‘Be what you would seem to be’ or if you’d like it I’ll put it more simply’ never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise’ – Alice in Wonderland Chapter 9.
After numerous failed attempts at suicide, trying everything from defenestration, hanging, self-emulation, poisoning and putting a gun to my head and missing entirely but successful at killing my cat, Fitzcarldo, I decided to remain alive and torture myself with the fact I was too stupid to commit suicide.
I decided to leave Italy and the memories of Sarah behind and move to Paris, where I found accommodation at a convent of all places. The benevolent nuns were kind enough to offer me a job as a janitor, as ironically the previous employee was successful and clever enough at putting a gun to his head and achieving his goal.
Lenny Bruce said, ‘everything good in life is either unhealthy, immoral or illegal’ after I got out of prison, I was a changed man.
Everything failed to subdue me. Soon everything seemed dull: another sunrise, the lives of heroes, falling in love, war, the discoveries people make about each other. There wasn’t a clear, identifiable emotion within me, except for greed and lust, and possibly, total disgust. I had all the characteristics of a human being flesh, blood, skin, hair and teeth, but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, I’m the victim of a show, purposeless erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning. Something horrible was happening and yet I couldn’t figure out why?
According to my Catholic upbringing, in the eyes of the church and Jesus Christ, I had sold my soul to the devil because I was making the most of my demonic sale of the century by having impure thoughts about the nuns at St. Croix Covent of Mercy. Because of my naivety about all things nun related, I assumed all Catholic nuns were pure and pious unlike the priests who were filthy monsters. This convent was about to prove me wrong.
My suspicions came to fruition, when one afternoon I was attending to the herbal garden in the courtyard when I caught the eye of a beautiful young petite nun, her name was Sister Sabine and I had the audacity to ask her a very pertinent question. I notice she was peering at my rear while I was bending over attending to the geraniums.‘Don’t you find it boring here after a while?” I said in my impeccable French, ‘No, Dario , we are devoted to God; we are married to him, so to speak. We pray for the sinners, and our sisters, who are dying or suffering in Algeria and Indochina,’ the good Sister replied, in a gracious tone.
‘So, what do you do to amuse yourselves?” I asked knowingly, ‘We are never amused, it’s not the place to be amused, but there are ways and there are ways!’
‘What ways, if you don’t mind me asking? I said knowingly. She smiled and said, ‘It’s not for me to tell you but it’s for you to find out!’ Her answer left me in a lurch; I thought as I wondered what evil lurked in these corridors of the dormitory. My mind was racing as those subliminal messages bombarded my head like a proverbial sledgehammer. “There are ways and there ways!’ and ‘It’s not for me to tell you but its you to find out!’
I would often see nuns disappearing into the night, especially after midnight. ‘Don’t you have a strict policy where no sisters are allowed outside the convent after 12 midnight?’ I asked one of the sisters Justine to which she replied ‘Messieur Dario, often as devoted sisters we have an obligation to our fellow man, to attend to the needs of the community!’ she answered. ‘But after midnight on a Saturday night?’ I questioned like a pseudo-detective. ‘You ask too many questions, young man, why don’t you attend to your duties like a good janitor!’
I was curious, so therefore I had an idea to attempt the unthinkable, ask sister Sabine out on a date. At first, it was difficult but over the next few days she finally capitulated and accepted my invitation.
‘You know I’m putting my whole reputation on the line, the Catholic Church, my family and friends would never, ever forgive me” she said. ‘What are you doing here sister, you are beautiful, intelligent, I also noticed the way you look at me and don’t deny it’, I said. She turned and looked over her shoulder, she was blushing.
‘Damn you, Messieur Dario, I can’t stop thinking about you, wanting you inside me, you are the devil reincarnated and I mean it in the nicest possible way! She said with bated breath. ‘The cat among the pigeons?’ I added as she smiled quietly to herself.
‘Did anyone tell you, you look so much like Audrey Hepburn, but I think you’re better looking!’, I quipped. She turned away abruptly and said ‘Messieur Dario, don’t waste your breath on such nonsense, I’ll see you tonight as promised!’ with these final words, she walked off into the chapel to join the others.
The convent was not far from Montmatre, the famous bohemian quarter of Paris. So on my days off I would often catch a cab or even walk down to the main thorough fare in Rue de Lafayette. Drinking and eating in cafes frequently by local artists, writers, tourists from the states and England on the Rue de Lafontaine and Rue Marburgene. Most importantly, I had a smorgasbord of movies to see, so on my days off I would go for movie marathons at Theatre Royale on Rue de Calais, the dusk to dawn sessions. The movie house catered for tourists and ex-patriots alike. I would always go alone, so I could lose myself completely since my withdrawal symptoms from missing so much movie making during my incarceration were so intense. I had a new lease of life; I no longer wanted to die. I even forgot about Sara for awhile.
The next day came and I found a dress which would suite Sister Sabine on our date since she didn’t possess a wardrobe of her own. Her limpid eyes, tousled hair, white frills and a big girlish bow made her look vulnerable and innocent and intensely romantic like a fairytale heroine.
The good sister and myself rendezvoused at the gates of Pere’ Lachaise Cemetery at 8:00pm, she immediately threw herself on to me like a lapdog on heat and we kissed passionately for what appeared to be an eternity. We couldn’t let go of each other all night. When we arrived at the Comte de Ville on Rue de La Fontaine by taxi, nearly every man and woman was eyeing Sister Sabine like she was some kind of apparition of the Virgin Mary.
“Heavens above Sister, you look ravishing, I could eat you like this soufflé, I want to display my affection and show the world how much I really want you.” I gushed. “You are very tempting Mr DiMasi, in my fantasies we have debased and violated each other like wild heathens but not tonight as much as I really want to!” she whispered. “My penis is like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, its sense of smell is highly sensitive, it can detect the smell of sex a mile away!” I said teasingly. “Don’t tempt fate Messer Dario, I can be an evil Jezebel!” she retorted. I was undressing her with my eyes, studying every contour of her body like an avid medical student!
After our animated conversation punctated by numerous sexual innuendos, she accompanied me to my place of worship, the movie theatre.
The irony continued well into the night, when we saw, “Touch of Evil” directed by Orson Welles, a tour de force performance by Welles himself and starring Charleton Heston, Janet Leigh, and a chilling Dennis Weaver.
I bade goodnight to Sister Sabine at the gates of Pere Lachaise and we both returned to the convent via different routes and at different times so not to arouse suspicion.
When I retreated to my bed at an outhouse along the perimeter of the convent wall, I had a most peculiar dream. I was in a little paper boat in the middle of the sea and there was a perfect storm. But the little paper boat resisted, as it was a stubborn boat with human eyes and flying the British flag (Union Jack). From a precipice on the coastal cliffs, a voice from afar cried, “Dario, Dario, come back to shore!” It was the voice of Sarah that called me with the cry of a siren. I was longing to go back! But the waves were too big and the little boat was drifting along at the mercy of the sea. It was then, I saw a sea monster emerge from the shadowy depths, it had enormous shark like teeth and its jaws were wide open, it was looking suspiciously at me, waiting for me to drift into its path.
I tried to work the rudder, but the rudder was of course made of paper and became completely soaked and rendered useless, so I resigned myself to gliding directly into the jaws of the monster.
I closed my eyes, so as not to feel the pain of death, but when I re-opened my eyes I was sitting in a café named “The London Fog” with Sarah, Sister Sabine and an old witch. The like of which you would see in a painting by Bruegel. The café was dimly lit and the old witch who called herself Morgan began performing a séance. We joined hands in unison and spoke in an ancient tongue, perhaps Aramaic or Hebrew and summoned a ghost.
The ghost was that of a young marine who was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 on the flagship, Bretagna with Lord Nelson. The young man recanted his heroic actions and ‘martyrdom’ during the decisive naval battle and his subsequent journey from being a mere mortal to attaining the status of a heavenly sea creature in death. According to the marine, death was not the end but the beginning of an epic journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.
I closed my eyes once again and re-opened them to find we were no longer in the café but deep inside the belly of a sea monster I had been dreaming, surrounded by flotsam and jetsam from passing vessels. It was then I woke up suddenly and looked up to discover that one of the lights in the nun’s quarters across the chapel was still on.
As it was my duty as a janitor to make sure that all the lights were out and the doors secured before midnight. I walked across the gantry that leads to the nun’s quarters, where an invisible hand/force guided me down the hallway to Sister Sabine’s room. The good sister shared a room with Sister Claudine, an oddly attractive nun with dark circles around her eyes and vampire teeth.
I took a quick look into the room but there was nobody there. However as I crossed the hallway again to where the showers and toilet were, the light to the shower room was on.
An extract from my book " For Love And Anarchy".