Bomb Threat

Paris Metro station Port Royal, early December 1996: Terrorist bomb injures ... kills ...

Paris tried to forget; security measures relaxed, life resumed to something more like normal, until the metro station bombing brought reality back into mind. Anti-terrorist measures were put back in force around the city. Trash cans were re-sealed, public rest rooms re-closed and metal barriers placed in front of potential strike areas, such as schools, to give a safety zone from bomb-laden cars.

I live across the street from a high school and the barriers can be seen from my window. A popular activity at night, for people who are coming home drunk, is to topple over these metal barriers in their drunken disgust with the barriers and all that they represent. Or because it's fun. Crash bang. Hey, look what I can do! It usually wakes me up as it is Right Outside the Window and the structure of my building and the facing building, the school, is such that even light footfalls on the sidewalk are amplified into the march of giants in my living room. High heels become Chineese water tortures ... clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp, Clomp ... !!


This afternoon, when I came home, my street was closed, marked off by police ribbon. Cars and pedestrians were rerouted. The school was evacuated. Bomb threat. My front door lay at the center of the cordoned area. I indicated to the policeman where I live and was permitted to pass.

"Allez vite!" ("Go quickly!")

On my street there are usually more people than cars. Today, I was the only soul that walked across the forbidden land. Restricted pedestrians at either end looked on at me from behind the police ribbon; a character in this afternoon's movie.

At the front door of my building, I entered the code, crossed the lobby, rode the elevator to the 4e floor, cooked lunch. The walls that usually echo the footfalls of every passing tourist, student, Parisian, echoed only the sound of pigeons cooing. I looked out the window towards the school and thought about bombs, explosions, glass blowing in, onto the table. The bomb at Port Royal was intended for the metro station at the end of my street, Saint Michel. I left the windows open during lunch. The cat appreciated the opportunity to sit on the tiny balcony in the protection of her shoebox, basked in the sunlight, and pretend to hunt the pigeons that soared past.

Friday, February 21, 1997 Paris