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By the Seine

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There was a man in the Seine.  He wore no hat, which was strange.  He was sitting on top of the water with no visible means of support, which was stranger.  Strangest of all, the water seemed to be flowing through his body, not around it.

Marius had seen many strange things since that night he had been delivered, nearly dead, to his grandfather’s door.  The men and women with old-fashioned clothing and faces from family portraits were easily dismissed as fever dreams, and the glimpses of Eponine and his revolutionary friends as fancies born of guilt.  But this was something else entirely.  “Do you see that?” Marius asked, pointing at the man.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Cosette replied.  She leaned against Marius’s side, and Mademoiselle Gillenormand, their chaperone for the outing, sniffed.  “I love to see the sun set over water.”

“Not the sunset, the…”  Marius trailed off as the man in the Seine looked up and scowled at him.  The scowl and the sideburns were unmistakable: the man was Inspector Javert.  Inspector Javert, who had been killed at the barricade by the man who could not have been Monsieur Fauchelevent.

Another hallucination.  That’s all this was.  Marius didn’t stop to wonder why he would imagine a floating police inspector, just decided he would speak with his doctor and get some new pills.  Then this would all be over.  Surely.  He took a deep breath and smiled at Cosette, ignoring the way Javert rolled his eyes at him.

“He can’t leave the river,” said a familiar voice near Marius’s ear.  “Pity, isn’t it?  Most of us from the barricade have the run of Paris.”

Willing himself not to scream, Marius turned toward the voice.  There stood Courfeyrac, exactly as he had seen him last, down to the carefree grin and the gaping hole in his chest.

“So you can see us!” said Courfeyrac.  “Jehan swore you made eye contact with him, but Combeferre thought we should gather more evidence, and the task fell to me.  I haven’t startled you, have I?  And won’t you introduce me to your lovely companion?  Marius?  Marius!”

Marius’s knees wobbled, and he reached for Courfeyrac to steady himself.

Then there were two men in the Seine.