You cannot find it on any map of Paris.
Most people will tell you that it doesn’t exist out there in the “real world”. But then they would probably tell you that Inspector Dupin was just a character in a book written by a depressive old raven. That they are both just figments of fantasy.
But he wasn’t.
And it does.
If ever one day you find yourself wandering lonely in Paris in the winter, as the chill air nips at your ears and other extremities uncovered, and you find yourself in Strasbourg St Denis, just off the arch on Boulevard Sebastapol, across the road from where the old Asian hookers stand nonchalantly in gloomy doorways as they dream, not of being loved, but of never being touched again. You may realise that you are walking past all the North African grocery shops selling nothing but colour and suspicious glances and laundries where toad faced women standing in billows of cabbage stench steam speaking loudly to jackal faced men who grin and sneer, wishing humorous misfortune upon each other.
It is there.
Between the cracks in the pungent granite glares and the breath of fresh pollution. Just out of the corner of your eye. A glimpse, that it is not your time to see, and so you ignore it as the sharp buzzing in your ears eases. You carry on about your inane daily business, blissful or miserable, either way unaware that anything bizarre has happened. That is until you wake one night as your eyes burn and they stream with tears and the dream continues to play out until its bitter end.
Rue De La Mort is not a place. It is a secret. A moon haunt filled with messes and spit. The paving stones seem to scream bloody murder as you step. The rats dance every night until the cats get them. Drunken Sicilian fighters spill out onto the streets brandishing daggers in bloody hands as they elegantly defend their mother’s honour. Women have beauty spots under their black eyes. A musk pervades the air of a locale filled with pencil moustaches, gold toothed skinny smiles and serpent tattoos. Black dogs roam the streets in feral gangs shitting where and when they like. Screams are greetings there.
Some say that if you die in Paris, your bad unresolved thoughts, those shameful objects that you’ve kept hidden and sealed up deep down inside yourself, find a home here and whisper to passers by who cross themselves.
You cannot go there by your own volition. It chooses you. It knows when your time is up and, buddy, you’d best be ready. Not that you have a choice in this or any other matter.
You say this place is not real.
Well, friend, I say it is.
I’ve been there and danced through its tarred lungs and scorched alleys.
In my imagination, I have touched its walls and felt its heart beat.