Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette Read Free Book Online

Book: Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jean-Patrick Manchette
good many hours. Eventually she picked up the newspaper she had bought the day before, cut out the article concerning the death of Roucart, and filed it along with other clippings referring to other deaths: a factory owner in Bordeaux, five months earlier, asphyxiated on account of a faulty heater; a Parisian doctor drowned at La Baule in the early summer; and several more. Aimée used the remainder of the newspaper to line the kitchen trash can. That evening she ate no dinner. Using a little machine, she made copies of twenty or so keys that she had taken from the Bléville station luggage lockers. This was the second time she had copied keys in Bléville. By the time she finished, around ten o’clock, she had duplicates of keys to all the station’s self-service luggage lockers.
    â€œOne of your neighbors has complained, Madame,” said the girl at the reception desk the next morning as she was leaving. “Last night late, there was an electrical sound coming from your room.”
    â€œAn electrical sound? Ah, yes,” replied Aimée. “My hair dryer. It won’t happen again.”
    â€œI am so glad you were able to come,” said Lindquist later that day, in midafternoon. “But this is nothing really special. Just wait till summer, when I get you acquainted with our village festivals!”
    Aimée nodded her head as though intrigued. Unusually, it was sunny and dry. The sea air was fresh and bracing, but people were well wrapped up, wearing scarves. In front of a main house two long tables with white tablecloths had been set up and laden with masses of hors d’oeuvres, cold cuts, and pastries, as well as a good many corked liter bottles of cider. The guests strolled on pastureland planted with apple trees. Variegated cattle could be seen in the distance. Once again Bléville’s elite were assembled. The occasion was the baptism of a new addition to a filthy-rich family of graziers. Aimée had not been invited, but Lindquist had taken it upon himself to bring her.
    â€œThere is an especially beguiling game they play,” the realtor was saying. “Young girls from the region, pretty ones preferably, are put in a paddock and blindfolded. Then a greased piglet is released among them. The girls are supposed to catch it if they can. But of course it’s very hard with the slippery animal. The little pig squeals, and the little girls squeal too. It’s quite captivating.”
    â€œI’m sure it is.”
    â€œAnd speaking of piglets,” Lindquist exclaimed, “just look at that one!” He pointed to a six- or eight-month-old mite in a countrywoman’s lap.
    The woman was forcing baby food into the mouth of the red-faced tot. The tot was shrieking at the top of its lungs and struggling. Suddenly it burped loudly and threw up everything it had swallowed.
    â€œYou disgusting little brat!” cried the woman furiously.
    â€œNot to mention the egg-and-spoon race,” Lindquist was saying now. “And the belote tournaments! For sheer entertainment you can’t beat it!”
    â€œI can hardly wait, dear Maître Lindquist,” replied Aimée, who was watching Sinistrat and Mme Lenverguez slipping away towards the barns on the far side of the crowd.
    By this time the baby was dead, though its mother had not yet noticed the fact. Mme Lenverguez and Sinistrat disappeared. Lindquist and Aimée went on chatting for a few minutes, bumping into and greeting the Tobies, the Moutets, and various other guests. Sinistrat’s wife was sitting on a chair with her back to the wall of the main house and rubbing her ear morosely. All of a sudden, from the middle of the pasture, the countrywoman whose baby had vomited set up a mad, endless wailing and began beating herself about the head with her fists.
    A great deal of commotion and shouting ensued. Some people crowded around the dead baby and the wailing mother. Others drew away as

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