Saturday, April 6, 2002
L ast night the Muses were relentless. As soon as he fell asleep in his
latest hiding place under the sofa, they awakened him. He ran from
them and locked himself inside the bathroom before they were able to
reach the door. He threw towels and a rolled-up bathmat in the tub and
lay down. During the last 20 years, he had used every room, closet,
alcove, stairwell, indoor and outdoor as well as an occasional hotel to
hide in. He knew they were illusions; still they found him and peeled
away his vigilance, making what remained tissue-thin. Sometimes a
sleeping mask blocked them from his view, but they performed vocally
and musically, flaunting their attributes, and frolicked even louder when
he inserted earplugs. There were no more places to hide. He had to
follow through with his plan to return them to their proper stage on the
mythical Mount Parnassus.
As REM sleep began, the rising sun peeked over the windowsill
streaming its glare through the broken windowpane into his eyelids. The
brightness blinded him, and when the flashes in his retinas slowly faded
away, he saw the nine Greek Muses pointing at him, giggling like
The side effects of the Thorazine had taken dry mouth, weight gain
and sexual impotence beyond what his body and mental state could
tolerate. Today, his psychiatrist had prescribed the next step, a
Thorazine drip. That would confine him in a quiet-room, isolating him
2 Norman Mushnick
from his friends and his work. Instead, he had walked out of the session.
His parting words to her were: “I can cure myself. I will make them
real. I will transform the apparitions into living models, and then erase
them one by one until all nine are gone.”
“But you must not. I am a schizophrenia specialist, I can help,”
were her parting words.
Once home, he dressed as Apollo in a white tunic selected to fit his
short, rotund body, adjusted a curly blond wig on his baldhead and
balanced a laurel leaf headdress on top of it. He stood in front of the
bedroom mirror reciting Plato: “Ideas and illusions are the unchanging,
eternal, intelligible models or archetypes of which material things are
only imperfect imitations and from which their existence derives.” As
Apollo he vowed that the Muses would soon leave, carrying their
imperfect imitations with them onto his self-made Mount Parnassus.
Calliope, the oldest Muse, stepped in front of her eight sisters,
impairing Apollo’s resolve. She instructed her sisters: “Dance,
Terpsichore. Euterpe, play the double flute. Act out tragedy,
Melpomene. Clio, Polyhymnia, Thalia and Urania, show him your skills
Then she handed Homer’s epic poem “Ovid” to the last sister. “Tell
him your name and read to him.”
The Muse in a sheer gown said, “I am Erato.” She strummed a lyre
and read a poem “Cures for Love.” It spoke of what the historians had
written about Parnassus in Greece.
The mirrored reflection of a portrait on the far side of the bedroom
above the headboard, distorted his long lost love’s gentle smile into a
defiant stare as if reminding him that her body was no longer his cure
for love. He turned his back to the mirror, hiding her gaping mouth and
cloaking the Muses’ persistence. However, the nine tunic-clad
apparitions materialized inside the bedroom, holding hands, forming a
ring around him. He turned again to face the mirror; now they were
there in front of him, tightening the circle. He turned again and looked
into his bedroom. They reappeared and danced, turning the circle,
twisting their bodies, kicking their legs and jabbering words of comedy
and tragedy. He ranted, but they ignored his litanies and continued to
perform their nine different talents simultaneously in a poorly
He stretched his arms out and spun his pear-shaped body, engaging
his spirit in the pleasure of watching each Muse’s image mist into the
walls. He spun again, as fast as a toy top. Dizzily, he opened his eyes
THE MUSE EQUATION 3
and faced the mirror. Apollo growled with anger as the nine Muses re-
emerged inside it.
Apollo had one last invocation to deliver before his ability to make
a decision and conjure up a plan to escape from this torment could be
executed. He repeatedly pounded on the mirror. “I will disprove Plato
and prove that material things can be perfect imitations. You will no
longer be phantoms, because now I will make you real. I am your true
leader!” He stared into the mirror beyond his reflection.
“Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia,
Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania. You see,” he said, grasping the fabric of
his tunic and straightening the laurel leaf headdress, gently so to not
tousle his wig. “I am Apollo. I command you to come with me to Villa
Parnassus! Bring your elegant and erotic poetry, your lyres, your comic
and tragic masks, your scrolls and stylus, your double flute, your stellar
globe, your cothurnus boots and trinkets. Come perform harmoniously
together as I direct you, and then we will all journey to Mount
Parnassus—to eternal rest.” Apollo placed his costume and the
necessary tools in a timeworn tan leather satchel and set out to make it
At 7:05 PM, inside a pay phone cabin, this obsessed man who had lived
on the edge of the fence separating sanity from schizophrenia for too
long let his insatiable appetite lead him. His quest to extricate the
tormenting illusions of the Muses and their mythological Parnassus
from his mind, and finally capture them in his macabre world and into
his private Parnassus, had begun. He dialed a phone number.
The one he had chosen out of the many responses to his ad
answered. “This is Jeanne Buisson.”
“I’ll call you back in thirty seconds.” He did, using his new cell
Apollo and Jeanne spoke of the future, how he would provide her
with experiences of a lifetime. She wanted to know if he could help her
find meaning in her life and the inspiration to cultivate a lasting
relationship. He relished his knowledge of college girls’ vulnerabilities
and their sometimes-aimless search to fulfill their desires—to find their
“From now on I will call you Clio,” he said. … “No, it is spelled C
L I O. You call me Apollo, and you must bring the Phoenician scroll.”
… “It is simple; take the seven forty-two RER line C3 from Champ de
Mars Metro station to Argenteuil.” … “I will be waiting curbside in a
4 Norman Mushnick
Apollo hurried to the Metro. In a coin-operated restroom, he put on
the tunic and wig. The fresh smell of the laurel leaf headdress, cut
yesterday from the grove at his villa, wafted from the satchel. Knowing
he would be there again so soon, his blood flowed hot. He wanted to
congratulate himself for planning the first transformation for this night
in synchronicity with the Argenteuil springtime costume ball kicking
off its gaiety. He stepped onto the escalator and blended in as if he were
just another merrymaker getting back in line with hundreds of others
parading into the underground Metro to board the 7:22 train. Twenty
minutes, he had calculated, was enough time to pick up the car and
capture Clio, his first flesh and bone Muse. Then he would test the
merits of this stratagem and the contents of his tool bag on her. The ruse
had to be clever to dupe Dominique Fontaine, Paris’ notorious Prefect
of Police, because she personally handled kidnappings and freeing of
hostages, relentlessly solving whatever missing-person case she faced.
J eanne Buisson moaned and slowly opened her eyes. She couldn’t
recall ever feeling this groggy and weak. In fact, she couldn’t recall
what had happened after getting into a car at the Argenteuil RER station
and her blind date stabbed her shoulder with a syringe. Her left deltoid
throbbed as if she had just received a tetanus injection. It was pitch dark
and Jeanne realized she was flat on her back when her head rolled to the
left and a three-foot wide band of light appeared through a gap under a
door. Above the band, a shaft of light peeped through the keyhole.
Jeanne turned her head back, looking straight up. Her eyes acclimated
to the darkness barely lightened by what streamed through the keyhole.
Dizziness filled her head. The ornately coffered ceiling spun as if she
were a child lying on the floor of a fast turning merry-go-round
underneath a canopy of dense tree branches. She had no idea where she
was. Nausea and stomach cramps erupted and her tongue felt like a
thick towel right out of a hot dryer.
Twenty-year-old Jeanne Buisson, student of Greek history and the
youngest undergraduate to be distinguished as an expert of the
Phoenician alphabet, felt like she had after her first psychedelic trip at a
campus party last year. Her first trip and one she swore would be the
She raised her head, and the entire room whirled. A hammer inside
her skull pounded in rhythm with her racing heart. She lifted a hand and
something jerked it, reminding her of the time her mother had yanked
her out of the path of a speeding car. Her mother wasn’t there to save
her little girl this time. The thunderous clatter of metal muffled the
6 Norman Mushnick
thudding sound of her hand as it slammed on the floor. Jeanne felt the
chill of a steel bracelet clamped to her wrist. It was welded to a heavy
chain reeking of rust. Her heart beat faster than when she once had
scaled the 300 steps on Rue Fayotier, racing the funicular up to
Montmartre. The other end of the chain ended in a huge iron ring
secured to the floor in a far corner of the room. Breaking loose seemed
impossible; nevertheless, driven by fear of captive helplessness, she
pulled. The bracelet painfully cut into her wrist. She cried out, “Is
anyone there? Help me, please help me!”
Fragments of memories that made no sense floated around in her
clouded mind: names—Apollo, Clio—flashed and disappeared without
meaning, a short man, and a ride in the country, strange phone calls, and
her grandmother. She couldn’t lift her throbbing head, but turned to the
side. A cushion of fabric under her neck smelled musty like an
unwashed sleeping bag. Her head slid off the edge and her cheek came
to rest on a wooden floor that smelled of aged varnish. Weak from fear,
but desperate for relief, she dragged her free hand over her body for
some sort of comfort. “Oh my god, I'm naked.”
Jeanne tried to turn and sit up. She was too weak. Frightened and
exhausted, she managed to drag one leg over the other and curl her
body into a fetal position. She felt stickiness when her inner thighs
pressed together, but avoided touching, shaking from the horror of what
it might be.
A lock clicked and hinges creaked. A shaft of light licked the floor,
casting an eerie shadow of a stout person. Jeanne shivered as thudding
footsteps and short breaths approached her.
“Who are you? Where am I?” Her lips hardly moved and her voice
trailed to a slow babble.
No one answered.
The figure stopped. The breaths, for what seemed like forever, were
deep, long and right above her head.
He spoke, his voice slow and sinister: “Shhh, my Clio, there’s no
need to cry. The keeper will come soon and prepare you for your first
performance on Mount Parnassus.”
He leaned forward and stroked her inner thighs touching her sex.
“You slept through it all, my Clio. Too much Ketamine, I suppose. I’ll
use a smaller dose on the next ones. Too bad for you, but I enjoyed your
Jeanne shuddered and faded in and out of drowsiness. Nothing was
visible, fragments of sounds and voices toyed with her hearing.
THE MUSE EQUATION 7
The door hinges creaked and footsteps approached.
“It’s about ti … showed.”
More fragments of a new voice said, “I was at … I couldn’t …”
“Next one, be on time … I have work to do now.
“Clio, the Keeper will ….
“Yes, my friend, it’s your turn.”
The door closed and flopping footsteps faded into the distance.
Heavier sounding footsteps moved closer to her head. A bigger
silhouette hovered over her. Jeanne Buisson passed out.
A pollo lumbered down the grand staircase leaving his friend, the
Keeper, to feed and dress Clio. Whatever else he would do with
her would be his choice as it would be for the next ones. The keeper
was knowledgeable in Greek mythology. He would prepare them well
for the grand finalé performance.
The entire villa’s 36 rooms, including the great room, were devoid
of furniture with the exception of an eighteenth century marble-top
writing desk and a rickety double cane back chair which stood together
in front of the 12 feet high great room floor to ceiling windows. Apollo
had sold the furnishings and artworks when his plan to free himself
from the tormenting illusions began to blossom. He garnered two
hundred thousand Euros to pay for the props and for keeping the
acquisitions secret, the largest expense. Those who knew suggested he
think of it as “friendly blackmail.” With what remained, he bought a
used black Mercedes.
A wealthy uncle in the banking business had bequeathed the
medieval style villa to him. Rebuilt in the early nineteenth century, it
had since fallen into disrepair. Set a mile back from the road in a
heavily wooded area, it was only reachable by driving over a decaying
timbered carriage bridge crossing a Seine River tributary. Apollo, fifth
in line for inheritance, no longer went to the villa for comfort and
asylum. He had stopped spending the weekends there when the illusions
of the Muses followed him, and he let the place further deteriorate. His
uncle had installed electricity and a heating system. Apollo hardly ever
used the coal-burning furnace, but did use the electricity to light the
THE MUSE EQUATION 9
bedchambers. As the visions of the mythical Muses stretched the limits
of his patience, he named the house “VILLA PARNASSUS” after the
mountain in Greece where Apollo played his lyre and led the Muses to
perform their attributes. Asylum in the villa took on a new meaning to
him, a place for vengeance.
Last week, he removed the great room’s threadbare drapes. “This is
where Apollo will lead the real Muses in their performances,” he said to
his reflection in the window.
He sat at the desk by the window designing flawless plans to entice
and capture them. He was raging mad at times when one or another
Muse tried to force their way into his mind. Tonight, he took an extra
half of a Thorazine pill. Few intelligible parts of the Muses manifested
and their voices remained silent. Inside the tall wrought iron gates, at
the beginning of a 100 feet long dirt path that led to the Villa's granite
steps rose an imposing dirt and grassy mound; his Mount Parnassus,
now to become the stage for his mind-bending illusions to become real,
and then end after 20 years of torture. He drooled and licked his lips as
thoughts of the mythical Apollo danced in his head. He saw himself as
the new Apollo, strumming a lyre on Parnassus and watching the Muses
dancing in a circle and performing—according to his commands. Then
the Muses, worshiped and respected for their knowledge throughout
history, would no longer be schizophrenic hallucinations to him. They
would be human sacrifices, and they would worship him. The
commanding view from the window of the surrounding clusters of
laurel trees and the grassy mound made his stomach flutter.
Apollo threshed his hands at the visions of the Muses just now
breaking through his extra Thorazine dose and coming into the villa to
harass him. “Leave me alone,” he yelled and swallowed the remaining
half of a Thorazine pill. “I'll bring you back as flesh and bone when I'm
ready. Clio, you are already here,” he said to her misting vision. Go
upstairs, see for yourself.” The Muse of history moved toward the stairs
He sat down to write the personals ad to lure Euterpe. She would
play her flute music and be a good accompaniment for the lyre. And
next, the ad to attract Melpomene, her special acting out tragedy would
set the mood for what would follow.
Apollo amazed how easy it was to obtain prepaid cell phone service
with a made-up name and without identification. He called the
classifieds. The ads would appear in next Thursday's publication.
Angst of having to wait to do the next one gnawed at his intellect,
10 Norman Mushnick
but it would also help quiet the action at the Prefecture as they would
focus on only one incident, that was of course until the enemy would
surprise Dominique by disturbing the silence of the missing person hot
line. In seven days, Euterpe and Melpomene would come join their
sister Clio, then the next, and the next, until all nine were there. He
rechecked that the entered numbers in the ads matched the next two
prepaid phones. Let them dial the caller ID number all they want. He
stepped on the first used cell phone, crushing it into a handful of pieces
and buried them under the ashes inside the villa's coal furnace. The
satellite locator chip easily melted into a drop of silicone in a pan on the
stovetop burner. He hid the blob with other stones and pebbles in the
window planter box. Apollo gloated over the potential of his latest plan.
In four days, hundreds of university coeds would read the ads and
some would respond to the implied promises of a soul mate, someone to
share their interests with. The most desperate ones would call as soon as
the Thursday edition would appear at the news kiosks Wednesday night.
Those best suited for his purposes would have a lingering emptiness in
their hearts from last weekend’s failed date leaving them longing once
more to seek means of experiencing substance and joy and to add
purpose to their lives.
Today started like any other day. He was a man in Paris, and like
many others, he knew he suffered from mood swings always balancing
on the wire between losing it all and finding a glimpse of normalcy. He
felt comfort surge back in his mind as the time came to leave the villa.
The next step was to hide the Mercedes out in the open, in the train
station parking lot, where it would become one of hundreds of cars
waiting while their owners boated on the Seine, a typical weeklong
outing for many in nearby Chatou. He parked between two other black
Mercedes-Benzes and purchased a weeklong parking permit from the
machine with cash. And now he was ready for the final step of his plan:
to take the RER and Metro and arrive at his destination in Paris in 42
minutes or less, a must for any of the Sunday Muse capturing
The RER line C3 arrived on time. He boarded and got off in Paris
at Port de Clichy, transferred to Metro line 13, got off at Place Clichy,
transferred to Metro 12 and exited at Abbesses. There he blended in
once more with the tourists and arrived at what was his Sunday
destination. It had been 41 minutes.
Dominique Fontaine's Apartment
Eiffel Tower Quarter
Sunday, April 7
A soft breeze floated through the open bedroom window into
Dominique's apartment. It was on the sixth floor on Quai d’Orsay
on the Seine's upscale Left Bank. The apartment offered a spectacular
view starting from the obelisk in Place De La Concorde through the
Champs-Élysées Quarter and all the way to Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre.
The budding plane trees on the sidewalks and the honey-like fragrance
of Sweet Alyssum in the balcony's planter boxes gently mixed their
essences with Seth's L'Homme Enchanté after shower musk. That
springtime recipe brought Dominique's passion to a crescendo
whenever her lover and she were one, as they were tonight, less than an
hour after his plane had landed in Paris.
“Now that I really know what you do, besides your French twist
during sex, why do you?”
Dominique turned onto her side, facing Seth. With one hand she
massaged his head while she let the fingers on her other hand walk on
his chest. She felt his heart beating as fast as hers as his question tugged
on the last layer of a painful memory. Nevertheless, it re-energized her
tenacity. “For my thirteenth birthday, my parents bestowed upon me the
responsibility to care for my five year old brother, Daniel. Although he
suffered from short-term memory loss, I diligently planned and
achieved making his life as normal as any of the citizens of Grasse.
12 Norman Mushnick
That was until one day I arrived at his school one minute late.”
Seth pressed her hand tightly to his chest. “One minute late could
only be a disaster if you were trying to disable a ticking bomb.”
“That day, my challenge was to keep the bomb ticking longer than
seventeen minutes, the extent of Daniel’s memory cycle. I had to make
sure he knew who he was.”
“You said you planned and achieved what you needed to. How was
that different from what you do now? You’re always achieving and
Throughout the years, countless alternatives had arrived and
dissolved in her head. She could have chosen any one of them if one life
changing minute had worked in her favor. “I arrived at his school one
minute after his seventeen minute cycle ended. Daniel, then ten years
old, was gone. My prepared emergency poster with his picture, his
name, home address and parents’ store location was floating casually in
the form of shredded scraps like fallen leaves in a rain-filled ditch in his
schoolyard. The teacher, who had done the right thing and placed
Daniel in the waiting shelter, said a man and woman came to take him
to a doctor’s appointment. He had no such appointment. The teacher’s
description of the couple, according to the then Prefect, matched those
of suspected leaders of a child abduction and trafficking ring. One
minute sooner, I would have arrived before the kidnappers drove Daniel
away in a car described to me later as the one that passed me on a
narrow single lane street. Daniel would have seen me, but by then I was
one more stranger.”
Seth nodded towards a framed eight by ten photograph. “There are
wonders in the technology of simulation, but none of that can bring him
back. He had to have been a handsome boy.”
“Is! He is a handsome man today.” Dominique picked up the latest
computerized age progression picture from the night table. “Daniel is
thirty-three now. The guilt inside me sends a daily message and a
directive: he’s out there, find him!” She held the picture against her
“For twenty-three years, you have punished yourself with guilt over
“Disappearance, not loss. Guilt is what motivated me to do what I
do; to find and free kidnapped and hostaged people, including Daniel,
wherever he is on this planet.”
“Extremely time consuming and costly, don’t you think?”
Dominique pressed her fingers on his lips. “I have a plan,” she said.
THE MUSE EQUATION 13
“Fifteen months ago, I gave you two million Euros. That should
enable you to hire the best experts at locating missing persons.”
“Your ex-business partner acquired that money as ransom for
releasing hostages he captured to fund his deadly game to take over the
world. I returned the money, anonymously, to the rightful family.”
“But … you often break the rules of hostage negotiation, tripping
up the criminals illegally. Why was what Madu did different than that?”
“That was corrupted money. I’ll earn enough legally when I start
my private hostage negotiation firm.”
“A commission on what is paid to kidnappers. Is that clean
“Call it what you want. My achievements will return the victims to
their loved ones and I will do whatever it takes, legally or illegally, to
apprehend the kidnappers and return the ransom. Commission? I see it
as a fee for services, like if a masseuse performed this unlicensed
service on you.” Dominique slid her hand gently down Seth’s chest
toward his sex, changing his concentration, insuring her woman’s
prerogative: the last word.
For the next half hour, the silence in Dominique’s boudoir
succumbed only to Seth’s moans and her own sighs and peeps, ending
with a scream of pleasure scaring the sparrows off the windowsill
planter box. Another orgasm followed the last word, helping to quickly
fill the void of her 15-month celibacy.
Seth whispered, “Okay, you win.”
He paid the ransom, but she spent it and wasn’t about to release him
“Must you go back Friday?” Dominique whispered, her lips lightly
“I have to get back to Boston. The new project is—”
She stopped him in mid-sentence with her ever-exploring tongue.
No handcuffs were required to restrain this perpetrator, whom she
roused to continue by tightening her well-exercised arms and jogger's
legs around his body.
The paraphernalia of her trade: handcuffs, badge and gun occupied
their sanctuary on the Baroque nightstand she had owned since she was
13. The flaming red Prefecture hot line telephone, in constant use since
the Park Molester had embarked on his crime spree, sat in front of those
rarely used insignias of authority. The molester was accosting college
girls jogging in Paris’ 2300 acre Boulogne and 2500 acre Vincennes
14 Norman Mushnick
wooded parks. The myriad winding paths in the forests of more than
300,000 trees provided the pervert with limitless shields to lurk behind
before jumping out and grabbing his victims’ arms and tying them
together pulled painfully around a tree.
Neither the screeching of tires nor the blasting of horns on the Quai
beneath the open bedroom window could stop the pleasures that were
about to rumble like an earthquake through the Paris Prefect's body. Nor
could the silenced ringer on her personal phone line break the climax of
her rapid sighs.
A bone chilling, steady, high-pitched ring from the hot line
telephone screamed through the apartment like the shrill of a hyena.
Seth gulped out loud.
Dominique sat up on the edge of the bed and pressed the speaker
button on the red phone, which never rang before 9:00 PM. “Park
Molester hot line.” … “Calm down and please repeat what you said.”
… “This doesn't sound like the Park Molester.” … “Please, calm down.
He doesn't call his prey on the telephone.” … “Yes, I know you are
upset, but you said she's less than seven hours late returning home.”
Dominique paused to let the caller vent her anxiety.
“Twenty-four hours, Dominique said. … “Yes, that is the minimum
amount of time the Prefecture considers a person missing, unless there's
been a ransom demand.” … “I know you’re worried. Did you try to stop
her from going?” … “Okay. Compose yourself. Please repeat what you
just said.” … “She called him Apollo? That could make a difference.”
Dominique could only wonder where this was going to lead. Either the
Park Molester changed his Modus Operandi, or there was another
weirdo on the streets. “What is your name?” … “Her name?” … “Spell
it please.” … “Your address?”
Dominique wrote on a clean note pad. Always one pad for each
incident, one for each witness or scene investigation and a different one
for each suspect. This had been her obsession after a single full case
notepad had dropped from her hand into the Seine River during a foot
pursuit across the lovers’ bridge, the Pont des Arts, more than ten years
“I'll be there at seven-fifteen.”
She rolled over to Seth. “I should be back soon.” She was dressed,
badged and armed within two minutes and on the phone to her Assistant
Prefect, Yvonne Castel.
“Yvonne, meet me at thirty-two Boulevard Saint Michel, apartment
ten at seven-fifteen.” … ”That’s not an excuse, just get there.”
THE MUSE EQUATION 15
Dominique, at 41, was not only the youngest Prefect of Police ever,
but also the first female Prefect. She tied her shoulder length flaxen hair
into a ponytail. She used no make-up, more because she considered it a
waste of time than because she did not need anything to enhance her
natural, smooth tan complexion or to highlight her brilliant green eyes.
“Can't you send Yvonne?” Seth said with his teeth clenched. “You
even have a hot line dedicated to him, in our bedroom. You are so
obsessed with this Molester.”
“You would be, too, if you were responsible for a six month series
of molestations on Paris’ female college students. I’ll see you when I
get back, and be ready to pick up from where we left off.” Dominique
blew kisses off both hands.
She walked briskly past the baroque roll top desk in the great room,
taking a quick glance across the Seine through the lace-curtained
window, grabbed her keys and hopped down the six flights of stairs.
The Prefect of Police pulled the Saturday night parking ticket from the
windshield and tossed it into the basketful of citations in the back seat.
She drove off the sidewalk into rushing traffic. She made a mental note
to find that Prefect placard.
Dominique’s thoughts flashed back 15 months when she could have
arrested Seth for his commission of a notorious crime; however, she had
been held captive by two opposing arguments, both impossible for her
to escape. One, Seth had chained and shackled her to her bed frame.
Two, the most unbreakable chain ever created, her passion for the first
man that shot an arrow better than Cupid did.
Yes, Seth had been instrumental in preventing an Armageddon, but
he had been involved in a crime, which, if it had continued to fruition,
would have been second only to the holocaust, namely the obliteration
of Paris’ two million citizens in one billionth of a second. Dominique
had balanced her action, or rather lack thereof, on a razor sharp edge of
ethics. She had skirted her psyche’s pressure to report what she knew,
including that she had been a recipient of two million Euros, a gift from
Seth to find her kidnapped brother.
Then five days ago, Seth had called her. His voice and words made
the pieces of her broken heart mend as tight as a magnet snapped onto a
refrigerator. He told her that he had found the secret file showing the
hundreds of millions of Euros that Madu Badawi had accumulated from
the ransoms paid by the wealthy victims he had kidnapped. Seth said he
reconsidered escaping with the money he had taken from Madu’s vault
16 Norman Mushnick
and secretly return what he found; more than 95 percent of the total, to
the victim’s families.
No one, other than Dominique and the Presidents of the United
States and France, knew about Seth’s role in the development of the
Evanesce Laser. Surely, the Presidents would not disclose their
knowledge of their covert project as it would have ensured the
destruction of their images of both public and political accomplishments
Five days ago, while Seth had expounded his love over the phone,
Dominique felt his presence. Her heartbeats were like drums in the
jungle sending signals into her head. Her mind turned the signals into
pulses driving her blood wildly through her body, making her skin
tingle and her sex swell. On the verge of orgasm, she held back until it
was the right time, time enough to hold a silent conference with her Id,
both Marie, her left shoulder ego that she considered an angel, and
Pierre, her at hand alter ego perched upon her right shoulder holding his
devil’s pitchfork with its pointed tongs pressed into her neck. The
conference of her psyche concluded with unanimous agreement that
Dominique would open her door for Seth to return to Paris to be with
her as often as he could get away from his ongoing project at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then she would resign from the
Prefecture and enter private practice as a high profile hostage negotiator
to raise the huge sums of money required to search the world for her
brother. When Seth finished his project, he could find work utilizing his
brilliance in computer firewall implementation, and would be her lover
again. Still on the phone, she had an orgasm, the first ever without a
Dominique had taken the necessary steps and returned her gift from
Seth to the victims. Then she set herself a goal to resign, with one
stipulation: to first find and personally escort the Park Molester to
D ominique's destination in the Latin Quarter was less than two
miles from her apartment, but it was as if someone or something
had carved a different world into the center of Paris. University student
housing up and down Boulevards Saint Germain and Saint Michel on
the Seine's left bank peppered the quarter’s mostly cobblestoned streets.
The Sorbonne University, boasting world famous academic
achievements of higher education as early as the 12th century, is also
the main reason for the dense assortment of discos, clubs and
restaurants that have multiplied in the fifth arrondissement. “Saint
Mich” as the party going college students refer to this area, was where
Dominique had spent most of her free weekend nights frolicking during
her internship at the Prefecture. She had been fresh out of the University
of Aix en Provence armed with degrees in law and criminology. Her
Paris journey paved the career path that she had chosen the day after
kidnappers escaped taking her ten-year-old brother 23 years ago.
Yvonne Castel, Assistant Prefect of Police had studied, partied and
graduated ten years ago from the Sorbonne, and tonight the background
noises Dominique could hear through the phone, sounded as if she was
Dominique drove onto the sidewalk. She didn’t waste the minute it
would have taken to search for the Prefect De Police placard, but
walked into 37 Boulevard Saint Michel scurrying down the hall directly
to apartment 10. The apartment door opened after her first knock at
exactly 7:15 according to her cell phone clock.
“Are you Dominique Fontaine?” a trembling girl around 20 asked.
18 Norman Mushnick
“Here's my identification,” Dominique offered, “and that lady
running down the hall behind me—late, is Assistant Prefect, Yvonne
Yvonne was wearing a red miniskirt that looked more like a 12-inch
wide belt than a legitimate piece of clothing. Not necessarily, what one
would expect a 33 year old woman with a 176 IQ to wear. Her well
coiffed auburn hair’s feathered ends caressed her neck, hiding both ears
and the corners of her hazel eyes. A white scoop necked pullover
accented her endowment’s tight cleavage. Her long legs made quick
headway and she stopped next to Dominique.
“Are you the lady who called me?” Dominique asked the girl.
“Yes, I'm Jeanne Buisson's roommate. Please come in. Will you
find her? I saw your record for freeing kidnapped people is a hundred
percent, so I can count on you to find Jeanne, right?”
“We don't know yet that she was kidnapped. I have dispatched
police to comb the two parks. If the Park Molester lured her, the officers
will find her tied to a tree. Yes, she will be frightened; nevertheless,
most likely physically unharmed.”
“How long will the search take?”
“Both parks are huge. There are thousands of heavily wooded
“Didn't the molester call?” the roommate asked.
“Not last night,” Dominique said.
“But it was reported on the news that he always calls and tells the
police where his victims are.”
“The news is one thing, but I responded to your call because of
what you said you had overheard, so please start from the beginning
again.” Dominique nodded toward Yvonne, who pulled a pen out from
her handbag and opened a fresh notepad.
Dominique and Jeanne's roommate stood in front of the open
veranda door. Yvonne sat down and nodded her readiness to write
freeing Dominique to ask questions including any that might implicate
the roommate and test the validity of the call, So far, this purported
disappearance did not match the model of the park molestations.
However, the name Apollo used by the molester with his more than 20
victims did, and Jeanne Buisson was a college age girl like the others.
The roommate rambled on and explained that when Jeanne didn't
return from her Saturday night date, she had gotten concerned mostly
THE MUSE EQUATION 19
because of what she had overheard, even if it had only been fragments
of two phone calls. Dominique let the description of events go on for
several minutes before deciding that the venting, or fabrication, had to
end. It was time to focus on the important points and separate the truth
from a possible fable.
“Would I be right to conclude from your statements that Jeanne is a
lonely person who has had a lot of bad luck with her relationships?”
“Yes, no man has met her expectations. She tries a new one each
A common act for personally unfulfilled college girls, many
continually risk meeting up with strangers and so add to the statistics in
the bulging police archives.
“One of your statements was that Jeanne had said to the caller,
'okay you can call me Clio and I'll call you Apollo', is that correct?”
“Yes. She said that before saying: 'I'll bring it with me.’”
“Did you hear what she was going to bring?”
“I missed a lot. Part of her conversation was blocked out by the
traffic noises, you know.” She pointed out the balcony door to
Boulevard Saint Michel, where a typical Latin Quarter demonstration of
the college students' party spirit was underway.
“Yes, I know,” Dominique said and saw Yvonne nodding with a big
grin. “May I look around the apartment?” She had already started
toward the kitchen with Yvonne following. “We can keep talking while
Dominique strolled into one of the bedrooms and saw a newspaper
on the bed and a pair of scissors lying next to it. There was a section cut
out from an opened page titled PERSONALS. “Whose room is this?”
“Yvonne, go find a copy of this paper.”
“I’ll be right back.”
Dominique continued to look around while interviewing Jeanne's
roommate. She collected a recent photo and several recently worn
articles of clothing from the pile on the floor in Jeanne's bedroom.
“What else did you hear?”
“I heard her say, 'okay, so I'll take the seven forty-two RER line to
—' I didn't hear what line number or to where.”
“I know there was a lot of noise out there, but think, concentrate,
the RER lines have only a single letter and number; either A, B, C, D,
or E. Try, at least the letter.”
With her eyes closed and her hands covering her ears, Jeanne's
20 Norman Mushnick
roommate continually repeated the train line letters. “B,” she shouted.
“No, C, I think it was C. I don’t know, but it ended with an E sound.
That's the best I can do.”
The telephone rang. The roommate turned pale and looked at
“Answer it,” the expert hostage negotiator said. “If it's a ransom
demand hand me the phone.”
“Heh, hello.” Instantly, color flushed back into her face. “No she's
not, but I'll tell her to call you as soon as she comes in. Okay, au
revoir.” She hung up and asked Dominique what she should say next
time Jeanne's grandmother calls. “She always calls when Jeanne is late
for her visits.”
“That’s up to you what to say.”
Yvonne called out from the great room, “I have the paper.”
Dominique laid the paper on the dresser and opened it to the same
page as the one that was on Jeanne’s bed. Then she overlaid the cutout
and read the ad that it framed.
SINGLE MALE 40'S COMFORTABLE INCOME, INTELLIGENT. GREEK MYTHOLOGY IS MY
HOBBY. SEEKING ATTRACTIVE SINGLE FEMALE, ANY RACE, UNIVERSITY STUDENT
WITH SAME INTEREST WHO WOULD LIKE TO HAVE INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION, READ
POETRY AND HAVE A FUN TIME. CALL 0144 27 04 04 ON Saturday 7:00 PM
SHARP. ASK FOR APOLLO.
“The Park Molester insists his victims call him Apollo,” Yvonne
“I’m thinking the same thing.”
“Has Jeanne responded to these ads before?” Dominique asked the
“Every Saturday, but....”
“She always told me where she was going. Why didn’t she tell me?
You’ve got to find her.”
“Please sit down and take a deep breath. Does she ever stay out
“Mostly, but she's always home by noon on Sunday. I called you
because she obviously wasn't here. I had slept in and did not find any
wet towels on the bathroom floor. She is messy, but her bed was made.
She never makes the bed on Sunday.”
THE MUSE EQUATION 21
“Why does she always come home by Sunday at noon after a
“She’s obsessed, hates missing her Sunday visits to her
Dominique continued probing the room as if her eyes were a
camera sending pictures to her mind, all the while observing the
roommate’s demeanor. “Is something missing from there?” she said
pointing to a nail all by itself in the middle of a group of ancient world
“Yes, that's where a parchment scroll of the Phoenician alphabet
“Could she have taken it to school?”
“She does at times, but always brings it back. It's a collector's item.”
“You have good knowledge of Jeanne’s routine,” Dominique said.
The roommate shrugged.
“What do you study?” Dominique asked.
“I'm in my last year of criminology.”
“You'll make a good detective one day,” Dominique said. Or a
smart criminal, she thought to herself.
“What is Jeanne studying?”
“History of Ancient Languages.”
“When did you last see the scroll?”
“Before, you said she said something like 'I'll bring it with me'.
Could it be that?”
“I don't know. I missed part of that conversation.”
“Did she act strange in any way?”
“Before the phone calls, she didn't answer when I asked who the
incoming call was from. That was out of character, she has never
ignored me before.”
“What time was the incoming call?”
“A few minutes after seven.”
“Did she act normal before then?”
“No. She had taken the phone out on the balcony earlier to make a
“Why is that not normal?”
“She always makes sure I'm close by to hear her part of the
The roommate held up the personals page and peeked through the
22 Norman Mushnick
cutout. “When she's responding to one of these.”
“Why is that?”
“To get my opinion on the guy.”
“When did she make the phone call?”
“At seven sharp. I remember because the bells of Notre Dame
Yvonne looked at the number on the phone. “Is that her correct
“May I make a call?” Yvonne asked.
“Have you ever used her phone?” Yvonne inquired.
Yvonne called France Telecom and gave her Prefecture ID code.
She asked for recent call history, listened for a moment, and hung up.
“The records show that the number called from this phone at seven
o’clock was the number in the ad. The incoming call to this phone at
five after seven was from a different number. Yvonne showed
Dominique the numbers she had written on the notepad. “I want to
make another call,” she said, already punching the keypad. After about
ten rings, she shrugged and hung up. Then she called the number in the
ad and hung up immediately without talking.
“Who answered?” Dominique asked.
“The concierge at the Hotel Crillon.”
“Let me try something.” Dominique punched in the number. It rang
five times before someone answered. “May I please speak to Jeanne
Buisson?” … “Sorry, I must have dialed the wrong number.”
Yvonne made another call on her cell phone. She turned toward
Dominique. “France Telecom told me the number that called here five
minutes past seven is a payphone and it’s located somewhere near the
Louvre on Rue Rivoli, possibly in the Tuileries Gardens or near Place
de la Concorde. That call lasted five seconds, and the next call to
Jeanne’s phone came thirty seconds later and lasted two minutes. It
originated from an untraceable cell phone.”
“Damn. Another one of those unregulated prepaids.”
Dominique gestured to Yvonne to stop. It was enough for now. She
handed the roommate her card and told her to call immediately if she
received a ransom demand or any other suspicious call.
“I'm going to have two police officers come to pick up these clothes
to give the bloodhounds a scent.”
THE MUSE EQUATION 23
“How long will it take to search the woods?”
“Like I said, the woods together total more than five-thousand
acres, and there are discrepancies in this occurrence from the other
Meaning the search could be for a body if this was a different
criminal or if the molester had lost his senses and killed his prey if she
had tried to escape.
“What was your take, Yvonne?”
“On the roommate?”
“Yes,” Dominique said and shrugged.
Yvonne mimicked her.
“Leave your car here,” Dominique said, “I'll drive us to the Crillon
to see why Jeanne would make a phone call to a concierge at one of
Paris’ preeminent luxury hotels.”
“I don't have a car.”
“How did you get here?”
Yvonne pointed to a disco across the street. “I walked. So do you
think we have another creep who's using the Park Molester's calling
card, but with a new theme?”
“Or,” Dominique speculated, “He’s more cunning than we gave
him or her credit for.”
“You think he's changed his approach?”
“Leave that open for now. Let's first see what the Crillon’s
concierge has to say.
“And what were you doing in a disco this early?”
“Meeting some guy for….” Yvonne opened her cell phone and
punched in a number.
“Who are you calling?”
“I saw her cell phone bill on the dresser and memorized the number
… wait it's ringing” ... “Jeanne Buisson, is that you?”
THE MUSE EQUATION 25
Yvonne paused and opened her mouth in a silent scream. She
looked at the display and showed it to Dominique.
“Did she answer you?”
“A female voice said ‘yes’, but then….”
“A man's voice said 'give me that', and then I heard a scream
followed by a crunching sound and—dead silence.”
The Hotel Crillon
T he Hotel Crillon was a masterpiece of 18th century Romanesque
influenced architecture on Rue de Rivoli facing the beautiful Place
de la Concorde and the Obelisk, which was originally a gift to France
from Luxor, Egypt, Seth’s homeland. The hotel’s past and recent
history of opulence did not seem a sensible connection with Jeanne
Buisson. Queen Marie Antoinette and her elite friends had frequented
the hotel. In World War II, the occupying German leaders had
overtaken it to use as their exclusive headquarters. Ernest Hemingway
wrote and reported from there as a war correspondent.
“Why would a lonely college girl call the concierge in such a
magnificent palatial establishment as this?” Yvonne asked.
“To find a man that would fulfill her financial desires? Maybe pay
her for sexual favors. That is how some coeds at the Sorbonne earn their
The doorman handed Dominique a card. He pasted a round sticker
on the rear window and summoned a parking attendant. She showed her
ID and told him to leave the car in front of the hotel. Two men in black
tuxedos, neck chafing collars and white gloves appeared and opened the
bronze tinted lobby doors. Dominique and Yvonne walked directly to
the concierge's desk on their left and sat down in the Louis XIV
armchairs. Both held their identification cards up in front of the man
sitting in the high back brown leather chair. He was on the phone,
finished the call with an apology and hung up.
THE MUSE EQUATION 27
“People keep calling for Apollo. There's no Apollo here,” he said
looking at Dominique. His grimace turned into a wide smile. “How may
I help you ladies?”
Dominique said, “We’re investigating an incident involving a
person named Apollo.”
“Well, I'm not him.”
Dominique looked at Yvonne who had written concierge on the
notepad and underlined it. Dominique had taught Yvonne that whenever
a person denies something not inferred or no suggested accusation
made, they were either nervous or hiding guilt.
“Were you on duty last night?”
“Do you know who was?”
The concierge opened the desk drawer and removed a calendar
page. He pointed to a name in the Saturday, April 6 PM square. “He
was scheduled, but you would have to check with the manager to make
sure. Wait, I'll do that for you.”
Another red flag: volunteering to help without provocation. He
called the manager and spoke louder than necessary while looking at
Dominique. Then he asked the manager if the login sheet showed André
Girard as last night's concierge. He hung up and shook his head. “I
think Sunday is his normal day off. May I be of any further assistance?”
he said and directed his eyes at a man holding a folded €100 bill.
“How do we get his address?”
The concierge pointed to a door next to the registration desk, and
then stood up to shake hands with the €100 bill. He handed the man an
envelope with “Opera Garnier” written on it and a stamped “VIP” in
large bold letters.
Dominique observed the scene and walked over to the manager's
door. She knocked, but entered without waiting for a response. After
stating her business, she examined the login sheet, verified the signature
and obtained André Girard's address. Yvonne was nowhere to be seen
when she returned to the lobby. Dominique walked toward the
restrooms past a wall of payphone cabins and nearly bumped into
Yvonne as she exited from the sixth and last of the cabins.
“Guess what?” Yvonne said.
“I give up.”
“This is the payphone from where the seven-oh-five call to Jeanne
Buisson was made. I thought I would be productive and use the time to
check out any payphones that we crossed paths with on Rue Rivoli. I
28 Norman Mushnick
have called forensics to come and take fingerprints, and I have asked
the custodian to put an “Out of Order” sign on it. Here he is. Merci,
monsieur. Now where to?”
“To pay a visit to André Girard. What time do you have?”
“Eight, give or take a few. Where's your Tag Heuer watch from
Seth? You always wear it.”
“Left in a hurry.”
Dominique drove along Rue de Rivoli, a typical tourist route and
turned down Boulevard du Palais passing by the Prefecture. She crossed
Isle de la Citie onto Boulevard Saint Michel, another tourist route, only
the majority of the crowd was young students from University Paris and
the Sorbonne searching the Latin Quarter for discos and wild times to
spend their partying hours. She turned onto Boulevard Du
Montparnasse, the center of the New Bohemia, which had sprouted
when the writers and poets had moved south leaving Montmartre to the
visual artists as well as the burgeoning prostitution industry.
“I’ve been in Paris for more than twenty years and this city still
intrigues me. In less than five miles we have encountered three diverse
cultures,” Dominique marveled.
“And we didn’t stop for one single moment to indulge, and not for
any of the eleven red lights that you drove through. If I were Prefect, I
would not think of doing that, even if I had the Prefect’s placard on the
dashboard, which you didn’t,” Yvonne quipped.
“There it is, eighty-seven. Girard’s apartment is number forty-five.
There’s no place to park except on the sidewalk. Look for my placard. It
is somewhere under the front seat. I would love to save Parking
Enforcement the trouble of writing a ticket.”
Yvonne looked at the back seat. “Yeah, and save you the expense of
buying another basket to toss them in to. That one runnith over.”
T hey walked up eight timeworn granite steps. An “Out of Order”
sign was taped on the door buzzer panel. Dominique turned the
knob on the security door; it opened. A dim bulb inside a broken wall
mounted globe lighted the musty smelling checkerboard tiled hallway.
She knocked softly on number 45 at the end of the long narrow hall of
eight doors. The knocks got harder for each repetition. A latch clicked
on number 44 across the hall and the door opened wide.
“No one is home,” a man said standing with his hands on his hips in
44’s open doorway. “Do you have a message for André?” 44 asked as
he moved his eyes up and down Dominique and Yvonne’s bodies fixing
on the hem of Yvonne’s miniskirt. “I should call to have the light
fixtures fixed, it’s hard to see you, uh, anyone in this dingy place. But
your fragrances tell me that you are two sexy ladies.”
The available light that spilled from his apartment came from a
flickering television screen showing a porno film.
“We're from the Prefecture of Police. We are looking for André
Girard,” Dominique said.
“Do you have identification?” he asked and leaned against the
doorjamb as if wanting to step out of the way to provide a better view of
the television to the ladies. His beer belly made that gesture impossible.
Dominique and Yvonne flashed their ID cards. He didn't even
glance at them. His eyes were busy studying the two visitors. He licked
spittle from the edge of his mouth.
“He went alone tonight,” 44 said. “I sometimes go with him, but I
got tired of listening to poetry. Do you girls want to come in and watch
30 Norman Mushnick
the movie? I can start it over from the beginning. It’s hot.”
“Where did he go alone tonight?” Dominique asked.
“Le Chat Noir in Pigalle. We go most Sundays, well, he does. You
girls are certainly welcome to come in for a while. I have extra beer,
unless you would prefer wine and I have condoms.”
“We'll be on our way. Thanks for the information.”
“The poetry starts at nine,” number 44 said, “but if you want a good
seat, you are already too late.”
“A good seat?” Dominique said.
“Allow me to explain. Why don’t you come in and sit down and get
comfortable.” 44 waited for an answer with a bright-eyed smile, but
shrugged and continued. “The poetry readers are all college coeds and
we single guys like to, well, you know.”
“No, I don't know,” Dominique said. “Educate me.”
“Well, we try to pick one up for....” 44 went silent.
“Continue please, for what?”
“A date, some sex. Okay?”
“If the girls agree, I guess it would be okay. Thanks again for your
help. Àu revoir.”
Dominique spun around. She grabbed Yvonne’s sleeve and started
walking to the front door. “When do you think he last bathed?”
“Is never a day of the week?”
Dominique held her bare wrist in front of Yvonne’s eyes. “Time?”
“Eight-fourteen and forty-seven seconds.”
Dominique drove back the same route stopping at all red traffic
signals until she turned onto Boulevard De Magenta into the Pigalle
district and onto Boulevard Rochechouart. She offered that as a partial
compromise to her assistant’s obsessive value system.
Sprinkled between upscale modernized bistros and discos were
remnants of dilapidated sex palace facades plastered with faded posters
promoting all nude female dancers. Most of the door alcoves were
occupied by sleeping homeless residents. The awake but drunken and
disheveled men staggered, looking at and touching the posters. The
penniless and homeless waited for merchants to go inside their shops so
they could steal food from the sidewalk stands. They would walk
brisker, still staggering, in pursuit of female passers-by, and then reach
out in hopes of conquest. Most fell down in the attempt.
Not much had changed in the 130 years since the Franco Prussian
THE MUSE EQUATION 31
war when Russian troops frequented the area. The soldiers nicknamed it
“Pig Alley” and were responsible for creating the word “Bistro”. It’s
what the word “fast” sound like in Russian when they ordered drinks.
“This is not the Champs Elysées,” Dominique mumbled.
“There's Le Chat Noir,” Yvonne said and straightened the placard
on the dashboard.
“How’s this for the extremes of diversion? In less than two hours,
we have visited one of Paris’ wealthiest areas, then the new Bohemia in
Montparnasse, and now we have crossed the threshold into the lowest
of the low, the sex capital scum of Paris. Time?”
“At the sound of the beep, it will be eight-twenty-two and ten
Inside Le Chat Noir
M ost Sundays, the same men came to hear the university coeds
recite poetry. Sometimes two or three groups of friends came
together. Tonight was different. The one who thought of himself as
Apollo saw one other man who frequented the poetry readings as often
as he did. Apollo had waited three weeks to hear two girls from
University Paris Five recite again; one he had chosen to collect and
keep and one who reminded him of a past relationship gone wrong. He
wore his usual out-on-the-town striped shirt and plaid polyester pants.
So did the man he recognized.
Apollo’s butt hung over the edges of the rickety slatted folding
chair. The dimly lit café’s smells of smoke, spilled beer, and urine from
the toilet near the stage, wafted through the humid air. He used a dirty
handkerchief to blow his dripping nose and then wiped his sweating
baldhead. He slurped from his can of beer, clearly not the first one, and
slid side to side on the chair and kept stroking his beard as he waited for
the girls. They had recited three weeks ago. The owner had invited them
to return tonight. He would have his wish in 30 minutes.
T he doorman at Le Chat Noir assessed Dominique and Yvonne’s
bodies and inquired if they would like to audition for next weeks'
nude dance contest. He handed them each a sheet of paper with
instructions for consideration. The first of five requirements said: “Only
shaved will be considered”. Dominique crumbled hers and handed it
back. Yvonne tore her copy into confetti and trickled it into his open
“No thanks, we're looking for a friend.” Neither showed their ID as
they scurried inside.
“Did you read those instructions?” Dominique said.
“Yeah, all five the same. They made their point about clean shaven
They walked through the choking smells of cigarette smoke and the
bitterness of cheap beer. There was a man in the front row who matched
the hotel manager’s description of André Girard.
“Monsieur André Girard?”
She flashed her ID. “I am Dominique Fontaine, Paris' Prefect of
Police. I would like to ask you some questions. Please accompany me
“Oui, mademoiselle.” He stood up, walked over and talked to a man
seated in the end chair at the aisle before walking back to where
Dominique and Yvonne were waiting.
It was too dingy to get a look at the other man’s face. “A friend?”
“Yes, I asked him to save my seat. After you, ladies,” he said.
They walked out and crossed the street to the middle of the divided
Boulevard Rochechouart. Dominique sat down at the end of an iron
bench in the all dirt median, once beautifully landscaped. Yvonne
grabbed the other end spot, leaving André one possibility in joining
them in this al fresco office. It was not the Tuileries Gardens.
“We request your help to locate someone who you might have been
in contact with recently,” Dominique said.
“I’m at your service,” he replied, his eyes fixed on Yvonne’s legs.
“Do you know anyone named Apollo?” Dominique asked.
“Some man came in to the Crillon about two weeks ago, who said
his name was Apollo.”
“Go on. And would you please look at me when you talk to me.”
He turned towards her. “He handed me fifty Euros and said there
would be more if I helped him.”
“He said he wanted to use my desk phone number to have some
friends call him and that they would leave their numbers and could I
please write them down.”
“Did you agree to do that?”
“Concierges are not paid well; we survive on tips and special
“Did anyone call your number?”
“Last night, three calls came in around seven o’clock.”
“Men and woman?”
“Did you write the numbers down?”
“Yes, but Apollo was already there and took them right away.”
“Describe him,” Dominique said and looked at Yvonne who was
already filling page after page of a notepad.
André Girard was sweating, yet a cool spring breeze filled the air.
He described a short stocky man with dark blonde curly hair and a
brown long beard about 45 to 50 years old wearing dark tinted designer
“What was he wearing?”
“A plaid suit, sort of tattered and not too clean.”
“So, he didn't look like a man of means, except for the sunglasses,
but still he gave you a fifty Euro tip.”
“And fifty more before he left the hotel lobby.”
“Did he say or do anything else before he left?”
“He dashed into one of the payphone cabins in the lobby.”
“Which one?” Dominique asked nodding to Yvonne.
“The first one … no, the middle … uh, I don't remember.”
“Did he come back, or say anything else to you?”
“He said ‘if anymore calls come in, tell them Apollo no longer lives
“He gave me the other fifty Euros and left.”
“What time was that?”
“Did you see where he went?”
“Yes, from my desk I have a good view of the street in front of the
hotel. He entered the Concorde Metro with a bunch of other people.”
“You may return to your café, but do not leave Paris without
notifying me.” Dominique handed him a calling card. “We might have
to talk to you again. Thank you.”
Girard walked back to Le Chat Noir, twice glancing over his
shoulder at Yvonne.
“I'm tired,” Yvonne said. “Must we do any more tonight?”
“We have to think through this—now. Let's sit here a moment.”
“It's been a long day, but okay, let's talk.”
“Girard is hiding something.”
“I agree,” Yvonne said. “But not his unmatched attire. And he was
cooperative, even giving lengthy answers with information as if he
anticipated your next question.”
“Glad you noticed that too. A mark of someone who’s hiding
“We’ve been here a while. What time is it?”
“Nine-something,” Yvonne said and smiled.
Dominique shook her head and smiled back. “Let’s sit a while
longer. I have a hunch that Le Chat Noir could be worth watching.”