Monsieur Jim

 

It was an early spring late afternoon. It had been raining, and the cobblestone “streets” of Père Lachaise cemetery were still wet. The sky looked all grey and wet too, just beautiful. The pale yellow map in my hand showed the grave sites of famous people, printed in black ink. you want to see the tomb of Heloise and Abelard? Go to division seven. Molière? Balzac? Chopin? Sarah Bernhardt? Then, handwritten, in blue ink that bled into the paper, were two names, with fat dots marking their sites: “Piaf” and “Jim.”

Piaf. I remembered that rabid fans came every day from all over the world to put fresh flowers on the grave, to stand reverently in her presence. A cult. Yes, I could understand that. She was a legend, a star.

But what about this “Jim,” with his Anglo-Saxon name? I said it aloud: “Zheem.” It rang no bells. “Zheem.”

A couple of hundred yards later I noticed a young man in blue jeans standing on crutches at the cemetery intersection ahead. He had long red hair and a red beard. Aside from the crutches he was just one of those guys. I wasn’t surprised when he spoke to me.

“Pardon, monsieur, est-ce que vous connaissez où se trouve la tombe de Jim?”

“En effect, oui,” I said, surprised that I did. “C’est indiquée ici sur la carte.”

I pointed to the fat dot with “Jim” next to it.

“Vous allez tout droit et puis vous tournez à gauche. Cen’est pas loin.”

“De par là?” he pointed.

“Oui, et puis vous tournez à gauche.”

“Merci beaucoup, monsieur.”

“Non, non, ce n’est rien.”

He rotated on his crutches.

“Excusez-moi,” I stopped him, “ce Monsieur Jim, c’est qui exactement?”

He looked deep into my eyes and with utterly reverent sobriety said, “Jim Morrison.”

Then he slowly lurched on down the wet cobblestones to- ward his place of worship, and I toward mine.