Paris Nights and Other Impressions of Places and People: A Collection of Stories

Paris Nights is a collection of short stories united by the theme of “fireplace stories” told in the cozy living room of a hostel. It’s where at night, people who come from all over the world to Paris, and are imbued with the romance and sensuality of this city, begin to share the most unusual or ordinary love stories and experiences. We are not just storytellers. We are listeners, partners in some way, discussing, prompted by, and sharing our experience if there is something in the story that’s consonant with our past. That is why this book is valuable. Everyone will find here one or more stories that would remind him of his own experience and, perhaps, prompt a brilliant solution for the situation. This book brings hope to all those people who have lost faith in love and its magic, who stopped believing in their own strengths and good luck. In each line, I convey the unforgettable atmosphere of these nights in the hostel’s living room so that you, sitting in a comfortable armchair wi

Genre: Travel

Chapter 1. Jean and “She” Jean belonged to that category of people who managed to become adults and escaped the youthful age with its passions, delights, heart dramas and other fascinations, which he considered obviously doubtful. In spite of the fact that he was born and had grown up in one of the most beautiful towns in Paris, the suburb of Bougival, where even Turgenev was inspired to write his new masterpieces, Jean was skeptical about everything that, according to him, “didn’t exist”. At what moment of his life he suddenly decided that “love” is a myth, undeserving of his precious attention, was a mystery. But the fact remained the fact. Love was an abstract thing for Jean; it was from the field of a fiction, a parallel reality. Certainly, he belonged to those who outlived similar feelings, slightly scornfully, with a sneer. And of course, Jean considered himself the Parisian. It’s such a light snobbery that made him feel better and create an ideal image. Jean was always planning. He planned all his life; and if he knew precisely how many years were destined to him, he would schedule every day down to the second, pedantically following the plan. However, Destiny adores laughing at such pedants. That morning, Jean was hurrying to Paris for an important meeting. As usual, he dropped by his favorite café in Myurzhe Street for a cup of tasty coffee and to look through the morning papers. But he was unpleasantly surprised. His “booked” table was occupied by a young woman who was excitedly eating croissants, and apparently wasn’t in a hurry. She enjoyed her breakfast; the cozy atmosphere; the aromas of coffee; and the sun, which was lazily stroking her left cheek and a lock of nut-brown hair, creating a “nimbus” effect. Being a sensible person by nature, Jean nevertheless wasn’t deprived of some scrap of superstition. Now, this scrap was persistently integrating into his brain a thought that the woman sitting at his table was a very bad omen. As one may say, it is a signal that the meeting to which Jean was hurrying and which he had been trying to obtain for more than half a year would fail. In other words, “his” place will certainly be taken by some other person. Of course, being a purposeful person with common sense, Jean was not someone who gave in to difficulties. If the Universe “gave the sign” not to hurry to the meeting, he was sure that any sign can be changed. Jean called up the waiter who knew him well enough as a regular customer, and ordered a meringue for the stranger. It was his form of an apology and request for her to move to another table, “if it doesn’t bother a mademoiselle.” He kept an eye on the woman, who looked at the cake with a slight amazement, then shifted her gaze to him. As soon as their eyes met, Jean’s reality ceased to exist. Work, career, life experience, his attitude toward love and feelingseverything became illusive and unreal, not deserving even a 100-h of his attention. Everything that was important in his life was at “HIS” table. And though reason desperately tried to reach it, feverishly unveiling weighty arguments against “love at first sight” and giving proofs that it doesn’t exist, Jean didn’t hear or see anything but those milk chocolate-brown eyes. It took ages – an entire moment stretched into millions of time intervals in parallel Universes. For some time, Jean went through such a stream of emotions that he had never experienced in his life. Being in a daze, he observed her friendly smiling and nodding at him, simply paying her bill and heading for an exit. Even her pace was absolutely unearthly: Jean wasn’t sure if she walked or floated. The delicate aroma of unfamiliar perfume wrapped him in its captivating veil. The stranger left the café, having taken with her not only the cake, but also Jean’s heart. On unbending legs, Jean passed the table and, having ordered a coffee, he thoughtlessly stared at the newspapers. Lines strangely jumped up, the letters all confused; and in his head, something unimaginable was happening. His brain tried to master shock and put in thought order; but his heart was ready to sing serenades, exult in love and sob with despair as the subject of his inspiration disappeared into an unknown direction. Frankly speaking, even if SHE stayed in the café, Jean would never know what to do next. It’s a funny thing – an interesting and successful man, practically a Parisian, who could fascinate any pretty lady by his manners and talk, now couldn’t even imagine what he could do if the stranger who was at his table stayed there. And now, as she vanished among the people in the autumn morning, there were no any hope for future with her. Jean was hooked on this thought, but returned to reality with difficulty and more essential prospects — for example, the forthcoming meeting, for which he was awfully late. It is not so far from Bougival to Paris, but this makes the route difficult as many of the residents of this town consider themselves the capital inhabitants and prefer to work in Paris, and to wind down - uptown. But, being an absolutely unromantic and undreaming person, Jean didn’t hope to come in time. And very often, hope can work wonders, especially if it works in consent with a head and a heart. But it wasn’t in Jean’s case. He was late for a quarter of an hour. But when speaking about the project, he lacked focus and was absent-minded, and his thoughts constantly returned to that moment when the stranger looked at him. Deo gratias, Jean had enough ingenuity to refer to indisposition when he noticed that the meeting is becoming a failure. Nobody doubted that he had caught a virus. One shouldn’t think that in the world of business, all people are sticks and stones, especially if there’s potential profit. That’s why Jean was given time for recovery and a second chance. The week after, Jean wandered like a ghost down Myurzhe street, hoping to come across the stranger. But he was in vain. He literally saw the features of that young lady in every woman, those chestnut ringlets causing in him a sensation of real happiness, hope and fear.
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Bakhtiyar Sakupov

Bakhtiyar Sakupov (@bakhtiyarsakupovbooks) is a writer who draws. He’s the bestselling author of Paris Nights and Other Impressions of Places and People and other books. Мудак. more…

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