“I lived in prison like a free guy, thanks to literature and my mind” | EUROtoday

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IHe arrived early. His journey bag at his facet, bald head, a black Bomber-style jacket on his again, Fabrice Rose is ready for us at La Terrasse de Bercy (Paris 12e). Is it a behavior – that of finding locations – that comes from his former life as a robber? The terrace is noisy, we sit inside this brasserie with benches and purple tables. It's simply as noisy, however Fabrice Rose likes the music performed there.

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The one who, on the age of 70, turned an creator of thrillers – he launched the third quantity of his trilogy* with Robert Laffont, Hunted – instantly focuses on his ardour for jazz and his first assembly with Billie Holiday. We dive into one other period. The scene takes place close to the Porte de Clignancourt, Fabrice is eighteen years outdated, he’s not but an outlaw. That night, “a guy is looking for him”; dangerous luck, the latter is a boxer. The younger blond man doesn't lead a lot, however he's not the kind to decrease his head. He finally ends up “with his mouth bleeding” and takes refuge in a bistro: “And there, Billie Holiday was singing “Don’t Explain”…”

It looks like a film, in accelerated model. Because Fabrice Rose, who has formally reached retirement age, nonetheless lives as a person in a rush. It's with a machine gun move, the jacket nonetheless on his again – one other behavior from his earlier life? – and along with his elbows on the desk he recounts his extraordinary journey. Between regrets and nostalgia.

READ ALSO Meeting with Yves Jobic: “When I was a cop, we had a hunter mentality, not a civil servant” Billie Holiday, then. The singer will comply with him behind bars, in addition to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Maria Callas and plenty of others. “In detention, I had the chance to be alone in the cell, I listened to France Culture a lot. » And he had hours, days and nights, Fabrice Rose, to listen to CDs, radio broadcasts and read books: he spent twenty-five years of his life in prison. Repeated robberies which each time lead him to a new “jail” – he’ll spend round thirty –, with sentences which turn into more and more heavy.

“Without hatred or violence”

And for good cause, this “professional bank robber” solely thinks about doing it once more, occurring the run or wanting good. He's a kind of the cops referred to as “handsome guys” within the Eighties, these old style thugs who nonetheless had a sure code of honor. “Without hatred or violence”, such was the motto of Rose the robber. “I don’t have blood on my hands,” he needs to make clear. As proof, he explains his technique when he “mounted” a theft: by no means a bullet within the barrel of his gun and the security catch at all times activated.

Coming from a middle-class background, Rose grew up in Amiens between a father who was a former Royal Air Force pilot and a hero of the Second World War, an English mom, a housewife, and 4 brothers and sisters. He falls considerably by probability into the braquos. “I hated school,” he says as a preamble to his profession as a delinquent. The fault lies with a instructor who, within the Nineteen Fifties, tried onerous to straighten this left-handed man with a ruler on the pinnacle and arms behind his again. He held out till the third yr after which, extra rebellious than ever, slammed the door of his picture CAP on the age of 17. “I wanted to risk my life, to be a war photographer. » His father buys him a motorcycle, he almost kills himself. In his gang of bikers, two apprentice robbers. “I want to be with you,” he informed them. “I had no idea what a robbery was. »

I admit, I wanted to be outlawed!

For his first, in 1973, a Société Générale in the suburbs of Amiens, he was content to act as driver and lookout. But he gets stuck with his clique, all minors (the majority are then 21 years old). He still received four years in prison. His father, the only solvent adult, must repay the bank. The son, proud, swears that he will owe him that: barely out of prison, he… robs another bank. The father refuses the money. And here we go for two years on the run! Time to professionalize. “I put together a team with guys I met in prison,” he explains. For him, jail is “the breeding ground for crime”, the place he realized the fundamentals: how you can get a weapon, how you can take heed to police frequencies…

Why does this spoiled son, this “dirty brat” – as his father affectionately referred to as him – who by no means lacked for something, do it once more? He doesn’t “give a damn” about cash. Adrenaline (“the best thing”) and the style for threat win out. “I admit, I wanted to be outlawed! It gives you all the freedoms, although I don't recommend it. »

His ideal Sunday: In Vichy, in his office, where he writes in silence from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. In general, Fabrice Rose does not experience the anxiety of the blank page, but, for his latest opus, chased, he was confronted with it. “I couldn't decide to make one of my characters die. »

Free, even “in the closet”? The one who tried thrice to flee swears sure. “I have always lived in prison like a free guy, thanks to literature and my mind. I chose to do that, so I had nothing to complain about. When I heard guys in prison who said they were victims of society, I told them: “Read about guys who were locked up for their ideas in Russia, in China… Read The Gulag Archipelago of Solzhenitsyn, the Stories from Kolyma by Shalamov, Memories of the House of the Dead by Dostoyevsky… All these authors really built me ​​intellectually. »

I started studying philosophy at Health.

Because it was in his cell that Fabrice Rose, now a volunteer for the Lire pour en Sort association, discovered reading. “I was at the center for a long time with Georges Ibrahim Abdallah [le plus vieux prisonnier politique de France, NDLR]. On walks, we talked about politics, literature, the books we read… My greatest escape is books. »

READ ALSO Meeting with Léa Todorov: “The worst thing is pity, it’s abominable! » In the last power station he attended, in Moulins-Yzeure (Allier), one of the safest in France at the time, he even created a library. The taste for writing will come later. In the ditch. At the end of the 1990s, in Gradignan, to spend forty-five days in a disciplinary unit, he took a few books from a box, including Pylon by William Faulkner.

“On page 30, there are 10 pages missing… On page 60, there are still some missing…” He explains that in jail inmates typically tear out pages, notably to roll cigarettes. And continues: “I take a draft notebook and try to piece together the story. » A year later, in another prison, there he was again in the solitary confinement, in the company of Faulkner and Sanctuary, this time. Same, he tries to write the missing pages and then he says to himself: “Damn, I can write!” » “It’s also revenge against the school,” he analyzes. Then, I began finding out philosophy at Santé, a instructor got here to see me each week. »

I gave my daughter my phrase. And I didn't break my phrase.

If Rose went from robber to creator, it’s a little due to Faulkner and quite a bit due to his daughter. Alexandra is the heroine of her first ebook, Like father, like lady (Bête Noire Booksellers Prize, 2020), the story of a revenge-loving gangster dad and his daughter in mortal hazard. Alexandra, in actual life, solely noticed her father via the jail visiting rooms.

One Sunday in 2000, on the age of twenty-two, she went to the Moulins-Yzeure energy plant. “Suddenly, she starts to cry…” Silence. Fabrice Rose continues, with a lump in his throat: “I stupidly said to him: “Who hurt you?” She stated to me: “You. I want you to stop.” And then I spotted… Outlaws, we don't have the appropriate to have youngsters as a result of we're not there to care for them, this father of two youngsters and now a grown-up realizes. -father. When I used to be little, in school, she stated that her father had gone to {photograph} lions in Africa… whereas I used to be within the closet. » His eyes misty, his voice barely audible, he whispers: “I gave my word to my daughter. And I didn't break my word. » The page is turned, Rose the robber, it's over.

Fabrice Rose is a novel in itself. Several publishers have also offered to write his story, but he is not interested. Of course, he draws inspiration from his life in his thrillers, but what he loves is fiction, the breathtaking adventures carried by endearing bandits. When he puts himself in the shoes of Marc Man, his hero, and his gang, he undoubtedly finds a little of that adrenaline that kept him going during all these years as an outlaw.

Hold-ups to finance jazz concerts

At the Gironde assizes, in 1996, the psychological expert was not mistaken: he already noted “a particularly rich imaginary life” in the man who was appearing for having committed six hold-ups in banks in the South-West and who was sentenced to eighteen years in prison. His loot of 2.2 million francs will be used in part to organize jazz concerts. He thus brought the pianist Randy Weston to Bordeaux, and the singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, to whom he had written in prison. “The day after the concert, we took a walk in the Médoc vineyards, and there, at sunrise, Dee Dee started to sing a cappella… This is one of the happiest days of my life! »

Twelve years after his last conviction, he has definitively come out of this spiral. On December 23, 2005, he walked along the wall of the Moulins power station, passed without looking back under the watchtower and in his head came this tune from Axel Bauer: “Cargo ship at night, thirty-five days without seeing land…” Outside, on this Christmas Eve, he’s shocked by the “violence” he finds within the streets of Paris.

Breaking up colleges, burning libraries, the neighbor's vehicles, that's past me…

“I don’t understand today’s delinquency… It’s totally beyond me,” says the person who usually returns to jail to prepare reading-writing workshops. “I see minors aged 13-14 who have been convicted of drugs, these kids are cannon fodder! I tell them: “I spent twenty-five years of my life in the closet, I started working at 50, I won't have a pension. Is this what you want ?” They don't care, they are impervious to what anyone tells them. » He also did not understand the violence of certain young people which manifested itself after the death of Nahel last June: “Going to break up schools, burning libraries which are for them, the neighbor's cars, that's all for me. is beyond me…”

He remembers that he by no means stole non-public vehicles: “We stole cars from dealerships! » It was another time, a “beautiful time” for robbers, in the end, he admits, even when it isn’t politically right to say so. They weren’t geolocated, they might go on the run for years, their baggage was not subjected to airport X-rays. “When I flew, my weapons were in my cabin bag, above my head. »

Almost two hours later, in this café in Bercy, Fabrice Rose leaves us. His train to Vichy is waiting for him. He picks up his travel bag. Inside, no tickets or weapons, but lots of books and memories that he will undoubtedly tell his grandchildren one day.

*Like father like daughter (2020) and The plan (2022), collection The Black Beast, Robert Laffont.

Every Sunday, “Le Point” has assembly with well-known and lesser-known personalities from the world of tradition, tv, cinema, gastronomy, sport, enterprise… They participate within the recreation of intimate interviews, telling us about their journey, generally strewn with pitfalls, give us some confidences and provides us their imaginative and prescient of society.