Corsican Ordeal (II)

This happened

A rocky beach topped by the ruins of a fort, with a ferry in the background

The old port of L'Île-Rousse, Corsica. Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT CC BY-SA 3.0 (Mods)

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June 16th, 2020 at 7:36pm

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So wrong about dodging

Multiple sorties of F-bombs were launched and replenished.

This is Part 2. Part 1 is here.

Outside, a dozen kids between the ages of fifteen and eighteen returned every insult. One furiously punched codes into the lock, trying to open the front door.

I think we dodged a bullet, I told myself as I dozed off.

After five minutes, during which time I tried to pry each guy away from the window and lead him upstairs, everyone's fire had extinguished. With the parting gift of a gesture and one last obscene name, my group went back to their rooms.

Still wrong

We spent the next day at the beach. I took an afternoon nap which turned into a deep sleep, and I woke around 8pm, disoriented and hungry.

As I walked into town, two taxis screeched to a stop. "Get in!" my brother yelled. "They're coming!"

I jumped into the passenger seat. "Who's coming?"

Cicero didn't weep from the grave, but it was effective nonetheless.

"They started throwing rocks at us!" my brother yelled. "Now they're on mopeds - there's like twenty of them!"

And then I said something I will never forget. Cicero didn't weep from the grave, but it was effective nonetheless. "I don't know about you dickheads, but I will not be a prisoner in our hotel tonight." I repeated it in French for the driver. With an approving nod, he peeled out and returned to town.

A minute later, we stood in front of a restaurant near the beach. A man who looked like Tony Soprano screamed at two kids wearing spiked gloves, buzzing past on mopeds. He muttered a curse, then looked at me. "They say the older one speaks French. Is that you?" We shook hands. "Call me Charlie," he said with a smile. "Come in!"

It may have been worth it

He led us to a reserved table on a terrace overlooking the water. We continued to hear mopeds circling the block. Charlie looked at a table of young local men - black hair, suntans, bandanas - and jerked a thumb over his shoulder. Two of them went downstairs. Five minutes later, the mopeds were gone.

Boats in a harbor with red fishing nets in the foreground and mountains in the background

The port of L'Île-Rousse, Corsica. Photo by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT CC BY-SA 3.0 (Mods)

Strands of Christmas lights glowed in the breezy summer night. The first round of drinks was on the house. We ate pizza and seafood pasta. We flirted with a table of Swiss women. We bought carafes of vin de Corse for them as well as the table of locals.

An impromptu contest broke out where each table would sing a song and everyone would listen respectfully, then applaud. We brought the house down with Sympathy for the Devil.

After dinner, Charlie invited us to the bar on the ground floor.

The locals came over to talk to me. "Listen," one of them said, "we're sorry about those punks you had to deal with."

"Thank you."

"You're going to be with us tonight," he stated. "No one will bother you. We're going to a club later. You'll like it."

And then...the reveal

I have no idea why he said it so obviously, or if it was even true.

"We're terrorists. We want the French to go back to the mainland."

"You've seen the images of Corsica around town?" he asked, drawing a vertical line and triangle with his finger.

I nodded.

"That's us. We're terrorists. We want the French to go back to the mainland."

We're terrorists. In 2020, those words are far more frightening than they were in 1992, but still - they rang in my ears.

"The important thing is to go back home and tell everyone to come to Corsica. It's beautiful, people are nice. We only have a problem with the French government, and even then, when we bomb their buildings, we do it when no one's inside."

I nodded slowly.

Later, we went to the nightclub a few blocks away. We drank for free in a private bar off the dance floor, and everyone was our friend that night. They laughed at our stories and taught us Corsican songs.

As dawn broke and I reached behind the bar for one last drink, an older gentleman a couple of seats down called out to the bartender and pointed at me. I had poured myself a few throughout the night, but this time the bartender said, "That'll be eighty francs." (≈$15)

We brought the house down with Sympathy for the Devil.

Looking around, I noticed the terrorists were all gone. My brother and his friends were, too.

After paying, I stood alone at the bar for a minute, feeling every bit out of place as I was. I exited the club and groaned like a vampire as the Mediterranean sun blinded me. We had a plane to catch in three hours.

 Cliché Interview Question Corsican Ordeal (I) 

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