The following morning, when I realised what I had done, I went directly to the Police and confessed to my wrongdoing. I was sent to trial and sentenced to ten years in prison and on reflection it was the finest thing that could have happened to me, prison changed my life for the better.’ he stated candidly.
‘If you have no objection to me asking, in what way did being incarcerated change you?’ ‘Up to my stay in prison, I had led an aimless shiftless existence with no thought to the future. The routine and discipline of prison life agreed with me, I soon realised that with a certain amount of commitment on my part, I need no longer be Pierre Dubois the aimless drifter, but with a certain amount of education, someone else, a better man.’
‘To achieve this, I spent every hour that I could in the prison library, everything that I had previously dismissed, I was eager to learn. I read everything and absorbed it all. My tutors encouraged me to begin writing, initially short stories and then longer articles but all had one thing in common, they were all about this area that I know so well.’
‘So, when you were released from prison, you were an established writer but without a book to build a reputation around, What transpired next?’ asked Valjean, although he knew the answer. ‘I had been released from prison for probably about a month. I was alone drinking in a bar, an attractive woman came in, Parisian I would guess from her clothing and mannerisms, she was definitely not local.
‘She came and sat beside me at the bar, introducing herself as Marie Deschamps a name that I was familiar with through my time spent in the prison library. she asked me if I knew the area well as she was here doing research for her latest novel.’
‘I replied, that I knew the area like the back of my hand and offered my services as a guide. she accepted and I found myself working as her research assistant on her latest project. ‘Was this the reason that she mentored you on your own projects?’ ‘No that came much later, after we had become lovers.’
‘I have no inclination as to how it happened, but we just seemed to click, I had no idea that a woman like that would be attracted to someone like me, yet it happened.’
‘When you met, had she not recently divorced her husband?’ queried Valjean.
(C) Damian Grange 2020