An excerpt from my novel, Fame’s Victim (at times, an altered history of Canada.) Here, ST (the person of Fame in the novel) dines with Leonard Cohen after Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s funeral.
“Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”
“Memory – the ghost at every table.”
The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However, word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.
“They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.
“There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.
“In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.
“That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.
“It should be the news of the world.”
The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.
“You can not share my déjà vu but trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”
ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.
“We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.
“By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.
“By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”
“With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.
Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”