A few months before my visit to Rémi's apartment building, a few months before I begin my present investigation, a few months before now, I venture again into Rémi's history, if only to satisfy my unrelenting curiosity.
Your family, I say to Rémi after the fifth round, you said you had a brother? And I'm bluffing, of course, coaxing him to concede, through either correction or concurrence, some sort of indication that he is more than just his self, that he is human despite his denial of it, that selves of his exist outside of our universe, this universe, the one which includes only he and I.
He questions my proposition with his gaze, his posture says none-of-your-goddamn-business, and I am expecting our third musketeer, that wretched silence, to squirm its way back into our company; but, instead, Rémi opens his mouth, compulsion prevailing, momentum succeeding, even for someone like him.
Yes, Rémi says, I had a brother.
Yes, Rémi says, I had a wife.
Yes, Rémi says, I had a child. Two children, in fact.
Yes, Rémi says, I had a family, once. I had loved ones, once. I was a man, once.
He jabs his finger in the air, toward me, a defensive weapon, and says:
But don't you fucking ever ask me again who I was. That shit does no one any good.
And he's given me so much in just a few seconds, my head is filled with brand new questions, there is so much I have to know, so many stories to be told, so much history to uncover, but all I can eke out is a pithy attempt at keeping this window, this tiny glimpse into something deep and mystifying, open for as long as I can:
"We may be through with the past," I say, "but the past is not through with us."
That, Rémi says, is a load of fucking bullshit.