him, as soon as the formalities were completed, everything would be solved. In August they went on vacation to Dalian. Why Dalian? A colleague of Cécile is a native of this city and offered to house them. At Dalian there is the sea! They spent the entire month on the beach. Relations with Cécile keep getting worse. Reproaches and recriminations, all the time. It usually starts in the morning. On vacation in China, the breakfasts are not easy to eat, especially for children. To have a large family does not facilitate relationships. Up until two children, it was easier! But then with four, it became downright hellish. Blame, jealousy, comments on Mona, Sandra or any girl he had the misfortune to meet. Erwan has had enough. But first they must return to France.
He leaves the hotel and hails a taxi. Soon a car arrives. He gives the address. Lost in thought he does not even realize he has arrived. The driver opens the door. And then they returned to Beijing in late August. The train from Dalian: no soft berth only hard, and so many people on the train. Nearly 11 hours of ride. The train left at 11 pm instead of 9:30. It was horribly hot. They stopped along the way. Finally, they arrived in Beijing the next day around noon. The children were excited. That was August 31, a Friday. Cécile was back to work on September 3. Then a phone call the 1st. Mona invited them to a farewell dinner on Saturday 15. She was leaving China. Erwan picked up the phone. He vaguely understood she no longer had enough cash. Her company had been bought by a company in Hong Kong. She was now a kind of VRP for the new company that had kept the old name. They were all invited. But Cécile was angry and refused.
"Mona, again! She wants you. My children won’t go to that whore's place!"
My children. She had said the right word. Erwan had increasingly felt that they were her children. He is the father, a kind of hybrid, just good to fuck her. Since the end of holidays, she had become hysterical. She stuck to him. Sexually aggressive. A real fury. The children did not feel good. Daily arguments. She is so close to Emily and Morgane. Fortunately, there’s the oldest. But for how long are they still going to be his children, their children.
He leaves the taxi and heads for the restaurant where Mona is organizing her farewell meal. He wonders who will be present. He has to cross a small park. He knows this restaurant. He already came here with Cécile shortly after the riots.
He advances automatically. It's unfortunate that Loïc and Lorraine are not here! But Cécile was categorical:
"You go to your bitch if you want but the children stay here!"
He should have been angry, shouted, ranted and raved, but he did not have the strength. He thinks about what Rochester told him a few days ago:
"You're too democratic, my Erwan! Kick her! Beat her! Things will be better after. You betray male solidarity by behaving like that!"
But he does not dare. Violence scares him. And then recently there was the incident with Morgane.
First, he took pity on Cécile. He realized she wasn’t well. On his first day working at Publishing House, she was summoned by her boss.
"Cécile, your contract ends later this month. We have decided not to renew it. You can keep the apartment until the end of September. But your visa expires in late September. You must leave China!"
She returned in tears, suddenly affectionate. All her bad temper seemed to have passed. The next day they went to the Belgian embassy and that of France to register Emilie on passports. It was complicated. No consular services accepted it. For them, the child was Chinese. Fortunately Mona was able to fix things. But he had to have it done. Emilie has a Chinese passport which states that she is the daughter of Erwan Le Floch. The Embassy of France granted a visa. When in France he will put things in order. Cécile has already decided that they will settle in Belgium and not in France.
And then that incident with Morgane.
At the exit of the Belgian Embassy in Sanlitun. Work on the street. Distraction! A cry from Cécile! Morgane in the street and a truck coming at high speed. He runs, grabs Morgane back suddenly onto the sidewalk. The reflex and then a slap on the kid’s buttocks. Cécile screaming. The girl crying and leaving to take refuge in the arms of her mother, watching him wickedly.
"Not you! Not you! Nasty!"
Workers had watched them and gave him a sign, the thumbs-up. Translation, that's how a father should behave.
He crosses the park. The door of the restaurant. This is a restaurant and an inn. It's nice. There is a pond with goldfish, a few ducks and an artificial mountain. Too bad that Cécile did not want to come. He climbs the stairs leading to the restaurant. Hostesses dressed traditionally welcome him and open the door. He tells them he was invited by Miss Huang. One young woman beckons him to follow. They cross a large room and reach the back of the restaurant. A small room. Many people are already sitting. Mona gets up on seeing him. She is elegant but seems sad. She’s wearing a flowered skirt and a silk blouse. She has a tiara in her hair. She comes to him, shakes hands and kisses him on the cheeks. She puts him on her left side. He knows almost everyone. There are not very many people. Frederick Rochester with his wife, Dominique Meyer is there. No Cosmos. Wang Jun is not there either. Guan Kai sits at the end of the table with Chinese people he does not know, probably colleagues. Professor Yang is also present but not the Director of the Institute for Minorities.
A lady in her forties is sitting next to Mona, on her right side. Mona introduces her to Erwan:
"Erwan, here is Mrs. Kong. She is from Hong Kong. She represents the company Sinowines Ltd."
The lady smiles. She is dressed as a businesswoman, strict suit and high heels! Obviously she does not understand a word of French. She shakes hands with Erwan. A firm handshake.
"Sit down Erwan, Rochester shouts. You are doing alright, next to a beautiful woman. Look at me, trying to make conversation with Meyer. You should have brought your wife, she would have watched you!"
As usual he laughs. The whiskey bottle is not far off. He fills two glasses, pushes one towards Erwan, and raises his glass and toasts.
Everyone is sitting now. Mona hesitates. Employees bring different dishes from the restaurant. Mona doesn’t feel well. She finally gets up and speaks.
"Hum! I want to thank you for coming. A lot has changed in my life since the death of my uncle!"
Erwan realizes that her aunt is not here.
"I’m leaving China, my studies are over and I’ve got my PhD!"
She seems very excited. Erwan and most people are aware of a part of her story. Her contract was terminated and he heard that Wang Jun and her were separated. Probably him soon too!
The young woman continues. She explains this is a farewell dinner but she hopes to see everyone because her company was taken over by a company from Hong Kong. She will be based in Bordeaux and spend her time between France and China. A young man enters the restaurant.
"Here is Yang Jun! He is the son of Professor Yang. He is a cook and has prepared the meal tonight."
The young man bows down.
Then, things go quickly. They all eat and drink well. Music. He dances with Mona. The lady of Hong Kong leaves. At one point she takes him upstairs.
"Come, I booked a room."
She opens a door. He is a little bit drunk. She closes and locks the door, kisses him passionately. Then she undresses, slips into bed and says:
When they get back to the restaurant, there is hardly anyone: Rochester, his faithful friend and his wife, Guan Kai and some of the Chinese people he does not know, talking. Mona looks at him one last time. Then she turns her head as if she was crying. She says something to Guan Kai. Then she goes away without looking back.
Guan Kai approaches Erwan.
He speaks French. Erwan is stunned.
"I have to drive you home! Will you have another drink before?"
"No, no!”Erwan is disoriented.
"No, we can go."
He looks at his watch. It is nine o'clock. In the end, all that did not last very long. He still has the flavor of Mona’s kisses on his body. He greets Rochester and the remaining people and leaves with Guan Kai.
A nice day in June, not too hot, just right. Guan Kai's car is in the restaurant car park. They walk both silently.
"I owe you an apology Erwan, but I could not speak French until now. I was supposed to be just a driver."
Guan Kai explains his mission. He is a member of the Special Services of the Armed Police, deputy to Lao Huang. He had to protect his niece.
Erwan understands. Mona is not the student she claimed to be. A police spy infiltrated into dissident circles. Everything else was a cover. Guan Kai explains the rest. He will remember nothing. All this is too complicated.
"What will you do now Guan Kai?"
Guan Kai takes him by the shoulder:
"I am transferred to Wuhan. Mona returns to France. Do not try to find me or contact me. I'm glad to have known you."
They both settle in the Mercedes.
Ten minutes later they are at the Friendship Hotel.
Erwan gets out and watches the car going away.
He goes to his apartment. Anguish now. He climbs the stairs. He enters the apartment. Cécile looks him with a dark look. Morgane is playing on the floor with Emilie, Loïc and Lorraine are watching cartoons on TV. Cécile says nothing. She gets up and beckons him to come with her to the kitchen. He feels the crisis coming. She approaches him:
"You smell of female. Was she good to fuck, the slut?"
He feels her violence. Hysterical.
"But you have nothing! The children are mine, only mine!"
That he has known for a long time. He tries to calm her. Not a chance. Their argument becomes more serious. She opens a drawer and takes out a knife. Erwan loves to cook. His knives are very sharp.
"Cécile, be careful, that knife is dangerous!"
She looks at him, challenging him!
Aha! You’re afraid! But fear nothing! I will not kill you! Just look!"
Before he has time to do anything she turns the knife to herself and tries to cut the veins in her left arm. He grabs her arm. Not a chance. She has incredible strength, the strength of nervous hysteria. He cuts himself while trying to prevent her suicide. What to do? He slaps her violently in the face. She calms down instantly. At that moment he realizes that Morgane is just in the entrance to the kitchen, Lorraine also. He tries to explain. Morgane clings to her weeping mother. Lorraine yells:
"Dad hit Mom! He wants to kill her! Help!"
Loic also arrives. Finally, everyone goes to the living room. Cécile is in tears. She managed to scratch the skin on her arm. He looks for bandages. She is dazed. She settles into an armchair. He does not know what to do. Morgane yells:
"Not you! Not you!".
Lorraine is crying.
Suddenly, Cécile gets up and hurls:
"Get out poor fool! Get out of here! I loved you but now go to hell! Go find your whores!"
She stops. She is like an angry dog showing its teeth:
"Go away! I cannot bear to see you anymore!"
The tone rises again:
"Me neither, Cécile, I won’t accept your bad mood anymore! You're just a shrew! Yes I’m leaving! Manage by yourself with your children, as you say they are yours only!"
He leaves the apartment and goes away. Loïc does not seem to realize what is happening.
Outside, Erwan does not know what to do. He wanders into the garden. He returns to the apartment. All is calm now. Cécile is sleeping in a room with Morgane and Emilie. Loïc is still watching TV. He sits with him and takes him by the arm. Maybe he’ll still keep contact with his son in the future? The other three, the three girls, they belong to their mother. He cannot help it.
Loïc is asleep. He takes him in his arms and places him in bed next to Lorraine already sleeping. Then he settles on the couch, turns off the light and falls asleep quickly. Tomorrow is another day.
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