I think it is only fair to look at my life in retrospective now that I am sitting here in this cage. I wish I could do it with pride, but the truth is I would be fooling myself by doing so. I do not even think I am sure when everything went south. I used to be so happy. Gosh, I still remember being that happy.
My uncle used to say that my conduct problems began when I was just a little boy. I do not have much recollection of it, to be honest, but it makes sense. He once told me a story of me bursting into anger one time my mom prepared something other than what I had said I wanted to eat. I remember something about me hitting the floor and the walls until my hands went black. I wish I could say I remember that and perhaps say something in my defense, but I cannot.
There is one incident, however, of which I have a faint image in my head. There had been some disagreement at school and kids were yelling at each other out of some littleness. I must have been eleven at that time. As the emotions went rising and kids started to push each other, some sort of fight began. Something childish, I guess, but it became brutal. I forgot most of that, but when I came to myself, I was surrounded by beat up kids. They had been beaten well. After that incident, I and some other kids were expelled from school. That is when I started working on my uncle’s ship. He had always said I had the strength for it, so, why not give it a try. That miraculous ship was the one that sailed me from England to the Normandie coast where I met Nicole six years later.
I never thought I would meet the love of my life so young, but I did. I had seen others do so, but it seemed a bit forced, maybe even arranged. I am fully convinced that our love was neither forced nor arranged. It was one of those fantastic events that only happen by chance, or some would say, by fate. It was the fulfillment of a dream I had had. Everything flowed like a river going downhill would do. Ever since the first encounter, our minds merged marvelously. They were soon followed by our hearts, souls, bodies, lives. There was no single aspect of our story that did not feel just right. All the pieces had finally fallen into place. It fit.
After spending a few weeks there trading with some merchants and meeting with her every day, I decided that was the place I wanted to be in. I never went back on the ship. I did keep my business relationship with my uncle. We were then associates. I was stationed in France running the land-based operations there and my uncle swung by every 3 months with new cargo to leave and to take. The business was running smoothly.
Nicole and I used to stroll through the parks and gardens with such peace even the slowly moving clouds were jealous. Every dinner felt like a special date. Every morning felt like a gift from heaven. Every kiss felt like I could not have enough.
It did not take long before we moved in together. We made good friends around the neighborhood. Jack, who was a smith and his wife Andréa, who was pregnant at the time. Tony, an Italian shmuck who was sometimes nice, especially when he was not drinking, and his brother Matteo who did not speak much, but was a clever man. There were also Charlotte and Camille, twin sisters who lived next by. We used to get together on Weekends to talk, drink, play, dance, and enjoy life altogether.
It did not take long before I popped the question and asked Nicole to marry me. We had a great celebration. My family came over from England, her family came over from all parts of France, and we had this amazing wedding at the beach like she always wanted. Everyone rejoiced at our love and joined us while we promised to love each other through thin and thick for the rest of our lives. That sounded reasonable at the time, but it might be just the delirium of a sentenced man.
It did not take long before I felt something was wrong. Roughly 6 months had passed when she started to act differently. Something had changed. I was not sure what it was, but something had changed.
My mom used to tell me I sabotaged myself in the good moments of my life always expecting the worst. She had this theory that I unconsciously boycotted my success with my diverted mind. I never listened to that, to be honest.
Everything came down one afternoon when the streets were flooded by recent rains and I had to return home earlier. On my walk home I took a detour and stopped at a bakery to buy some baguettes, and there she was, Nicole. She did not see me, she was distracted. She was standing on the street looking at her watch impatiently when a man appeared from behind, hugged her, lifted on the air, and then kissed her lips. It was cold, and the man was wearing a hat and a scarf. I could not see his face. They started walking down the streets until they reached a little building. It was a hotel. Before going inside, the guy turned around and I got to see him. I was stunned.
I should have seen the signs before, but I was blinded by love. From the very beginning, it was there. Matteo was there. The guy was not quite, the guy was hiding what he had been doing.
I waited outside on the street until they got out and I followed them. They walked together to the house of the twins and they went inside holding hands. They did not even try to hide it. And everybody was waiting for them inside. All my friends. They never would have thought I was there, watching them betray me. Sadness, despair, anger. I was a cocktail of mixed feelings and I could not handle it anymore. I went in.
They were all rounded by a coffee table talking and laughing when the smirks on their faces changed abruptly as I interrupted their reunion. Nicole and Matteo were still holding hands. My teeth were screaking with the pressure I was applying to them. My nails were well clawed on my skin as I clenched my fists. And at that moment, I passed out. Or at least I wish I had.
By the time I came to myself, all of them but Andréa were dead. Whatever monster lives insider of me has a soft spot for pregnant women. I was sitting on the coffee table with my clothes, hands, and arms covered in blood.
I was surprised when my uncle came to see me in jail. He told me he had lied to my mother. He had told her I had left Europe with Nicole and was probably never coming back. I thanked him for that. No mother should have to suffer from a dishonoring son like me. And then he said something that was even more surprising. I had killed 9 men on the Ship during the 6 years I served there. I would go mad, attack people, sometimes kill them, and then have no recollection at all of it. He apologized and tried to take responsibility for what had happened, but I could not let him. It was not his fault. I cannot blame the monster either. At the end of the day, we are one. Both monster and man.
I loved Nicole. She was the love of my life. And I also loved my friends.
Ce sont mes derniers mots. Je suis prêt pour la guillotine.