France Archive




Jim stood on the balcony, his chiseled features chiseled into his chiseled face as if by a chisel. He didn’t have the chisel with him, as it was back in his studio, on the table near the marble sculpture. He looked out on Paris. It was a foggy, rainy morning. “To get to the hill, you first have to take the path,” he mused.

“The path is narrow and lined with trees that are so dark they could be purple, and so dense that it feels as though you’re walking alongside a brick wall. You can’t see in and you hope that no one can see out.”

Jim lit a cigarette. “The first time I went up the path,” he thought, “it was terrifying. I could barely take a full breath, let alone put one foot in front of another. If I had to run,” he remembered, “I wouldn’t have remembered how. Besides, I was loaded down with fifty pounds of equipment that clanged and banged with every step. I might as well’ve been carrying a refrigerator on my back. But after the first month the path became fascinating.”

Jim wondered what the hell he was doing in France. He had left his job in Indiana. It was still back there, in Terre Haute. Then he remembered that the company had moved to South Bend, so his job wasn’t back in Terre Haute anymore. But it was still back in Indiana. He hated the insurance company, but he still missed it. His disapproval haunted him like a cursed ghost. But his disapproval of what? He realized right there, right then, that he disapproved of his very disapproval of his former life. It still hemmed him in like a crowded grave.

The truth was that he had moved to Paris for wrong reasons. He might’ve thought he did at the beginning, when his plane landed and he thought that his move would be some kind of life-altering experience. Now the hill that looked so promising wasn’t like a path at all. It was rocky and gray with no growth and no place to hide. It looked like a giant bowl of uncooked oatmeal. It looked like a place you could easily bury fifty bodies and no one’d know.


Standing on the crest of the hill, he did something. He picked up the gun and released the safety. He hadn’t handled the gun n a while. and it felt strangely heavy, unwieldy even, as if he was trying to hoist a manhole cover with his bare hands. It pressed down painfully on his shoulder as he peered into its sights. The man was standing at the edge of the lake, and he was peeing. He had his hand on his hip and he was leaning backward in a posture of bliss, and his face wasn’t all that different from the face Jim’s father had drawn on that tree three years ago.

He observed the man in the crosshairs. He was 1.1 miles away. He was five feet ten inches tall. He jiggled himself dry, buttoned up, and started to walk leisurely along the edge of the lake back to the prairie. Soon he was 1.2 miles away. Then he turned in towards the plains, towards the high grass, and just when he was about to disappear for good, Jim put his finger in the proximity of the trigger.

*I borrowed heavily from”A Brief Encounter with the Enemy” by Said Sayrafiezadeh which as published in the Jan. 16, 2012 issue of *The New Yorker*. It’s not plagiarism if you give credit, is it?




Jim wakes up in the Central African Republic. “I seem to be in some landlocked country,” thinks Jim. “To the north lies Chad, to the east is Sudan, south is Congo and west lies Cameroon.” How he is so fucking knowledgeable regarding African geography, well, sir, he has no fucking idea. Whatsoever. A Central African Republican, a thirty-ish man wearing a bright red felt cap by the name of N’Domo, asks him what he thinks the area of his country is and its population. “I’d say about 240,000 square miles with 34.4 million people,” replies Jim. Unprompted, he blurts out, “And Bangui is its capital.” “Smart-ass!” snorts N’Domo. Jim is chocked with useless facts: that the Central African Republic

consists of mostly of savanna but it also includes a desert zone in the north and an equatorial forest in the south; that two-thirds of the country lies in the basins of the Ubangi River, which flows south into the Congo River, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari River, which flows north into Lake Chad; that

since most of the territory locates in the Ubangi and Shari river basins, France called the colony it carved out in this region Ubangi-Chari; that it became a semi-autonomous territory of the France in 1958 and then an independent nation in 1960; that for over three decades after independence, it was ruled by presidents who took power by force. Then Jim goes back to sleep.




     Jim yelled, “Hey Tony!  I fucked up your truck!  Whaddaya gonna do about it?  He was in the bed of the thirty-six pickup truck that  Tony had restored.  The “Black Crow” he called it.  Jim had snuck through the chain link fence around the parking lot where Tony kept it and plugged a hole in it with his shotgun.  If you crawled under the truck and looked up, you would have a good view of the sky through the gaping hole that Jim made.  Jim called out Tony knowing that nobody was around.  You see, Jim was basically nothing more than a fucking drunk coward.  Jim got tired of  yelling at nobody and got back on his motorcycle and rode back to town.  Fucking coward.    Looking tough, with his tattoos and hangdog snarl.  Once I saw French Billy, the dude who sold Tony the Crow, beat the piss out of him and he cried like a baby girl.  Billy was from France and when Jim started bawling he cursed him out in French.  All of  Missoula heard about that.  Once  Jim tried to kick-start his bike and his foot slipped and he broke his ankle.  Fucking moron.