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Today's Story by Sean Crose

Why couldn't the company just hook us up with chicks like the ones in Amsterdam?

Bayeaux Cathedral

Admittedly, I didn’t like the omelet. For some reason I was surprised by that. Don’t ask me why, but I just assumed they’d have great omelets in France. Sitting there in that outside cafe with Tina and her friend, however, I declared outright that I could make a better omelet on my own. Tina laughed. So did her friend, the beautiful Norman girl with the bad teeth. They thought I was joking. I wasn’t.

After breakfast I called my wife back in New York. She asked if I was with a woman (she always asked that after the incident in Amsterdam). I lied to her that I was all by myself, taking care of some last minute business before flying out of DeGaulle the next day. After I got off the phone I laughed about the whole thing with Tina.

“Let’s see the Tapestry,” she said.

“Not now.”

“Then when?”

She frowned. Her friend, the beautiful Norman girl, frowned too.

Breathing a heavy sigh, I followed them up to the museum. I have to admit the tapestry was pretty impressive. They say William the Conqueror’s wife made it, but who the hell knows? I just enjoyed staring at it, deciphering the story it told. As we walked out of the museum, I declared that William the Conqueror was my new hero.

“And why’s that?” Tina asked.

“Because he took what he liked.”

“Just like you.”

I smiled and nodded. The beautiful Norman girl, who understood English perfectly, just frowned.

“Let’s go to the Cathedral next!”

I shook my head. Tina was starting to get on my nerves. Why, I asked myself, couldn’t the company just hook us up with chicks like the ones in Amsterdam, chicks that required no pretending?

“I want to see it, too,” the beautiful Norman girl said.

Now, while it’s true I wasn’t interested in seeing another French cathedral, I had to admit I was impressed with the place. It was long, real long, from entrance to alter, and the ceiling seemed to reach up to the sky. The beautiful Norman girl told me the cathedral had been erected about a decade after William conquered England.

“Did he commission it himself?” I asked her.

“I don’t know.”

“I do,” I replied. “He commissioned it as a monument to himself.”

She looked at me like I was nuts.

“It was built so people could worship God.”

“I’m sure that’s what he told everyone,” I laughed. “But he built it for himself, trust me.”

The beautiful Norman girl smiled and rolled her eyes. She had no idea what I was talking about. How could she? Only certain individuals can understand that, to some people, each successful endeavor is like a private medal of honor.

I had lots of medals of honor. Being able to pay for my wife’s plastic surgery was one. Buying my son his own boat for his fourteenth birthday was another. Winning over clients for a major corporation with all the booze, coke and good times they wanted was yet another. Each contract, each mistress, each new car, pinned a brand new invisible medal to my chest.

I followed the women as they made their way to the basement. Nothing was down there except the ornate tombs of some medieval knights.

“Let’s go,” Tina said after a moment. “It’s creepy down here.”

They left – but I stayed. Something about the tombs fascinated me. They were designed in the images of the knights whose bodies they contained, fully decorated with all the honors of their time and place. Each tomb, I thought, was like a posthumous medal of honor.

Yet here they were in a basement, largely forgotten.

And you wonder why I quit my job the following day.


Sean Crose teaches high school students how to read and write well. He also blogs on literary matters for the Cheshire Patch. He and his wife live in CT with a fish named Jaws and Cody, the world’s greatest cat.

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