Mr Lush and Olivier look to satisfy their desire for French cuisine at one of restaurants in the Catoy. They are enjoying an excellent eight course meal. Olivier will be a bookseller starting tomorrow. Rose is to give him a short tutorial and introduce him to the regulars. He bears all the outward signs of happiness.
Just a small bite into the third course – salted sea bass with a glass of Entre deux Mers from Château Paradis Casseuil – Mr Lush begins:
Olivier, I do not want to sell books. I do not possess the necessary expertise, nor am I young enough to gain it.
Dear friend, I would have been surprised if you had dared to take the step. Therefore, I can understand your decision.
They sit in silence for a few minutes, focusing on the food. They are both acutely aware of what this will mean for their friendship. After the plates have been cleared and their medium-sized glasses have been replaced by larger, more bulbous ones, Lush reaches into his breast pocket and pulls out a note.
I would like to read you something.
The ocelot gives a quick nod and opens his little ears.
Dear Sir or Madam,
our paths have crossed little over the course of the last few years. This has afforded me time and the necessary distance to reflect on our friendship.
My impression is that the term friendship, applied to our situation, stretches my ability for the suspension of disbelief too far. From the beginning of our mutual acquaintance, we have cared little about the vicissitudes of each other’s lives. Joint discussions have always been seen as a necessary waste of time. We all share a cage of our own creation. This cage becomes more and more constricting until we dress, talk, and act like all of the other prisoners.
I, on the other hand, wish to escape this captivity. As you are both prisoner and prison guard, I must start with you.
I am very much looking forward to never seeing you again. I sincerely wish you happiness in the rest of your life.
Olivier’s focus centres on the recently-arrived Coq au Vin. It is accompanied by A Pinot Noir from the winery Clos des Lambrays. Olivier asks:
Have you thrown off your shackles?
Yes, I have burst my cocoon, I believe. Although I am still a caterpillar.
Where is it that you wish to crawl to?
I do not quite know. Any recommendations?
I may have something for you. It’s from the hotel cat. Go to the following address if you can fit it into your busy schedule.
Mr Lush looks down at the business card now in his possession. The inscription reas:
Mr Mohan Mahto
Purveyor of exotic animals
Mr Lush’s eyes are sparkling and his lips are forming a smile. I propose a toast to booksellers, friendship, and a brighter future.
The clinking of the glasses is lost in the cacophony of their surroundings. DC/MM