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421 pages, Kindle Edition
First published April 3, 2012
"Why are you lying on the floor?"
"Solidarity. And we ran out of cognac. This is my preferred out of cognac posture."
"No, a fucking cat. It's a theme, Lucien. The name of the place is Le Chat Noir."
"Yes, but when you did the poster for the Moulin Rouge you didn't do a clown fucking a windmill."
"Sadly, no, they rejected my first drawings. And I'm good friends with one of the clowns there, Cha-U-Kao. She would have modeled for me. She's both a clown and a lesbian. At the same time! Art weeps for the missed opportunity."
"You could still paint her," said Lucien.
"No. She hates cats. But what magnificent symbolism that would be. I tell you, Lucien, these symbolists, Redon and Gaugin, they're on to something."
"I have done some experiments with absinthe, and I can attest that it has dangerous hallucinogenic powers, in particular the ability to make homely women appear attractive."
"Well, it's eighty percent alcohol and the wormwood in it is poisonous. I suspect what you are seeing are glimpses of your own death."
"Yes, but with exquisite bosoms. How do you explain those?"
"Forgive me, I didn't realize you were both deaf and a buffoon. I am, as I was ten seconds ago the Count Henri-Marie-Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, and I am looking for Carmen Gaudin." Henri was finding the detective work did not agree with his constitution as it involved talking to people who were odd or stupid, without the benefit of the calming effect of alcohol.
Lucien looked to each of them then grimaced. "Good God, Henri, is that smell coming from you?"
"I was going to come right over as soon as I heard you were awake, but the girls insisted on giving me a bath first. I sat vigil for you for a week, my friend."
"One sits vigil over the dying, not ten blocks away, on a pile of whores, out of his mind on opium and absinthe."
"That's a horrible plan."
"Yes, but I have chosen to ignore that."