The Smuggs Chronicle, Part Eight

stories about old memories


Eighth Day: August 25, 2013


We cross the same suspension bridge Mira and I alone crossed 14 years ago.

Signs for downtown lead us to the bustling streets of the city’s modern commercial center. We locate a garage in the university district.

Soon, we stroll past geyser fountains along a pedestrian walkway. Children run in and out of the streams.

St. Lawrence River
these sunbathed sidewalks and
French street signs

We walk down a cobblestone pedestrian mall on Rue St. Catherine. Pass a Hyatt with the usual chain restaurants — the ones that serve $12 burgers. The doors of an indoor Mall with the sign Jardin something beckons a block down. We pass it. Soon, we need a map. I find a hotel that turns out to be “dead-center Montreal.”

We follow directions to Rue St. Denis. But it’s not the Bistro-lined street we remember.

“This isn’t fun,” Mira grumbles.

I wonder why we came.

downward spiral
the sidewalk on our path
closed for construction

A lucky turn and an encounter with a local lead us to Old Montreal. Along another cobblestone street we pass bistros and restaurants—including the recommended Jardin Nelson. A block later, we arrive at Jacques Cartier Place, a location Mira and I remember.

The plaza extends down toward the old port along the St. Lawrence. Restaurants line either side. Performers occupy locations spread apart, each drawing their own crowds. A magician performing near the top of the Plaza. Peruvian musicians play near the bottom.

moving through huddled masses
at Cartier Place

We arrive at our table in the Garden of Jardin Nelson. A Jazz quartet, featuring a petite diva with a Billie Holiday white carnation in her hair, entertains the lunch crowd from an elevated pedestal stage. Large white parasols in the shape of tulip petals shade us from the sun.

I order a rabbit crepe. Mira asks for a seafood crepe, and Frankie, a personal pizza topped with local sausage. As our waiter says, perfect.

I take my first bite. An explosion of succulent flavors engulfs my tongue: Robust, juicy flavor of sautéed rabbit, tart Portobello mushroom and hardy cheese.

Satisfaction, at last!

lunch beneath
a forest of tulips
jazz serenade

We cross Cartier Place and follow a cobblestone street. More bistros and gift shops, offering their siren song of tourist-trap trinkets.

We turn toward the old port. Walking up and down two piers, we can’t find the bench where I “proposed.”

river promenade—
one lone boat against the
St. Lawrence current

A walk skirting Chinatown, and we return to “dead center” — and the way home.

organ music
a flock of pigeons
taking flight

read from the beginning: Pre-Smuggs Insomnia, the Prequel


photograph by Cedric Servay

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Frank J. Tassone

Frank J. Tassone lives in New York City's "back yard" with his wife and son. He fell in love with writing after he wrote his first short story at age 12 and his first poem in high school. He began writing haiku and haibun seriously in the 2000s. His haikai poetry has appeared in Failed Haiku, Cattails, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, Contemporary Haibun, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Society of America member anthologies. He is a contributing poet for the online literary journal Image Curve, and a performance poet with Rockland Poets. When he's not writing, Frank works as a special education high school teacher in the Bronx. When he's not working or writing, he enjoys time with his family, meditation, hiking, practicing tai chi and geeking out to Star Wars, Marvel Cinema and any other Sci-Fi/Fantasy film and TV worth seeing.

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2 Responses

  1. rodrigo1974 says:

    oh why oh why aren’t the Quebecois considered to be anything of merit to the Parisians, for the love of Christ Jesus? and why oh why do the Quebecois consider those Canadians of scotch extraction to be nothing more than inferior baboons?

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