Louise, she's crazy

Leslie Kaplan

Artwork by Hidetoshi Yamada

those saleswomen
only waitresses are worse than them
they never come
they never have the time
actually, joggers are even worse
i don't run
and i will never run
actually, talkers are even worse
those ladies who talk
behind the screen
who talk while watching you
and who smile
you never know why
when i see them
sitting on their couch
with their red nails
and their low-necked dresses
chatting away
blah blah blah
blah blah blah
and eating chips
disgusting chips
my mother always told me, Don't eat chips
chips aren't real food
Don't eat chips
my mother always told me that
and there they sit
behind the screen
eating their chips
just like that
i know very well
what they're saying
between the lines
with their hypocritical
they're saying, women this, women that
they give so-called advice
do this, do that
it's a way of criticizing
they smile all the time
but they are never happy
they denigrate
they demean
they destabilize
let me tell you

all trash
because i
in any case
i am not
(pause, gesture)
i am not
(pause, gesture)
i am not
(pause, gesture)
(she sobs)

just like that
that expression, just like that
it's an expression
how can i put it, cultural
few peoples
can have such
a refined expression
how can i put it
yes, cultural
just like that
it's the essence of the French
just like that
that blond saleswoman
originally from Yugoslavia
i would guess
she cannot
absolutely cannot
appreciate it
use it
just like that
the Russians
the Chinese
they're fine
O.K., O.K.
for sports
we know all about that
O.K., O.K.
i won't argue that one
they're fine
they're strong, that's for sure
that's for sure, they're strong
O.K., O.K.
but a turn of phrase
so fine
so subtle
so how can i put it
so cultural
it's untranslatable
i have my high school diploma and more
and i know that it's
completely untranslatable
no-one can translate that sentence
that expression
and certainly not
who come from countries
like, i don't know
countries like
you know, those countries
that you can't even find
on the map
i can tell you
i traveled a lot
i traveled extensively
and even so, those countries
i never visited
i, in any case
i am not
(pause, gesture)
i am not
(pause, gesture)
i am not
(pause, gesture)
(she sobs)
i was sitting on the train, earlier

what do you mean, the train?
you take the train?

yes, i take the train

the train, the subway, all that?

the train, the subway

you go underground?

i go where the train takes me

how can you take the train?

i just take it, that's all

you're crazy

i'm not crazy
i take the train

the train is dangerous
it's poorly lit and there are crazy people

crazy people? on the train?

there are people who talk to themselves
who bump into each other
who look at their feet

on the street as well

the train is poorly lit

the street is also poorly lit

there's daylight in the street

that's not daylight
that's a light
a light

what do you mean, a light?

that's an artificial light

what do you mean?

in cities, it's not real light

it isn't? what do you mean?

neither real light
nor true light
the sky is low
the city is dirty
there are too many people everywhere
yesterday i was in the subway
this guy got on
a young guy
looking beaten down
nice clothes
but falling to pieces
he started singing
his voice was hoarse
it was a lament
an old nostalgic
he was swaying forward and backward
he was staring straight ahead
it was awful
all i wanted to do
was to throw him out
i was thinking, you loser
what a wreck
i felt bad for thinking that
at the same time i was telling myself
it's his fault
he brings it upon himself
i couldn't take it anymore
i felt queasy
really queasy
i got out
i left the subway
i sat on a bench

and then?

and then all of a sudden
i was struck by an idea
a sentence
that truly frightened me
i got back up
i started to walk again

what did you think?

being pressed against him, i thought
being pressed against him
two wrecks pressed

when i was in the crowd getting off the train
i came across a little scrawny man
and i thought, Never, never

never never what?
you will never know what he's thinking?

no no
never never

never never what?
you will never be able to imagine his life?

no no
never his face


no no no
never his face
never his features
never his body


no no no
never his body
never his torso
never his legs

that buckle?

no no no
never his legs
never his eyes


no no
never his eyes
never his hair
never his look

his sad eyes?
his drawn look?
his dull hair?

no no no
never never
never his jacket
never his pants

his worn jacket?
his threadbare pants?

never his silhouette
already gone

what do you mean, gone?
into thin air?
crossed over?

no no no
his silhouette already gone
his life with not much to speak of
i would like
for something to happen

what do you mean?

for something to happen
for something to occur
an event

something exceptional?

to live to exist to be
there are those days when everything seems flat
a puddle

everybody feels that

i don't care about everybody
i'm talking about me
there are those days
when i feel so insignificant
nearly nothing

everybody feels that

i don't care about everybody
i'm talking about me
for me, there are those days
where i say to myself, the proof
that a woman doesn't amount to much
is that God isn't married

what do you mean? what do you mean?

the proof that a woman doesn't amount to much
is that God isn't married

you are really depressed

of course i'm depressed
how can you not be depressed
is God married
yes or no?

maybe He's married
maybe He's not married
God does what He wants

if God were married everybody would know about it
God is not married

He isn't?

God is self-sufficient

if you get married
you're not self-sufficient?
i don't see God as single

you don't?
if you get married, you depend on someone
God doesn't depend on anyone

God is love

of course
God is love

God is love
He depends on those He loves

on those He loves
or on those who love Him?

on those who love Him
and on those He loves
God needs us

He needs us?
He is all-powerful
He doesn't need anybody

God is all-powerful
but He isn't crazy

God isn't crazy?
maybe He's crazy
maybe He's not crazy
God does what He wants

do you give Him
a capital H?

of course
i give Him
a capital H

God isn't crazy
God speaks to me

He speaks to you? He speaks to you?
sure He does

God does speak to me
i hear Him

what do you hear?
in what language does He speak to you?

He speaks to me in a very beautiful language
with exquisite words

exquisite words? exquisite words?
you make me laugh
you give me a good laugh
in what language does He speak to you?

a better language than yours, in any case

God speaks Latin
everybody knows that

He speaks to me
He speaks to me specifically
He says, My little chicken, My chickie

He speaks to you, He speaks to you
but it's nonsense
barnyard Latin

not at all
He says to me, My little nanny goat, My goatie
My little pussy cat, My little kitty

pinch me

My frog
My tropical bird
My marmoset

that's ridiculous
that's completely ridiculous
a marmoset is a monkey

we understand each other
that's all

you understand each other?

He loves me, He speaks to me
He feels that we're close

how do you mean
you're close
where is He?

He's here
He's there
He's everywhere

is everywhere close?

there are places closer
than others
that's it
that's all

that's it
that's all?

He loves me, He speaks to me
recently it was raining, raining
it was pouring
and He congratulated me
because i had a hood

a hood or a hooded cloak?

a hood and a hooded cloak
God likes hoods
look at monks

that's ancient, monks

God is always fashionable

you mix everything up
God isn't fashionable
He never goes out of fashion

you always want to have
the last word

what do you mean?

when we're talking
you always want to have the last word
the final say

the final say?

you want to conclude finish close

for example?

there is no example
you want to prevent me from talking

maybe you don't have anything to say

you can talk
without having anything to say

no way
you must have something to say
when you're talking

no no no
you don't have to
no end product is required
you can talk for no particular reason

how horrible
for no particular reason

no reason no reason no reason
you always find reason to be right

reason to be right?
for my peace of mind
i need to be right

what do you mean?

if i'm not right
if i'm not right

then what?

if i'm not right
i'm wrong
if i'm wrong
i lose my mind

when you lose your mind
you're not wrong

what are you saying
i don't understand

we don't talk in order to be right

so then why do we talk

we talk
we talk
we talk to talk

we talk to talk?
blah blah blah

not blah blah blah
we talk
to talk
with someone
you talk to yourself

everybody talks to themselves

even when you're with someone
you talk to yourself

what i want is to win

to win? how so?

to win, i want to win

but win what? money?

to win

to win a little time?

to win win win
do you see that egg?
do you see that egg?
that's life
birth, copulation, and death
life is round like an egg
round like an island
and we go round in circles

are you bored?

i am bored
i have a head full of preconceived notions
notions that go into shreds

ruminated or insubstantial?

ruminated and insubstantial
my world is all wallpaper

wallpaper or papier-mâché?

wallpaper and papier-mâché
everything that i think, i pass through
nothing holds out
i'm bored

you need to meet someone

i would like to meet someone
but i'm afraid

what do you mean, you're afraid

i'm afraid

but afraid of what

i'm afraid, that's all

there's no reason to be afraid

there are reasons to be afraid
there are always risks
yesterday someone told me a story of this guy
who killed his wife

if he killed his wife
that doesn't count

what do you mean?
what do you mean, that doesn't count?

that doesn't count
that's a crazy person

for weeks and weeks
he kept her
in some liquid, a solution
he would come, he would go, he would get the mail
he didn't know anymore
if he was alive
or if he was dead
if she was dead
was he alive
and if he was dead
was she alive
death life life death
they were no longer connected
he had a friend
who knew
and who came to console him
from time to time

translated from the French by Amelia Parenteau