advanced as to Duguets motive. The only inkling comes from the investigators
that Duguet was suffering intense emotional trauma as a result of two
mother, Catherine Auverney, to whom she seems to have been very close, died
slight, furtive glance, she knows that this woman saw what happened and did
intervene, did not say a word, did not lift a finger.
I dont suppose you saw anything
The woman is in her thirties, dressed from head to toe in grey. She has a
The perfect hostess. In a few short minutes, the table is laid with a salad, a bottle
wine, a fresh baguette (Actually, its yesterdays, Itll be fine) which she
with a bread knife.
So, youre a translator
Sophie has been trying to think o
merchandise. Some do a U-turn at the end of the boulevard and drive slowly
back. At first,
when she came home late, she was reluctant to take the boulevard, but the
detour took her
out of her way and, over time, she realised that she did not mind: she had
Youre lonely, arent you? she whispers gently.
A little Sophie ventures.
Tell me about yourself, Catherine.
Mentally, Sophie thinks through the notes she has patiently prepared, in which
element was weighed and considered.
My name is Catherine, Im th
sources are now more guarded. News may come today, tomorrow, or never.
Sophie walks stiffly, her hips do not sway. She walks in a straight line, like a
When she has walked for too long, her pace begins to slacken. At that point, no
Its not your fault. Forget it.
But still the woman stands there awkwardly. Sophie studies her for the first
time. She is
not really ugly, just sad. About thirty, a long face, fine features, keen eyes.
Is there anything I can do?
Get my suitcase back! That
Yes. She bows her head over her plate, then raises it and looks Sophie in the
almost defiantly. Only since last Monday. Its still a bit raw.
All Sophie knows is that she does not want to know. Does not want to get
wants to finish her
the envelope in which she has only large notes, her cigarettes fall on the floor,
them up, she is surrounded by people now, she takes a deep breath, snuffles,
tears with the back of her hand, takes a note and presses it into the waite
Yet it is now eight months since the most wanted woman in France disappeared
In a series of high-profile press conferences, public statements and
senior police detectives and officials at the Ministre de la Justice have been
he pockets 20,000 euros a year in backhanders and gets to fuck fifteen girls
keep a job that scrapes the bottom of the employment barrel. As she mops the
Sophie can see he is watching her. In fact, he is not exactly watching her. He is
Why not? she says.
They smile. Vronique pays for the coffees. On the way, Sophie stops to buy
of cigarettes and catches her up.
Boulevard Diderot. Elegant buildings. They have been walking side by side,
small talk. No sooner do they reach
and goes into a caf from which she can watch the office without being seen.
From here it
looks as disappointing as when she walked past: it is the sort of place where
nothing to see, the sort of office that strives to be impersonal so as to disco
position to help her, with the exception of her father, Patrick Auverney, a retired
who was immediately placed under police surveillance.
According to the Ministre de la Justice, apprehending the suspect would take
of days. The Ministre
Sophie lights a cigarette, holds out the pack. The girl accepts with a graceful
is extraordinary how this woman in her grey suit seems when seen close up.
What do you do? Sophie says. For a living.
Im a translator. You?
In a few sh
can tip over into madness, into death. It is over. It has to end here. She feels
relief. Even the terror of being locked up, which prompted her to run in the first
faded. A psychiatric hospital no longer seems like hell, but rather
like a child in the midst of a harrowing night terror who, at the height of her
fear, feels a
faint but unshakeable intuition that what she is experiencing is not entirely real,
spite of the fear, something, somewhere, is protecting her. Some unkn
strength to fight. She does not have the temperament to be a fugitive, she is an
criminal. She will never make it. They will catch you easily She heaves a
defeat: surrender, go to the police, tell them it is all true, but that she remembe
death were the ruins of her life, her father was the only person left, the last man
She can never go and see him again, can never talk to him. She is completely
alone in the
world, it is as though he too were dead. She cannot imagine a world in
had spent the night there, incognito, and that was why She has a sudden
instinct is to go somewhere she has been before, whether it is Marseille or
not matter, but somewhere she knows, even if only vaguely, because it is
leaving it on with the sound muted when she goes out. She often comes home
from the street, she can see the flickering blue glow of her apartment. The first
does when she comes in is to turn up the sound. Most nights, she leaves it on.
Where do your parents live? I can drop you off. Ive got a car.
No, Ill be fine, honestly, but thank you.
Its no trouble.
Thats very sweet of you, but its really not necessary. She says this in a sharp
and for a moment they are both silent.
Are they e
She takes off the sunglasses. She should have done so earlier so as not to call
to herself. She will have to think about these things now. It is a long queue, but
comes too soon for her liking, she moves forward, pretending not to notic
sleeve of her jacket is stained with blood and rips it off as though it were on fire.
the bedroom, she opens the wardrobe again, spends four seconds choosing a
for something bland in navy blue. In the time it takes to transfer the c
How could she keep such a house of cards from collapsing? It is madness, there
many conditions to meet. Thinking about it, she realises that, although her
each individual obstacle is It should be O.K., the sheer number of her doubts
the end, but hes a weird guy. Clingy, you know the type
She sets the cups on the coffee table in the living room.
Sophie realises that she has had too much wine. Everything has started to spin
the posh middle-class apartment, Vronique, everything
Vroniques voice is grave and harsh.
Sophie gets up, takes a few steps away from the door but it makes no difference,
Vroniques words are so clear now that she might as well be in the same room.
terrible words of a banal break-up. Sophie is not interes
eyes, searching for a flicker of consciousness, now and then she tries to open
feels something within her that resists, that wants to remain asleep, far from
She is so tired, so much has happened since this morning.
Eventually, she pr
into dazzling sunshine. In front of her, a row of cafs and brasseries, there are
everywhere, taxis, cars, buses. And over there, a low wall by the taxi rank. A
are sitting on it, a man chatting on his mobile seems engrossed, a diary open
snuffles. She crumples and sits down heavily. She buries her face in the jacket
wrapped around her arms. She feels something on her face. Raising her head she
that she trailed her jacket through the blood and has just smeared it on her face