Inky Heels

Author / writing blog for E. Myrddin

Roulette

The immense building was unrecognizable as the former Louvre.

Gaston went through the glass tunnel entrance and at once high-tech sights and sounds hit his senses. The casino was bright with neon. Bursts of color reflected erratically on shiny metallic walls. The noise was a continuous digitized jangle. It mingled with the jumble of voices, laughter, and clink of drink glasses. A climate control system made quiet sifting sounds as it scrubbed and re-circulated the air.

For many decades, the ancient museum had been boarded up. Its vast contents of antiquities ignored and left to gather dust and dilapidation. A decade ago the museum had been re-imagined and renovated. It was now an ultramodern casino and entertainment complex. This renovation satisfied the shrill demands of crowded encroaching cities.

Gaston went further into the building. He wandered along corridors lined by posh high-stakes suites or VIP rooms. He was most horrified by the areas that contained mosaics. The mosaics were constructed of artifacts salvaged from the Louvre. These salvaged remnants—the ghosts of mankind’s diverse past—were incorporated into the casino’s decor in a random fashion. No attention to the details of presentation, chronology, or origin.

A woman’s voice interrupted Gaston’s silent horror. “Well. Here you are at last.”

Gaston turned. “Yes. Here I am. Good to see you, Albertine. ”

“I shall walk with you. If that is agreeable.”

Gaston gave a nod. He continued down the corridor, pausing at a corner in front of a small touch screen console. It was embedded into the wall along with a muddle of historical art, mainly German, Flemish, and Dutch paintings. Gaston tried not to look for artwork he recognized.

“What is this?” he asked, pointing to the darkened screen.

“Archives. Anyone who desires information or history on something in a particular section can use the touch screen to access it. There are many of them throughout the building.”

Gaston’s voice was sarcastic. “I don’t imagine they get much use. They probably contain too many words, right?”

“These types of archives are standard now,” Albertine responded in a teaching tone, ignoring Gaston’s sarcasm. “They’re located in all high-rise buildings.”

“You mean those bland modern skyscrapers? The ones that replaced libraries?”

Albertine didn’t respond. Books were considered inconvenient. Quaint collectibles only. More ghosts.

They went in and out of rooms and suites. Gaston would pause to study a lonely piece of history, caught like a flower in resin. He saw ancient relics, such as jewelry, tools, pottery, broken statuary, pieces of garments and more. These embedded items were from many centuries and cultures. They were placed haphazardly on the metallic walls. Afterthoughts.

The Louvre had been the last museum in existence. Now it was just another huge building that housed retail boutiques, food courts, theaters, and gaming rooms.

Albertine spoke again. “Shall we make our way to the untouched section?”

Gaston scowled. “Define untouched. When this place was left to rot, it was also ransacked.”

“The area is awaiting reconstruction, which is already in progress. But the untouched section is somewhat structurally intact with most of its contents. It’s the section known as the Napoleon Apartments.”

Gaston felt a pang of remembrance. The remembrance ran deep and strong. “I’ve still got a bit more I need to see,” he responded.

Albertine’s voice was stern. “You’ve had plenty of time, Gaston. You’ve been putting off the inevitable. Delay makes it painful and emotional.”

Gaston shrugged and kept moving.

They arrived at another corridor and proceeded into it. The walls were a quilt of tapestries, fabrics, and rugs. At the end of the corridor was a large multilevel room. The first floor was a massive ballroom. The ceiling, walls, and floor were artwork mosaics. Gaston recognized Klimt, Degas, Picasso, Rossetti, Monet, and more. No longer in frames, the paintings were seamlessly adhered together on the walls or on the floor. Patrons could walk, stand or dance upon history.

The second floor contained small low-lit salons that were semi-private. There was also bench seating for relaxing and watching. The third floor offered more recreational games of chance.

“I’ve seen enough,” Gaston said.

They traveled to a closed off part of the building. It was dusty and cluttered with debris. Spiders had been busy. There were cobwebs everywhere, draped like nets. The area was lit for bare functionality by vines of tiny electric bulbs.

They went into a dark and neglected but sumptuous parlor. Albertine moved to stand near a large empty hearth. She was luminous against the shadowy room. A ghost, like Gaston, she had waited to return until it was time to meet up with him. She’d had a long wait. He’d been stubborn.

Albertine spoke. “You’re finally through here? Or do you intend to haunt the Napoleon Apartments until this area is remodeled too?”

Gaston was studying a carved settee. He responded, “I have no compulsion for haunting any longer. Today was a ceremonial farewell. This place, even in its current despicable form, is awash with nostalgia for me. I cannot stay in it any longer.”

“Nostalgia can be seductive but obsessive,” Albertine remarked. “Especially for a ghost.”

Gaston nodded. “What happens next?”

Albertine turned to stare into the dark empty hearth. “Spin the wheel. Round and round it goes. Where it stops nobody knows.”

“A game of chance?” Gaston’s voice held scorn. “How cliché. So no resting on one’s laurels, then? Or is that a different sort of question?”

Albertine was evasive. “There are parts that you design yourself.” She held out her hand. “Shall we?”

“Where are we going?” asked Gaston.

“Make a wish, make a plan, try your luck,” Albertine replied. She seemed impatient.

Gaston joined her at the hearth. “Just one more look,” he said in a quiet voice. He gave the musty but exquisite room with its dying history a last glance.

The noise of the casino seemed to grow louder.

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11 thoughts on “Roulette

  1. Completely unexpected and unusual setting drew me in. After the glass tunnel and the notion of a renovated museum, the notion of the Louvre being reduced to a casino was so repulsive that it enticed!

  2. There is almost a sense of melancholy here – it is certainly sad to think of the Louvre reduced to such a state.
    Welcome to #FridayFlash. Best of luck on your novel.
    ~jon

    • Yes it was pretty sad for me to write. I have a passionate love for history and the Louvre was the first real European museum I visited. It was a life-altering moment for me. Thank you for your input!

  3. A gentle, and easy-on-the-eye story. The overall feeling I get is one of sadness and loss, a ghost from the past would mourn what modern-day man may scorn. Human nature is not all it could be, is it?

    Welcome to #fridayflash. :)

    I love the name of the blog btw. :)

    • Thank you, I appreciate the input. So far I’m enjoying the FF experience. I’ve read some great stuff, and hope to continue finding more. Lots of people writing out there – it’s great to have access to it!

  4. I felt inextricably drawn along with poor suffering Gaston on some kind of macabre tour, where I almost didn’t want to look at what was coming up next. You have some great description here and it creates an especially scary version of the future, haunted by the melancholy ghost of former glories. Great piece, thanks for sharing and welcome to #fridayflash!

    • Thank you – that’s what I was hoping. For the reader to be pulled along into Gaston’s good-bye. I fear for the future of the museums. I travel a lot and try and savor everything because there are places in the world that would rather bulldoze over a grande old building for a modern monstrosity than spend the care and money preserving it. That is the fear that drove me to write this piece. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

  5. This makes me very sad. I don’t even want to imagine it, but I have to admit you’ve described it well and given it a mood that resounds. Nicely done. And welcome to Friday Flash!

    • It was sad for me to write because I see wonderful aspects of history disappearing every day. And a lack of care by the general public At least I can work my sadness and contempt for the modernization of everything through creative writing! Thank you for your input and comment.

  6. Pingback: The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 3 Number 49 | Friday Flash

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