At first there was this tempest, the winds which carried the tarpaulins over the catenaries, blocking the traffic, those winds which made mad men who threw themselves on the tracks to be crushed, those winds that snatched cables and tiles to project them on the motors.
There was this stop at Vendôme, a station nestled in the middle of a forest. We had to kill the wait. Some began to run on the dock, making lengths, as if training for a marathon. Others smoked cigarettes on cigarettes. Some slept, some emptied alcohol reserves from the bar, then fell asleep noisily.
When the train left, after four hours of forced stop, it was clear that it would never arrive in time for the lecture that I had to give in Bordeaux. I went down just before the doors closed, and I waited (again) at Vendome. Waiting for a train that would take me back to Paris.
Another two hours to wait. To do the paces. To read (but even the taste of reading had abandoned me). To eat a few crumbs of chocolate. The wind was still blowing hard outside the station. The clouds ran in the sky, like athletes going fiercely. No bird dared to steal. Everything was closed: no coffee, a wicket where a woman whose smile did not catch up with the incongruity of the place. Nothing. I was in a complete vacuum. And there was a man who approached a piano abandoned in a corner, and began to play the most ringing music there is. I thought I had reached the point of no return. The Gate of Dante’s Hell was wide open and I was about to jump to finish.
It was then that another man began to play a waltz by Chopin. This station, this moment, went from surrealism to the state of grace. Then a second waltz from Chopin. Chills. Discreet smile. But my train was about to leave.
Then this stranger stopped, got up, and took his baggage. I followed him. To the dock. To the head of the train. He was our driver.