A novel featuring a Chinese doll, a French woman and a flute

29 November 2007


- She isn't here, Elle said as she sat again in the car next to Tiss, I left a message... I'll come round another day.

As he started the car he said he'd prefer people did not know they were together. Elle's friend she was to meet was his former boss's wife with whom he had had a row about some bamboo to cut.

They drove to Kaikohe where he had planned to do some shopping that morning. He had planned to do his laundry at the laundromat and to buy a sweat shirt. They walked around a few shops touching everything and buying nothing. Just to check prices, just for fun. The fun to act as a couple going shopping into town. As if... they weren't alone anymore. He took ages to choose a sweat shirt, asking Elle what she thought about it, if it was the right size, the right price. Then he left her at the laundromat while he fetched some special paint for his car. They ended up in a café where, after some negotiations, he managed to be served a German styled coffee with cream, and where he offered a patisserie to his wife. Well, to Elle. The game was intoxicating.

Before driving back to Kerikeri, Tiss wanted to stop at a farm where there was a job offer to milk the cows. While they were waiting for the herd that could be seen in the distance followed by the farmer on his 'quad', he sat on his car's bonnet and rolled himself a cigarette. They were already making a happy couple's plans, the husband coming home all dirty to a sweet smelling cottage. After a short talk it was clear that the farmer had already found someone. Farewell the dream!

25 November 2007

49. We knew something was going to happen

- We knew something was going to happen, but what?... everyone had enough... we were scared of the Russian tanks. If our government called for the Russian army, we would have had little chance. we were heading for a massacre... A lot of people had fled to Czechoslovakia... But then I thought: "to end up where? all my family is here"...

Slender and muscular, tatooed on one arm, a long beard, with sparce blond hair, he was talking of the fall of the soviet empire, as he was leaning on the kitchen sink at the hostel called The Lodge. Elle, while peeling vegetables, was listening to him with interest. In his cold blue eyes she could detect some powerful scary drama. She was irresistibly attracted.

Back in Kerikeri she tried to avoid starting life again where she had left it. As she preferred to begin someting new, she had settled at The Lodge outside town. Some thirty to forty people lived there working in nearby farms or orchards, in transit, like migrating birds. English young people from Manchester or Birmingham, Germans from East or West, people from Switzerland, Japan or Korea, all seeking some paid work to enable them to go on with their world travelling. The English folks called it a 'working holiday'.

- When the wall fell, what happened? Elle asked.
- We didn't hear about it straight away! One day on the radio in the middle of a trifle of other news they announced: "by the way the border with the west is open...", he said laughing.

She could hardly picture this political and economical earthquake that had happened over there in Europe some years before. They had talked about the 'iron curtain' for so long. How had it been for people on a daily basis when they raised the curtain?

- When you were able to travel to the west, what did you see first?
- The butcher shops! he replied without hesitating and laughing as if to apologize for such triviality, ...the quantities of meat and sausages... I bought meat... with the hundred marks the west German government had given us.

The he started describing the border. A bit like talking about a very painful operation he would have kept a sharp memory of.

To start with the border could not be seen even from a distance. There was a wide border zone of about twenty kilometers in width where people could only visit with a special pass. Only people who lived there could go across. He had a pass for it to go and visit his grand-mother. In any case you could not come closer than two kilometers from it. That border, you just could not see it. Never. The last few meters were mined and some mines triggered shooting from machine guns. Every two kilometers a mirador manned with soldiers round the clock . Several lines of electric wire and barbed wire. Between them, a space where killer dogs watched. Had people died on this thing? Yes, of course. He knew some, of course.

The boarders at the Lodge started arriving to get their dinners ready. Elle went back to her room she shared with Liyan only. She started plaiting cotton bracelets. For no one in particular. Just to build up her stock.

- You're not saying anything, Liyan complained.
- No, she replied.
Liyan in the South Pacific, book 2 Polynesia is now available for purchase on the net at blurb.com

19 November 2007


She drove on to the marina, read an offer for a crew job sailing to Australia and ran out of petrol on the way back to the house. As she arrived back by bus, Doodoo said to her:

- Someone phoned for the car. They'll come and see it to-morrow.

After a few days none of Elle's plans had worked out. F-sharp and Liyan started commenting on the course of events:

- I have the feeling we're not about to leave New Zealand, F-sharp said.
- Yeah, it's kind of stuck, isn't it? Liyan answered pulling a face.

The two of them had a friend and an ally in the little girl, Mandy, who loved listening to the tunes Elle played on the flute. Liyan found Mandy very beautiful and the little boy very sweet. Sometimes she thought she'd love to be a little girl too, rather than a doll. "One does not decide of one's destiny", used to repeat F-sharp. So she was content with being a doll.

Olympic did not find a buyer. Elle decided to give up the idea of a big departure. She asked Doodoo to give her a lift to the north bridge the next day. She would leave her car at her new friends' place and she would hitch-hike back to Kerikeri and get back to work.

Doodoo had left her at the exit for Davenport. Elle and Liyan were standing on the other side of the big bridge, on the left side of the motorway where three lanes threw up loads of vehicles driving full speed northward. It was twelve thirty.

- Well now! Elle muttered.

The past was in Kerikeri. What did she have to go back there for? What would she appear to be coming back after this farewell party a fortnight ago at the hostel?

- Don't worry too much, Liyan suggested, to-morrow is another day! You will not go back in time, even if you retrace your steps.

A delapidated car on the side lane. The passenger door had a bizarre do-it-yourself system of opening. The driver apologized for it, said he was a baker and that he was back from delivering hot buns in town. He asked if she smoked before lighting his cigarette. About twenty kilometers after the end of the motorway he was leaving the main road to drive home. Thank you, good bye. Elle found herself on the side of the road facing the traffic going north, with her navy blue leather bag on the shoulder and her small bag at her foot on the ground. Her thumb up as a sign that she was asking for a lift. A short while later a big utility stopped to take her. A young couple said they had hitch-hiked a lot themselves. Solidarity binds. They dropped her some fifty kilometers further up. As she was hardly settling in a favorable spot at the exit end of a small town, a powerful four wheel drive stops and takes her in. He was driving up to Kaitaia, in the very far north, on the other side of Kerikeri. And he drove fast.

Elle was dropped at the hostel's door at 4.30 sharp, four small hours after her departure from Auckland. She had broken a record of a type. "A good omen", she thought to herself, "what is next to come?"
Liyan in the South Pacific, book 2 Polynesia is now available for purchase on the net at blurb.com

12 November 2007

45. The next day a yacht captain

The next day a yacht captain looking for crew phoned. Elle ran to the quay and found the boat. The man asked her on board, offered a cup of good coffee and said he was making for Australia soon. Sorry no, never mind, thank you. She chatted for a while and walked back to the hostel disappointed. Meanwhile Olympic was bored to death waiting on the car park at the supermarket. After three days it became obvious. The old car did not appeal to anyone. Elle drove her back to the hostel.

The day before departure the hostel's helper who was vacuum cleaning in the corridor said out of the blue:

- The French are bastards who blow bombs in our backyard!

Flabbergasted by this sudden spurt of hatred Elle reacted by answering louder:

- To start with, we don't blow bombs. No one died. We've been doing nuclear research for the last ten years. And second, the atoll where it is taking place is not in your backyard but three time zones further, the same distance as between Paris and Moscow, or Bangkok and Tokyo.

Then she walked past and the hostel assistant went on pulling his vacuum cleaner apart. Some time later in the common room, after this first volley, Elle had another try:

- But why on earth do you have so much hatred for the French in this country? What did we do to you?
- De Gaulle asked New Zealand to come to defend France and we sent our soldiers to die there!
- What!!! Elle uttered completely dumbfounded, what war are you talking about?

For the first wold war of the twentieth century Kiwi soldiers fought valiantly in the trenches and died on French soil. That was right. They had left en masse to Europe at the call of their home country, Britain, to defend the British empire. They fought in the Dardanelles too and paid a heavy tribute to their attachment and loyalty to the British crown. For the second world war of the twentieth century Kiwi men left en masse again to England calling. They fought in Africa and elsewhere under the British flag. Not in France where there hardly was a battle. Except at the landing, of course, of the Anglo-American armada. De Gaulle? After the invasion of France by the Germans he had the role of an outlaw decreeting on his own that the French government was exiled in London. He made a call for help, that's right, but to his own countrymen to make them fight on against the invader...

The Kiwi man didn't listen. Elle shrugged her shoulders, thought that New Zealand did not have updated history books and went on preparing for departure.

She was just having her periods.

- Ah shit! she said out loud as if to herself.
- What's up now? Liyan asked.
- Lucky you, you don't have 'periods', you can't even imagine the pain in the neck it is... a fountain of blood running between your legs for a whole week, every three weeks... count, Liyan, count the number of bloody days it makes in a year!
Liyan in the South Pacific, book 2 Polynesia is now available for purchase on the net at blurb.com

11 November 2007


At the Whangarei hostel one night at the dinner table there was one called Richard who said, as he was smelling Elle's casserole dish on the cooker, that it smelt yummy. He had just messed up his rice which, found to be too sticky, ended up in the bin. She offered to share her casserole knowing that there is nothing worse than eating on your own in front of someone who's just messed up his rice. Richard agreed with pleasure. He offered all the ingredients he had in store in his box in case she needed some.

- See here? that box marked Richard? you take whatever you want, when you like... mm! it's really nice, that dish.

- It's very easy to make, you know. It's a recipe from the islands. Listen carefully: you fry bits of chicken, you throw in some fresh ginger and garlic cut finely, shreds of capsicums of all colors for looks, you put a lid on, you lower the fire and you simmer. At the end you throw in a can of coconut milk. In a separate pot you boil a few sweet potatoes, kumaras, if you like...

- You have them, in the islands? Richard asked.

- In New Caledonia we have sweet potatoes, taros, yams, all that, but I find local kumaras here very tasty.

Liyan had just heard them talk about 'Caledonia'. That same evening she asked where it was. Elle admitted she had lived there. In fact that's where she came from before she got to New Zealand. Liyan would have loved to share this piece of information with F-sharp but the flute was stuck, filed away, snug in her box. "Too bad, I'll tell her another time", she thought.
Liyan in the South Pacific, book 2 Polynesia is now available for purchase on the net at blurb.com

About Me


This is not a novel really. It has no plot, no beginning and no end. It is a slice of life, the way it happened, portraying real people. A slice of life set with fantasy. This text is my own bad translation of what I wrote in French between 1996 and 1999.


Copyrights 2006-2010 Frankie Perussault All rights reserved.

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