The Coup De Panne
On the road, the highway, a young man was going, dreaming …
It started like a song, but it’s true!
I was walking.
For the young man was me, would you believe!
I had big boots on my feet, a stick in my hand and, in a haversack, my toothbrush.
And this was all like a dream, as I have already said
A goal, too.
My friends Christiane and Pierre had just bought a mill in the Eure. I spent my holidays in Mantes, but I had no inspiration there, so one fine morning I said to myself,
“Here, go and look elsewhere for inspiration, at your friends’ house, for example.”
A glance at the map had persuaded me that it was only about forty kilometres away. Hardly a day, strolling gently and stopping to break a solid crust. I settled into a rhythmic march, pipe in mouth, my thoughts searching for tunes.
Successful tunes, for I should tell you I am a composer
Sometimes – rarely, I must admit – at my approach, a car slowed down as if waiting for me to raise my arm, the ritual sign of hitchhikers. But I was too keen to walk. And besides, I do not like hitchhiking. When I am in a car (because I have a car, I do not doubt it), I refuse to take in strangers. Especially since the story of the young German, have you seen it? who killed the motorists who consented to take him, which proves the point about slaughter.
Let’s go on…
So I followed my route, humming. It was mild. It had rained, very early in the morning, and now the sun was smoking.
The road cut regularly from the thin shadow of the poplars. Cicadas sang in the millstones. A truck passed me at the turn. Then, a straight road led me to lengthen my steps, which I did.
Then, on the horizon, appeared a car. It was coming towards me, not very fast. Suddenly, I saw it do a semi-sheer, then stop along the road as its momentum ran out. But no one got out.
After five hundred yards I came up to it, intrigued.
At the wheel there was a woman in a fur coat. In this heat, it was almost comical.
A pretty brown-haired girl, with a pale face, and an uneasiness in her eyes that the engaging smile of her thick, well-hemmed lips could not fade.
“Excuse me, sir, but I’m tired. Can you change a tyre on this car? ”