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Letting the Proverbial Black Cat Out of the Bag

Saturday afternoon, on October 31st, Florence Richburg and I went in different directions to perform different tasks, vowing to meet back within the hour. Three hours later, when she didn’t show up, I thought the ‘boogeyman’ had gotten her…and he had.

As she tells it:

“Moans and groans could be heard from several blocks away as crowds gathered in the streets on rue de la Verrerie to investigate the commotion. The sounds of pain, agony, despair…and screams!…were getting louder. The crowds grew dense, which even included local media capturing the sights and sounds. Getting a closer look, the streets were filled with an approaching mob of the living dead in Paris. Zombies covered in blood had taken over rue de la Verrerie on this Halloween afternoon creating a slow parade drudging along the street…with the exception of a few hungry zombies straying off the apparent parade route to chase unsuspecting human spectators and tourists in an attempt to capture a quick snack of an arm or foot (including my own!). They seem to have come from nowhere and disappeared down the road, perhaps living beneath the cobblestone roads of Paris only to return next Halloween.”

Florence was one of the screamers, running from the zombies to safety chez Leeds where the only ghosts and goblins lurking were in the closet disguised as Halloween costumes. That’s where I found the old witch’s hat gray from dust and unearthed it.

That evening, wearing black and orange (but without any dripping blood), I donned the witch’s hat, grabbed a bottle of cold champagne from the fridge and ventured out into the dark, but warm October evening. Rue de Turenne was seemingly normal, but I noticed that a woman walking in front of me was wearing a black swishing skirt and pointed boots that would have been a better match to a witch’s hat than the slacks I was wearing. She was missing the broom, however. Unfortunately, mine had been left behind in the proverbial closet.

Arriving at the door of “Le Palace des Vosges,” the witch’s hat got a chuckle from fractional owners Andy Quintenz and Joe Morea, the first shareholders to officially stay in the apartment. They had made their decision to purchase a share long before it was renovated and decorated and only had photos with which to gauge their opinions, so seeing it for the first time was sure to be a surprise…one way or another!

They had arrived that morning and had time enough to head to Monoprix a few meters away on rue Saint-Antoine to stock up on wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres to feed Mary Ellen Gallagher (our Search Consulta

nt) and me before heading out for dinner. I couldn’t wait to hear what they thought of the apartment, now that they were settled in.

It was such a feeling of accomplishment to know the apartment had met their expectations and more. Andy was so thrilled with the kitchen, he couldn’t wait to start cooking on the big five-burner gas Falcon stove. We hinted about inviting ourselves over for dinner…but not that same evening, of course! Instead we sauntered down to Ma Bourgogne for a classic “pot au feu” and “poulet roti” while one of the waiters donned the witch’s hat for fun. Then another witch passed our table. Oh well — not such an original idea, was it?

It rained all day Sunday so we opted out of making the annual trek to the cemetery to pay respects to the dead on “Toussaint” and prepare for travel this afternoon. It’s been a secret for many months, but now I can let the [black] cat out of the bag.

As a surprise birthday celebration for a friend, along with twelve others, I am boarding a flight this afternoon headed for Cairo with a connection to Aswan where on Wednesday we will board “La Flâneuse du Nil,” a seven-cabin sailing vessel that will take us cruising down the Nile. He doesn’t know where he’s going or with whom — just knew to pack his bags and let us take him along for the ride. So, stay tuned. As long as I can get Internet access, you’ll get a full report with photos of our tour of Aswan, the Nile, Luxor and Cairo.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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