A short noir story involving Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved cat. It was published on collectible DRY #3. We’ll miss you Karl
Story by: Alberto Büchi
Translated for DRY by A.H. Maines
Maxim’s, one spring evening in the 1930s.
“Be careful, Alain! They say that kitty-cat can steal your soul.”
It was hard for Alain to hear his friend’s words amid the orchestra music, chatter and general mirth. Some were seated at the long tables beneath the mirrors; others ate at round tables at the center of the room.
“If you’re talking about love… my dear Gyula, then my soul was already hers the other day when I saw her again in the park.” Alain paused for a sip of champagne. “If you’re referring to the other gossip, you should know that’s all just malicious nonsense. Her eyes are simply searching for love.”
Gyula’s brow furrowed. He gazed at Alain’s special creature. “What do you think she’s looking at?”
“Those blue eyes are looking out where there’s nothing for us…” responded Alain. After that, the discussion languished for a moment.
Alain turned his glass in his hand, then suddenly sat up: “Look Gyula! She’s all alone. Her companion has gone to dance… And it looks like… It looks like she’s sad.”
“Alain, don’t do it.”
“I can’t stop myself, my dear friend. In my heart I know that loving her would be worthy of your most beautiful photographs of Parisian love.” With that Alain stood up. His eye fell on an image of her reflected in one of the mirrors framed in shiny, curved frames. She was splendid, even viewed from that unusual perspective. He could see her deliciously straight ears and her sensual tail caressing the wood back of her seat.
Alain straightened his jacket and smoothed his hair with mechanical gestures. He touched his face as if he couldn’t remember whether or not he had shaved. But just as he was about to take his first step, his heart began to beat powerfully in his chest. So powerfully it stunned him. Alain hesitated, but immediately after that, before Gyula’s perplexed gaze, he walked over to the young woman’s table.
He waited a moment, standing, for her to notice him.
Once that happened he suddenly felt caressed by a fresh breeze that smacked faintly of lavender, or so it seemed to Alain. His mouth opened, but he was lost in the shape of her face.
Her eyes were blue, large and luminous. Sweet…sweet and innocent.
Alain was reminded of the eyes of a little girl.
Her pupils were enormous and slightly ovoid at the top and bottom. Her skin was covered with a subtle veil of fur, running close to the flesh. It was milky in color, but just beneath her eyes it turned almost orange, like freckles.
“Good evening sir,” she said. “I think I’ve seen your face before.” Perfect white teeth appeared between her lips, the canines sharp, pointed and slightly longer than the others, though not for that threatening. A dark, delicate nose wrinkled deliciously. Nothing in that feline face appeared threatening. Quite the contrary: she projected an image of a sweet, vital creature, albeit perhaps a bit sad.
“You’re right. Our paths have often crossed in the Bois de Boulogne. Yesterday I saw you there, reading, seated on a bench near a blooming rosebush.”
She smiled, almost embarrassed.
“Now I remember you. Don’t stay standing, please. Sit down here.”
Alain moved the chair and noticed her tail, which curled – point skyward – up the back of her chair. It snuck out from beneath her dress quite naturally.
He sat down.
“My name is Choupette,” she said. Her small triangular ears moved sweetly, but without shifting the circlet with a little blue flower that held her flowing white mane.
“Please forgive my lack of manners… Alain is my name, and I believe that I’ll remember this evening for the rest of my life.”
“I’ll forgive you, as long as you tell me why,” Choupette’s smile revealed the pointed tips of her longer teeth. Her big blue eyes seemed to brighten with every light in the room.
“Better yet, wait,” she motioned with one hand. “Before you answer that, you should know that I believe in leaving bourgeois formalities to others.” She turned her gaze to the dancers in the room.
Alain was almost upset by that last sentence, as if he’d suddenly found himself facing not so much a fragile little girl, but a woman capable of carefully picking and choosing her words and actions. And yet… And yet at the same time he could feel an affinity growing in his heart unlike any he’d ever felt before for another woman.
For this reason, Alain’s heart became difficult to control.
“I’ll remember this night because I finally got a chance to meet you. But especially because…” Choupette had just shifted and turned her head with an irresistible movement. She turned her enormous blue eyes back to him. Alain felt short of breath.
“Because…because I believe I’m in love with you. In fact, now that I have you here by my side, I can say I don’t believe I’ve ever truly loved any woman before.”
Choupette didn’t seem surprised, but her brow furrowed. She looked down for a moment. Then she smiled again, as if she found Alain’s spontaneity embarrassing.
“I, my dear Alain, am not like other women…and I’m not talking about the way I look.”
Alain was about to respond when a waiter drew up alongside Choupette, holding out a box of cigars. She looked at them, then selected one. She sniffed its aroma, then held it up to one ear and rolled it between two fingers. Her hands were slender, her fingernails sharp and perfectly manicured. She gave the waiter a nod of thanks, then handed the cigar to Alain.
Alain and Choupette left Maxim’s together. A light spring rain had wetted the streets. The air was fresh. Choupette’s heels rang out on the wet pavement. Her white tail waved back and forth sensually without ever once touching the ground. They were headed to Alain’s roadster.
The pair walked a meter apart from one another.
Even though streetlamps were the only thing illuminating the road, Choupette appeared luminous, a glow at once fatuous and palpable that sent Alain’s heart racing.
“Come over here, else you might slip.”
Choupette to two steps to one side, avoiding a puddle of water and stepping up onto the sidewalk in a perfect “S.”
The two were now side-by-side.
The girl took his arm and drew him in close without saying a word, her eyes on the ground.
Alain could smell Choupette’s scent, a perfume not unlike freshly watered geraniums. He felt his legs go weak, but made an effort not to let it show.
“Her eyes are simply searching for love,” he repeated to himself, his face going red.
“You’ll see,” said Alain presently. “Once I hit the accelerator the air presses delightfully against your face with all the perfumes of the night.”
To reach Choupette’s apartment they had to cross a small, tidy, tiled courtyard filled with red and yellow flowers that had faded a little in the night. She lived on the third floor.
Alain and Choupette went up the stairs, holding each other’s hands. She walked two steps ahead; he followed behind.
They walked in the door and after three steps, she turned on him suddenly. They were close enough to kiss.
Alain lost himself anew in those blue eyes, their color accentuated by the dark stain of fur just below.
“Her eyes are simply searching for…”
“Alain…are you sure you love me?”
“I’m…you may be a sorceress who has bewitched me, but yes. It’s absurd. I know. Everything’s happening so quickly and I…”
“Shhhh,” Choupette put a finger in front of his mouth.
Then she kissed him.
Her kiss contained all the freshness and flavor of cherries.
When their eyes met again, Alain spoke as if begging for help: “Kiss me again…”
But Choupette didn’t satisfy his need. She took his hand and led him away from the front door, which had remained open the entire time.
Choupette disappeared behind a door in the bedroom.
It was small, but well lit by moonlight. In one corner stood an antique coiffeuse made with a slab of crystal placed atop a black, slightly faded steel structure. A large window led out onto a small terrace full of flowers. From there, one could look out over the rooftops of Paris, its chimneys and some of its lights. Some were close, others far away.
“Open the window Alain, please. I like the night air in spring,” she said, her voice muffled.
Alain opened the window and immediately a light breeze blew timidly against the curtains.
When he turned back around, Choupette was waiting for him beneath the white sheets. A soft tail snuck out from beneath them. She was still wearing the circlet on her head.
“You said you love me…” she whispered, her voice soft, almost sad.
“I said I love you…”
“Then come to me.”
Alain took his clothes off and got into the bed alongside her.
With one timid hand he caressed her stomach. Beneath his fingers he could feel the white, soft fur, running close to the skin, that up until now he’d only been allowed to observe.
Never in his life had he felt such strong emotions at a simple touch.
She took off her circlet and a strand of her white mane fell across her forehead, though it failed to obscure her unique eyes.
He kissed her again and she let him, indulging his movements with one hand on the back of his head, under his hair.
But when the empathy that kiss created had become almost unbearable, she scratched him. Four red lines opened in his flesh.
Alain leapt back, his eyes wide open. He stared at her and his lips moved as if to ask Why?, but his voice was silent.
“You said you love me,” whispered Choupette again, her eyes closed.
Alain realized she was holding back two small tears beneath her eyelashes, tears she did not want to shed.
“Alain…you said you love me.”
“Then hold me all night. I want to sleep by your side.”
Alain was overwhelmed by the candor and innocence in that request. He didn’t get angry. It was easy to overcome that instinct. He simply lay down alongside her and pulled her in close.
Choupette sighed and emitted a sweet, soft sound.
Alain closed his eyes and caressed her unusual, magnificent skin. Laying there with his eyes closed, Choupette’s scent reached his nostrils again. In addition to lavender and the smell of freshly watered geraniums, he could also smell something like mint.
Alain fell asleep.
Choupette lay in that sweet embrace until, finally, a single tear ran down her face. She looked out the window and saw that it would soon be dawn.
But she was in no hurry.
She could smell the scent of blood that ran out across the skin on Alain’s neck, and she pulled back away from him.
She stared at him with those sweet, immense blue eyes.
Choupette leaned in, her face close to the scratches.
Her tongue darted out and she tasted the flavor of his blood, the flavor of his love.
“Oh Alain…my beautiful, unknown Alain…it seems you truly did love me.”
She moved until she was atop the sleeping man’s body.
She brought her mouth to one ear and whispered to him once again: “I’m sorry, my young Alain. You should never have fallen in love with me.”
Choupette moved her face above Alain’s. Her small, feline nose grazed the man’s nose.
She closed her blue eyes and began breathing in deeply.
Suddenly a slight sigh made up of transparent particles flowed up and out of Alain’s nostrils.
They left his body, and entered hers.
In the meantime, behind Choupette daylight was slowly consuming the chimney shadows. The sun began to warm the earth and set the swallows singing, rising large in the spring mist.
Choupette straightened up on the bed, the sheets sliding off her back. The curve of her hips was accentuated by her position, still atop Alain.
She moved off of that helpless, lifeless body; then off the bed, naked, her tail following her slow, careful steps. Her breasts, also covered by that soft, white fur, were perfect.
She stood in front of the window, breathing in the dawn air. She looked out at the geraniums on her terrace. She looked at the sun rising behind the rooftops.
“Alain, I am a cat. I feed on love…”
Choupette gazed up into the orange sky.
“…and love lives within the soul.”