Simon was a government analyst who compared data. On his 30th birthday he declared, “I’m very boring.”
His brother, Max, wasn’t boring. He was a painter in Paris. Simon had a tiny studio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. One Saturday morning Max telephoned.
“Bro, how about switching apartments with me for a week?”
If the offer had come via letter, Simon would have come up with reasons why he couldn’t go.
“You can stay here,” said Simon, “I don’t have to go to Paris.”
But Max explained he was traveling with a woman.
Simon found his passport.
A month later at an Orly restroom he admired the stubble on his usually clean shaven face.
In Paris he opened the window of Max’s third floor apartment—the traffic noise was loud just like back home, and then he heard a gunshot, again, just like at home. A minute later people were running up the stairs. He dove under the bed and listened to the police sirens until someone knocked and called his name. He slid out from under the bed and opened the door slowly.
In broken English a young man said, “Max’s brother, no?”
“You are great soccer player—we need you on our team.”
“I am an analyst, not a soccer player.”
“I am analyst too—maybe Max say you are great analyst too. Come, we kick ball around.”
Simon squeezed into the back of a small car with other three men who said they were analysts. After two blocks the car had backfired three times—Simon smiled each time—he was ready for adventure.