Chatterley finds the guy next door creepy. When they pass
on the dark stairs, Meursault nods his head curtly and
says nothing. A bag of groceries in his arms, he slinks
back into his dark, dank apartment like a snake into its
hole. And yet judging from the number of women—young,
rather stylish women—that come and go from his dingy
apartment, the old lecher must have something going for
Tonight there are odd sounds coming
from his room. Sounds resembling someone drowning a sack
of cats. Connie tosses aside her romance novel and storms
out into the hallway and pounds on Meursault's door. The
sounds cease, but Connie continues to knock. "I know
you're in there, Monsieur. The whole neighborhood knows
you're in there."
"I shall speak to the landlord."
Connie storms back to her room, slamming the door behind
her. She stands in the center of her sitting room, fuming.
What a life, she thinks. And to think, just
a few years ago I was Lady Chatterley, possessor of a
fine home, a household of servants, diamonds, furs, motor
cars. And now...this. A lousy apartment in a rotten suburb
of Paris surrounded by cutthroats, perverts and creeps
like Meursault. She pours herself another glass of
wine, her fourth or fifth. Well, its my own fault,
she thinks. Abandoning my husband for a low-life gamekeeper.
Just the thought of that two-timing bastard John Thomas
makes her blood boil.
"Oh, God, I wish I were dead,"
removes a telegram from his shirt pocket and opens it
in the dim light of the hallway. "Mother deceased.
Funeral tomorrow," the paper reads. Meursault folds
the telegram and shoves it back into his shirt pocket
and retrieves his mail, bills mostly. He starts up the
pitch-black stairway and nearly collides with his neighbor,
Madame Chatterling, or Chatterby or something like that.
"Oh, my goodness!" she says.
"You startled me, Monsieur."
"Beg your pardon, Madame."
Meursault thinks, Nothing worse than a ridiculous English
woman who puts on airs. But that's the English for you.
She says, "You should be more careful.
You nearly trampled me to death." Then, "I really
must speak to the landlord about the lack of proper lighting
in this building."
Nearly trampled her to death? So much
easier to strangle her like a cat. He lets her pass.
"Good night, Monsieur Meursault."
"Bon Soir, Madame."
Meursault trudges up to his room, looks
in the empty refrigerator, uncorks a bottle of Bordeaux.
Tomorrow my mother's funeral, he thinks. Going
to be a hot one.
landlord visits Connie. He is a disgusting old man, with
rotten gums and a parrot's voice, a voice loud enough
for the whole building to hear. "You are three months
behind in your rent, Madame," he says. "You
will have to pay me now or out you go."
"But I haven't it right now. Can't
you give me a few more days? Please?"
"I'm afraid not. But, perhaps,
there is one other way," he says, leering.
"Never," Connie says, repulsed.
Meursault appears on the landing in
his pajamas, holding a mug of coffee. Black pajamas. Black
coffee. "How much does Madame owe?"
The landlord snickers. "Four hundred
"Will you take a personal check?"
Connie says, "Oh, no, Monsieur.
I cannot allow it."
"Suit yourself," Meursault
says, and returns to his door.
The landlord says, "That was stupid.
I want you out by tomorrow noon."
"Creep," she mutters under
finishes the bottle of pinot noir, primps herself in the
mirror and grabs an unopened bottle. She staggers out
into the hall and raps on Meursault's door. After a few
minutes of silence, Meursault comes to the door in robe
Connie leans on the doorjamb in a futile
attempt to look seductive. "Hi," she breathes,
hitching up her skirt a bit to reveal a pasty white thigh.
A wave of nausea washes over Meursault. Behind her an
old man and an old dog stand at the top of the landing.
The dog refuses to budge. "Could you open this for
me? I have misplaced my screw." She giggles stupidly.
Meursault frowns. "A moment,"
he says. Meursault takes the bottle and retreats for his
corkscrew. He momentarily considers plunging the corkscrew
into her eye and giving it a little twist. But the feeling
passes. Then returns. Then passes. He returns with the
open bottle and two glasses. Might as well invite her
in, he thinks. I'm up now.
Twenty minutes later, Connie and Meursault
are in bed, he sleepy, she in a conversational mood. "You
are a strange bird, Monsieur Meursault," Connie says.
"I don't quite get you. You seem so...dark and mysterious."
"Tired," Meursault says.
"A penny for your thoughts?"
Here we go with the twenty questions,
Meursault thinks. "I'm afraid they're not very interesting,"
"Oh, come on," she says.
"I was thinking about how we can
never feel at home in the world because we yearn for order,
clarity, meaning and eternal life, while the world is
chaotic, obscure and indifferent and offers only suffering
"That's what you were thinking?
You're lying in bed beside a comely, voluptuous woman
and you're thinking about chaos and death? Boy, I must
be really off tonight."
"Don't take it personal, Madame."
"You know, Meursault, when I first
moved here I used to think you were a creep. When I'd
pass you in the dark hallway, and you'd never say anything,
just stare straight ahead wearing those dark glasses,
even in the dark hallway. You always looked so...so creepy.
But I also used to think that you were kind of handsome,
in a dark and mysterious way. But it turns out I was right
all along. You are a creep."
Meursault reaches for a pack of cigarettes
and puts two in his mouth. "I don't know this word
creep," he says.
"My husband is a creep. John Thomas
is a creep. I seem to have this thing for creeps. Every
man I've ever known, including my own father, and that
goes for my brother too. My brother used to do unspeakable
things to animals."
Meursault thinks, Let her talk. Tomorrow
I will attend my mother's funeral. It will be hot. I do
not relish it, but life is like that. Like one long funeral.
Like a woman who just goes on and on about nothing. Exactly
that. But integrity and dignity require us to face and
accept our lot and to find purely human solutions to our
plight. Solutions like letting a woman ramble on and on
after sex. Anyway, it doesn't matter. But she is getting
tiresome. Soon I will ask her to leave. I will tell her
I have to get up early. She will be offended, but who
cares? Maybe then she won't come knocking on my door at
"You are so mysterious, Meursault.
I do not even know your first name."
"Blackie," Meursault says,
passing her one of the lighted cigarettes. "Call