Dix ans moins dix-huit jours

Après une nuit de fouilles archéologiques menées avec audace et opiniâtreté par Vigneau et moi, dans nos mémoires et nos anciens ordinateurs et nos supports de sauvegarde, on a fini par retrouver les quatre pages que j’écrivis à l’époque sur Lapointe et moi. Ça s’intitule, astucieusement, Lapointe et moi. L’ennui, c’est que j’ai eu beau le donner à Jocelyne Lepage de La Presse le 10 novembre 2004, je ne pense pas qu’il ait paru là, et pourtant c’est paru quelque part, mais du diable si je me rappelle où…

Je vais le mettre ici, quoiqu’il en soit, demain au plus tard: juste le temps de tout tenter pour retrouver la date et le lieu de première publication.

En cherchant ça, je suis tombé sur autre chose. Une lettre inachevée, jamais envoyée. Une lettre à Soft. Croirait-on que la prochaine étape de mon bref survol devait être ce vendredi 16 novembre, au Salon du livre ? Ce soir-là, j’ai vécu la séance de signature la plus signifiante de ma carrière, et j’expliquerai pourquoi, mais sur le coup, avant d’aller rejoindre Meth et Paddy Brisebois et les muses post-traumatiques au Passeport, je suis allé vider des pintes dans un pub irlandais avec une femme que je n’avais plus vue depuis dix ans. Et Bastien était là, et un vieil ami, et deux jeunes gars chouettes qu’on a emmenés malgré qu’ils n’aient pas l’âge et dont nous tairons donc le nom.

Soft. Après toutes ces années. Rien n’avait changé. Rien, sinon qu’on était libres maintenant, que nos enfants étaient grands, les siens et le mien, et que tout avait changé quand même.

On a parlé. On s’est aperçus qu’on n’avait pas la même idée de ce qui s’était passé. On s’est mis d’accord pour diverger d’avis. On ne s’est jamais chicanés depuis qu’on s’est rencontrés. Plus tard, Bastien a demandé : «C’est qui, cette femme-là ?»

On s’est écrit, puis revus la semaine suivante. Toujours, il manquait quelque chose, quelque chose que j’aurais juré avoir essayé déjà de lui dire il y a dix ans, mais quoi au juste…

Et puis ça, ce matin. Cette exhumation. Une lettre en date du 23 décembre 1997. Il y a, à vue de nez, deux grammes de coke là-dedans. Comme mettre du carburant à F-15 dans une mobylette.

Je la livre enfin, c’est bien le moins. Pour elle, pour les curieux, pour faire bander les exégètes.

Montréal, 23 décembre 1997.

Mémo à mon ange cornu gardien de but;

Sweet Soft, you sure can mess me up. Always could. I can’t help thinking about all those poor rich bastards who followed you around twenty years ago, drooling all over their alligator shoes, their bladder full of painful wine and they would sooner have pissed in their pants than go to the john and risk missing the moment when you’d finally ask for the moon. Only you never did. After a while, I guess they figured out at least part of what makes that soft machine of yours tick, which is to say they understood it ain’t that dumb chunk of cold rock up there, to say nothing of the gold chain they proposed to link the two of you with. Did they know that your gaze, with all the mischevious innocence that excited them so, the studied flirtation they mistook for boldness, the raw fear of love and things absolute they thought was a healthy bow to manly strenght, the watery reflections in your pupils of the wild butterflies having a ball in your stomach, did they know that all this time you were surveying the strange and secret vastness of inner space, intent on finding a garden-planet in yourself, and a bright star to follow, and a nice medium-size far-away black hole for those times when you’d feel like a little dark fascination, and lots of embryonic worlds to nurture and bring to life and mold, a whole polymorphic cosmogony flowing like boiling life from your volcanic soul, eruptions so generous and rich that the wonder of it all sometimes gave way to breathtaking rushes of despair: so many toys in store, so little time! So you see, those poor salivating suckers, they never stood a chance in hell. There just isn’t enough money in the world to compete with that kind of joyride, when a soft glowing soul discovers its own godlike power: the endless creation of self. Some times you even hear of a soul getting it on with the mind it’s related to. That’s where artists come from, you know. The stormy, steamy fornication of mind and soul. The incestuous fuck of two pubescent undisciplined forces of human nature. The artist as his own imperfect deity, both parent and child, born from his mind and soul, yet responsible for their continuing growth.

I gave everything I had, good and bad, to feed that ideal, and still it cried hunger, and so I stole and borrowed and sacrificed virgins and I fed the splendid beast some more, I even shoveled its own shit down its throat when I heard that chicken recycle proteins two or three times that way, and I swear that by the time I ran out of food, the belly of the ideal which was my Graal was almost full. And now look at it, slowly starving to death in the stinking septic tank that is our time. Who’s gonna pick up the shovel and fatten the Graal? Doesn’t anybody give a damn that when that thing dies, art goes with it to the grave? We won’t change the world, you say. What a horrible thing to declare, and how surprised I was at my own shock. After all, am I not the one who wrote that the vamps weren’t in the business of remaking the bloody mess? Is that what I meant, that it couldn’t be done, that we wouldn’t do it anyway, no matter what our reluctance, for no better reason that it’s the supreme order of things, the very respiration of the ages? In thruth, I don’t know anymore, but I doubt that I meant such a thing. It’s not like me to lock the future. One thing is for sure, though: I hold that sentence to be one of the most revolting imaginable, and I prefer to believe you haven’t thought it through. Because we already have changed this world, if only by bringing children into it, and why the fuck would we do that if not as a profession of hope in our own future? What other valid reason is there? Do we reproduce for the sole selfish purpose of enjoying their childhood and receiving a visit at Christmas in our old age? What kind of a cruel thing is that to tell a kid, especially if that kid is me. When our parents made us, they had every reason to believe that humanity would blow itself to hell before the century was over, and yet they screwed like rabbits in the backseats of their Buicks, by the thousands they congregated in the drive-ins of the New World that needed changing already and they parked their tin leviathans side by side, row after row after sinful row from Newfoundland to Colorado, and the land was still for an instant, just a silent starry Friday night in a cold war civilization terrified by its crimson shadow, and all of a sudden the screens lit up, the pictures started to flicker all at once from Seattle to St.John’s, the focus was all wrong, it would be thirty seconds before you could make out the gigantic features up there but who cared? You knew already, since his velvet voice came out loud and clear on the speaker hooked to your driver’s window, and only a filthy commie spy could fail to recognize Elvis’s voice when he heard it. Buicks like rocks on a beach, like all the coffins buried in the ground since the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth and Champlain pissed in the Saint-Lawrence from the Cap-Diamant had surfaced to remind the living of the first duty of life which is to live. And who remembers that movie now? By the time the picture cleared, they were all jumping their teenage bones in the backseats of their imperial Buicks, our very first cradles, where a new generation of horny kids with more guts than brains once again professed tangibly their hope in the future of a seemingly hopeless world. Actually, I’m quite sure I was conceived in a Volkswagen, but that’s not the point. The point is they modified this world to a degree never seen before, and they managed to do it without a third world war, and of course most of what they believed in was pretentious crap but it was their own personal crap, not ours, so let them betray it all they want, let them choke on it, the sooner the better. I suspect that they’re about to realize the rather unpleasant fact that by refusing to die, not only do they deny themselves any possibility of us ever reciting their eulogy, but even if we agreed to bend the rules and do it while they’re still warm, we just can’t afford to buy a headstone to mark their graves. I’m not even talking about the fact that, when our time comes, there’s no way in hell we’ll be able to pay our share of the rent on the yuppie family plots they’re sure to favor. So let them rot alone, I say. Let them pour the wealth of the nation in their mad promethean race against time to discover the pill that makes a baby-boomer not die. That should be a blast. And why shouldn’t they succeed? Why should they fail just because a bunch of unwashed knights we’re not even sure existed are said to have left on a similar quest circa 500 AD and never found anything? Indiana Jones, now that’s the guy you want to talk to if you’re in the market for a Holy Graal. He’s got experience, you know, and a gun too.

Let them grow forever old in second-hand pasture homes they built for their parents, and wait for the children they never had to visit delay the moment Divorced, childless and anonymous. After all, the taxes they avoid paying now by putting their loot away in REER’s locked tighter than the Cosa Nostra’s Bahamian vaults Those spineless greedy crooks will bequeath us enough useless golf courses to bury each one of us ten miles apart, which suits me fine. I don’t intend to spend eternity surrounded at close range by the same ignorant small-minded valueless morons that I’m obliged to endure in life just because they conspired to be born in my time, my precious, volatile time. The whole degenerate, sinister bunch of them, so thoroughly brainbleached they don’t even feel they’re missing a part, so deprived of tools they’re incapable of working on either soul nor mind, let alone another’s. Both hands firmly grabbing their asses They’re dancing their way back to the Stone Age and don’t seem to care one mammoth bit. If only I could hate them, detach myself from this, I would stand some sort of a fighting chance, but there’s not much I can do, nowhere else to go, and anyway, what kinda nauseating prick with jellybeans for balls calls himself a man and abandons his own, unstomachable as they are. There was a saying that used to comfort me a lot as a tormented teenager feeling dropped at this time and place by some kind of terrible mistake. It assured that one who is of his time is off all times. It made sense to me then. I believed in that. I guess it still makes sense, and I should tell it to myself more often. Somehow, it seemed more potent twenty years ago. Hell, come to think of it, so did I.

That thing you said on the phone tonight, about you not having my genius, let me adress that. I refrained from answering right away, the answer being :”Me neither. Not anymore, at least for the time being.” The reason I waited was I anticipated your reply, some gentle and sincere albeit pavlovian response to the effect that I don’t know what I’m talking about and of course I’ve still got the magic and so on. And I don’t want that from you. I want more. I must have heard that thirty times if I heard it once these last few months. Well-intentionned as it is, it doesn’t do me a damn bit of good, in fact it tends to irritate me to the point where I give up the conversation before it even starts. I notice it more and more, the way people talk without listening to each other, as if they were carrying a para-conversation with themselves, sometimes it even sounds as though they were protecting themselves, since it’s true that it requires an effort and some measure of risk-taking to consider a new factor, a challenge to what we already know, think, understand, think we understand. I feel people would rather rest easy in the fragile sense that they synthesized a working system, even though they know full well it’s built out of straw, than go out there and meet another truth, and so what if it’s wooden and so what if it’s brick? The wolf’s out there, lurking in the forest, I can almost hear his stomach gurgle. Besides, my house suits my needs, it’s 20º outside and the walls keep me from seeing that sexy big bad wolf who beats his wife and eats the likes of me for sport.

Well, we all know what happens next, don’t we? The wolf goes to jail, the pig becomes prime minister, the forest is burned to the ground and a law is passed making the use of straw mandatory in every new condo development through the land. As for the prime minister, a first-rate pig if I ever saw one, après avoir fait répandre la rumeur que l’immense stock de briques désormais inutiles serait employé à l’édification d’une grande muraille défensive au périmètre du pays, he delivers a speech in front of the small but politically powerful pacifist faction in which he condemns the provocative project and promises that his government will dispose of the obsolete materials at no cost, providing the brick manufacturer accepts to drop the civil suit and stop the hunger strike he pursues in front of the UN building every weekday from noon to five, just in time for the evening news, or at least do it someplace else, like in the abandoned lighthouse where he could make himself useful to the community until he rolls over and goes to the great pigsty in the sky, or until the return of the regular lighthouse keeper who is two weeks late coming back from his annual vacation; every year he hits the road and visits a different festival, this time around the festival de la patte de cochon, which his brother-in-law explained means festival of rolling in the mud and binging on all-you-can-stuff-in-your-pigface crud (Elmer, his brother-in-law, is kind of a snob and goes around with his groin in the air, just because he went to college to teach the kids at the Agriculture Institute in Saint-Hyacinthe the proper way to hose down a pig that inadvertantly slid in cow crap; also, he once was approached by a Disney casting agent looking for new talent, but the projected Tennessee William’s inspired melodrama, tentatively intitled A pig in heat on a slut named Ruth, was shelved indefinitely (according to Elmer, this happens all the time in Hollywood. He says it’s all political and that everybody knows how the gay mafia takes care of it’s own; in fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if the role went to Lorenzo Bacon, that fag who played dinner in Robin Hood, Prince of thieves, a part which earned him a nomination for best rotating actor at the Academy Awards, which Elmer says is unfair since Lorenzo is used to have a rod stuck up his ass, therefore acting has little to do with it. To those who expressed surprise and delight at hearing that Lorenzo Bacon was not dead like they thought (what, with all that roasting in front on the projectors, not to mention over the roaring flames), Elmer patiently explained that it was all done with special effects and professional stuntpigs; as a matter of fact, it was rumored that Lorenzo’s double came out of the closet (right into Sean Connery’s trailer who was busy trying on whigs, which he insists on doing naked since he spent an afternoon at the Actor’s Studio; he feels that color coordination between his whig and pubic hair is paramount to the proper identification of his motivations; besides, it’s the only way he can make sure of his current natural color. Pacino taught him that; himself got it from Lee Strasberg during pre-production of The Godfather part II , although Coppola changed his mind and Strasberg eventually played whigless—movie buffs will be glad to finally learn the answer to one of the most talked-about film enigmas of post-war american cinematography: Why DID Francis Ford relegate the whig to wardrobe never-neverland at the very last minute, even reshooting a whole day’s worth of Strasberg scenes {the Florida meeting}? The notoriously secret director always eluded the question, staying away from the speculation frenzy, which only served to fuel the debate and led some to suspect him of contempt for the many serious cinema lovers who supported him from the start. Twenty-three years after the fact, the truth comes out, and from documentarist Gina Coppola no less, Coppola’s wife of three decades who follows her Apocalypse Now filming diary with Bums and Geniuses: The Godfather’s Underthings , scheduled to premiere in theaters next march: according to the documentary, the key to the mystery hardly deserves all the rockus it caused; it turns out that Francis Ford simply made a “method” artistic decision intended to please Strasberg, who was worried he’d delay filming while researching his motivation for playing an eighty-three year-old dying Jew, since he was only eighty-one at the time, was having second thoughts about God and hadn’t been sick since the preceding july, and that was only because Sir Laurence Olivier slipped him a mickey during a fund-raising cocktail for the long-awaited Porn Actor’s Studio wing; when Paula Strasberg, Lee’s wife, casually mentionned that her husband was coming down with a cold, FF instantly saw the artistic potential in the situation and wasted no time in declaring the whig TOUPETA NON GRATA. The rest is movie history: Strasberg caught a head-cold that he masterfully used to focus on the part and gave the best performance of his life, which he was fully aware of as his wife eloquently testified when accepting his Best Onanic Impostor award on Oscar night {Strasberg had succombed to head-cold complications the month before, collapsing while trying to have twenty pizzas delivered from Turin to Laurence Olivier’s manor in Lancastershire, right after the BP gas station. —Pacino, formerly Strasberg favorite pupil, was so deeply affected by the great man’s last character construction that he has consistantly used a whig ever since, although he wears it on his chest. As for Connery, he was reportedly moved to tears by Pacino’s account of the 1974 legendary performance; the scottish actor is said to have decided a slow in pace, letting it be discretely known by way of agent Michael Ovitz’s office that he will no longer consider playing any character whose hair falls above his butt. Said the former James Bond in his usual truculent rogue: «Enough of that bodacious baldness hogwash! I’ve just finished my 91st bloody movie since I played a nazi leprechaun spy in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 production of Eirin shall fall first! A nazi leprechaun spy, now that’s not as easy to pull off as it sounds, especially with that fat son-of-a-bitch Hitch breathing down my neck all the time, calling me Buffalo Schmo and Fuckface when I forgot to put sugar in his coffee, badgering me to convince my sister to go to bed with him, and through all that I had to learn my lines, don’t forget that, laddie! YOU try to maintain an Irish-German accent while wearing a leprechaun costume when you’re a six foot four scottish coal-minor’s son! To top it all off, that sack of lard Hitchcock starts threatening to throw my paycheck in the bloody Thames if I don’t deliver my sister. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t needed those forty pounds so desperately, but my sister was no virgin Mary anyway, and an artist must sometimes do things that would make a Whitechapel pimp spill his guts on a pound of unwrapped cocaine. I would have shared the dough, too, you know. Don’t think for a minute I wouldn’t have given her a few pounds. Except that degenerate flabby bugger Hitchcock said my sister was the worst lay he’d ever had in his life including the goat he had befriended as a boy on his grandfather’s farm and I’d surely starve to death as a pimp, and so would I as an actor come to think of it, since he was keeping my paycheck in case he had caught a case of the clap from my sister and needed treatment, and I asked him how long it would be before he knew for sure wether he had the clap or not, I guess nowadays you’d call it an incubation period. Now, keep in mind that I was quite a young lad, fresh out of the darkest shithole ever drilled in God’s green sad-excuse-for-a-planet, so I wasn’t yet what you’d call wordly, and it follows that when that scum-chewing psycho said the doctor wouldn’t be positive for another forty years, I told him how sorry I was that my sister had caused him so delicate an anguish, to which he replied that he was in a forgiving mood, therefore he would neither sue me nor my old bedridden widowed mother, on the condition that I swear on my solemn oath never again to spoil an honest innocent blackmail by delivering the first sister I stumble on, without bothering to check if she’s faulty or not, and he said it wouldn’t kill me to clean them first, after all even caddies scrub golf clubs before bringing them to the player, and shouldn’t I treat my own sister at least as well as a caddie does a bloody wood? Had I no shame? How could I expect to make it in the moving picture industry with such lazyness? Then he said it made him sick just to look at me, a lad with no less than eleven sisters and look what I brought him, and he added my boy (he was standing quite close to me and the difference in our heights, well... let’s just say he could have easily undone my belt buckle with his denture without bending his knees, so when he said My boy, I had to bite my tongue until I drew blood not to crack up, and that bite turned out to be a swell thing, some thirteen years down the road, when Disney asked me to once again take on the challenging role of Ahrayay the leprechaun, A.K.A Kurt Waldheim the nazi spy (obviously, that had to be changed and the film redubbed when some guy by the same name managed to get himself elected General-Secretary of the United Nations. By that time, Chubby Brocolli didn’t want a Disney character who happens to be a double-agent, half-leprechaun and half-nazi, to speak with the voice of James Bond. For his part, Disney hated Chubby’s guts since old Chub had gotten drunk with Hemingway the night they liberated Paris—Brocolli liberated three acres of the Père-Lachaise cemetery all by himself, making no prisoners but standing on thousands of dead at day’s end. He got the Légion d’Honneur for that, in fact DeGaulle himself pinned it on him, and he was so drunk he missed, and that’s where Chubby got the idea for Scaramanga’s third nipple in Man with the golden gun, starring pretty boy Moore. Chubby got a lot of good laughs retelling the story of how he got the frogs’ highest distinction, but meanwhile DeGaulle had sobered up and by the end of june someone on his staff found time, between shooting collaborators and shaving the girls, to tell him in carefully chosen words how old Broc had taken him for a fool. Now, Charlie may have been somewhat of a chickenshit long-nosed weird-looking effeminate diva, but most people knew better than to mess with him. Only Broc, he’s not most people. In 1945, he wasn’t much of anything yet, maybe that’s why DeGaulle didn’t declare war on Italy when a picture of him pinning the ribbon on the warrior who had single-handedly won the battle of Père-Lachaise popped up in LIFE magazine. But let’s jump forward to 1960: Broc is now a well-known movie producer, and DeGaulle an even better known mean-tempered megalomaniac. Guess what happened when Broc’s plane had to make an unscheduled landing in North Africa to refuel? Sure enough, that cheesy cocksucker DeGaulle sent a whole commando of paratroopers to seal the airport, board the plane and bring back old Broc to Paris, specifically at the Palais de L’Élysée, specifically in the palace’s wine cellar at three in the morning. DeGaulle’s plan was to strip Chubby to the waist and then see, as he put it, “si le fétiche qu’a ce macaroni pour les décorations imméritées s’étend aux ordres inférieurs de récompenses”. More or less, since nothing tops the bloody Légion of Honor, that meant about seventy-five different pinholes in poor Chubby’s delicate mediterranean skin, everything from Joséphine’s Imperial tampon of the autumn lamb (awarded once a year since Bonaparte repudiated Joséphine to the alpine shepardess whose cunt smells the most like wet mutton; historians generally agree that Napoléon, who created the decoration along with the famed Légion d’Honneur, hoped to alleviate his feeling of guilt for the betrayal, politically necessary as it may have been, of the adored woman who couldn’t give him an heir; it is also attested, in the lilliputian cockroach’s own correspondance, that coming back triumphant from Egypt, having stolen all he could and slaughtered enough to last him a few weeks, he sent forth a messenger to the Louvres, bearing a letter for Joséphine which in essence described all the great mummies he had slained, all the new exciting ideas he had for putting Europe through another thirty years of blood-soaked war, and he reminded her to pick up the dry-cleaning in Chinatown and then, as in an afterthought, he commanded her to stop using soap at this very minute, so as to be just ripe when her tired horny anal-retentive little dictator arrived home in a week or so. In postscript, he also told her not to worry if he was a little late; it would only mean that he had made a slight detour to invade Poland or something. As it turned out, there was too much traffic that day and Nap decided to go straight home, then he sent forth another messenger (the first one having been shot on the spot when, upon his return, he made the so very touching french mistake of trying to kiss the Emperor’s ass, telling him that his wife smelled good. Talleyrand used to explain his political longevity by saying he had never entered the Emperor’s office in the morning without complimenting him on the magnificent example Joséphine set for the french people who lately, no doubt due to the euphoria caused by recent conquests, had started to indulge in such things as soap et autres colifichets, even cutting on their wine budget to follow the current fashion of bathing twice a week, endangering the commercial balance of the Empire… But I digress. I do, don’t I, laddie?»

Connery went on to say : «Yes, well, when after having completed the rod-up-the-ass scene, which required several retakes on account of Kevin Costner kept farting every time the blind servant asked :”What say you, my lord Robin” (seems he’s allergic to tea, or so he said, but Elmer heard the crew kept filling the teapot with bean’s soaking water. All in good fun, you know. Helps to ease the tension on the set. Elmer says everybody was always laughing so hard everytime Costner would vent, except that Costner kept pretending he was mad and swearing he’d cut off the balls of whoever was responsible if he ever got his hands on him. One time, on the fifth day, he even acted like he was bursting into tears. Fine actor, Elmer says. Doesn’t get the big bucks for nothing. In all fairness, Lorenzo Bacon wasn’t too thrilled with the running gag. Kept complaining about the heat and the rod-up-his-ass, you name it, he complained about it. Once, he even demanded that they put the fire out if they felt like some more farting jokes. Goddamn prima dona, Elmer said. No professionalism left in this business. Another one that didn’t laugh was the Executive Producer, but he wasn’t even on the set until the last few days of filming, so how the fuck could he know if it was funny or not? The guys offered to do it again, just so he could see for himself how hilarious it was, but he mumbled some excuse about having to justify to the studio why the production came in twelve days late and a million three over-budget. The accountants run the business now, Elmer snorts with disdain; no sense of humor at all. When a producer gets so he can’t even appreciate the chaplinesque double-entendre coupled with the almost Jerry-Lewis-like precision of the timing involved in a successful Costner-farting gag, is it any wonder that no comedic masterpiece has come out of Tinseltown since Porky?»

After which Connery collapsed, or at least I did, and this letter took almost ten years to the day to reach you, my sweet Soft.