Charlemagne and Florent
By Ranylt Richildis
This is what happened to les deux bretons before I met them, back in the 70s when they were boys in Vannes. One was abandoned at nineteen months (no one knows why, or by whom), the other orphaned by a car wreck at age three. I should say he was orphaned in a car wreck, strapped to a safety seat in the car in question. The fact of the child safety seat indicates the degree of his late parents’ love for him; baby seats were indulgences in 1971. He was brought to the same agency as the foundling, where someone had the kindness to put them together in the same bassinet. Or — it might just as easily be said — someone made the mistake of placing them together.
The fair boy was registered under the unlikely name of Charlemagne Kermorgant, the dark one attached to the much less remarkable Florent Edig. Florent remembers the occasion of their meeting, just as he remembers the car wreck that erased his alternate life. He sees, when he tries, a characterless room, a lurking nurse, a dreary olive drape, and a toddler with matted white hair crawling up to peer at his eyes. A scent, one part applesauce, one part diaper. Children’s squeaks and squalls. A pain in his left leg and another on the right side of his head. A rather stunning absence, quickly filled.
Charlemagne was so named by at least one of his derelict parents. The name was inscribed on a note taped to his wrist. There was no family name, of course, so Kermorgant became his surname, as it became the surname of all the ciphers left on the steps of the eponymous hospice. An interim label, it stuck to him through to the age of majority and sticks to him still. (Continue Reading…)