Intimidation by the system as far as Depaquit was concerned, didn't exist; he did what he believed was right, and he was willing to take the punishment which might come out of it. "Depaquit," Robert Naly observed, when we were chatting at the Cafe Lapin Agile one day, "has all the guts in the world." I believe this assessment was right on target; he was totally unafraid of his government enemies, no matter what kind of power they had; and additionally, he had the brains to fight back, digging up dirt on his opponents, getting it published in the scandal sheet La Verite, and sometimes, through this method, getting them kicked out of office. Eventually, his zeal for the poor in the Montmartre got him elected to office as Mayor of the Commune Libre de Montmartre, a local district of the 18th Arrondisement, where he was able to exercise a modest voice in political debates.
Vizier renovated the old-style interior which which Sergeant Gay had inherited from a previous owner, varnished molding, provincial tables, marble topped, wire-backed chairs with woven wicker seats, tile floors, the type found in public toilets, brass electric chandeliers suspended from a stamped tin ceiling of cupids swirling around, a generally male ambiance, into a cozy hide-away decor, which featured dim-lighting, tasteful paintings, no nudes, curtained front windows of large colorful flower print patterns, and along with these attractive qualities, she insisted on courteous service, good food and wine, hoping to attract customers who were not just interested in drinking. Additionally, thinking it might encourage a better type of patron, she hired a young Hungarian violinist, down on his luck, to play on weekends. Maurice thought the changes upset his drinking particularly the violin music, which, he said, hurt his ears. He also felt threatened by the high-class atmosphere, but Vizier, who knew of him and his work from Sergeant Gay, assured him that as long as he behaved, she would treat him just like everyone else.
The Cafe Belle Gabrielle, when Vizier got through with it, had the real feel of intimacy, offering numerous booths for lovers, conversationalists, and for serious drinkers. Maurice,, eventually, accepted the clandestine mood; he believed, when tucked off in a corner, that he was safely hidden away from his enemies and the police. His paranoia never left him for a minute: he always thought someone was always after him; and in many instances of this, he was probably correct. It was great comfort to Maurice during the initial stages of a binge, to be undisturbed, to be able to concentrate on getting through to the second stage as smoothly as possible.
When he was satisfied he was secure, he'd settle down as far off from the other patrons as he could, savor the drink in front of him, and jiggle the coins in his pocket for reassurance that he had enough money to get him through the day and into the evening hours when the crisis of how to obtain the next drink would materialize. But as I say, at the early stages of a drunk, he preferred to be alone, booze in hand, isolated from the world. During this phase, Maurice, was introverted, brooding, often refusing to speak except to refill his glass. Vizier, who got on to his habits quickly, tended to his needs, simply holding out her hand for the cash each time. This was a strict rule with her; all customers paid on the spot; there was no haggling no credit, no hard feelings, and if she asked a customer to leave, the customer knew he'd better do so, because she didn't hesitate a second in calling on the police for assistance. This was in contrast to Sergeant Gay, who thought that calling the police was a sign of weakness, and being an ex-cop, he took pride in being able to cope with any situation. But this tough-guy attitude often got him his lumps, because there was no lack of characters on the La Butte Pinson spoiling for a fight. The other side of it was that his regular clientele didn't take kindly to being involved in a riot that could have serious consequences: taking their drinking to some other cafe. Sergeant Gay finally got wise to this when business dwindled after a huge donnybrook wrecked the the Cafe Casse-Croute, and he ended up at the hospital with a broken nose and the loss of four teeth....
Sometimes, if Maurice had safely reached the second stage of a binge, he would be joined by another artist, Amodeo Modigliani, an Italian trying to develop his art in Paris, a drinker whose exploits rivaled Maurice's. He tolerated Modigliani, but generally, when he was savoring the prospect of a prolonged drunk, he preferred to go it alone. If Maurice was in the final stages, however, other companions were welcome; he was prepared for socializing: sharing the pleasures and adventures of of intoxication. Then, dead drunk, he would be arm in arm with the others, they'd seek more wine, combining resources, or intimidating cafe proprietors for drinks.
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