The Revenge of Cloclo
by Andriana Minou
In this city everything is perfect. People are loving and helpful to each other. They all have a job and they’re all perfectly happy with their jobs. Lovers never lie to each other and never fall out of love. The weather is always just right for the season. There is no hunger, poverty, evil, illness, violence, misery. All is perfect in this city. All but one thing; wherever you go, streets, supermarkets, offices, restaurants, beaches, gyms, public toilets, elevators, even inside every single apartment, there are speakers playing songs by Claude Francois, aka Cloclo. By Claude Francois only. Non-stop, any time of day (and night). Nobody remembers how, when or why this had been decided. It must have happened several generations back because it all seems perfectly natural to everyone; nobody seems to be paying the slightest attention to this constant musical accompaniment, underlining awkwardly their everyday routine as well as the most significant moments of their lives. Everyone is fine with it, apart from an organisation called Bouche Fermée. Bouche Fermée set off as a small collective, but have recently declared themselves rebels, consisting of around ten percent of the population, citizens who are not particularly fond of this specific musical background and are determined to do all they can to finally silence the speakers in the entire city.
Bouche Fermée have registered numerous official complaints, signed petitions, compiled manifestos, at some point they even organised demonstrations, but, naturally, all their marches, revolutionary mottos and fiery speeches seemed terribly ridiculous under the sounds of Cloclo’s songs, such as Laisse-moi t’aimer, Alexandrie Alexandra or Magnolias Forever. Passersby paused for a while, thinking it must be some kind of farce or a humorous art installation and burst into laughter, especially when the peak of the Bouche Fermée chief’s speech would coincide with the somewhat melodramatic tune of Comme d’habitude.
All their petitions to pause Cloclo’s music were rejected by the council, without even giving them a chance to discuss their plea with a high-rank officer. The official response was always the same. We regret to inform you that your appeal has been rejected, as your organisation represents only a negligible portion of the population. The vast majority feels absolutely delighted with the musical accompaniment in our city, a city ruled by the principles of democracy. We are sorry you are unable to appreciate Cloclo’s beneficial qualities and we hope to be able to satisfy one of your future requests, as long as it complies with the public sentiment.
After failing to fight for their rights the legal way, the Chief decided it was time to take matters in their own hands, hoping that violence would finally lead somewhere. The first blow has been scheduled for tonight, midnight. Three members of the organisation have sneaked in the central government building, where all the speakers in town are controlled from. The Chief is waiting for them in a car outside the building. His face is rather ordinary, everything about him is ordinary, apart from his eyebrows, which bring to mind a capital L, in a 90 degree rotation, as if someone had pushed it by accident – or not – and the L had fallen on its face. Si j’avais un marteau, the speakers are playing softly, and he’s giggling because it seems rather ironic to him that his men are about to smash the central sound system with a hammer, while this specific song is playing.
He’s counting the seconds, waiting for the moment he’s been waiting for since he was a kid, and to which he has dedicated his entire life. He’s waiting to hear the silence. He remembers all those life moments destroyed because of this guy’s miserable songs, and he utterly hates this guy, even though he knows absolutely nothing about him, because he can’t even bear to hear his name, he never wanted to know anything about him, yet to him he is the most hateful person in the world, someone he has absolutely nothing in common with. It’s been years he’s been feeling he can’t actually live seriously with this musical accompaniment, he feels he has wasted his youth trying to exist within this sonic monstrosity and cannot grasp the inexplicable acoustic immunity of 90 per cent of the population, who manage to live absolutely normally under these circumstances. He’s thinking of love confessions with Reverie, job interviews under the sound of Belles belles belles, funerals with Le lundi au soleil, insomniac nights with Le jouet extraordinaire, and all this absurdity infuriates him.
The three saboteurs are running very late and he’s now beginning to get worried something has gone terribly wrong. He leaves the car and enters the government building, feeling prepared for everything. He finds a couple of guards lying unconscious in the corridor. Everything is very quiet, if the idea of quietness can possibly even be imagined within the sounds of Cloclo’s disco hit, Eve. As he walks into the main control room, he finds his three men standing over a mixing deck. They are motionless, their eyes fixed on the main switch and the ominous sign above it; Danger: Do Not Touch. He approaches them and they stare at him, their eyes filled with tears.
-We can’t do it, Chief.
-What does this mean? We are comrades fighting for a common cause. We must press the fucking switch if we really want our voice to be heard at last.
-Perhaps it’s not that bad the way it is.
-You are cowards.
-We’ve never actually heard how silence sounds like, how can you be so sure we’re going to like it?
-You are ridiculous.
-You go ahead and do it, then. We just can’t take this responsibility.
Without thinking twice, he touched his finger on the switch. It is the moment he’s been waiting his entire life. He’s already ecstatic at the thought that he is about to change the world with a single touch of his finger. Even the moment he’s electrocuted*, he’s smiling. The last image to pass before his eyes is his capital L shaped eyebrows. When he was a little boy his mother used to tell him that many great leaders had strange eyebrows. And he’s thinking – like he used to back then – that many beautiful words have their roots in L. Life, Love, Laughter, Light, Liberty. The capital L looks like a crooked hairpin left upon the blackness of a true love’s hair, according to another song, sung countless times in some other nearby city.
* Claude Francois died in 1978, aged 39. While taking a shower, he tried to straighten a light-bulb and was electrocuted.
© Andriana Minou, 2019
Andriana Minou is a writer and musician based in London, UK. Her work as a writer has been included in several anthologies and literary journals in Greece, the UK, the US and Canada. Andriana’s short story collection, Underage Noirs, Dream-mine, an experimental novel in the shape of a labyrinth, and allouterra, an illustrated flash fiction collection with soundscapes, are published by Strange Days Books. Her featured story, The Revenge of Cloclo belongs to her latest book, The Fabulous Dead, which is under publication by Kernpunkt Press, New York. www.andrianaminou.com
The Revenge of Cloclo was read by Michael Petrocelli on 6th February 2019 as part of the Plots & Schemes edition.