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Chapter 8 - The encounter
« le: 20 mai 2020 à 03:46:01 »
One day, I didn’t know what to do. I translated a chapter from my novel, written in French and posted in the “Textes longs " section. I suppose I’ll have to remove this. I probably violate one more useless rules on this site, since the stufF has, In a way, already been posted in this site. Anyway...

Yet, it’s fun to translate it’s own work. You can’t prevent from changing it a bit.

I don’t expect much comments.
Enjoy if you can.


     Chapter 8

     The sky was completely pure and black.  Yet, the stars seemed to fade out.  "Hurry up!" ,ordered Enzo Falsetti.  Gerflynt sank into the seat.  She pulled up the collar of her old navy felt coat. 
     The ignition of the Chevrolet truck blasted the morning silence. The engine hiccupped, but eventually revved up.  "Why do we have to leave so early? The port is only half an hour from here...
 - We need to be there before sunrise.  And we have men to pickup on the way, replied the Italian.
 - What?  Men? Why for? What’s going on? "
     Setting this wreck in motion was a recurring miracle. The truck was a remain from an Allied convoy abandoned a decade ago.  The gearbox profaned it’s usual insanities. Left on Avenue Général De Gaulle, northbound.
      "There’s a few things you need to know ..." said Falsetti. The kid sighted in despair, laying her forehead against the window. "The dockers belong to two rival unions and sporadic clashes still take place.  The lefties can’t stand the Marshall Plan. The Soviets are hungry...
 - I don’t care...
 - The transhipment of weapons requires high surveillance. The Americans support us in Indochina… ”
      The teen was craving for more sleep. She’d already have lost her temper, had it not been for the deep lethargy she was soaking in. Yet, her tormentor was unflinching. "The CGT is a union of Communist allegiance. Last year, their general strike was crushed by the militaries. Their protests against the arm shipments from America was likely to spread to all ports of France. We recruited strikebreakers, violent types, guys released from prison, released for the cause ...
 - The cause? What cause? Enough!  I can’t stand this.
 - Gerflynt!  You need to get it ...
 - Get what?  I have enough of my problems already ...
 - You should worry.  In the wake of these events, there were massive layoffs followed by massive re employment, all of this supervised by a new Government appointed union in cooperation with a Corsican family. The Guérini brothers are the new boss in town. They are former resistance fighters. They’re ferocious. Because of their acquaintance with higher powers, the Marseille authorities are powerless. This clan basically controls everything, including the permissions to work in the port." The chick clinched a disgusted look at Falsetti.  "And you are, of course, part of this mess ..." she said.
     The mechanic kept agonizing, now working relentlessly to climb a hill. The top of the ridge offered a relief. There, one could admire the slope gently descending to the sea, bristling with chimneys and streamlined trees. The Mediterranean Sea laid calm, wrapped in a cloak of white mist. It was the dawn of one more autumn day, another one.
      The teen unfolded a crumbled ball of paper, a telegram.  "News from your Reverend Mother?"
 - No.  Eleanor Sorensen." Gerflynt read aloud.  "Stop lounging.  Antiques Dealers getting desperate - Stop - Awaiting action. - Stop - Your séjour is shortened. Return date set to January 15 - Stop.
 "Barely six weeks left," said Enzo.
 - It’s now too late to get a permit to access the docks. And with seven shops to serve, I‘ll be forced to go to the port daily.
 - Face it...
 - No ! I’m no bootlickers. Better die than begging your beloved Guérini’s... "
      The military vehicle kept going inland. There, the tarmac avenues were dissolving into country roads. One milestone at a time, the landscape looked more and more like a devastated town with its curvy streets akin to the veins of a tumor. The truck fought its way through bumps and potholes. It finally reached destination.
     Gerflynt lowered her window.  A quietus in the chilling morning air. The surroundings looked more like a camp than a village. People here lived in hutches crafted with makeshift materials.  A smell of fried eggs and open sewage hung among these stacks of corrugated iron.  The teen rummaged through her pockets and straightened the debris of a smoke. Falsetti stretched his lighter. Puffing felt like a relief.  For a while, the young women stood still, gazing at the embers of her cigarette. She finally broke it. "The father of my first foster family worked at the Navy Shipyard in Brooklyn.  You couldn’t find a better man. Generous, hard working, he filed shift after shifts to support his family. And it included feeding a useless mouth like mine."
      She pulled through her smoke.  "He was killed in a riot, fueled by filthy dirty scabs... " The Italian stared at her. "You will remain under my protection. I promised your Mother..." he said.
— How dare you... No one of your kind will ever control me. "
     Somewhere in that mud fill, a rooster ventured to sing. The wait was endless.  "This place looks... like... in the Great Depression. How do you say ... a "ville de bidon" ?  The man giggled.  "Slums ... bidonville." His cheeks caved in. The pull of his cigarette went deep.  "In ‘44 we tried to take control of parts of Marseille.  Too early.  It went havoc. The Germans razed entire quarters. These people here ? They lost everything… ”
      His face darkened. He pinched his butt through the window.  "It’s no good to dwell the past anyway" added he. "I won’t lie to you. Reconstruction takes forever. The certificates of ownership have disappeared ... It‘s obstacle everywhere.  But we will fix the mess. Clean everything.
 — Oh ! Let me laugh ! That good ol’stick and carrot strategy. You kill the men on the docks, just to pretend to rescue their brothers on the hills, is that it?  I know the recipe.  You’r no freedom fighter, you’r one of them, a conman, a gangster... "
      A gruff-looking man emerged from a path between two houses. The club in his hand, swayed briskly. He vanished like a fiend from the darkness, clumping straight through a gap between two corrugated sheets.  "The foreman ..."
 - Mr. Falsetti, I ...
 - Call me Enzo…
 -  No !  Never ! Mr. ... Falsetti ... I‘ll move my things to the nun’s Generalate.  I've given some thoughts lately. I need to get my integrity back. I’ll get in touch with my community.
      No answer. The silence in the waiting seemed to slow down the passage of time.  A finger pat, Gerflynt released ashes from her cigarette. Two weeks lost in trusting this man. He’d only reveal himself one drop at a time. And now, once again, she got to find herself in the bottom of a desperate barrel, again trapped in the gear of the local underworld.  She bit her lips.  Something was going on in the back-store of her life. Eleanor Sorensen, the women who offered this Import-Export job, was probably just one more crook herself. Things were desperately unfolding just like it ever had. Raised in the Lower East End, Gerflynt’s childhood had been spent working as a sentinel for the local gang. Spotting the crowd. Tracking the foes, locating the undercover officers. She learned the hard way that loyalty to a clan does not provide any security.  When she got fourteen, a local warlord sold her to a prostitution ring. No one ever came to her defense, let alone rescued her.
      But whatever. Happiness was now within reach.  Here in Marseille, Gerflynt was hopeful to find and rescue her natural mother, whoever this women was. The plan was to escape with her to Indochina in a convent of her community.  No one was going to find them there. She was gonna get to know her. Love her. Be loved in return. How silly. But yet...
      With a little luck, this first visit to the Sorensen warehouse in the port would get her to this half-brother living in Marseille. According to Eleanor, this man had an affair, way back in the past, with whoever were this mysterious woman.
     A shadow moved in the dark. The foreman arrived with his men.  A cohort of scruffy types, feverish faces, unshaven, toothless mouths passed by her door.  The men hopped-on the truck, in the cargo bay, seeking refuge under the tarp.  Falsetti started the engine, but a laggard in his ragged gabardine came from nowhere. He settled to piss right in the headlight beams.  The man raised his fly noisily, a vicious eye locked on the kid.  "We're going to f**k the Colonel's whore today ..." he muttered, sneering.  Gerflynt felt just like home.
      Falsetti dropped off to the ground. He was steaming toward the rascal when two characters dressed in fancy suits and raincoats got his attention. He conferred with one of them. The other indulged himself in adjusting his fedora. His sparkling pupil under the headlights cast a cold steel-like gaze toward the kid.  The chat didn’t last long. Falsetti beamed back in the cabin.  "They’ll follow us. A territory issue. Nothing to worry. " Gerflynt felt her guts twisting in pain.  "But they... they are two cold blooded assassins, real goons. How can you let them in...
 - Nothing to worry ...
 - I’m out of here ! No one’s gonna justify any shooting spree of their own, just because I need to visit my warehouse!  I’m out...
      Gerflynt pulled the door lever, but Falsetti grabbed her by the shoulder.  "Who do you think you are? You’r nothing in this conflict.
 - You bet I know who I am. I’m certainly worth nothing but one thing is sure, I’m not gonna be your trophy girl, nor will I ever be the crown’s jewel of your oppression!  Let me out. No way I‘m ever gonna be involved in any of that. "
     But the chick couldn’t escape from Falsetti’s grip. Her jaws became stiff with fear. "Let me go. I told you... let me..." She was yelling. And there went the usual stunt.  A gap, a volcanic climb, an incandescence in the face. The kid finally lost control.  She twisted and twiddled in all possible means, trying to free herself.  "Let me go, won’t you hear me?  You ... " A volley of slags rained on the Italian who managed to grab her by the wrists.  "Listen to me !  Your warehouse is located right in the heart of the CGT area.  I solemnly promised your Reverend Mother to bring you back safe and sound. My men will open the way.  But whatever happens, your cute little ass will stay sit in this truck, safely locked in.
 - How dare you... I’ll never be siding with the Fachos!  "
    She tried to punch him again, but Falsetti had just grabbed her hair.  She never saw it coming. A pounding slap. Everything went dark.
« Modifié: 20 mai 2020 à 03:48:12 par O.deJavel »

Hors ligne Deofresh

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Re : Chapter 8 - The encounter
« Réponse #1 le: 20 mai 2020 à 13:20:34 »
Sup' O.deJavel,

I've never commented on an English text before, but seeing you don't expect many comments, I'll give it a shot. I'm no English specialist, I've read a few novels, so everything I say here is to be taken with a grain of salt. Without further ado, here we go :

The sky was completely pure and black.

Not sure about the use of pure to describe the sky. I'd use "clear". You could also say pitch black for something completely black.

We need to be there before sunrise.

I'd say "we have to be there".

Why for?

Either "What for ?" or just "Why ?".

abandoned a decade ago

Ago refers to something in the past with a connection to the present, your story being narrated in the past, you cannot use it here. I'd use "prior".

profaned it’s usual insanities

Profaned is not the right verb here. Maybe proclaim or trumpet would work better ? In any case, I find this sentence very French.


and sporadic clashes still take place

I would rather say "clashes still take place sporadically". Also sporadic does not seem fit for your character.

She’d already have lost her temper,

I would avoid using the contracted version of verbs in the narration, unless the narrator is  character of the story.

released for the cause ...

I don't get what you mean by cause here. They were released for the occasion of this fight or for the whole turf war ?

massive layoffs followed by massive re employmen

repetition of massive.

Because of their acquaintance with higher powers, the Marseille authorities are powerless.

Acquaintance isn't the right word here. You want to express friendship, corruption, connivance and cronyism but acquaintance is just meeting someone.

The chick clinched a disgusted look at Falsetti

Ouch. Chick is vulgar and its use VERY frowned upon (at least in the UK). Also, clinched is not the right verb. English has tons of verbs for regarder such as glare, stare etc. Maybe you can find one that fits.

The mechanic kept

A mechanic is someone who repairs cars. Here you want to use engine I believe.

slope gently descending to the sea, bristling with chimneys and streamlined trees

Here the sentence architecture is off. I would say the slope, bristling with chimneys and streamlined trees was gently descending into the sea." Also, streamlined is not correct because the trees were not assembled on a line. I think you want to say calibered or something similar.

It was the dawn of one more autumn day, another one.

This sentence is a bit clunky. Very French.

The teen unfolded a crumbled ball of paper


One milestone at a time, the landscape looked more and more like a devastated town with its curvy streets akin to the veins of a tumor.

This sentence is clunky because of the two consecutive accumulations in "One mile stone at a time" and "more and more". You could ligthen the sentence by removing one i.e., every milestone they drove, the landscape looked more like a devastated ...

It finally reached destination

its destination.

For a while, the young women


He pinched his butt through the window

I think the verb you meant is flicked. Also, I wouldn't say "his butt" but rather "the butt" or "his cigarette butt" to avoid any confusion with a body part of his.

"It’s no good to dwell the past anyway" added he

dwell on.

Things were desperately unfolding

I'm not convinced by the use of desperately here.

seeking refuge under the tarp

Seeking refuge from what ? Aren't they simply hiding ?

The other indulged himself in adjusting his fedora

Why is it an indulgence ?

But the chick couldn’t escape

Again, I would get rid of chick entirely.

won’t you hear me?


Whew, that was a long one. Overall, all the mistakes I caught are pretty minor and stem from the French source material. Translating a text is excruciatingly hard, even more so than writing in English from scratch. It necessitates the finest knowledge of English which has 2 to 3 times more words than French. This allows for subtler variations of the meaning of a sentence.  I couldn't do it. I did not read the source material so I couldn't say how well it is translated but the "feel" of this text was still French.

About the actual story, I was a bit lost. I was very focused on the English for one, but I find that the dialogue in the first half of the text was interrupted too often to convey the stakes properly. I see it's chapter 8 of your piece, so I might have been missing too much backstory. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the old Marseille mob ambiance reminiscent of noire movies.

Again, I'm no English specialist or native speaker, so that's all just my point of view.

Keep at it !

En ce moment, je travaille sur ça : Les cinq masques


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Re : Chapter 8 - The encounter
« Réponse #2 le: 21 mai 2020 à 22:58:17 »
Hello Deofresh,

    Many thanks for your editing. You are too humble about your skills.
     Yes ! Translation is excruciating as you say. Removing the flavor of a text and turning it into a native writing requires so much time !

     I will apply your suggestions, though I understand that the thing will remain imprinted by its original French version. Never mind, I created this English version for the fun of it. I was trying to edit the French version of the Chapter 8, but I found that I had become too familiar with it. I should have left it to sleep for a while instead of playing with it. The purpose was to translate it in order to provide me with a new perspective. Weird hey ?

This being said, my current project is stopped. L’envolée du Constellation will be rewritten from scratch. That collection of 8 chapters suffers from too many problems. Chapter 1 is confusing. It is action oriented and rather messy. The other chapters are not fully integrated, it’s like a slide show. No sense of direction, too much world descriptions. No time to loose on reading these pages. I’ll soon ask the mediation to remove it.

So what am I up to ? I am working on a totally rebranded outline. It is well on its way. My character cards are 5-7000 words (5 of them at least). I have a much better understanding of the 3-act structure. The theme of the novel is clear. At last.

     This tale will be about "How trust is an essential ingredient to creating relationships".
     The protagonist, Gerflynt, will discover that trust is never complete. By nature, trust is variable, it is context-bound and always temporary. And yet, being able to trust others is everything in life. This messy teenybopper Jean-Paul Sartre-Lover will finally get that, and grow.
     In her effort to fulfill her "Desire", that is, to locate her natural mother, Gerflynt will have to overcome her fear (to be controlled) and her misbelief (better to live alone because everyone is unreliable anyway).
     She will have to team up with all sorts of “unreliable" people in order to extract herself from the mess in which she will end up, just to discover the joy of being with people, on focus, in full solidarity, working for everyone else as much as for herself.
     In that film noir story, she will discover how to be happy in hell. Will she find her mother ? Who is that mysterious women ? She is up for a ride.

Cheers !
« Modifié: 21 mai 2020 à 23:09:54 par O.deJavel »

Hors ligne Deofresh

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Re : Chapter 8 - The encounter
« Réponse #3 le: 23 mai 2020 à 15:44:24 »
Hi O.deJavel,

Happy to see you'll continue your story. Hit me up when you post a new version online.

Ciao ciao
En ce moment, je travaille sur ça : Les cinq masques


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