by Guidel Presume



Blanc et noir

From Soul in a Bottle by Madison Smartt Bell

I will admit that the whole business of having Blan! Blan! Blan! hollered at me everywhere I went was beginning to lose its charm. Actually it didn't happen as much as it used to: the red mouchwa têt seemed to ward off quite a lot of it, and even up on the central plateau the appearance of a paleface was less peculiar and astonishing than it had been last year. Maybe the comparative rarity of the salutation made it grate on me more when it did come.

My last morning in Le Cap, after we had dropped off Kis at his jardin des enfants, some one tagged me with a short-range Blan! as I was turning around the truck. Guidel stuck his head out the passenger window and announced in an equally biting tone, "Noir."

"Thank you for that, monche," I said, for I had needed it, especially this bleak morning, after the ceremonies, after the dogs, when I felt alone in my whiteness, my foreign-ness, cut-off and isolate. Guidel nodded and said gravely, "Il faut contredire parfois," and then, a moment later when I seemed to hesitate on a difficult turn through the morning traffic on the Rue Espagnole, "Il faut l'ésprit de contre-attaque!"