Marcel, wrapped in terrycloth, arms malformed, well, one arm anyway. Marcel, trying desperately to pluck a hair from his nostril with two fat fingertips. Finding a cluster, he realizes the power in numbers. A single hair on its own, dark and oddly thick, is easy prey, but these had clumped and congealed into a mass. At first he winces in a most horrible face looking toward the sky, jaws wide open, as though this would make it any easier. Marcel, draped in his blanket, white, hairy feet protruding. Marcel in his chair, no sound but for the distant whine of a train. Marcel has given up. It’s plain to see who he is, who he really is, for others. Feeling hopeless, burdened to no end, those nostrils stuffed with hair, his eyes wander. Marcel whose eyes are not what they used to be, whose eyes, though still black, still functioning the way eyes do, wander down the wall, across the floor, no, nothing there, and then, feet. He has cast away the thought of an irritatingly hairy nose for the thought of irritatingly hairy feet, though less irritating, less irritating. At first he thinks of the medicine cabinet, just around the corner in the washroom. He thinks of its small aluminum door, with the latch that no longer works. He thinks of the way it squeaks when he opens it, of how he means, has meant, to fix that damned squeak. Next he looses himself, for a second, lost on that damned squeak. As he is lost he flares both hairy nostrils, twice. Both nostrils flare, in sync, and then again. Twice, and now he remembers his feet, and the scissors in the medicine cabinet. He shifts, ever so slightly, in his chair, but he does not move. Marcel has given up.
Outside, just around the corner, Yvonne and Madeleine torn up in tatters. Mistreated by a saguaro apparently, on there way to see him, Marcel, with soup and such. Soup and such for his cold that he has, apparently. ‘Yes, yes. I think that’s it. I received some things in letters…but I don’t know him personally. Is he a friend of Arman?’ ‘Yes, he’s from Nice, like Raysse and Arman. They’re part of what’s called the School of Nice. It’s odd that he never tried to get in touch with you.’ ‘If he’s staying in Nice I should go see him.’ ‘Considering your importance to him, he could come see you…’ ‘Not necessarily. It depends on the state of his finances!’ ‘He sells phonograph records. Apparently his behavior causes huge scandals in Nice.’ ‘I’ll try to see him. The importance that the School of Nice has taken on is funny.’ ‘What’s the difference between the artistic climates in Paris and New York?’ ‘It’s a madhouse in New York…’
Marcel, wrapped in his afghan, hears now, over the distant whine of the train, two women speaking, one after the other, in complete sentences, about someone he doesn’t know, about something he doesn’t know of, and then, a knock. ‘Yess, it’s Open.’ These words escaped him, in a way he knew he hadn’t meant, trembling and soft. Yvonne, in a blue dress and white hat, and Madeleine in the same, wisped into his room as though on roller-skates, immediately leaning him back in his chair, wiping his nose heating the soup sipping him tea covering his feet touching his brow drawing his bath, all the while chattering to one another about those things he knew nothing about.