Trafika Europe 12 - French Bon-Bons

Louis Armand

As June passed into July, the hot days and nights began to melt together. My scalp sweated, as if my very ob- session had become a fever. I was like a man suffering through malarial visions. I tried to keep things in focus, one fact at a time—at any moment the most arcane detail might suddenly become overwhelming, a matter of life‐ and‐death: something as simple as an ambiguity in a witness account—the date on which a letter was written or sent—the authorship of a certain treatise, or even its existence, or nonexistence. Such as, for exam- ple, a certain treatise on astrological codes, authorship attributed to one Magister Kelley—any further refer- ence to which persisted in evading discovery. Perhaps it had never existed in the first place. Fruitless weeks spent rifling drawer after drawer of yellowed catalogue cards, to no end, in basements of a dozen library re- positories. My obsession consumed my every waking hour, like an autism, the world and everything in it. The daily ritual, staring into the muted glow of lampshades over reading desks. Monographs piling up—coat pock- ets bulging with scrap paper, scribbled references, co- ordinates never to be revisited, marking out dead ends on an itinerary to nowhere. Like a man who runs panic‐ stricken through the snowbound streets of a city at once foreign and familiar—a midget in an elaborate maze created to test his intelligence, while invisible specta- tors look on, unsurprised… Something, whatever it was, was absent from the pic-


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