Horror of the underbelly of Paris targeting tourists-Part 6


The crooks had come prepared. They had a credit card device and made me pay another 4000 euros. (4900 USD) I was too numb with fear to resist. When the bank accepted the payment, the two burst into laughter, sinister and crass. With a hoarse voice, I asked them which country they were from, hoping they were not French. The older man dared to insist he was a Parisian, but the younger brother slipped his tongue and admitted their parents had migrated from XXX. When I later reported it to the Police, the police officer immediately gave up the search upon hearing the country’s name. They were infamous ‘The locksmith of Paris organization', and the Parisians would only deal with locksmiths recommended by their insurance companies.  Only tourists or the French country folks would dial the numbers on ‘the flyers’.  

Suppose you ever stay at an Airbnb in Paris. In that case, you may come across 'the flyer' with a list of emergency numbers, including the Police, to make it look legitimate. The crooks slip their phone number into the list, but your call will be transferred to…the underbelly of Paris. The police officer consoled me that it could have been worse. Many women go missing in Paris. The amount the crooks stole from me was huge enough for them to wrap up the business for the night and go party. Or buy another Louis Vuitton, which did not suit them at all? The crooks had money but not the class to pull it off. It is not like they would ever get invited to the gatherings of the elites who are worthy of Louis Vuitton or the pride of the French culture. 

The crooks had patched the door up with the lock of a rip-off price.  My real estate agent demanded the landlord split the cost because his worn-down lock created the problem in the first place. However, the landlord, who did not live in mainland France, refused. My agent was furious because she sensed his discriminative attitude towards Asians despite the landlord being not French by race.  His property was removed from the list of the real estate agent, but the landlord knew Paris would never run out of tenants from abroad. He cowardly sent someone else to collect the keys to the new lock on my last day. I obliged, and the man looked smug. Little did he know that the crooks did such a lousy installation job that the new lock malfunctioned frequently.  

Outside Asia, the lives of Asians mattered even less than that of the darker-skinned folks.  It took me a while to stop shivering and other post-trauma syndromes, but I would not allow those other low-life immigrants to drive me away from France. That privilege should belong only to the French in France, the country their ancestors fought and died for. I still needed to study French culture and its history for my research. I would build an environment where I would be less dependent on irresponsible landlords who may be French on passports only.  An empty apartment with the freedom to furnish and install facilities became available in Paris. Australia had taught me the do-it-yourself skills that I could make and do almost anything around the house. So I stayed on. 

A police station on the island of Cite is in the middle of historical Paris. It is where the world-renowned La Notre Dame Cathedral is crowned. The price of real estate on this island is literally ‘Priceless.’ And yet, behind the Cathedral stands this police station (not to be confused with the prefecture de police on the other side of the Cathedral). To any real estate agent, it is a massive waste of potential, but…the history of this tiny area is too horrendous that it may even have defeated human greed and vanity.  

What I am about to share here, I must admit I have seen only two sources: Wikipedia and the news site LOCAL. However, I could not find any other credible explanation for this peculiar situation of this tiny spot behind the altar of God.  

There once was this butcher who offered cheap accommodation to the tourists. In one article, he held the shop on Rue Chanoinesse, but in the other, rue des Marmousets and rue des Deux-Hermits. The accommodation in Paris must have always been expensive. However, those unsuspecting tourists or foreign students were not seen checking out for years until the butcher was finally exposed as a human flesh trader. That he was not caught immediately implies that the cursed flesh was fed to other unsuspecting tourists. Parisians of the time must have gotten wind of it, but living in Paris was hard enough that they could not look after the outsiders who would come and go or disappear in this case.

Cannibalism does not exist in Paris, but the attitude of anything-goes-with the tourists is still evident, and I am not talking about financial rip-off only. Just last week, I spotted a whole chicken at one outdoor market. The price was low for a chicken of this famous regional brand, but it was smallish, so I gambled. The worst that could happen was dry, tasteless meat. 

Wrong. As I bit into the morsel of my roasted chicken, I heard that ominous ‘crack.’ I took a piece of bone from my mouth that chipped off my front tooth. And then I found the brittle bones inside the dry meat. An old bird it was, perhaps? But soon, I started to feel sick. Then I noticed many other breakable pieces of bones, just too many for one chicken. I pondered what the bird was being subjected to before it was finally butchered. Not believing the worst, I tried the chicken again the next day and felt sick again, but not the kind of food poisoning sickness. I thought I was being exposed to chemicals. I remembered ruefully that the woman who sold the chicken brought it out from the back of her stall instead of giving me the chickens on display. My Asian appearance was a dead giveaway that I was a non-Parisian. I dumped the chicken in the bin.