I HAVE NOTHING
Chapter Five

The City of Light

The stationís clock read ten oíclock in the morning. Jack was glad to not have more luggage than his tiny duffle bag, because in the middle of that chaos, it would be impossible to find any other suitcase. Several soldier groups were across the platform, and lots of families were waiting for the trains, fear painted on their faces, policemen dressed as civilians watching everything, trying to find some stranger with a suspect face...there was a war, so the ambience in Paris was anything but normal. Jack finally passed through all those people, and finally, the morning sun was upon his face.

A soldier that spoke English showed him the way to Montmartre, the bohemian section that was shared by artists, intellectuals, prostitutes, drunks, and mad people. Most resided in coffee houses and squares, telling their miseries to anyone who might be interested in hearing them, but, after all, Jack thought that it had something, something magical and special. There was some kind of freedom floating in the air that he liked...he took a deep breath and looked in his pocket for some coins to have a cup of coffee.

He looked sometimes at the waiter. Maybe he would be familiar to him...but it was useless. The rest of the day, he took several walks, looking and letting himself be looked at, looking for that light that would illuminate his life. But everything stayed black.

He was hungry and entered a dirty restaurant, where an old man hurt everybodyís ears with something that once had been an accordion.

"Does anybody speak my language?"

A boy with brown hair who was sat in a corner with his head in a book turned.

"Jack! Jack Dawson! Mon Dieu! Jack Dawson!"

He stood up as if a bomb had just exploded at his feet and hugged Jack so tightly that he lifted him two hand spans from the ground.

"My dear friend! What are you doing here? This is amazing!"

Jack didnít know what to say. Emotion had left him deaf, mute, and almost blind. He felt he was losing the worldís sight, and asked the boy to let him sit in a chair.

"You know me? You...you know who I am?"

"But...of course, Jack! What are you saying? Iím Pierre! Crazy Pierre! Donít tell me you donít remember meÖ"

But Jackís lost look was the only answer he got. Pierre couldnít understand anything, but he asked the waiter for two glasses of wine and sat quietly in front of his friend. Something strange was going on, and he had all night to discover what was it. Jack drank the wine in one single gulp and then cleared his throat.

"I donít know where to begin..."

Bit by bit, words started coming out of his mouth. Pierre didnít stop looking at him, surprised that he was listening to Jackís story. When he told him that he was there because of a drawing, he laughed.

"Iím sure you sell it to earn some money! How do you think you lived, my friend?"

Pierre told him what he knew about him. That his name was Jack Dawson, that he was an American, and that he had arrived in Paris with dreams of becoming famous, but things werenít as he had thought, and that he had decided to go back home.

"Knowing you, Iím sure you won your Titanic passage in a card game."

They both laughed hard.

Jack stayed without any remembrance, but he felt that Pierre really appreciated him, and that between them there was some kind of really good connection. They spent the night talking, first in the restaurant, and then in Pierreís attic. His friend offered to let him stay there like old times, and Jack accepted gladly. Anyway, according to Pierre, he had nowhere to go.

Near dawn, the two friends fell into their beds. But Jack couldnít sleep. His brain was functioning like a locomotive, repeating in his mind everything that Pierre had said. At least now he knew where he came from, but in his heart...he still felt a weird empty sensation.

"Pierre...Pierre, tell meówas I in love with somebody?"

"You? Oh! Yeah! Of course, with three or four hundred mademoiselles, but I think that if you saw them, you wouldnít remember their faces."

"No, seriously. I mean really loving someone."

"Well...I donít know of any woman who could have stolen your coeur yet, my friend."

Jack turned around and looked at the picture of the smoking woman. No, he hadnít been in love with her when he had drawn her. But he had the strange sensation that he had been deeply in love with one of his models. Was that really true, or was that just his imagination? Jack sighed. Surely he would never know about it.

*****

His first weeks in Paris were madness. In spite of the war, Montmartre kept being the refuge that it had always been, with its strange characters, its strange restaurants, and its strange rhythm of life. There, life started when the sun set. Jack and Pierre slept during the day, and during the night, they would stay out or work frenetically in the attic.

Pierre wanted to be a writer, and even though people told him that his writings were too shameless to be published, he kept filling pages and pages with his revolutionary ideas about love, sex, and death, his favorite subjects.

Jack discovered that he had a natural talent for painting, especially of portraits, and for drawing people, seeing what was inside of themópassion, loneliness, sorrow, kindness, evil...

His folder began filling with portraits quickly, as the attic began being filled with women. Aspiring actresses, waitresses, prostitutes, poetesses, vagabonds...one time he had a nurse! Some of them were really beautiful, but Jack didnít feel anything looking at them. Watching their naked bodies was just a part of his job, nothing else. His blue eyes drew every corner of their bodies with the precision of a surgeon. It was like his heart and his feelings were somewhere else, far away from there, lost in the emptiness of his head. He wasnít able to fall in love with anyone, and at the same time, he felt a love bigger than the ocean floating in the sea of his memory. A cage without a lock, with nowhere to go, with no owner.

Chapter Six
Stories