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The Company of Synchronisms

Paris, October 17, 1930

Dear Mother:

I'm writing to tell you that everything is all right here. I started to work this very morning at the French Company of Synchronisms, in the Division of Small and Medium Lags. Of course, I'm only one tiny cog in this great machinery. Mr Calamassi is only second-in-command at the Division and yet he has seventeen people working under him. How far I am from Cherbourg and from our small boutique on Vaubert Square! While I think of it, could you kiss Miss Laurent for me? I resume: my task is actually very simple. I write addresses on envelopes, I glue the stamps on them and then I bring the mail to Mr Berthalon, at the Out Division. But remember, I'm only a beginner here. Mr Calamassi (who already calls me "his dear Paul"!) told me that those who worked hard were sure to climb up the ladder, and fast. But you now your dear Paul, I was never afraid of hard work (?)

Paris, Mars 17, 1938

Dear Mother:

I'm writing to tell you that everything is all right here. Mr Calamassi, my boss at the Lags Division, told me that he had sent a very favourable report about me to the Chief of the Regulating Division, Mr Nicolaut. I hope to be transferred next January. To be frank, glueing stamps starts to eat me away. I'm having nightmares about the poor old Mathurin, who have just been laid off because of his illness. He had been licking stamps since 1904! By the way, is Miss Laurent feeling better? I resume: I'm quite confident, and I keep telling myself that my personal fate is of little significance when compared to the Company's. I will not violate a great secret if I tell you that the Company is sailing in difficult waters. The French Synchronism has its share of doubts. There is work for everybody, but the global synchronism is being disturbed by the events in Austria (I hope you read the papers). The engineers have trouble adjusting the regulators, at least that's what it is whispered at lunch. Ha! Engineers! I heard that three of them have disappeared yesterday evening, that they have been swallowed down by a DeLuxe Boyington regulator. And they're still missing! These people are a scream. If only they had been working on French machines. That will teach them, the fools. Poor Mathurin was replaced by a strange fellow, Zéphyrin Zanneto, that we call behind his back. I have to admit that he is good at gluing stamps. Well, he'll have to be twice as fast when I am transferred to the "Regs", something to be expected soon.(?)

Paris, April 17, 1946

Dear Mother:

I'm writing to tell you that everything is all right here. Mr Calamassi, our Director, was executed by a firing squad two days ago, for what you know. Surprise, surprise: Zéphyrin Zanneto is replacing him. By the way, did you receive my flowers in time to display them at Miss Laurent's burial? I resume: Mr is taking over, and made it a personal challenge to clean up the Company before it becomes state's property. I've nothing to fear, because I've nothing to hide, and everybody knows how much I hated those Huns during these five terrible years. And you remember that I always glued the Maréchal's head upside down. I hope you kept the envelopes, just in case. Also, I was always kind to Mr when he was working at the Division(unlike some people I know), but perhaps he does not remember me. He was awaythree long years while we were labouring under the enemy's yoke. The whole Division is lying low until the storm is over. I fear that I will be gluing stamps for a few more months. After that, I guess that things will change forthe better, since the future of the Company (or should I say the Régie?) looks bright, with all the turbulence in sight. Mr has a new assistant, one Mr Wilsinszki, who came back from a concentration camp. This Wilsinszki is supposed to be some genius, and he solemnly promised to get back the twelve engineers, the eight secretaries and the seventeen clerks who have been missing since 1938 in the Regs room (?)

Paris, December 17, 1954

Dear Mother:

I'm writing this to tell you that everything is all right here. The Assistant Director, Mr Wilsinszki, had me transferred to the Regs. It's a dangerous position, as you know, because for all his genius Mr W was never able to find out what had become of the missing people (all but one, a secretary who had in fact run away). While I think of it, how come you're talking about Miss Laurent as if she was still alive? We'll discuss this when I see you next week. I resume: the Company just bought new regulators, "electronic"Western Derringers, that are supposed to be more efficient and less dangerous than our old Boyingtons. We are in a hurry! A great storm of dyschronisms is expected to break soon, due to the events in Algeria. I'm in charge on the maintenance books, and I'll have to enter the room several times a day. It's strange that I am afraid, when I should be crying with joy. All the things I've done to secure this position! You remember the Liberation, it was such a close shave. Those letters I had written to the? Let's forget about it, forever (?).

Paris, January 17, 1955

Dear Madam:

Further to your request, I will give you an as accurate as possible account of the tragic circumstances during which your beloved son, Mr Paul Longcrin, was prematurely sent to his fate. Paul had been a model employee of the Company (now the Régie Autonome) for twenty-four years, and I had personally transferred him, as a reward for his long career, to the maintenance team in charge of our new Western Derringer regulators. On January 5, the Regulating Division decided to hold an informal inaugural ceremony of the Regulators room. The machines were covered by thick scarlet drapes embroidered with the Régie's insignia, and, being the oldest worker of the Division, your son was asked to pull the cord holding the drapes.

He was also supposed to switch the machines on once they were unveiled. We had rehearsed the whole operation several times without any noticeable problems, and I had deemed it so safe that I had invited to the ceremony our Director, Mr Zannetto, all the Division Chiefs, the engineers and the representatives in France of Western Derringer. I was myself ill and unable to attend the inauguration, and the fact that I alone survived this tragedy is one terrible burden that I will carry for the rest of my life. The only eyewitnesses are a secretary, Mrs Da Feidaçao, who was watching the ceremony through a porthole in the Regulators room, and a cleaning employee, Mr Kerdezé, who saw it from a window, in the building facing the room. Both testimonies agree that your son drew the cord and pulled the switch. Then Mrs Da Feidaçao tells of a "big white cloud" invading the room, and Mr Kerdezé of "blinding blue lightenings". They agree again on the fact that the room appeared empty once the phenomenon was over. Your son, as well as a thirty-three other people including our Director Mr , as we used to call him by affectionately, disappeared in the catastrophe, whose causes remain unknown. I have been investigating similar cases in the past and the poor results I have obtained so far do not lead me to optimism. Our only hope lies with Mr himself. He is a man able to survive anything. I know it from personal experience. If he comes back, be assured that he will do his utmost to bring your son, and everybody else, back to life (...).

Gilles Tran © 2001 www.oyonale.com