Author: Alex Valdiers

“Where did you get these fruits? They look… magnificent.”
“They are.” Marec slices the cantaloupe and takes a bite. “I got them from Belmondo.”
“The actor?”
“Yeah. He works at the local grocery store.” Marec takes a bit and talks with his mouth full. “He’s in between jobs.”
I squint to find out if my friend is sick, as if squinting could shape my eyes into a medical scanning device. It doesn’t.
“Taste this cantaloupe.”
“Nah, I’m fine.”
“Taste it.” My friend shoves a piece of yellow fruit down my throat.
“It’s delicious.” I take the time to chew it down and savor the cantaloupe. “Belmondo?”

So on the way home I stop at the grocery store and here I am, scouting for a Belmondo look-alike, as if I hadn’t seen Ennio Morricone’s orchestra play his obituary on TV a few months ago.
“Cobra? Yes, that’s right. A man from Japan calls my house one night and asks me if it’s okay to use my face for a character based on me for a cartoon. I said, Chucho, make me proud, but don’t make me too Japanese, I’m Bebel.” A group of people are gathered around the fruit salesman by the watermelon stand. The salesman who just called himself Bebel has a boxer nose and a broad smile. He sure looks a lot like the real thing. “That’s surely why they made Cobra a blondie.” Belmondo grabs a watermelon and yells out his fruit merchant sales pitch. I want to pinch myself and wake up from this surreal dream. “Did you know they used Cobra’s pilot episode to write Total Recall?”

I’m squinting again, the man really sounds and looks like Jean-Paul Belmondo. A teenage girl wiggles through the crowd and opens up a poster. I’m intrigued I get closer and I see the mysterious man signing ‘JP Belmondo” on a Cowboy Bebop poster, right over Spike’s face.
“I never saw a penny from that one.” His smile is so broad and so genuinely warm. “I’ll tell you who was nice, though. Jacky Chan. I first met the kid on the set of ‘The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China’. Ten years later, he’s a movie star, he calls me up to ask permission to use my stunt coordinator and re-create my stunts. I say, Jacky, anything you want, just do me proud!”

I stand there motionless, actually buying this shit. Jean-Paul Belmondo is standing in front of me, with a store apron, by the watermelon stand, helping customers pick their fruit whilst telling them anecdotes about his life.
I leave the store without daring talking to him. As soon as I get home, I scout my old boxes for my copy of “The Magnificent”. I dust my old Blu Ray play and put the film on. Bob Sinclar is there, not the DJ but Belmondo, laying on a beach in Acapulco, sipping margaritas whilst shooting goons by the hundreds. My friend Marec is the background, with a plate of fruit, and a person who looks a lot like me prostests and refuses to eat the cantaloupe.

I’m afraid to switch the movie off. I’m afraid I’ll disappear if the movie stops playing, and Bebel keeps smiling.

Belmondo never came back to sell watermelons in my local grocery store, and I watch his films regularly. I buy my fruit from a chubby old lady with an easy smile and a kinky pink nose. All is well, life is magnificent.