RELAY’s red and white lights burst on brightly at 4 a.m., Paris’ equivalent to America’s 711. A glimpse of a serious group decked out in machine and metal strolls by and huddles nonchalantly, as usually sensed in airports. There is no tension. It’s absent, so you can forget about the hypersensitivity. It’s possibly too early for action. Either that, or it’s our lucky dark, blue passports.
Travelers zip by, sophistically bombarding each other for those last green copies of Muhammad’s face gracing the front page.
Frantic fanatics ask, where’s Hebdo? Do you still have Hebdo? And the clerk repeatedly rolls her eyes. She wishes she were still in bed, as another woman approaches the stand buying more copies than one can handle and still complaining about the price-jump. The clerk twists her eyes harder, realizing it’s the beginning of a never-ending routine.
It gets worse with every customer holding up the line, abruptly interrupting
they’re bottle-of-water or pack-of-gum purchases for a last minute, impromptu item: Hebdo.
“Ne pas plus Charlie Hebdo,” a sign enthusiastically written in big, black, sharpie on the back of a piece scrap-paper is slapped on every newsstand, and within minutes,before the sun can shine, France’s newest sensation is sold out at Orly. Other Relay’s take a different turn by not stacking up journals on news stands at all, they must be demanded for at the registers.
It’s the second time in two days; 3 million copies at 3 euros a pop cherished like Charlie’s golden ticket, secretly thrashed into a bag or flailed like a flag of freedom for the whole world to see.
They’re done until tomorrow. The clerk sneers at her boss, reveling in joy.
Then the thin journal moves on it’s own, floating and slipping in and out the hands of every citizen. Inky, smudged fingers go on to transfer diverse DNAs upon barriers, cold metro poles, dirty public walls, and liberating windows; car doors, house knobs, mirrors, and office desks; computer screens, keyboards, pens, and even into our very own saliva. So deep into the soul of this exact, existing point in time where each entity scans the same pictured words of satirical pride.
Crisp pages flip open, rippling hysteria that drags on and on, each day, while other white, blank pages across the globe use their own utensils of speech to defy this haute sensation.
Fighting fumes of freedom, for what?
Charlie’s ticket is no longer golden — it’s platinum, inching and climbing higher along eBay’s charts.
20 years can go by, the scent of print might die, but today’s ticket will still linger inside drawers, frames, and across floors; on streets, consumed in flames, or possibly collecting dust in antique stores.
Get yours while you can.