Friday 5:00 rolled around, but Georges didn’t. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen. This was very un-Georges-like behavior from what we knew of him so far. We were all worried.
Saturday morning Plasterer Franck, My Franck and I were back at the apartment doing the finishings and the recalcitrant couch was still out in the hallway. Occasionally one of us would experience a burst of optimism and think we had figured out a new way to get the couch through the hallway (take the cushions off, squeeze the top of it down as much as possible, lift it higher – isn’t the hallway wider at the top than at the bottom, or is it only an optical illusion?). No go. We had to figure out a way to get it through the living room window.
Then we had a Georges-spotting out the said window, and Franck rushed down to find out if an execution of The Plan was imminent. He came back quickly, dejected.
As it turned out Georges would have liked to have helped, but couldn’t. There was the little problem of the fact that at that very moment he was going back to the hospital to get hooked up to IV antibiotics. The combination of going back to work immediately after his accident and the heat wave hanging over Europe, driving the temperature in Beaune up around the 35 Celsius mark, had meant that his gash had become badly infected. He could hardly walk, let alone participate in The Plan.
In a fit of frustration, My Franck declared that he was going to get that couch into the living room TODAY, come Hell or high water. He called his friend Martial on the cell phone. The conversation was quick, and when he was finished he rushed into the bathroom where Plasterer Franck and I were installing the rod for the shower curtain.
“Allez, we have to get everything ready. Martial will be here within fifteen minutes,” he said.
A suspicious thought entered my mind. “Did you just ask Martial to come and help you move a couch, or did you inform him that the idea is to lift the couch through a second story window?”
Franck shrugged. “Actually, I just asked him over for a drink.”
The two Francks hurried off to assemble the ropes and other equipment before I could conduct any further interrogations. They hauled the couch downstairs and stood beside it, occasionally glancing up at the window I was peering out of, and looking very engrossed in discussing what I could only surmise were hoisting techniques. Plasterer Franck lit up a cigarette and took several deep drags – to help him think or calm his nerves, I couldn’t be quite sure.
In a matter of minutes Martial roared up the street in his Skoda, and extracted a huge extension ladder from his trunk – rather well equipped for a mere aperitif, I noted.
I watched in fascination as the three men tied a complicated series of ropes to the couch, then huddled together and planned some more. Eventually My Franck hollered up that I was needed to come down and block traffic, so I hurried down, gave Martial a quick bises hello, wished them Godspeed and ran down to the end of the street.
By the time I got there and turned around they had already gotten the ladder up, and the couch was in the middle of the street. A beat up white car came zooming towards me and I made frantic hand signals for the driver to stop. Luckily the long-haired man behind the steering wheel was very zen, not to mention amused at our little furniture moving endeavor. He even offered to pull ahead a bit to block other oncoming cars with his own.
I jogged alongside him until he stopped, and then looked over to the men again, and my heart stopped. Martial was half way up the ladder with the couch ON HIS BACK. Plasterer Franck was hanging out the window where I had been only a few minutes before, and My Franck was standing directly UNDERNEATH the couch that Martial was balancing precariously over his shoulder.
The nice driver was as transfixed as I was. “Ca alors…,” he murmured.
And then all of a sudden, the situation decanted; Plasterer Franck gave a huge yank from above and Martial a mighty thrust from below, and the couch was in the living room at last.
My Franck gave a whoop of triumph, and thanked the helpful driver.
“It was nothing,” the man said, but then nodded over to a panting, sweating, yet grinning Martial who had just descended from the ladder. “But you owe that guy a drink.”