Apr 15, 2010
Monday Artday: Ancient Civilisation
They'd been best school friends, then best men at each other's weddings. They'd been the best shoulder to cry on when each was divorced, and at least one of them expected to be the best mourner at the other's funeral.... eventually.
Their home town was Petite Aux Paris, in the American Quartier of Haute Provence, just north of St Remy. It was a small American Enclave of about fifty expats who, drawn together just after the war, had purchased an entire Bastide town as a butress against the overwhelming Gallic presence of their adopted country.
About a mile from Paul and Simon's house was a bunch of Roman Ruins, mainly a giant cemetry, dated 125 AD. For twenty years the local société historique Française had uncovered it bit by bit, stone by stone, tomb by tomb, aquaduct by aquaduct.
Neither of the men remembered who started it, but every year on Simon's birthday, the first of August, they'd take their dog Rusty down to the cemetry, jump the 2000 year old reconstructed stone fence, sit outside the deserted cemetry keeper's cottage and drink a flagon de Beauveau Nouveau Rouge Eclat de Lune till one or both of them keeled over and lay sprawled flat on the flagstones.
But one year Rusty didn't come back.
That year both of the men had overdosed a touch on too much Red moonshine and, unusually, they'd both collapsed together, one atop of the other, Simon in his pretend medieval soldier's outfit, Paul in the tuxedo he'd rented just for the occasion.
By the time they'd regained conciousness it was dark and the full moon was in high swing. Embaressingly, Paul had vomited on his silk shirt, and Simon had twisted his ankle where the chain mail had caught on his leather under pants.
But neither of them noticed Rusty till they decided it was time to go. They were halfway to the fence and Rusty still hadn't moved. Simon called him first, then Paul, then both men together. Their voices echoed back from the empty tombs.
But Rusty didn't move, didn't whimper, didn't howl, didn't blink.
It wasn't till they moved closer did they see the dull grey sheen on Rusty's coat.
Sometime in the two hours that the men had been moonshined unconscious, Rusty had turned somehow to solid, grey granite - the same grey granite of the tombstones that surrounded them.