The two young undergraduates were on the veranda of the Café de Paris, view of the Mediterranean glittering in the morning sun before them. Warm wind, cold Spritz, spring sunshine. Term nearly finished, both were looking forward to the Easter holidays, Luc headed back to Clermont Ferrand and his sweetheart, Didier back to Lyon, away from his sweeheart, though secretly he was relieved. They’d been together a few months, started slowly, the intensity was growing, but he wasn’t sure how he felt any more, and that was never a good sign.
In their final year at the local university both were aware of the approaching change in their lives. Move to Paris or somewhere, do a Master’s, get a job, go travelling, move back home. The warm wind brought comfort in the rebirth of spring, yet both knew the summer would see their safe academic tenure finally severed, after twenty years in the bosom of structured education.
“I’m excited about the future, but not sure what to do. I’m under pressure from my parents to move back and help in the family business. But I don’t want to. Why did I come away, if not?”
“At least you’ll have a steady job. You know how hard things are at the moment.”
“But I haven’t studied four years to be a greengrocer.”
“Yeah, I want to continue at the university. Do a Master’s, try to get a job teaching.”
“Isn’t that a bit safe?”
“I like the academic world, it’s what I’ve always known. And I’d love to be a respected professor of Political Science, writing papers, giving interviews on TV, publishing books. I could see myself going that way,” Didier stroked his goatee and sipped his Spritz.
“It does sound better than being a greengrocer,” Luc nodded, dragging on his roll-up. I mean look at that guy, that’s Monsieur Boniface, isn’t it?”
They both looked round as a tall, elegant, middle aged man, grey at the temples, hit the central locking on his red Porsche Cayenne. People turned to look as he entered the bar terrace.
“Thank you, Sir,” said the uniformed car park man, pocketing the coins. “Always so generous. Have a good a day.”
“Great result yesterday, Coach!” three sporty looking young girls in tracksuits smiled from one of the tables, one blew a kiss, the man nodded.
“Jean-Paul, come over for a game, see if we can beat you for once,” called over a gentleman sat at a chess game in the shade of a tree. The man waved it away.
“Grandad!” called a small boy running over to get a huge hug, followed by his striking looking mother, blonde hair, sparkling teeth, bronzed legs.
“Professor! How nice to see you again,” beamed the head waiter coming over to greet the new arrival. “Congratulations on your TV appearance last night. You certainly silenced them all.” The man lifted his shoulders modestly, and with a slight opening of his arms. “Usual table?” It happened to be free.
“Darling!” A wave and shimmy of luscious dark hair had the man in the attractive woman’s arms in seconds, the waiters looking on in envy.
Didier and Luc exchanged a glance. “Got it all, hasn’t he?”
But at that moment there was a commotion as a ruddy couple burst into the sunlit terrace with what must’ve been their daughter, a busty girl, Luc recognised from the university. Philosophy Year One.
“It was him, Dad. That bastard,” she screamed pointing at the Professor. His female companion removed her sunglass and turned to him.
“Again? You pig.”