The Business Man vs. The Hiker (Part 3 – A Night with Laurence)

I was left a night in Cannes with no place to sleep and rain beginning to fall.

I decided it would be best to take the night bus out of town up near the A4 Highway onramp so I could take off first thing in the morning. After 30 minutes of walking around in search of a safe dry location, I see the light in an abandoned storage space that leads underground. I enter and it appears as a solid place to spend the night. I put my things down, start to relax and drift off to sleep.

As thoughts of the day rush through my mind I hear the sounds of splattering and coughing stumbling down the stairs. There is someone coming and there is no way out. He doesn’t notice me and shuffles off into another room a few meters away. I think to myself, should I make myself known? Or should I just prey he doesn’t realize I’m here for the whole night? I start to freak at the idea of him finding me sleeping and then deciding to take advantage of me so I decide my best option in this situation is to develop a level of respect between the two of us so I can sleep in peace.

At this point he sneezes and this creates my opening line. “salut!” I announce. He grumbles something back in a surprised French manner and I take this as an open invitation to show my face. I peer around the corner to find a man in his 40’s slouched against the wall, no shirt, completely wet, knees bleeding, beer in one hand cigarette in the other. His stench filled the room but I show no visual recognition of it. I look at this man with the eyes I look at everyone else; I treat this man with respect and introduce myself.

With curious eyes he starts to question me in French. Our communication was not clear but I managed to get out that he was from Cannes and his name was Laurence. As language was not going to be our main form of communication I decide to bring out my portable sound system (One of my essential travel items) I show him my jazz funk selection of tunes mixed with a few bluesy tracks I’ve been digging of late. He bobs his head in complete and utter joy. He offers me one of his 8.6% full strength beers and his full selection of dinner treats of which included coke bottles, banana candy, clouds, mentos and gum. We continue to converse, and I listen intently. He say’s he’s been shot a few times and shows me the bullet wounds to prove it. He mentioned something about the military taking his life.

We enjoy each other’s company and finish by singing a duet to the bohemian rhapsody jam. It’s time for me to go to sleep, I bid him farewell and then he surprises me, he offers to pay me 20 euro’s! This was such a powerful gesture coming from someone who obviously struggles for daily expenses. We both shared a special moment together in that empty toilet block. I comfortably return to my sleeping arrangements knowing full well I could trust Laurence and he could trust me.



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