Manual Louquiers Third Act

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I baulked. He threatened to fire me. I resigned. Dymphna, who saw her own weekend of karaoke and cocktails shimmering like a mirage, told me authoritatively that I would never hold anything down in my life if I walked out on my first job. Within a week another form arrived at the Rue de Grenelle; but I never got any wages from Monsieur Paul, then or later, having lasted just under two weeks. I was and remained afraid of Monsieur Paul; and, if I can justify my cowardice with a little metaphysics, his relentless commodification of everything utterly terrified me. The owner of the Bureau de Maux treats human suffering as bankable property: '"Commodities" was the old man's terrible word, said with a gruesome smack of his heavy lips, for he took a pride in his business and evils to him were goods.

When he goes back to the shop to make a new exchange, or to ask for his money back; we're not told which , he finds that it has disappeared: the two store-fronts it had separated now stand flush. I returned to the little bureau on the Rue de Rivoli just once, a few years later. I'm not sure what I had in mind - to protest the non-payment of all those francs I had earned on my long shifts, or to tell the customers that they were being cheated; but I saw Monsieur Paul's masterful profile, calm as an iguana, and I shrank away. I was intrigued by the unusual type of the main character's egoism.

Louquier is an ordinary, pleasant, somewhat boring man, but he had one unusual recreation: the experience of strong emotion sometimes vicarious, sometimes first-hand. He loved the quiet dramas that take place within an individual nature; he could scent psychologic moments from afar.

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The twist of a mouth or the lift of an eyebrow meant to him unutterable things. He would carry home with him a gesture, a phrase, a twitch of the mask, and before his comfortable fire sit as in a parquet-box watching a gorgeous third act of his own creation. It should be said here that Louquier was usually right about his third acts and seldom mistook a curtain-raiser for a play. He had a flair. He rejected, at sight, the kind of human being to whom no spiritual adventures come; and could reconcile hysterical imitation a mile away. He despised emotion for emotion's sake. It might be as slight as you liked, but it must be the real thing.

Wash all fruits and vegetables

Neither his comfortable but ugly house, nor the dissonant syllables of the local river, facilitate aestheticism. But Louquier fights back: 'He had mapped out for himself a course of reading that included some notorious modern Frenchmen He hoped, I fancy, to get a sensation out of reading Huysmans on the banks of the Assiniboine.


The second half of that summer I spent trying to climb inside a Baudelaire poem. But none of it worked: something was missing from Paris, or from me.

Unlike Louquier, I didn't have a ghost in my house; instead, I had an American teenager renting the other room in the apartment. She manifested herself at more or less the usual time for haunting, and talked about nothing but her dress size, my dress size, men, how often we washed our hair, and what models ate.

Without meaning to, she made me quite miserable, and everyone thought we were the best of friends. Through our landlords' daughter we met a group of young French people, who welcomed both of us. My American teenage haunt soon had a French boyfriend; I had a doomed and, too my mind, infinitely more refined crush on another boy, by day a security guard at a clothes shop, with an exquisite girlfriend called Marguerite.

One fair, one dark, obviously in love, faultlessly kind, they made a perfect couple; except that sometimes, at parties, Marguerite would start weeping for no discernible reason. Doors would close; the boyfriend looked desperate; excuses were made to the foreigners. Had he used his right hand to battle the killer, the fatty substance would have been wiped away. But what was it?

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The killer, knowing Ben Callan had phoned headquarters, had been anxious to learn what had been said. It explained why Ben had been forced to inquire about the message, though he himself had sent it. The Jeff Wessel angle annoyed Ace, however. Wessel was too astute to employ gangster methods. His tactics were more subtle, but just as effective. He could close a market to a fisherman, put the screws on until the victim would be glad to agree to almost anything.

Wessel had been smart enough to form the Fishermen's Association, stay within the law, and still reap big profits. There would be no sense in jeopardizing that set-up. And if he were going to finish the Cooperative Group, it would have been done along similar lines—not with the use of a knife and club. Another point occurred to Ace Jackson. As long as the Co-operative Group continued it afforded a safety valve against Federal prosecution under the monopoly statutes.

If he got rid of the Group some other outfit would have to take its place,. It left one alternative; one which Ben Callan had hoped to convey with his final words. He had been speaking at the time about Wessel going after members of the Co-operative Group, "as sure as I am of leaving this place alive!

A chill coursed through Ace Jackson. Callan wasn't leaving the boathouse alive. He must have known he wouldn't and with his final utterance had contrived desperately to tell Ace to look for the murderer in another quarter—not Wessel's.

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But where—who? Suddenly Ace gasped, his brain seared by the slant he had overlooked completely until now. He had to be certain.

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  • He struck a match, once again examined the grayish matter on Callan's thumb and forefinger. This time Ace knew what it was! His eyes glinted with a peculiar light, his lips curved in a sardonic smile.

    Three-act structure - Wikipedia

    He knew he was right. Once before in his life he had seen that smelly, grayish substance. So vivid was the recollection, now, that it left no room whatever for doubt. Ace was on his feet, pivoting for the door. The killer had a big start on him, would have to be headed off before he could carry through his campaign of murder. Most of the Co-operative fishermen lived close to the water front.

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    The cutter was the fastest way to reach them. Ace left the boathouse on the run, going to the end of the wharf. Fog obscured the water and he had to get close to the edge. He stared blankly. Whipped by anger, he pinwheeled, began to spring toward the street. He reached the cobblestoned thoroughfare as a pair of truck headlights, aided by a fog lamp, rushed into view.

    Ace jumped out in front. Hydraulic brakes ground, wheels skidded on the wet stones. Ace sped up to the cab, cried out: "Harbor-patrol police! I've got to get down to one of the shanties at once. The following instant the truck was rumbling along, Ace in the seat beside the truckman, giving directions. In comparatively little time they came to the fishermen s village. Ace leaped down, thanked the driver, then sped toward a single-story cottage near the loading jetty.

    He ran down the path, vaulted the low picket fence and crossed to the kitchen door. He omitted the formality of knocking, twisted the knob and entered. No one was in the room. A cup and saucer on the wooden table were mute testimony that Joe Neely had recently been drinking coffee. Ace crossed the linoleum to the hall leading out of the kitchen.