A Last Night At the Royal Lieu

Paris was a beautiful city in 1985.

I worked the door at several nightclubs around the city.

My bosses were Albert and Serge.

We also had a club in London, the Cafe de Paris, and another in Nice, Le Nautique.

Jacques was my partner at the door.

The ex-con was a soothing balm to my constant rage.

“Pete Johnson, calmez toi.”

I tried my best.

Paris was a City of Light.

Famous people came to the clubs.

We treated graciously as if they were the hoi polloi.

They liked being normal, even if they looked special.

Not everyone was that famous.

Willie de Ville showed up with a playboy friend from Hamburg.

I had worked for Jurgen at Bsirs in that old Hanseatic city. No one knew what he did for a living. He always said it had something to do with telexes.

The club was owned by the city’s # 1 pimp. They had been best friends from youth.

Kalle was more than dangerous, but never gave me any trouble unlike some of his underlings.

I left right before Christmas 1982.

I never went back.

Jurgen had a drug problem. So did a lot of us, but we thought we were destined to live forever.

Heroin can make you feel immortal until it kills you.

Jurgen and Willie arrived to the club high.

Their eyes pinned by Iranian Brown.

They asked if I wanted some.

“No thanks, I’m more into white.”

“Me too,” answered Willie. We knew each other from the punk scene in New York. He had a big following in Europe. Everyone was surprised both of us were still alive.

None of us died easy.

The previous evening I had run into Johnny Thunders at Gibus in Republique.

His manager said I owed him money for a bad deal in New York.

“This is Paris, man. He don’t owe you nothing.”

Johnny was great that night.

In more ways than one.

After hearing that story everyone wanted to see the legendary Johnny Thunders.

“You never know when it will be his last show.”

Willie was running the same odds, but said, “Persian brown won’t get me.”

They packed Albert’s Cadillac and headed east to Republique.

I went home with Karine.

She and I had been a thing once.

Heroin had killed that love.

Now we only had sex and drugs.

She left my hotel room in La Marais at noon.

Karim, her dealer was waiting at the Pere Tranquille Cafe in Les Halles.

She needed it more than me and I slept late.

The room telephone rang. I picked it up. It was Pauline.

“Jurgen is dead.” The thin Parisian stylist loved the German.


“OD. He is at the morgue. Can you go identify him?”

“I’m not family, but I’ll try.”

The back entrance of the Quai de la Rapee morgue was quiet.

The interior was deserted, but the sound of electrical saws buzzed in the back rooms.

A clerk allowed me to view Jurgen’s body for a 200 franc ‘pour-boire’.

Jurgen and I had been to Switzerland.

We had sailed on the Alstersee.

I asked the examiner the cause of death.

“Heart attack and drug overdose.”

Jurgen looked like he was sleeping and I thanked the ME for his information with 200 francs.

I called Pauline from outside.

She cried when I said it was him.

Years later I ran into Willie.

I mentioned Jurgen’s death.

“He was in good shape when I left, but he wasn’t ready to stop.”

“I guess not.”

Paris was a City of Light, but the light doesn’t shine everywhere.

Not when death comes knocking on the door.

Better to be alive.



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