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Her new hairstyle is not flattering, but as the day wears on I find my thoughts returning to her more frequently than I would have imagined. There has been no one in my life for years, you see. Perhaps, like Jean Jacques, I could do worse than take up with someone like Emilia, faithful and efficient. Just as he had his Thérèse, so I would have my Emilia.… I project myself into this putative future and, do you know, it has its own real attraction. There’s a lot of life left in Emilia. She is attractive in a crude, faintly primitive way.

I go looking for her. I find her in the living room, which is shuttered against the afternoon sun. She was dusting the books on the bookshelves, something I had never seen her do before. Suddenly, I knew I could find a sort of happiness with her, and that’s not something to be spurned.

“Oh, Mr. Todd,” she says. “That man was looking for you again. I forgot to tell you. In the village. The American.”

Jesus Christ. “Did you see him?”

“No, Ernesto told me, at the bar.” She sees the look of worry in my face. “Is there a problem, Mr. Todd? Is something wrong? You can tell me. If you like.”

She comes over, heralded by her perfume. I go to meet her. She stops.

“I don’t know, Emilia.… Something happened a long time ago,” Unthinkingly, I put my hands on her shoulders. For the first time my fingers on her flesh. Her new hair gleams with dull-blue highlights. She twists the duster in her hands.

“Mr. Todd, are you in trouble?”

“I don’t know.”

She pushes me away with astonishing strength. I stumble, catch the back of my leg painfully on a coffee table. Emilia seems to be shivering slightly. She has one hand up to her mouth.

“No,” she says. “No. We must wait. We must wait.”

She turns round and runs out of the room. Wait for what? A minute later I hear her motorbike start up. I sit down. What was that all about? I wonder. Shock, shame, second thoughts? Head-in-hands time.…

Then I remember what she told me and I feel the fear creep back. It’s like a smell; my nostrils flare; my mouth feels pasty, dry. I decide to ask Ernesto for more information.

I walk up the track towards the village. Günther’s driveway is clogged with cars and jeeps. Children’s shouts and conversation rise up from the swimming pool. It’s hot. I should have brought my hat. I slow down. On either side of the track the pinewoods seem to bake in their dusty silence.

I arrive at Ernesto’s, parched and overheated. The terrace is deserted apart from a couple in their swimming costumes. I look again: Ulrike and a young man. I wave limply at them.

“Mr. Todd. A moment.”

They come over. I step into shade and lean against a pillar. Ulrike wears a bikini. Despite my exhaustion I note the muscled plane of her stomach, the swell and cleavage of her breasts, the flick and contraction of her thighs as she comes over. Certain women, walking towards me … My stomach dips. I think of Doon. I would weep if I weren’t so tired. But what’s happened to me today? I seem to be in the grasp of some geriatric satyriasis.

They sense my vague distress. Soon I am seated, a cool beer is in front of me, offers of food have been declined. I am an old man, over seventy. I keep forgetting. Sometimes I feel a coltish eighteen, hard though it may be to credit.

“Is Ernesto here?” I ask.

“No. Just Concepción.”

“Never mind.”

“Mr. Todd, I’d like you to meet Tobias, my boyfriend.”

I look at the young man. Dark hair, receding temples. He is thin, with broad shoulders. He takes my hand.

“Mr. Todd,” he says. He speaks good English. “This is a real honor for me. I couldn’t believe it when Ulrike told me about you.” More plaudits follow. I begin to relax and order another beer. Tobias tells me of the new plans he and his colleagues have made since Ulrike’s discovery of me. From the way he talks, you’d think I was a new continent. I barely listen. I hear him mention old names from past: Julie, Doon Bogan, Karl-Heinz, Duric and Aram Lodokian, UFA, Realismus, The Confessions …

I interrupt. “Have either of you, by any chance, heard of a man in the village looking for me? An American?”

“An American? No.”

“I heard this man was asking for me. Asking Ernesto.”

More negatives. Tobias leans forward.

“The great mystery, Mr. Todd, this is what we all want to know … The Confessions: Part I—what happened to that film? We can find no print at all in Germany. No negative. It hasn’t been seen for forty years. Do you know where there is a copy?”

“Alas, no.” I spread my hands. “Sorry.”

“Think hard,” Tobias implores. “Imagine, if we could discover it.” For a moment he allows his own ambitions to overrun his altruism. “Think what a discovery it would be. A lost masterpiece restored. The greatest film of the silent era. Astonishing news.”

“I wish I could help you,” I say. “But everything must have been destroyed in the war.”

* To add to my list of firsts: I was the first person to take the Fifth in Hollywood. There was little publicity. Ramón Dusenberry tried to run a campaign in his papers, but no one else took it up. Only in Southern California was I referred to as “The Hollywood One.”

20 The Last Walk of Jean Jacques Rousseau

I believe that The Last Walk of Jean Jacques Rousseau has something of a cult following on the university film-club circuit. I saw a poll in a magazine once where it came third, equal with Juliet of the Spirits, after Un Chien Andalou and Last Year in Marienbad, in the category “Offbeat and Avant-garde.” It was the last film I made and far and away the strangest.

It was shot in three weeks, cost $128,000 and lasts one hour and ten minutes. Eddie financed it (“No more than one hundred grand for an art movie”) on the conditions that I use a pseudonym and that I direct a low-budget epic called Hercules and the Sirens afterwards. I agreed at once. I knew that Last Walk would be my last film.

The final years of Jean Jacques’s life were spent in Paris, in a tranquil enough state, apart from his occasional bouts of acute paranoia. He was famous and sought after but made no attempt to capitalize on his renown. He received many visitors, encouraging young people in particular to come and see him, and took up his old career as a music copyist. His great hobby was botanizing, or herborizing as he called it, and he knew no greater pleasure than to take long solitary walks through the countryside round Paris, frequently in the company of a friend. In the last two years of his life—1777 and ’78—he wrote his final piece of autobiography, the Rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire. It is unfinished, but in the course of these ten promenades he surveys his life from the serene vantage point of old age. The Confessions is passionate and vital. The Rêveries is elegiac and sagacious. In the summer of 1778, feeling unwell, he and Thérèse went to live in a pavilion on the estate of the marquis de Girardin at Ermenonville, northwest of Paris near Senlis. There, he worked on the Rêveries, herborized and seemed to be regaining his strength.