The bones say “merci”

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December 14, 2013 by jacklovelace

None of that sense of foreboding crap.

It was a sunny day in Paris as the line snaked around the entrance to the Catacombs. Admittedly it was a pale December sun without much punch. But it made the half hour wait to enter the resting place of the bones and skulls of six million Parisians a little easier.

Finally, pay your money and down you go, lower and lower into the Catacombs.

In a world of greed, the people who run the Catacombs limit entry to no more than 200 people at any given time. The tradeoff for the long lines is the possibility as you walk deeper and deeper, that you can really be alone.

Finally, there is the door and famous warning sign “Halt, this is the realm of death.”

Death indeed. Room after room of bones and skulls, stacked as deep as the eye can see, room after room. Enough light to see, not enough light to see too much. One girl held up a scarf to cover her face while a friend led her through the rooms. She just couldn’t look.

The ossuary where the bones are kept is the big show, so the 200 in the Catacombs tend to group here.

That means the jackasses with flash cameras begin the explosions over and over.

There are flash forbidden warnings but the sporadic guards sit in chairs doing nothing getting ossified and ready to become bones themselves. The flash asses are unchecked.

Besides the wrongness of popping pictures of the remains of these human beings, it ruins the effect of the place, the power, the solitude.

To avoid the flashes, I sought out quiet turns in the bone road and I found them. It was profound.

One persistent flash idiot was ahead of me and while I tried to keep him out of sight I turned one corner and caught just a glimpse of him about to unleash another flash…….

when his body disappeared into a bed of bones.

What? I must have been dreaming, horror movie bullshit. Wishful thinking becomes reality.

I walked up to the spot where I thought I saw him propelled into the bones. Nothing. I looked back, deep, into the pile of bone after bone until it fades into darkness. A part of a shoe showing in the bones? No, my mind and my eyes playing with me.

I finished my bone run and walked up the stairwell, breathless but into the light.

Somewhat disturbed but far from concerned, I walked back to the entrance and found a guard.

“Are there ever any reports of people disappearing down there?”

She managed not to roll her eyes and actually said “we just check turnstile numbers at the end to see how many to let in, we don’t add it all up,” said with a fairly even tone.

The guard said nothing more.

“Well, it was great except for the damn flash photos going off. It’s wrong, I don’t understand how people can do that.”

She smiled and still said nothing.

I turned to walk away and she softly said “Monsieur.”

I faced her.

“The bones say merci.”


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