The Last Laugh of Lucien Perau and Olivier Budin

On August 2nd, 2017, in a quaint village in northern France, Lucien Perau and Olivier Budin shared laughter as they sat together in a bar. Despite their significant age gap—Lucien, 69, and Olivier, 38—their unbreakable bond earned them the endearing titles of Father and Son among the villagers.

After dedicating his entire life to a manufacturing career in a neighboring city, Lucien retired just four years ago and settled into a modest residence in a Northern French Village. Initially, his new surroundings left him feeling profoundly lonely and despondent. Lucien, grappling with a divorce, alcohol-related challenges, and a difficult past, found solace and a transformative change in his life when he crossed paths with Olivier.

At the time of their encounter, Olivier was facing his own set of challenges, resembling a person down on his luck. Health issues hindered his ability to secure steady employment, leading him to oscillate between the nearby city and the northern French village in pursuit of work, with only limited success.

When these two individuals crossed paths, a unique bond formed as they shared experiences of navigating challenging lives. Lucien found profound significance in the fact that Olivier, despite the significant age difference, treated him as an equal rather than a despondent, obsolete figure. This unexpected camaraderie led to the orchestration of their lives around each other. In no time, a newfound sense of structure, routine, and meaning infused their lives, as the two men spent virtually every day together.

On that morning, Olivier and Lucien found themselves at the same bar, discussing their plans for the evening. After some deliberation, they decided to have a barbecue at Lucien’s house. Lucien would take charge of grilling some beef, and they envisioned spending the night on his backyard patio. The plan seemed delightful, and as Olivier and Lucien eventually departed from the bar, the bartender vividly remembered overhearing their infectious excitement about the upcoming barbecue.

That night, Olivier and Lucien reached Lucien’s residence. They headed to the rear patio, where a charming table awaited, adorned with a red and white checkered tablecloth that Lucien had carefully arranged. Upon the table rested an uncorked bottle of wine, accompanied by cheese and a baguette. Olivier took a seat, savoring the wine and bread, while Lucien attended to the grill, expertly preparing the beef.

Lucien had a neighbor, whom we’ll refer to as Marie since her actual name was unknown. Marie’s second-floor window offered a view of Lucien’s garden patio, where the two men were hosting a cookout. On that particular evening, Marie cast a glance outside and observed the two men enjoying music and playful banter. Familiar with their frequent companionship and late-night activities, she anticipated another evening of their extended gatherings, filled with wine, celebrations, and the usual revelry. With a resigned attitude, she decided to close the window, attempt to disregard the incoming noise, and allow them to continue with their festivities.

In due course, Marie undertook the routine. She would retire to the soothing strains of music and the murmur of men’s conversation emanating from the neighboring house. The following morning, around 6:00 a.m., as Marie arose, she peered out of her window once more. To her mild nonchalance, Lucien remained seated at the table, appearing to enjoy a meal or perhaps still sipping wine, while Olivier lay sprawled on the floor, clearly having succumbed to slumber. Marie harbored no judgment; she was well aware of their penchant for late-night revelry and such antics. Deciding it was none of her concern, she continued with her morning. At 9:00 a.m., three hours after her initial awakening, she left her abode to assist another neighbor by tending to their chickens in their absence for the day.

As she strolled past Lucien’s residence, she casually peeked into his backyard patio and observed Lucien, who remained seated at the table, while Olivier was still sprawled on the ground. It seemed as though they hadn’t budged for three hours. Despite this, Marie reasoned that it was none of her business. She continued on her way, heading to her neighbor’s house to tend to the chickens. However, upon returning to her own house three hours later, around noon, Marie once again glanced into Lucien’s backyard. To her surprise, the two men were still in the same positions—Lucien at the table, and Olivier on the ground. A sudden realization struck Marie: it’s midday, and these guys haven’t moved. They’re at risk of heatstroke; something needs to be done. Worried, she called out to Olivier and Lucien, but received no response.

Marie entered Lucien’s backyard and, approaching the two men, she gradually noticed their complete stillness—no signs of breathing. An unsettling realization gripped her as she recognized that something was terribly amiss. Without hesitation, Marie swiftly turned and sprinted to a neighboring house. Describing the eerie scene to the neighbors, they grabbed large pots of water and hurried back, pouring it over Olivier and Lucien in an attempt to rouse them from what seemed like a drunken stupor. However, the water failed to elicit any response; the two men remained motionless. It became evident that they were lifeless.

The following day, the local prosecutor declared the initiation of an investigation into the deaths of the two men, categorizing them as potential criminal acts. The prosecutor suggested that Lucien and Olivier appeared to have died simultaneously, pointing to the likelihood of either a double homicide or a murder-suicide. The prevailing hypothesis regarding the cause of death implicated poison in their food. Subsequently, law enforcement dispatched the canned beans consumed by the two men to a Paris-based institution for testing, specifically for botulism, a lethal toxin that can develop in canned goods. However, the results returned negative.

Additionally, the police dispatched the remaining portion of the meal consumed by the two men to different laboratories for poison testing. Once again, all results returned negative, leaving the authorities perplexed momentarily. However, a significant shift occurred when the autopsies for Olivier and Lucien were completed.

Lucien and Olivier did not meet their demise through homicide, nor was it a case of murder-suicide. Their deaths were not caused by botulism or any poison in their food. Instead, their passing resulted from a unique set of circumstances. Both Lucien and Olivier grappled with non-lethal, minor health issues. Lucien struggled with poor dental health and the loss of a few teeth, while Olivier faced a heart condition known as cardiomegaly, indicating a slight enlargement and fragility of his heart. It’s important to note that Olivier’s medical condition was diligently monitored by healthcare professionals and was well-managed.

On the evening of August 2nd, 2017, during a casual cookout in Lucien’s backyard, a seemingly inconsequential moment took a drastic turn. Lucien, with his missing teeth, hastily devoured a hefty serving of beef rib, a challenging task even for those with intact teeth. In the midst of his rapid consumption, a sizable, unchewed piece lodged in his throat, triggering a choking incident. In a desperate attempt to assist his friend facing a life-threatening situation, Olivier, seated across from Lucien, swiftly rose. The intense stress of witnessing Lucien’s struggle led to a sudden cardiac event for Olivier, whose already fragile and enlarged heart failed, resulting in a fatal heart attack.

Alone and without assistance, Lucien persisted in his struggle at the table, attempting to clear the obstruction in his throat caused by the beef. Despite his efforts, he failed, succumbing to asphyxiation and eventually perishing while bent over the table.

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