22 No enchantment without ordeal

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22   No enchantment without ordeal

Before coming to Asbury Park I tuned in to hardly anyone, wishing to safeguard the success of Sound & Vision by honing only my projecting abilities, rather than risk developing any tendencies to fall into the relatively lazy processes of a tune-in. This remains my mindset, in light of the coming second broadcast; but with the first one so triumphantly concluded, I decide I can afford to cut myself some slack in the tune-in department.

I look around. Hot, sticky, summer night at Downstairs. Music pumps, whisky flows, and lights full of smoke bathe bodies full of blood. Under the deep red light, I see Angel's make-up sliding down ... and it's time to tune in to you now, my little demon vermin Angel! Let's see. For you, as in the tales, there has been no enchantment without ordeal. I assumed you were Latino when you first appeared, but now I perceive that your family was Armenian. Your self-image from antiquity, however, is a Persian one—the Persian Boy, of course. You see jewels, incense, flowing verse on scrolls of parchment, flaming candelabra in the harem around you, and purple eye-shadow when you glance in the hand-mirror. A barred window gives upon a courtyard of spiky flowers, palms and the cool splash of fountains. A flute trills, behind silk that hangs across a door; smiling women swirl, you whisper, and your whisper is an influence and seeps across an empire, now long vanished.

From birth onward, here in Asbury Park, you were scorned, and your spite took shape and grew. You were victimised and beaten, and your cruelty shot roots down and drank and pulled, tight as wires, through the earth. The beauty that bewitched you and the beauty that was in you were rejected and dismissed by those around you, and your viciousness unfurled like an icy metal flower. These elements inside you gathered force and locked together in infernal harmonies, until a great black symphony of Angel towered raging like a hellish dark mill against the sky inside your head.

Your brows were too arched for the oil-spattered trailer-park you lived in on the west edge of town, where abuse between the motor-homes spoke to you in simple terms: I'll slit your pout wide, freak, I'll carve pleasure from your mouth and throat—how about a sweet smile cut with this knife, and not your rat-faced sneer? Don't fuck with me, bitch. And yet with longing hot and tight you yearned to spend yourself upon these other boys, the only boys you knew, and yearned to stay their target forever, as a home.

And meanwhile, slanting from the billboard on the highway, the film-star flickered down upon you like a whip, and you were certain they would find you sprawled dead and hard beside the grey electric fence behind your trailer-home, his image burned tiny on your retina.

There's a place of enchantment, you knew, where the Full Moon in Scorpio irradiates the brightest, with wisdom and secrets, ancient powers and some smoke and mirrors too. So you ran through the night streets and flat deserted waterfront, through lanes of yellow lamps, always looking for this place—felt its whisper round the corner, heard its giggle from the next block, retreating—caught its black velvet breath around the angle of the bricks before it whisked away. Running, running, running, always gaining on it, slowly... And still the little boy-girl inside you runs the streets at night, seeking that retreating thing, and gaining on it, slowly. (But I found it first, in Manhattan, and that's why I'm seeing into you—and why you saw the broadcast and watched me with avidity enough to twist the knife of your own rich pain.)

Back at school, when the teachers bade you drink your poison up like a good girl, you'd slip through the alley-way where hypodermic syringes and empty lipstick cylinders would crunch beneath your boots. There you built heaps of trash you named as your enemies and then, one by one, set them toxically ablaze with a yelp of splashed gasoline and matches. Sudden blotchy hands gripped the window-bars beside you, from inside that shack of cinder-blocks, and you screamed and fled, and later you were jittery with excess coffee in the smudgy cracked window of the Coffee Cup Café, the ashtray heaped up with spent cigarettes you'd sucked to death.

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