Attempt to Exorcize One Story By Means of Another
It was a Sunday, the morning of the twenty-third of July 1989, in the “Hotel Terminus” near the train station in Lyon-Perrache, a room that looked out over the tracks. In the distance, between railway wires and apartment blocks, the waterbright green of trees hinted at a river, the Saône, shortly before its confluence with the Rhône; above, swallows turned against the white (shot through with sky blue) of the waning moon that then slowly drifted away, pitted like a cloud. Across the otherwise Sunday emptiness of the station yard the train personnel went their separate ways, each with his briefcase, descended the back steps, past an isolated house overgrown by wild grape vines, a graceful building from the turn of the century, windows rounded at the top, and walked toward their dormitory, a concrete block in most of whose windows the curtains were drawn. Overhead the swallows flew creases into the sky, and below -- flashes of light from the briefcase latches and the wristwatches of the cheminots who crossed the tracks episodically. Around a curve came the sawmill sound of a freight train. A few of the trainmen also carried plastic bags and all of them wore short-sleeved shirts, jacketless, and as a rule they walked in pairs, although there were several who walked alone, and their coming and going on the S-shaped path across the tracks had no end: Every time the man sitting at his window, the fellow traveler, looked up from his paper, another of them was swinging along below. For a few moments the path was empty, crossed solely by the sun-lit tracks, nor were there now any swallows in the sky. For the first time the observer realized that the “Hotel Terminus” in which he had spent the night had been Klaus Barbie’s torture house during the war. The corridors were very long and twisted and the doors were double. Only sparrows chirped outside now, unseen, and a white moth fluttered across the chemin des cheminots: Momentarily the Sunday stillness held sway over this gigantic train yard, not a train rolled, movement only between the curtains of an apartment, and that just to close them, and this great stillness and peacefulness continued then over the yard while in front of the wild-vine house the foliage of a plane tree stirred, as if up from deep roots, and above the invisible Saône River, far beyond it, the white splinter of a gull flashed, and the summer Sunday breeze blew into the wide-open room of the “Hotel Terminus,” and finally another short-sleeved man swung onto the train-yard path, his black briefcase at knee level, certain of his destination -- and so his free arm swung wide, and a small blue moth landed on one of the tracks, reflecting the sun, and turned in a half circle as if touched by the heat, and the children of Izieux only now, nearly half a century after their removal, screamed bloody murder.
A second note in this intercalary post:
Michael Roloff sent this set of thoughts about the sentence I've been trying to translate. Here's the sentence again: