The Montmartre Incident

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I went to Montmartre because I wanted to feel like an artist, and I wasn’t disappointed. The place was full of them: artists and thieves. The thieves charged thirty Euros for a caricature, and the artists lifted your wallet after you’d paid. They glided through the crowds, bumping and pocketing and apologizing and moving on. When he shoved by me, then, my first reaction was to clamp my hands to my pockets, spinning and trying to face him. He was already gone, running faster than I’ve seen anyone move, threading through tourists without looking back. The military was there seconds later, helicopters and bullhorns honking “PLEASE REMAIN CALM.” I heard a single shot, and the man went down in a shower of sparks. The crowd was screaming and scattering by now, and I could see him up and running again and–this is the weird part–I could swear he was carrying his own head, out in front of him. Carrying it with both hands. And that’s the last I saw of him. I never read about it in the papers, but it could have been there; my French isn’t very good, after all.

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