We moved into the Maison de Maître that my father had left us on Rue de la Faisanderie in the 16th arrondissement. Carl was now working for an American computer conglomerate as a logistics and support manager, making long hours to further his ambitions and prove his merit. Papa had left me a considerable inheritance, which I used to bring the house up to modern standards. I launched myself into renovations and interior design, redesigning kitchens and bathrooms whilst overseeing the workmen completing structural changes. We lived for six months on a building site, and by the end of it I had squandered most of the financial assets left to me. Thus I found myself living in a house with silk tapestries and taffeta curtains, fine art and Louis XVI antiques that didn’t reflect our meagre wealth or status.
The day I sold our last shares in Renault was the day I realised my life as I had known it was well and truly over. Gone were the security and safety, the wisdom and sapience, and perhaps most of all my childhood. They were all admitted to legacy, stored within the walls of a Parisian townhouse with its volumes of leather-bound books, silver-framed photographs of generations of family members and monogrammed cutlery and linen serviettes. They all spoke of my childhood and the family victories as well as defeats. I walked through the house in silence, touching the rich textiles, picking up the little family heirlooms, trying to remember every story attached to them. It was my way of saying goodbye to the past, with the promise to care for their tales and guard their secrets.
I once read that for as long as we are being remembered, we remain alive. I savoured those words as if they were the most exquisite of caramel bonbons, promising my father never to let go of his memory. As I did so, a book seemingly about to fall from the library shelf caught me eye. It was an ordinary blue notebook dated 1998. I had never noticed it before, and went to push it back into place when I discovered several others, all placed in chronological order. I removed some, leafing through their handwritten pages. Most entries were rudimentary logs of work schedules, outlining my father’s days in tilted block letters. There were meetings and lunches, sometimes a particular patient would be described. His writing was matter of fact, devoid of sentiment or emotions. I put them back again, making a mental note to come back to them one day. It would take five years until a good reason to do so would present itself.
I used what was left of my inheritance to set up my own business. It was never something I had planned or particularly desired, but one day my old history teacher contacted me for a research project for a book he was writing on the historical legends and myths of the Spanish-speaking world. I needed the money, and perhaps more so something to do as I was slipping further down into the black hole of monotone tediousness. I threw myself into stories of La Llorona and the ghost faces of Belmez, tracking and tracing the ripples cast by long-gone events. It took me three months to conclude the assignment, and after this more projects started to drop in. And so my business started to grow, slowly but surely, under the hospice of our townhouse basement.