Raven’s Run 60

Chapter Seventeen

I sent Susyn back to her hotel with instructions to find the quickest means of developing a roll of film. I had discovered two exposed rolls in my pocket the morning Raven left. I had been carrying them for her, and on one of them was the picture of Raven, Eric, and me in the cafe at Monmarte.

I went to the youth hostel. The hours of lockout were past, and the eating area that doubled as a lounge had filled up with kids and a few older travelers who looked like a cross between bird watchers and overage hippies. Except for the Americans, most of them were at least bilingual. Since I spoke English and German, and a hundred words of French, I managed to talk to everyone who had known Eric. As I had seen for myself, Eric was a shy one; but all of the girls remembered him.

I stayed for the obligatory spaghetti supper, then called Susyn. She met me at the gare, and we took the night train for Lausanne. Susyn had engaged a first class couchette, so we had privacy and bunk beds to sleep in. She found it crowded. I was used to sleeping sitting up in a day compartment, but I didn’t point that out to her.

Susyn had opened her suitcase and taken out a negligee before she realized that there was no bathroom in which to change. She caught my eye, and looked embarrassed for the first time. I said, “I’ll step outside. Will fifteen minutes be enough?”

She smiled, then added, “I’m not used to sleeping with a man – under these conditions.”

I said, “You’ve never been safer.”

I stood in the aisleway with the broad window down, smelling the damp air and mild pollution of the industrial section of Paris as we eased out toward the edge of the city, and thought about my last night with Raven.

*       *       *

We arrived in Lausanne about seven in the morning, after a lovely ride up the tree clad valleys of the foothills of the Alps. I managed a shave and a rag bath since I had no idea when I would see a shower again. I have no idea what Susyn did. Most of my mind had shut down. One small section was reserved for doing the little things that required my immediate attention, like shaving and not walking into walls. The the rest of my mind wrestled with the problem of my life and what, if anything, it meant to Raven.

In the station, I told Susyn that she should find out if there was a consulate, an American Express, or anything else she could think of which Raven might have visited. I would check out youth hostels, campgrounds, cheap hotels, and find out where a street musician would be likely to hang out.

Susyn said, “Yessir. Should I salute, or just go quietly about my business?”

She looked amused and angry at once. I said, “Sorry.”

“You sure are a bossy bastard.”

“I said I’m sorry. What do you want from me?”

“I want to know that you know that I’m not a helpless hanger-on. If you weren’t available, I’d be doing this on my own.”

I wanted to apologize properly and get things back on a friendly basis, but I couldn’t. My mind wanted to normalize relations; my hands wanted to slap her. Or maybe Raven. But Raven wasn’t here and Susyn was. In the end, I just grunted and told her where I would meet her later. more tomorrow

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